February 22, 2008

Patterson's 'Evil' Comments

Sexual abuse by ministers is probably once of the worst scandals and tragedies in churches in recent years. Although Catholics have been hit the hardest, Protestants are not immune to predator ministers. Sadly, it seems that many denominational leaders are turning a blind eye to the problem, thus making basically the same error as some Catholic bishops did. However, perhaps the worst response yet by a denominational official is the attack that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson made on advocates speaking out for victims. Patterson called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest "evil-doers" and "just as reprehensible as sex criminals." Such rhetoric is completely unacceptable! To attack those who are working to bring justice and healing suggests that he is completely unfit to serve as a denominational or moral leader. The only evil ones are those who commit such evil acts (including a former protégé Patterson was defending). Such comments are completely un-Christlike and suggest a tragic lack of love and compassion.

SNAP's founder and president Barbara Blaine responded, "While not every church official likes us, none has ever before called us 'evil' or claimed we were as bad as child predators." SNAP is calling on Patterson to apologize, which they say would be "a sign of wisdom, maturity and humility." Hopefully, Patterson will do the right thing and not only apologize but also work to prevent future victims. If not, he should not be considered a moral leader or be in charge of an institution that is training the next generation of ministers. His values, as represented in the attack on SNAP, are not those that should be passed on. Jesus spoke strongly against those who would hurt the "little ones." Patterson needs to stop such hateful rhetoric or else he might find himself also snagged by the metaphorical milestone of those he defends.

3 comments:

  1. Did he really say that?

    O my!

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  2. Though you didn't elaborate on anything in the Nashville Sound and ethics.com articles other than Patterson's partial-quote and SNAP's snap-back, I think it's warranted.

    SBC General Counsel Augie Boto to Ms. Vasquez, the victim who forwarded to SNAP personal emails from Patterson:

    “With regard to how you can help, let me suggest that you consider a ministry of information to your church and other churches about your experience, and what you learned about what perpetrators do. SNAP...could be a great help to congregations if they took such a route instead of spending so much time placing blame, attempting to get Baptists to operate in hierarchical ways they simply will not, and being sarcastic and pe(r)jorative. People do not appreciate being attacked for things they did not do. Subjected to such tactics, people raise defenses. What needs to happen is a broad recognition by churches of the initial signs of perpetrator activity. You can help churches know what to look for. And you can help them know what good practices are and what should never be allowed. That is what I will be saying and writing about, but I am only one person. I need help. You mentioned Baptist cooperation. This is the kind they gravitate to.”

    Patterson continued immediately after the "evil-doers" statement, posing an interesting question in his correspondence with Vasquez:

    "To make false accusations against a person in an effort to tarnish his reputation, as they regularly do and have most recently done to me, is just as reprehensible and involves just as little integrity. My little granddaughters, 10 and 8, were here the other day and heard on TV that their grandpa harbored sex criminals! I suppose that this is somehow OK since I am a pastor?"

    Perhaps Boto has a suggestion worth considering?

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  3. Kevin: He apparently did--and worse for him he wrote it down in an email. "O my!" is a very appropriate reaction.


    Cat's dad: Please tell me you are not trying to downplay or justify Patterson's remarks.

    As for the other comments, it seems that Boto is placing two different types of actions in opposition. But it should not be either/or but both/and. We need advocates seeking justice AND working to inform others. If we take his advice, we will allow the predators to escape and victimize others. That head-in-the-sand approach will cause the same tragic problems as it did for the Catholics.

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