A letter to the Washington Post revealing abuse at an SBC seminary

Megan Cox of Give Her Wings has given me permission to repost her letter to  Sarah Pulliam Bailey, the author of the Washington Post series on Paige Patterson. The abuse and abuse enabling in SBC circles is far worse than what I talked about yesterday. Sometimes there isn’t even a pretence of trying to make it look okay.

Megan Cox in 2014 with her newly published book, “Give Her Wings: Hope and Healing after Abuse”

Dear Ms. Bailey,

I was deeply encouraged by your recent piece on Dr. Paige Patterson. I have long-awaited this type of abuse to be uncovered.

I was married to an abusive man when he attended Southeastern Seminary, when Paige Patterson was the president. While I was there, I had a friend, whose husband also attended seminary. They have five children and they were abused regularly, in every way.

Since I was “only” suffering from emotional, financial, mental and spiritual abuse, I went to security and reported the abuse of my friend. The security officer said that he “hears about this type of thing all the time.” He did nothing.

I then went to the counseling department (Dr. Frank Catanzaro, who is now working under Patterson in Texas), and told him about the abuse of my friend. Her child had recently suffered a broken hand at the hands of her father. Dr. Catanzaro said, “This happens all the time. There’s nothing we can do.”

I argued, “But, this man is here to be a PASTOR. You can’t let him go through with it!” Dr. Catanzaro also remarked, “There is nothing we can do.” His casual demeanor was shocking.  

I also called upon Dr. Catanzaro many times for my own abuse. He told me things such as, “Be more active in bed. Submit more. Pray for him.” He never once gave me the option to leave.

When [my abuse] began to get physical, I finally took our four children and left (seminaries, then, were big on their beliefs against birth control, which left us women very vulnerable). By the time I left, we had moved overseas to be with my ex husband’s family. A friend noticed bruises on the children and myself and she and her husband paid for tickets for us to escape.

We found no comfort from our previous Southern Baptist churches. Further, they harassed us for a good year for my “sin” of leaving my ex. I was told that I am a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and that God is no longer with me. I was so spiritually brainwashed that I really thought I was going to hell — but I wanted to give my children a better chance. During that time, the children and I were in near-poverty.

Slowly, I climbed my way out and I have been remarried for almost 6 years. I won sole custody of my children. Six years ago, I started a non-profit ministry called Give Her Wings, Inc. to try to help the women who, like me, were shunned by their community, families and in-laws for the “sin” of leaving abuse. We regularly pay bills for these brave women to get on their feet and they do! We have helped close to 100 women become free. We are small, but mighty!

Paige Patterson’s teaching and support of the good ole’ boy system has hurt so many more women than I could count. Please don’t stop reporting these things. Please keep on digging.

Sincerely,

Megan Cox

*****

The abuse that has been sanctioned under Paige Patterson, and far far wider in fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, is so shocking as to leave one wondering where the Christians are.

Last night a woman wrote to me who is an SBC missionary to Muslims. As a woman serving in a Muslim country every day she works and fights against a culture that devalues women. She expressed her discouragement to me to know that the denomination that sent her there is practicing some of the same type of devaluation of women.

This is not representative of the Jesus we know and love and serve. This is not who He is. This is not what He wants for His church.

What students thought about Paige Patterson’s forced early retirement

Today it was announced that Paige Patterson, President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, would be “demoted” from President to President Emeritus (though some would reasonably argue that this is simply an early retirement). This “demotion” came after immense public pressure that has been capably recorded in other places, such as Spiritual Sounding Board. I wrote about the problem behind the problem of Paige Patterson once, here.

The Washington Post article about Paige Patterson’s early retirement is here, and while others are commenting about various implications of this new turn of events, there’s a different part I want to focus on: how the students responded. Continue reading “What students thought about Paige Patterson’s forced early retirement”

When is it wrong to be a “living sacrifice”? Reexamining Romans 12:1

Romans 12:1 says,

“Therefore I exhort you, brothers [and sisters], through the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your reasonable [rational] service.”

I’ve been naïve and sheltered apparently, because I was in my fifties before I found out how this expression, this good Bible verse, had been perverted beyond recognition. For me, beyond imagining, until I learned it was real. Continue reading “When is it wrong to be a “living sacrifice”? Reexamining Romans 12:1”

How to handle those “forgive and forget” Scriptures

Occasionally I’ve talked with friends who have feared they haven’t really forgiven the person who harmed them. “I keep thinking about the harm,” she might say. “It keeps hurting. So that makes me think I haven’t really forgiven.”

It’s not only a common feeling, but also a common accusation.

“You’re still talking about that? You must not have forgiven. You must just be bitter.

After all, forgive and forget. Continue reading “How to handle those “forgive and forget” Scriptures”

Rachael Denhollander lost her church over her advocacy for abuse survivors

Rachael Denhollander, the first of the infamous Larry Nassar’s victims to speak publicly, is a Christian. A real Christian. That’s very obvious from her powerful victim impact statement that was posted yesterday. The full transcript of that statement can be read here, but this is the part I want to emphasize: Continue reading “Rachael Denhollander lost her church over her advocacy for abuse survivors”

Turpin tragedy: Is homeschooling the problem?

Last week I wrote a blog post at top speed, for me, the fastest I’d ever gotten a post up. It was David and Louise Turpin: the picture-perfect homeschooling family.

If I’d had a warning ahead of time that this post would receive over twenty times as many views as my previous most popular post ever (which was my Michael Pearl post, in case you’re interested), I probably would have Continue reading “Turpin tragedy: Is homeschooling the problem?”

Encouraging thoughts on forgiveness and grief

Back in September I published a post called “Here’s an abuse survivor’s plea about nouthetic ‘Biblical’ counseling.” You can see it here.

In that post, the anonymous writer gave some astute words about the demand for forgiveness that’s so common in nouthetic/”admonishing” counseling. She said she was told she needed to forgive the childhood sexual abuse perpetrated on her before she even understood what it was she was forgiving.  

The Lord tells us we should forgive, yes. But in cases of great betrayal, it takes time even to understand what it was that has occurred. 

Continue reading “Encouraging thoughts on forgiveness and grief”