After Eighteen Years, Paige Patterson Contradicts Himself About Domestic Violence (Updated)

(See “everybody should own at least one” update at the end of the post)
On Saturday April 28, Jonathan Merritt tweeted a link to a blog with an 18 year old audio of former Southern Baptist Convention president Paige Patterson advising women not to divorce abusive husbands.


After a social media explosion, Patterson issued a response on Sunday on the website of the seminary he leads, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The comments were made in March 2000 at a Southern Baptist Convention conference (co-sponsored by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) and had been posted several times over the years on various blogs and websites. Over the years, several writers (including me) have asked Patterson if these views are his current views. Now, 18 years later, he has responded and the outrage is growing.

Black Eyes

Here is what he said in the audio after he is addressed by an unknown questioner (click the link to listen).

It depends on the level of abuse to some degree.  I have never in my ministry counseled that anybody seek a divorce, and I do think that’s always wrong counsel.  There have been, however, an occasion or two when the level of the abuse was serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough that I have counseled temporary separation and the seeking of help.  I would urge you to understand that that should happen only in the most serious of cases. I would cite examples of it but the examples that I have had in my ministry are so awful that I will not cite them in public. That’s enough to say however, that there’s a severe physical and/or moral danger that’s involved before you come to that. More often, when you face abuse, it is of a less serious variety but all abuse is serious.
There are two or three things that I say to women who are in those kinds of situations. First of all, I say to them that you must not forget the power of prayer. Just as one of your little children comes to you with a broken heart and crawls up into your arms and looks into your face and with tears running down his cheeks asks you to intervene in a situation. If you have anything in you of a loving parent’s heart at all that’ll bring you to your attention and you’re off and running. And now if you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more shall your Father in heaven do good if you ask of Him. Do not forget the power of consecrated concentrated prayer.  Get on your face and ask him to intervene and He is a good and a dear heavenly Father at some point He will intervene. I give one brief example of it.
I had a woman who was in a church that I served, and she was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “All right, what I want you to do is, every evening I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene, not out loud, quietly,” but I said, “You just pray there.” And I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.” And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.” And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”
And what she didn’t know when we sat down in church that morning was that her husband had come in and was standing at the back, first time he ever came. And when I gave the invitation that morning, he was the first one down to the front. And his heart was broken, he said, “My wife’s praying for me, and I can’t believe what I did to her.” And he said, “Do you think God can forgive somebody like me?” And he’s a great husband today. And it all came about because she sought God on a regular basis. And remember, when nobody else can help, God can.
And in the meantime, you have to do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can and to elevate him. Obviously, if he’s doing that kind of thing he’s got some very deep spiritual problems in his life and you have to pray that God brings into the intersection of his life those people and those events that need to come into his life to arrest him and bring him to his knees.

In his statement on Sunday, Patterson wrote about that woman with the black eyes:

Many years ago in West Texas, a woman approached me about the desire of her husband to prevent her attendance in church. He was neither harsh nor physical with her, but she felt abused. I suggested to her that she kneel by the bed at night and pray for him. Because he might hear her prayer, I warned her that he could become angry over this and seek to retaliate. Subsequently, on a Sunday morning, she arrived at church with some evidence of physical abuse. She was very surprised that this had happened. But I had seen her husband come into the church and sit down at the back. I knew that God had changed this man’s heart. What he had done to his wife had brought conviction to his heart. I was happy—not that she had suffered from his anger, but that God had used her to move her husband to conviction of his sin. I knew that she was going to be happy for him also. That morning, he did make his decision for Christ public before the church, and she was ecstatic. They lived happily together from that time on in commitment to Christ. There was no further abuse. In fact, their love for one another and commitment to their home was evident to all. She herself often shared this testimony. For sharing this illustration, especially in the climate of this culture, I was probably unwise. However, my suggestion was never that women should stay in the midst of abuse, hoping their husbands would eventually come to Christ. Rather, I was making the application that God often uses difficult things that happen to us to produce ultimate good. And I will preach that truth until I die.

Turning from Bad Advice

I once recommended sexual orientation change efforts. I don’t now. I actively denounce them now. I don’t pretend that I always opposed them. I regret my former advice and I have written many lines since about 2006 to turn from that bad advice.
Rev. Patterson in his Sunday statement wrote, “my suggestion was never that women should stay in the midst of abuse, hoping their husbands would eventually come to Christ.” As Jacob Denhollander first pointed out on Twitter, that’s not exactly correct. Denhollander said:

No, Mr. Patterson, that’s not true. That’s exactly what you did.

Patterson even warned the woman that her husband “may get a little more violent” before he sent her back into an abusive situation with the advice to pray for him.
If Patterson truly believes women should leave abusive situations then he should decisively turn from his prior position. It isn’t just poor politics to share such stories in “the climate of this culture.” Even if this one story is true (and I would like to hear from that couple), that doesn’t make the advice generally correct or wise.
Patterson says he agrees with the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood statement on abuse. If that is true, that is a good thing. He would also do well to recognize that his advice in 2000 and that statement now are incompatible.

Additional information: “I think everybody should own at least one.”

In reading more about Rev. Patterson’s views on women in ministry, I came across a quote that I wanted to check out. See below for the quote about “owning at least one woman.”
According to the May 4, 1997 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, embattled seminary president Paige Patterson answered a question about ordaining women with the following quip:

“I think everybody should own at least one,” Patterson quipped when asked about women.

The article isn’t in digital format (except here) but has been referred to by several bloggers over the years. I looked it up in a newspaper database. Sure enough there it is.
The article was in response to plans by moderate Southern Baptists to start new seminaries in the wake of the conservative take over of convention seminaries. One of the hopes of the moderates was to ordain women. Patterson didn’t agree and expressed himself with what the reporter took to be a joke.

International Healing Foundation Strikes Gold with School Project

After years of reporting meager income from operations of the International Healing Foundation, Richard Cohen reported over $600,000 in revenue on his 990 form for 2011. Most of that total – $540,000 – was revenue related to an IHF “special school project.” See below:

 The IHF website is silent about this project but it seems likely that this is the educational initiative Cohen described in his Fall 2007 newsletter. After lamenting what he considered to be school indoctrination relating to homosexuality, Cohen provided his solution:

To fill in the blanks left by the public school systems’ strictly gay-affirming curricula, the International Healing Foundation is set to produce a short DVD. This film is designed to be part of the schools’ health education courses, and clearly shows that people can change and come out of homosexuality. The film will feature the true story of a young man and his parents, as well as interviews with several other men and women who have made the change from gay to straight. Half the film’s $40,000 budget has been raised. The International Healing Foundation needs your help in raising the remaining $20,000 to make this film a reality. Please help save our children, and set the record straight!

Once this project is completed, an additional one million dollars will be needed to send a copy of the DVD to every school district in the country. We will urge them to provide a DVD for each of their schools, so the complete story of homosexuality can be told. This historical film will have the power to turn the tide of strictly gay affirmation by proclaiming the truth about change. Millions of students will then have the opportunity to decide for themselves the kind of life they choose to live.

As improbable as it might seem, it appears that IHF has found a donor or several donors willing to fund this effort. The project appears to be moving forward. According to the 990, IHF has spent over $180,000 on expenses relating to the “special school project.”

Yesterday I reported that Unification Church president, Hyung Jin Moon considers IHF founder Richard Cohen to be a member of the Unification church movement and the foremost expert on homosexuality in the church. With this school project, Cohen apparently wants to bring his “expertise” to the nations’ schools. Given the volatile climate of public schools related to anti-gay bullying, I am nervous about the impact of schools showing a video from IHF to students.

While I doubt these clips are a part of the school video, it is worth remembering how Cohen approaches sexual reorientation. First from a CNN appearance:

and then from the documentary, Chasing the Devil:

UPDATE: Another more likely possibility for the video expenses is the underwriting of Acception Productions (another hat tip to David Hart for reminding me of this). This video purports to be about bullying prevention but adds a “U” (for unwanted) to the usual GLBT designation of same sex orientation. Thus, IHF attempts to straddle the fence – claiming to support kids who are same-sex attracted but also supporting reparative therapy interventions which pathologize them. How ironic. Initially, Cohen claimed that gays were using the schools to advance ideological ends and now he is doing it for the same purpose.

Here is a description of the initial showing of their video to public school staff:

The event also featured a talk by Betsy Gallun, Supervisor of Health Education, Prince George’s County, MD and a panel discussion of middle and high school students from the Washington, DC area that was moderated by WHUR’s Molette Green.

Here is the trailer for the video:

In the curriculum booklet which accompanies Acception is this gem which is supposed to be discussed with students:

Group 5: Innate and Developmental Characteristics. – We are all born with unique personalities. We also develop specific characteristics through familial and environmental factors. In Acception, the cartoon “Are People Born Gay?” examines the scientific evidence surrounding homosexuality, and concludes with the American Psychological Association that: “Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”49 With your group, discuss some of the characteristics people are born with, as well as other characteristics that are acquired. What do you think we can and cannot change about ourselves? Share your thoughts with your classmates, and remember to accept and appreciate everyone’s opinion.

And then this claim is made regarding sexual orientation change:

Group 9: Respecting Choices. – While most people experience little or no choice in their sexual attractions, many people make decisions based on their personal, religious, and/or cultural values when it comes to their sexual behavior. For example, some individuals who experience same-sex attraction may find their feelings are at odds with their values and choose not to engage in homosexual behavior. Others, still, may actually experience a shift or change in their sexual feelings throughout their lives due to a variety of experiences; in fact, emerging research is finding that sexuality is somewhat fluid for certain individuals, and should not be viewed as fixed or permanent.52,53,54,55,56

I think it will be clear to most long time observers of IHF that this video is simply a means of getting the “change is possible” message in the schools. While I have no problem with the idea that some people choose to align their behavior with religious beliefs, it is another thing entirely to give students false hope and then route them to religiously oriented ex-gay programs which use bizarre methods to try to reorient sexuality.

Hat tip to David Hart.

AFA Deceives Parents About Mix It Up Day

On October 30, The Southern Poverty Law Center will partner with over two thousand schools to sponsor an event called Mix It Up day. From the Mix It Up website, the event is

national campaign launched by Teaching Tolerance a decade ago, Mix It Up at Lunch Day encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries.

In our surveys, students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn. So on one day – October 30 this school year – we ask students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications. Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.

There is good that can come from this. Many teachers and schools encourage this kind of activity without being a part of the SPLC event. As a part of the anti-bullying initiative at my son’s elementary school last year, such lunch time mixing was encouraged. While I am not sure how much it helped in the long run, it seemed well intended.

However, where there is a anti-bullying program/idea, you can expect the American Family Association to be there complaining about it. And that is the case with the MIU Day. In a Time magazine story out yesterday, an AFA press release is mentioned and has this to say about the SPLC event:

“Mix It Up” day is an entry-level “diversity” program designed specifically by SPCL (sic) to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools, including elementary and junior high schools.

The AFA is calling for parents to keep their kids home on that day.

If possible, this is a new low for the AFA. There is just no truth in what the AFA is telling parents.

There are real consequences to the AFA’s actions. Some schools apparently have been intimidated by the AFA tactics and backed out of the event. I know first hand that some Christians become defensive when misinformed about anti-bullying initiatives.

Thanks to the AFA and Focus on the Family, self-styled pro-family groups are becoming associated with resistance to anti-bullying efforts. What is particularly disturbing in this case is the blatant dishonestly of the AFA in mischaracterizing the MIU Day.

I urge parents to send their kids to school on Oct 30 and go so far as to ask their schools to consider participating in MIU Day. While we have no megaphone akin to the AFA, I will encourage all associated with the Golden Rule Pledge to support any efforts to reduce stigma, stereotyping and bullying in schools.

 

 

Baptist minister justifies child abuse

This is disgusting.

(via Good as You)

Things are getting crazy. Dan Savage goes off on Christians, and this “minister,” Sean Harris, justifies child abuse.

As tempting as it is to get into the mudslinging, cooler heads need to step up and speak truth to both extremes.

The pastor is now saying he “misspoke.” He is also saying he was taken out of context. This is ridiculous since his own words were quoted and available on audio. He could say he regrets advocating smacking gender non-conforming kids but he has to blame others first for his careless words. This is one of those non-apology, apologies.

Golden Rule Pledge listed on StopBullying.gov; How about a Walk-In?

I noticed last week that the Golden Rule Pledge is now listed on the federal government’s StopBullying.gov website.

This government resource is managed by DHHS and contains a wealth of information for schools, parents and students to help curb bullying.

I like it.

Regarding the Golden Rule Pledge and the Days of Dialogue and Silence, I only know of one district where they may be observed together. All around, this year seems more quiet than any previous year.

Of course, some religious right groups want students to walk out on the Day of Silence saying that the DOS keeps students from learning. I don’t understand the logic. Some kids being silent for parts of a day interferes with learning, but skipping school is educationally sound?

Instead of a walk-out, I advise a walk-in. Kids, walk in school and promise to treat others the way you want to be treated. Not only is that educationally sound, it sounds like a pretty good moral philosophy.

 

Mike Huckabee endorses Bully

Color me surprised, but pleasantly so.

Mike Huckabee, former GOP Presidential candidate and now FOX News host has endorsed the movie Bully.

From the Huckabee’s column in the Daily Beast:

Bully is compelling. It’s not a pretty or pleasant story, but needs to be told.  The message is not a “horizontal” message of left vs. right; liberal vs. conservative; Democrat vs. Republican. It’s a “vertical” message that says we’ll either get better, or God forbid, we won’t learn from this and it will get worse.Surely this nation, so divided by almost everything, could unite behind the notion that the youngest among us should be treated with dignity and respect. Bully helps achieve that goal. Keeping kids from seeing it does not.

 

Anoka-Hennepin School District Ends Silence Policy Toward Sexual Orientation

UPDATE – 2/14/12: The school board placed this information on their website about the change (scroll down to see the approved policy):

The Anoka-Hennepin School District has a new policy designed to promote a respectful learning environment in which teachers facilitate student discussions of contentious topics in a balanced and impartial manner that encourages development of critical thinking and decision-making skills.

“I believe this policy is the best thing for Anoka-Hennepin and for all students,” said Board Chair Tom Heidemann, who went on to say it “takes away some of the confusion that existed in the previous policy.”

The School Board approved the Respectful Learning Environment – Curriculum Policy Feb. 13 following more than two months of discussion and hours of public input regarding replacement of the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy (SOCP). Some teachers felt that the SOCP was confusing. Board members asked the administration to bring forward a new policy that would eliminate the confusion.

The board sought a policy that would address any issues that may be contentious instead of focusing on specific topics. (The new policy replaces the Religious Activities Policy as well as the SOCP.) They also wanted to ensure that staff would not attempt to persuade students to adopt a particular viewpoint, and to clarify that the board-adopted curriculum is the basis for education in district schools.

After rejecting an earlier proposal in December when public input revealed little support for it, staff developed the Respectful Learning Environment-Curriculum Policy and presented it to the board Jan. 23. According to Paul Cady, district general counsel, the new policy meets the intent of the board, responds to public input, and reflects academic research on how to best deal with issues of public controversy that may arise in the classroom.

“It’s not the district’s role to take a position on these issues and it’s not acceptable for professional staff to persuade students to adopt or reject any particular viewpoint,” said Chair Heidemann. This was one of several elements he felt were missing in the previous policy.

He also stressed that the district’s curriculum will not change as the result of adopting the Respectful Learning Environment – Curriculum Policy. “Curriculum changes only if there are four votes on this School Board,” Heidemann said.

Board member John Hoffman noted that the district has a transparent process for adopting curriculum and community members have the right to participate in that process.

Board members also stressed that the new policy emphasizes a safe and respectful learning environment for all students. “It gets to the intent of our founding fathers of this great state and ensures all are welcome to participate in this wonderful experience of free, public education,” said Hoffman

Board member Scott Wenzel stressed that by adopting the Respectful Learning Environment-Curriculum Policy the board removes a policy that singles out one minority group and establishes the dignity and self-worth of all students. “I believe our teachers always have the best interests of students at heart. [This policy] provides the reassurance that our teachers will continue to do that.”

The proposed policy opens with a commitment to a safe and respectful learning environment for all students and an education that respects all students and their families. It stresses that teachers must follow the board-adopted curriculum, which is based on state standards, and it acknowledges that political, religious, social or economic issues may be contentious in a learning environment “in which conflicting views are held by a broad segment of people in our schools, our community and our nation.”

The policy states that the district does not take positions on these issues and that staff shall not attempt to “persuade students to adopt or reject any particular viewpoint with respect to these issues.” When contentious issues are discussed in classrooms, it states that the discussions must be appropriate for the developmental level of students, related to the course content, and presented in a balanced manner with varying points of view. They should be designed to help students “think critically and develop decision-making skills and techniques for examining and understanding differing opinions.”

It closes by stating that in these discussions, staff “shall affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students.”

………

Earlier tonight, various news sources reported that the Anoka-Hennepin School Board was considering a replacement for their gag policy on teacher discussions of sexual orientation. The old policy forbid teachers from discussing with students aspects of sexual orientation as a reality.

(Read policy after the break)

Continue reading “Anoka-Hennepin School District Ends Silence Policy Toward Sexual Orientation”

Anoka-Hennepin featured in Rolling Stone expose on anti-gay bullying

I wrote about this district last year.

Rolling Stone has a powerful article in their February 16, 2012 issue that is online here. Go read it. Now.

The Parent’s Action League (PAL) continues to be at the center of the problem, vilifying gays while they want the school to be silent on the subject. On their website, they write:

Bullying of any kind, for any reason, towards any child must NOT be tolerated.”

Note: Respectfully disagreeing with a point of view or behavior is not bullying per the First Amendment.

How do you respectfully say gays are caused by child molestation and that they are not normal? These are just two “loving truths” that the PAL people want the freedom to force on students in the Anoka-Hennipin School District. I doubt the PAL people would believe such sharing with their children would demonstrate respect if the message was aimed toward evangelicals.

 

 

Christians behaving badly

LivePrayer’s Bill Keller really did not need to comment on a tragedy he knows nothing about, but he did.
In a press release out today, Keller used the suicide of 15 year old Jamie Hubley to go on a rant about gays.
Keller blames the victim, Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow and Ellen DeGeneres for the suicide, assuming that the boy was in distress because he had come out as gay.

Last Friday, a 15-year-old Ottawa boy Jamie Hubley, committed suicide after documenting his hardships of being “gay.” Liveprayer’s Bill Keller said that while the media wants to demonize anyone who dares call this CHOICE of sexual activity what God calls it in the Bible, a sin, it is those in the media who glamorize and promote this choice as normal and acceptable, along with gutless pastors too afraid to speak out against this sin, along with faux churches that glorify this deviant, unnatural, and unhealthy choice of sexual activity, who are most responsible for Hubley’s death.

Rants by fundamentalists about homosexuality are not really news, but this one is so noxious that it illustrates the growing gulf in the church between those who know something about homosexuality and those who don’t. The scholars, ministers and lay people who are making an attempt to understand the subject are moving in one direction and what is left are those who ignore abundant evidence to the contrary of their beliefs.
Recently, I was talking with a 20-something minister who told me that he had become disillusioned with the culture war machine, most clearly over homosexuality. He told me of his struggle to relate to a gay friend, because the friend was more devout in his Christianity than many of his straight Christian friends. His friend was nothing like the right wing stereotypes about “the gay lifestyle.” He also said he worked with some gay men and lesbians at a job where they talked freely about their lives. This young man told me about how common their descriptions were and how normal their families sounded.
He struggled because what he read and heard from evangelical leaders did not square with his own experience. He felt internal pressure to conform his attitudes to the conventional wisdom he was hearing and to disregard his direct experience. He also told me that he didn’t care what anyone said, he didn’t believe his friends could change their orientation, “any more than I can change mine,” he said.
I fear that the rants and rhetoric from those who seem threatened by social change will become more strident. Like a huge self-fulfilling prophecy, they will behave badly toward gays and others who disagree with them, and then they will use the natural reaction of those attacked as a proof of their righteous stance.
I just wish suicides by 15 year old kids could be left out of it.

Alan Chambers on It Gets Better: Life Comes First

In a blog post today on the Exodus International site, Exodus President Alan Chambers walked back from earlier criticism of the “It Gets Better” campaign a bit. Chambers writes:

A few months ago I went on record criticizing the “It Gets Better” campaign that has gone viral with an anti-bullying message for LGBT teens.  My criticism was over the use of “Woody,” the fictional star from the box office smash Toy Story trilogy.  I reacted because I hate when iconic children’s heroes are used to further what I perceive to be adult causes.  With further reflection and thought, though, I have to admit that I was wrong to question their marketing strategy without expressing my full support for what is the heart of their campaign – encouraging LGBT teens to choose life.
I know I am going to get a barrage of emails, calls and letters about this from those who think that I am caving to pressure.  Truth be told I am pressured daily by both pro-gay and pro-Church groups (and everyone in between).  I don’t listen to all of the “advice” or “criticism” that is offered, but I do review most it.  And, I pray about it. It keeps me up at night as I weigh the impact my opinions and words have on others globally. I don’t want to ever be guilty of towing a “party” line, whether that party is political, social or religious, just because that’s what’s expected or because it garners a donation.  I want to live out my biblical beliefs in a way that draws people to Christ.  When it comes to kids killing themselves, I can’t justify criticizing a campaign that, at its deepest core, is most about saving the lives of LGBT kids.  I care MORE about a kid choosing life than whether or not he or she embraces a gay identity. Life comes first.  Living out our biblical convictions means fighting for the lives of young people at all cost.  Can any of us actually say we’d rather our teens, neighbors, friends or complete strangers kill themselves than be gay?  I certainly can’t.  Regardless of where someone falls on the debate over sexuality, I hope we can all agree to move the issue of bullying and suicide, especially where kids are concerned, to a non-polarized, non-politicized and non-divisive issue.

I appreciate Alan’s statement here. I think this needs to be made known to folks in the Anoka-Hennepin School District who are resisting bullying prevention programs.
Alan goes on to describe his experience as a child who was bullied. He has an experiential perspective that many social conservatives ignore. A middle school kid who is being harassed with anti-gay slurs and threatened with violence because of a perceived orientation doesn’t care about your religious beliefs. He just wants help to make it stop. In Anoka-Hennepin, for instance, the Parents Action League puts ideology before kids, in my opinion. Alan’s statement is something that I hope they see.
UPDATE: The Christian Post just published an article about Chamber’s statement prominently on their front page.