Someone close to the situation is saying – and presenting evidence – that accusations against a recently ousted Southern Baptist seminary president may be false.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth dispatched with its president, Dr. Paige Patterson (pictured), on Wednesday night amid accusations of covering up a sexual assault and other charges. Only a week earlier, the school's board of trustees demoted the Southern Baptist icon to the position of president emeritus after it was reported that in 2003 he encouraged a female student at a different school not to report an alleged rape to the police.
Patterson says he doesn't remember meeting with the female student, presumably when he was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. On Thursday, Sharayah Colter – the wife of Patterson's (now former) chief of staff at SWBTS – produced a letter from the victim that seems to confirm that it was Dr. Allan Moseley, not Patterson, who handled the North Carolina case. Moseley was dean of students at Southeastern at the time.
"She said to him Even though Dr. Moseley has handled this, I think that it is great that the school enforces discipline," Colter tells OneNewsNow.
According to Colter, a similar incident at Southwestern reinforced the point that it's not like Patterson to excuse or cover up an assault. "In that case, the woman actually asked the president not to call the police and he said I must – and so he did call the police and the police did respond," she shares.
While the alleged cover-ups are the most serious accusations against Patterson, Colter also casts doubt on another accusation that Patterson advised a domestic violence victim to return to the abusive husband and that Patterson had objectified a young girl in a conversation with a woman and her son.
In her letter, Colter accuses the executive committee of the board of trustees of violating its bylaws and confidentiality in a rush to judgment and – in the process – stranding Patterson and Scott Colter, her husband, in Germany.
"They immediately lost their personal contacts and their calendar and their phones," she informs. "The phones were shut down while they were traveling on behalf of the seminary in Germany, so they didn't then have access to their itineraries, their train tickets, their local contact information, their flight boarding passes."
Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist-Dallas, wants to know why. "Why was this done when Dr. Patterson was out of the country on seminary business, unable to defend himself against these latest charges?" he asks.
Coulter has no recommendations as to what should happen now to Dr. Patterson, trusting that there are enough people of good faith in the Southern Baptist Convention to make things right.
Read May 31 article by Sharayah Colter:
"The untold truth: Facts surrounding Paige Patterson
and his removal from SWBTS"
Pursuing truth – or reacting to pressure?
Dr. Alex McFarland – a Christian apologist and former president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina – suspects Patterson's demise has more to do with a power struggle within the Southern Baptist Convention than with the allegations.
"There are factions [in the SBC] that have political agendas, theological agendas, cultural agendas," McFarland states. "I would be brokenhearted to think that an opportunity was taken here under the guise of pursuing truth … when in reality it was just an opportunity to leverage this great denomination for political ends."
Grady Arnold, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Cuero, Texas, says a lot of people didn't like the conservative direction in which Patterson took the denomination years ago. That same faction, he argues, applied pressure on the Southwestern trustees to terminate the 75-year-old, even though – in Arnold's opinion – the allegations against Patterson weren't thoroughly investigated.
"All of that protocol was run roughshod over because of the pressure that was being put on them just to fire him," the pastor tells OneNewsNow. "So here we have the trustees, rather than doing due process, being pressured to fire a guy before there's a total full-court on all the evidence – and it's just incredible."
Arnold has made known his concerns about some leaders in the SBC embracing the social justice movement and its liberal worldview. Nevertheless, the Texas pastor is hopeful some of the new documented evidence rebutting the accusations against Patterson will lead to some sort of vindication for the former seminary leader.
"I'm hoping [it will] shed some light," he adds, "however I don't know that it will undo what's already been done [by] the termination – but certainly people need to know the truth."