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Fort Worth Baptist leader under fire for counseling abused women to submit to husbands

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is shown in a 2011 file photo.
Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is shown in a 2011 file photo. Star-Telegram

The leader of a major Southern Baptist seminary of Fort Worth was forced to issue a statement after an old tape came to light, claiming to quote him suggesting that women in abusive marriages "be submissive" and elevate their husbands rather than seek divorce.

"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, I want you to do this every evening,' " says the man in the recording, who the Baptist Blog claims is Paige Patterson. " 'Get down by your bed as you go to sleep, get down by the bed when you think he's just about asleep, pray and ask God to intervene.'

"I said, 'Get ready because he may get a little more violent when he discovers it.'

"Sure enough, she came to church one morning with both eyes black."

But Patterson went on to say it was a happy ending: The woman's husband supposedly came to church that morning too, repenting and asking to be saved.

Patterson is a big name in the Southern Baptist world and a Fort Worth native. He's been the president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth since 2003, which bills itself as one of the largest seminaries in the world. He spent two years as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, from 1998-2000, and taught in North Carolina before returning to Texas.

"I have never counseled or condoned abuse of any kind," Patterson wrote in a statement released through the seminary on Sunday. "I have also said that I have never recommended or prescribed divorce. How could I as a minister of the Gospel? The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce."

The woman who had shown up to church with two black eyes, Patterson wrote, took him by surprise as he was merely helping her persuade her husband to go to church and she only "felt abused." The incident occurred in West Texas.

The author of the Baptist Blog told the Washington Post that the tape had been circulating on church watchdog blogs for over a decade, but was republished in light of the #MeToo movement. The author told the Post that the interview was done by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, without commenting directly on the tape, posted a tweet denouncing abuse.

Anyone with information on church abuses should contact reporter Sarah Smith at