Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary fired Dr. Paige Patterson on Thursday, a week after removing him as president, due to new evidence concerning a sexual abuse case.
The board of the seminary removed Patterson as president on May 23 and made him president emeritus following allegations that Patterson had given dangerous advice to abused women and made lewd comments about a teenage girl. The seminary board said that they found no evidence of wrongdoing on Patterson’s part, but removed him in favor of new leadership. (RELATED: Prominent Baptist Seminary President Removed After His Teaching On Abuse Surfaces)
The board announced on Wednesday, however, that they had received new evidence “regarding the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution” that, in conjunction with other concerns from the board, were inconsistent with the seminary’s values, according to NPR.
“Deeming the information demanded immediate action and could not be deferred to a regular meeting of the Board, based on the details presented, the Executive Committee unanimously resolved to terminate Dr. Paige Patterson, effective immediately, removing all the benefits, rights and privileges provided by the May 22-23 board meeting, including the title of President Emeritus, the invitation to reside at the Baptist Heritage Center as theologian-in-residence and ongoing compensation,” the board’s statement reads.
The board also unequivocally denounced all forms and enabling of abuse as well as any failure to protect those who are abused.
While the board initially claimed that they found no evidence of wrongdoing on Patterson’s part and that they simply sought new leadership to steward the seminary’s future, their decision to remove Patterson came after over 2,000 women demanded his removal because of his teachings on abuse and comments that, in their view, overtly sexualized young girls.
Patterson claimed that the particular instance that gave rise to the allegations about dangerous teachings, in which he counseled a physically abused woman to stay with and pray for her husband, resulted in healing and repentance on the part of the husband and that the couple is now doing well. He also asserted that he had in fact protected physically abused women in the past. He apologized, however, for teachings and comments that had caused hurt and that he realized were unwise.
Patterson’s explanations and apologies, in the view of the women who signed the petition for his removal, fell woefully short.
Seminary interim President Dr. Jeffrey Bingham called for the seminary community “to join the Body of Christ in praying for healing for all individuals affected by abuse” in the wake of Patterson’s termination.
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