Hello and welcome back! A while ago, we looked at Paige Patterson, a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leader who landed in very hot water thanks to his intense misogyny. Lately, he’s been trying to snake his way back into hucksterism–only to discover that SBC flocks are way less receptive to such comebacks than they used to be. Today, let’s cry tears of peanut butter for this reprobate and his difficulties–and then let’s see how his return to ministry’s progressing.
This Guy Again.
Back in 2018, though, his past deeds finally caught up with him. Southern Baptists found out about just how misogynistic this misogynist’s misogynist truly was. (In 20,000 years, Paige Patterson’s name and photo will be in some space alien’s English-to-✂⌛✇✈⌘✴ dictionary under that very word. You just watch.)
And a lot of ’em got furious.
Gosh, who’d ever have thunk that someone at-least-partially responsible for their tribe’s extreme right-wing-nutjob shift toward hardline complementarianism might, himself, hold less than exemplary views about women and have given considerably-less-than-admirable responses to sex assault victims?
High-end leaders in fundagelicalism have been getting caught in similar scandals for years. Why, one such scandal’s breaking out right now as we speak at one of the biggest megachurches in the whole country (and we’ll talk more about it on Tuesday). But Patterson’s scandal broke amid #ChurchToo, a #MeToo spinoff awareness movement for fundagelical women. This movement focused–as #MeToo did in the secular world–on the injustices, cruelties, and predations of leaders upon the women in their groups.
Patterson’s hyuck-hyuck chortling good ol’ boy act only made matters worse for him. Every piece of news people got about him only made him look worse.
And for once, enough Southern Baptists didn’t just ignore those victims’ cries for justice.
For Once, Real Accountability. Sort Of.
Immediately after Patterson’s scandal broke, some Southern Baptists clamored for accountability.
And most of all they wanted him gone.
It took some time, but the flocks crying for accountability got a bit of what they wanted. Shocking, right? Eventually and despite his vehement kicking and screaming, Patterson lost his cushy retirement package, his McMansion, and his uncomfortably Dear-Leader-reminiscent stained-glass windows.
But the flocks forgot something important: this guy helped design the modern Southern Baptist Convention. He helped put into place the principles of power by which it runs.
And one of the most important principles of power is this:
Power guards itself and protects its own.
Following the Leaders.
You must read this book, and go and hear the man speak too!
—a Christian reviewer of Tony Anthony’s completely-debunked book
I can’t think of a single disgraced fundagelical leader who has ever left the ministry after a scandal. Not one, not ever. Like dogs to their barf, they always return to their only path to wealth and power.
Mike Warnke, the original liar for Jesus we covered, still preaches and pastors. Yes, plenty of Christians still support him! Oh yes, and he still sells his various “testimony” books. You know, the ones that fact-checkers demonstrated to be cover-to-cover lies.
Tony Anthony’s still touring and speaking. Mostly, he’s concentrated his efforts in non-English-speaking countries that maybe aren’t well-acquainted with his disgrace some years ago. Even so, he’s apparently still making a living. And yes, he still sells his thoroughly-debunked book(s).
Matt Pitt, who got arrested amid what sure looked like a drug bender, got incarcerated, and then tried to pitch relationships with his youth group’s potentially-underage young women to his fellow jailbirds, is doing better than ever. One fairly-recent news story about him relates his return to frenetic youth-ministry sessions and even recited his claim to be working on “a Christian reality show.” The story’s accompanying video makes him look like a frat boy who’s higher than balls. So I guess not much has changed for him in the last 7-ish years.
Sliding Back Into Fundagelicals’ DMs.
Really, a disgraced Jesus huckster would be an idiot to slink away from the fundagelical money train. There seems to be absolutely nothing the flocks won’t forgive.
At least, that was how it used to be.
Then, a river of scandals spilled into public consciousness.
The scandals became a flood: #ChurchToo, the Catholic child-rape scandal, the epidemic of sex assault on fundagelical college campuses, “Abuse of Faith,” and the countless smaller-scale accusations, arrests, and convictions against countless Christian leaders across the length and breadth of fundagelicalism.
Christian leaders absolutely couldn’t get out in front of this public-relations nightmare.
Oh, I mean, they definitely tried. J.D. Greear, the President of the SBC, cried a bunch of crocodile tears. His tribe even pretended to care about these many victims during their last jamboree. But too many of the flocks didn’t buy these efforts.
So fundagelical leaders called upon the X-element that had successfully mended all their scandals in the past:
Not Even All That Much Time, Really.
As the Houston Chronicle discovered, multiple SBC churches have welcomed multiple pastors with scandals in their recent pasts. Paige Patterson’s very own Sith apprentice, Darrell Gilyard, got a pastoring gig right out of prison. He’s still pastoring, too, though he’s trying hard to stay out of sight.
So it’s not like disgraced leaders have traditionally needed to worry overmuch about any mark on their records being too horrific for their fellow pastors to swallow. They have a routine to it by now. They lay low for a bit, then slowly creep back into positions of power. As long as they go slowly and subtly, by the time the public realizes what’s happened they’re already back and settled in–and what’s anyone gonna say about it then?
I can easily see Patterson trying to follow that general template.
His firing and whatnot happened ages ago–early 2018, with the repercussions finally getting mostly-settled out in the early-to-mid part of 2019. That’s forever ago in fundagelical years! The flocks forget things so quickly and easily. I’m sure he figured that any blowback would be brief and easily ignored.
Maybe he jumped the gun a bit, or maybe the situation’s just different nowadays than he remembered.
What Paige Patterson’s Been Up To Lately.
Last month, a Baptist church in Rowlett, Texas awarded Paige Patterson a plaque and the title “Defender of the Faith.” Patterson slammed the SBC while proudly tweeting photos from the event.
Patterson tweeted of the event:
Victory Baptist Church in Rowlett, TX with Pastor Terry Smith has to be one of the sweetest churches in which I have ever preached. . . The “Defender of the Faith” award presented means more to me coming from this faithful church than it would from an entire convention!
: TAKE THAT, SBC! HMPH! TAKE THAT! See?!? I’m over you! I’m dating someone new! Jealous yet?
And my my, who’s this friend of his?
The pastor of Victory Baptist Church, Terry Smith, appears to have his own super-sordid past. He’s faced quite a few scandal accusations of his own–and one of those accusers took him to court (and won). But as D Magazine put it in 1989, he was “Guilty, But Who Cares?” Smith’s career sure didn’t hurt at all after his wrist-slap in court.
Jerry Falwell had some nice things to say about Smith back in 1984, right in the thick of those accusations. Also, apparently Smith is thick as thieves with the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement–which if anything is even more misogynistic and totalitarian than even the most die-hard Southern Baptist guys could ever dream of being.
No wonder Patterson liked this church so much!
And Then We Heard About The Convention Gig.
At some recent point, Patterson also accepted a plum leadership role at the “Great Commision Weekend.” That’s a Southern Baptist shindig coming up in a few weeks in Florida.
The schedule has him speaking to a pastors-only crowd about “evangelistic preaching.” His wife will be speaking to a women-only crowd about “evangelistic women.”
This schedule reminds me that one reason so many fundagelicals idolize this guy is that he’s got a reputation as a great evangelistic teacher/trainer. Sure, the SBC’s been in decline for years, but anyone who talks a big game about evangelism and sells himself confidently enough can get that reputation. It’s not like they use any objective measurement to assess those claims.
(And by the way, in keeping with our coverage of the SBC’s utterly tainted brand, let me add this tangential observation: I couldn’t find the words “Southern Baptist” or “SBC” anywhere on the hosting church’s website. I had to figure out their affiliation by checking the SBC’s directory.)
Maybe Patterson Was Wrong.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the fundagelical conference.
Surprisingly, Southern Baptists had not all forgotten about Paige Patterson.
The pushback to his return came from a few different directions. For example, one SBC abuse survivor, Susan Codone, mounted a social-media campaign to raise awareness of Patterson’s attempt to slink back into ministry. This campaign helped bring about the withdrawal of two sponsors and two originally-slated speakers at the “Great Commission Weekend.” (See endnote about how that shook out.)
Even J.D. Greear offered a mealy-mouthed suggestion that churches maybe not hire disgraced, scandal-ridden onetime leaders who are disastrous for the denomination’s public-relations image:
“Trustees terminated Paige Patterson for cause, publicly disclosing that his conduct was ‘antithetical to the core values of our faith,’ ” Greear told the Chronicle. “I advise any Southern Baptist church to consider this severe action before having Dr. Patterson preach or speak and to contact trustee officers if additional information is necessary.”
WOW. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Greear behaving in anything close to a decisive, leader-like way! I mean, I still really haven’t. But at least he came closer on this occasion than he ever has! Progress, friends, progress! And his flocks have certainly noticed this extremely uncharacteristic boldness of his–and some of ’em don’t approve at all. (MUH CHURCH OTTONO-MEE and all, ya know.)
And Now: Paige Patterson’s All-Too-Revealing Response to Scrutiny.
Give me a moment.
Oh, my sides.
I’m about to show you how Paige Patterson responded to the Chronicle’s questions about his attempted comeback.
It might just be the funniest response this pompous, bloviating windbag has ever made to anything in his entire miserable, beady-eyed waste of a life. And it wasn’t even his intention to be funny.
Here’s what the Houston Chronicle reported:
Patterson could not be reached for comment. His longtime personal attorney, J. Shelby Sharpe of Fort Worth, declined to make him available for an interview earlier in the week.
“Ministry opportunities for Dr. Patterson as he moves forward are not a subject he needs to address with the media,” Sharpe wrote in an email. “He has no interest in publicizing his ministry. His sole focus is to be faithful to go where God calls him.”
BOOM. There it is.
Translation: I’m not gonna tell you where I’m going next or what I’m up to lately, cuz you’re all meaniepies who’ll just publicize it and cost me paid gigs! Go away!
Paige Patterson’s scared of what could happen if people find out what he’s doing.
And well, maybe he should be.
Skulking in the Shadows.
Paige Patterson can now operate only in the shadows, skulking and slinking around in the dank corners of fundagelicalism’s most misogynistic churches. His only voluntary companions are people just like himself: misogynists who despise women, fear our potential, and consider themselves our lifelong rulers and masters.
Together, Patterson and his like-minded pals built an entire denomination around a nuclear core of white male supremacy. But now this sub-cult’s most fervent devotees must cluster together in the darkness like spores of mold–hoping against hope that nobody allows too much sunshine to reach their dark little corner.
What the creators of today’s SBC have done in creating and guarding their broken system is shameful.
Who they are is shameful.
And nobody deserves Paige Patterson’s company more than they do.
The SBC isn’t changing too much nor very quickly. It can’t. But maybe it’s changed a little. Maybe it’s changed enough to chase the denomination’s grossest elements to the underside of their cabinetry. It’ll be interesting to see if SBC’s many remaining hardliners manage to stomp their dissenting members back into place or drive them out before they do too much damage to the already-overstressed nuclear core in the kitchen.
I don’t know about you, but I find that whole chain of thought to be enormously warming on an otherwise dreary wintry evening.
NEXT UP: How even “egalitarian” fundagelical churches can find themselves ignoring red flags. See you soon!
- Scott Colter, a true-blue sycophant and onetime employee of Patterson’s. If you remember that awful fundagelical gal who publicly posted the private school records of the victim in one of Patterson’s mishandled sex-abuse cases, this is her husband.
- Brad Jurkovich, a fundagelical pastor involved with an ultra-sexist college. He signed that odious “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel,” so I’m guessing Pigg thought he’d be well on board with Patterson’s behavior and comeback.
Then Pigg tried to get Codone’s Twitter suspended cuz she’d printed his publicly-available contact info and suggested people let him know how they felt about him hiring Patterson to speak at his event. It’s so true: we sure do know fundagelicals by their love. Right? (Back to the post!)
Please Support What I Do!
Come join us on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, and our forum at rolltodisbelieve.com! (Also Instagram, where I mostly post cat pictures. About 99% of my insta consists of Bother being adorable.)
Also check out our recent Graceful Atheist podcast interview! It was a blast.
If you like what you see, I gratefully welcome your support. Please consider becoming one of my monthly patrons via Patreon with Roll to Disbelieve for as little as $1/month! My PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s an underscore in there) for one-time tips. You can also support this blog through my Amazon Affiliate link–and, of course, by liking and sharing my posts on social media! Thank you for anything you wish to do.