New and frightening allegations against Dr. Rev. L. Paige Patterson surfaced last week in the Houston Chronicle.
The Enormous Influence of Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson
Going back for some context, Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson was a towering figure in Evangelical circles for decades. He lead the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) which is the largest and most influential Protestant denomination in the US (with at one time 16 million members). He also led the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). SWBTS is one of the largest seminaries in the world, and grew out of the famous Baylor College. Through running these two huge institutions Dr. Paige Patterson is among the most influential leaders and theologians in Evangelicalism over the last 40 years. This is demonstrated after shifting both SBC into Reactionary Fundamentalism beginning in 1979 as much of the Evangelical church soon followed. His crown jewel was his revival of “Complementarian” theology that redefined the role of woman along Patriarchal terms, which spread widely and even became the core defining theology in Neo-Calvinist, Calvinist and Fundamentalist Baptist circles. He is especially outspoken and controversial on the role of women, whom he says should be hyper-submissive, stay at home, and serve their husbands, and by all means should never preach in church. In practice he believed no women should even questions the actions of a man even in the case of her rape.
The Misogynism of Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson
Patterson’s early misogynic views were so alarming even the ever graceful former President Jimmy Carter felt the need to publicly announce his departure from the SBC due to Patterson influence, after 65 years:
“This has been a very difficult thing for me. My grandfather, my father and I have always been Southern Baptists …. After years of feeling increasingly uncomfortable and somewhat excluded, the final straw was a denominational statement adopted in June that prohibits women from being pastors, says wives should be submissive to their husbands, and eliminates language…. that said the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” Jimmy and Roslyn Carter, 2000, a mix of paraphrases and direct quotes.
In 2006, Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson as head of the DTS fired a well known and highly respected Hebrew scholar, solely because she was a woman. The court transcript reveals his deep seated disregard, nay, hatred of women having any form of leadership, knowledge and influence. Most notably, Patterson’s statement in court under oath stating… “It Indicates a Wicked Society When Women Rule”.
For over a decade Pastor Wade Burleson, also a Southern Baptist, has tried to warn the denomination about the damage that Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson’s false theology was having… “ In the span of 30 years, Dr. Paige Patterson has successfully managed to spread his denigrating views into the Southern Baptist institutions where he has leadership”
Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson Not only Ignores Rape Accusations but Further Abuses The Victims
Dr. Paige Patterson misled the SWBTS board in how he handled 2 rape allegations by students at 2 school’s after emails surfaced that contradicted his answers to the board. Worse, he failed to report the first rape, urged the victim to just forgive her assailant, and… in one email to campus security he wanted to meet the victim alone for his declared purpose of “breaking her down”. In the second rape, he shared the police report with the perpetrator and although he was expelled, no charges were pressed, and Patterson told the victim it was a good thing she’d been raped. This is not only a horrible admission of Spiritual Abuse it, represents an evil skill set well practiced enough he was highly confident of his abilities to “break her down”. Rev. Peterson tortured a woman who was already raped in order to maintain her silence.
Dr. Paige Patterson is not just a liar, or just a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he is an evil monster. And this man was among the most influential Evangelical Church leaders for 40 years… let that sink in for a moment.
Alarming Issues in How Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson Handled Pedophiles
In a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, The Rev. Paige Patterson has been found to handle other allegations of sexual misconduct by protecting abusive Pastors going back to the 1980s. Patterson had a young and highly talented preaching protégé named Rev. Darrell Gilyard (formerly Gillard). Gilyard’s moving stories and sermons would bring audiences to tears and their feet, and make him famous for a short time, appearing as a young preacher at the pulpit of Jerry Falwell on TV in his early 20s. He shared stories of how as homeless kid living under a bridge God raised him out of poverty. These stories although moving and emotional and sucked in the crowds, were later discredited as fabrications.
Over many years, Patterson protected Gilyard as cases of sexual abuse and rape against children and women flooded in against in the 1980s and the 1990s. Patterson continued to deny the mounting the claims against this protege, and then simply found another job for Gilyard at new church. At multiple points Patterson along with Dr. Jerry Vines had many opportunities to investigate and discipline Gilyard, but utterly failed. No record exists that he was even rebuked. Even with testimonies from 25 victims of rape and sexual abuse at just one of Gilyard’s churches, Patterson claimed there was “not enough evidence” to warrant any disciplinary action and stated the women were making this up because they were jealous. After this Patterson guided Gilyard to new church home at Hilltop Baptist Church with a glowing recommendation. Again with 3 more new accusation at Hilltop in less than a year, Patterson claimed he didn’t believe the accusations. Soon at his next home of Shiloh Baptist church the “talented” Gilyard was directly protected by Patterson again, who in meetings himself with 8 more victims (there were 20 total there in only a few years) delved into the woman’s past, and either blamed them or accused them of psychological issues. Gilyard would go onto a total of 5 Churches under Patterson’s recommendation, guidance, protection and influence, and in each would face a mountain of sexual abuse and rape allegations, that were all brought to Patterson… and were all quickly excused or ignored, who continued his pattern of bullying the victims into shame and silence.
All told Gilyard would be credibly accused of sexual abuse, assault and rape of over 44 girls and women, 2 of which were under age… by 1993. Rev. Gilyard would eventually serve a short stint in prison, but he would return the pulpit in Jacksonville FL, where he remains to this day. None of this was possible without the enduring protection of Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson and Dr. Jerry Vines for almost decade, who sided with the “talented” Gilyard despite an avalanche of allegations of abuse, assault and rape, even of minors. Although fired frequently Rev. Gilyard has never had his ministry credentials officially revoked, nor was he publicly reproved… as I far as I could find….due in large part Patterson’s influence, call of silence and pressure to other church leaders on his behalf.
In one especially frightening sermon in addressing Gilyard’s issues, while being transferred to another church, Patterson specifically urges the congregation to remain silent about Gilyard’s crimes, while invoking the story of David, so that Gilyard could once again be “rehabilitated”…. which is Evangelical short hand for “go on to sexually abuse more women”.
Omertà: Mafia Code of Silence
Omertà is the mafia code for utter silence. You never shared what you saw, what you knew or who was guilty… even if it meant failing to defend yourself and going to prison. For centuries this was preached as ethical ideal pre-dating the Mafia that created a bond in Southern Italy… It was a secret, but it was OUR secret as it brought us together. Later by adding threats of death or having your tongues cut out, the Mafia made the code stronger, it was sealed in blood and defended in blood, but its real strength was in its sense of communal ethics and unity. As the Mafia expanded into new countries, and into new income avenues of drugs and child prostitution… the Omertà code of ethics was preached along with it. Omertà code of silence was the reason why the Mafia grew so big, so rich, and so powerful that at one time it rivaled large corporations in size and for money and power. With Omertà the Mafia could operate simultaneously both publicly and invisibly without any backlash. For over 170 years no one spoke, no one came forward, and in that void of silence… evil thrived unchecked. Patterson in urging congregations to remain silent in the face of horrible sin, sexual abuse, rape and even pedophilia is promoting our own Evangelical code of Omertà.
Where They Are Today
The “talented” Rev. Darrell Gilyard after serving a stint in prison, is still preaching today in Jacksonville FL, after successfully having his probation modified to allow him access to children in 2014. As far as I could research, although he’s no longer working in a Southern Baptist church, he still holds his credentials from the SBC and never was publicly reproved by the SBC Church according to 1 Tim 5:20. (please update me if you have evidence to the contrary).
The Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson was (Thankfully!) fired by the SWBTS board in 2018, for lying to them on how he handled previous rape allegations, after emails surfaced that contradicted his answers to the board. Surprisingly and more hopefully, after a more thorough investigation the SWBTS board stripped Patterson of his benefits and pension, a rare move in “chummy” Evangelical circles of mutual self-defense. I really do applaud the SWBTS board for their actions here.
The 77 year old Dr. Rev. Patterson misogynism wouldn’t be kept down for long, he preached soon after his termination and, in a sermon denigrated a woman because of her weight. In another sermon recently he called victims of sexual abuse liars. He was recently hired by the Southern Evangelical Seminary, to teach a course on get this…
…ethics. I wish I wish that was a joke, but it’s not.
Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson is 77 years old, and is returning to the pulpit … and there is nothing to stop him. His tireless support of pedophile Pastor Darrel Gilyard for almost 10 years makes him as an accomplice to all of Gilyard’s crimes. Sadly, it was the law, not the SBC church that finally put an end to Gilyard’s horrible and unrestrained crime spree in 1993. Both men need to have their preaching credentials officially, publicly and permanently revoked. It won’t silence them, but it will discredit and shame each and every stage on which they speak, and could begin undoing the theological damage at the SBC.
For silencing the victim of sexual abuse, an anonymous Jane Roe is suing SWBTS for both covering up her allegations, dismissing her claims, and for treating her cruelly. Despite SWBTS helpful actions in firing Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson and revoking his pension, I hope she prevails and new information is exposed. It was really her efforts that are making these horrible events and the people who enabled him public.
Theologically Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson represents and enormous problem by his denigrating comment: “It Indicates a Wicked Society When Women Rule” he recognizes the concepts of good and evil, of righteousness and sin. But entirely misstating their source it’s impossible to correctly imply their solution. Biblically we don’t find righteousness by redefining the role of women in the world, but defining the role of Christ in our individual lives. There is nothing in Dr. Rev. Paige Patterson life, example or message that indicates he knows or lives the Gospel of Christ. It’s possible in the face of such legalistic comments that the former head of the SWBTS is not even a Christian himself, as he seems to have little understand of Christ or his work on the cross. Although we can never judge someone’s eternal destiny, this statement and the questions it raises on its own are enough to disqualify someone from ministry, even without his unrepentant history of tirelessly supporting others in sexual abuse that included minors.
It would be easy to dismiss Dr. Rev. Patterson misogynism as a romantic but antiquated hold over from a by-gone era. But misogynism is nothing new, and its not romantic. Its based on a hatred of women and Satan’s desire to defile God’s creation, as both women and men are both created in God’s image and bear equally the imago dei. It not only damages women, it damages the entire church, and as the story of both reveal its often used as cover to mask other forms of abuse both sexual and spiritual. Today it’s often hidden under the mask of “Complementarianism” but make no mistake, it violates scripture. Misogyny is spiritually and theologically the enemy of Christ and is false teaching that denigrates God, and his bride, and promotes abuse. If you see the word Complementarian today on any doctrinal statement, run, its likely that spiritual abuse and sexual abuse are soon to follow. They always have. Abuse and Misogynist always go hand in hand to defile God’s creation, and are often hidden under the false pretext of “healthy family values”.
It would also be easy to excuse Patterson’s protection of Gilyard’s actions because “those were different times”. Gilyard was a serial sexual predator, who as a Pastor committed many assaults in short period of time that go way beyond and social or generational changes. The Bible hasn’t changed and it condemns any sexual relations outside of marriage, and we have always known those in ministry are held to even a higher standard. There is no way to excuse Patterson’s support of Gilyard based on it being “different times”.
What is certain is the undying drive and ambition of these wolves to see themselves on the stage again. Gilyard has surfaced at least 7 different churches, and still is preaching, and Patterson even at 77 years old is trying to make his “come back”, while both remain unrepentant. We know that after Mars Hill collapsed here in Seattle in 2015, CEO Mark Driscoll just moved to Phoenix to start a new church and restart the process of creating his own misogynic religion there… also unrepentant. Will the recently disgraced Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church) and James MacDonald (Harvest Bible Chapel) also make their preaching comebacks? They are both younger than Patterson.
Sadly, it seems the most effective response by any victim of sexual abuse or rape in a Christian culture or institution is to sue. The church to its shame doesn’t seem interested in the righteousness of its leaders… that is until money is involved. If the churches that eagerly rehired Gilyard were sued along with the SBC it may have been the only thing that could have stopped this madness and prevented some women from harm. I hope that more women and victims begin to sue their attackers and the churches that hide them.
What is clear is the church, the Protestant Church, has done a terrible job of how it handles sexual abuse and rape by creating a culture of silence, like the mafia Omertà code of ethics. We have put the celebrity and motivational speaking skills of a few men, over Christlike character and true relational purity. Its really become about the product, the stage, the event, and the skills someone possesses to tickle ears and bring people in, and there not much left about living a Christ like life of humble and quiet obedience in relational purity. We are willing to make these and many woman and children, essentially human sacrifices to promote the careers and insatiable carnal lusts of a few men. Its about entertainment, and there is no cost too high for us to pay for it. It is why I still speak out, I will even though as sinful as I am, will not be silent. We must end the Protestant Omertà. And we must fight to remove misogynists and those who support sexual abuse from ministry, no matter how old they are.