After being fired in May from his post as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for a history of misogynistic comments and mishandling of sex abuse allegations, Patterson returned to the pulpit this week to offer a pair of sermons at a revival in Pisgah, Ala. But rather than offer a statement of humble contrition, the 75-year-old Southern Baptist leader body-shamed an unnamed woman and decried women who falsely accuse men of sexual misconduct.
In his first of two sermons, Patterson told a story of evangelizing a former church member’s mother whom he wanted to meet after being told she “could whip” him. Upon visiting her for the first time, his parishioner’s mother didn’t knock him out but, according to Patterson, “she filled the door.” After being invited into her home, Patterson said he was finally able to persuade the woman to convert to Christianity, and when she came to his church for baptism, he joked, they had to “fill the baptistery half full.”
The crowd erupted in laughter.
“She was not just fat. I mean to tell you what: I think she pumped iron probably an hour or so a day,” he said of the woman. “She literally could have played guard for the Green Bay Packers.”
In American evangelical Christianity — the powerful religious movement that is led predominantly by white men — body-shaming women is not altogether uncommon. Numerous accounts of this kind of behavior in churches can be found online. But it is an especially inappropriate, even befuddling, choice of material for Patterson (who was coincidentally speaking in a state with the nation’s third-highest obesity rate). After all, the furor that led to his demise was partially sparked by a sermon in which he objectified a 16-year-old girl’s physical appearance.
Patterson returned to the pulpit at the same conference the following day to preach another sermon. His chosen text was the biblical story of Joseph, a Jewish patriarch who refused to be seduced by an Egyptian woman, who then falsely accused Joseph of sexually abusing her. Patterson used this passage as an opportunity to address the #MeToo movement — the movement that brought him down just months ago.
“I’m all in favor of the #MeToo movement when there is a guilty party,” Patterson said, adding that men who abuse women are cowardly. But then he added, “By the same token, I have nothing good to say about a woman who falsely accuses a man. She runs the risk of ruining a life. She runs the risk of causing sorrow unknown when the person is, in fact, innocent.”
SOURCE: The Washington Post