One dog and three missing women


The former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson, has relaunched his personal website, started hitting up the preaching circuit, and he recently granted an hour-long popcorn interview on Christian talk radio.

We spent a little time parsing Patterson’s biography on his newly-deployed website (HT: Sharayah). Some of the things we’ve noted:

  • 18 years at Criswell College, 11 years at Southeastern, 15 at Southwestern. No word on why he left Criswell and Southwestern.
  • Does Patterson have a Ph.D. or a Th.D?  Is there a difference?
  • No specific information is provided about former pastorates.  They were: First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Ark. (1970-75), Bethany Baptist Church in New Orleans (1966-70); Second Baptist Church in Abilene (1963-65); and Sardis Baptist Church, Rotan, Tex. (1962-63).*
  • No mention of any pastoral role at First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX.
  • No mention of an original desire to study at Southern Seminary or worries that a low GRE score would prevent admission to the doctoral program.
    • In a letter dated Feb. 22, 1967, to Wayne Ward, Patterson expresses a desire to attend Southern. In a follow up letter that year, Patterson stated: “I need to know when you (sic) Sabbatical will be. I should hate to come to Southern for my doctoral and about the time I start on my thesis, for you to leave.”*
    • In a letter to Ward dated Dec. 6, 1967, Patterson states: “I took the GRE test here and I do not think I did very well, though I have not received my grade. If I did not make the required 950, does this eliminate me from being able to take the Miller Analogy Test? Dr. Eddlemen is upset about the GRE, but I am not sure what he can do about it. As you know, it had a great deal of math on it and that happens to be my weak field. I am not afraid of the Miller Analogy though. Even though I took the GRE, I did yet apply for the entrance in the doctoral program here [at New Orleans]. (Note: Patterson’s GRE score came in above the cut off for admission to New Orleans’s doctoral program. He did not formally pursue application to Southern Seminary’s doctoral program.)*
  • There are the obligatory and oft-repeated references to 135 countries visited, sportsman banquets, big game hunting, and meetings with Yasser Arafat and Menachem Begin.
  • He’s led church planting movements in several states? What? Which states? When?
  • There’s an interesting reference to operating a “coffeehouse in the famous French Quarter,” where he claimed ministry to “runaway teenagers from across the United States.” More about that later.
  • There’s mention of his father, T.A. Patterson, but no mention of his mother, Roberta “Honey” Patterson.
  • There’s mention of one daughter, but no mention of a second “adopted daughter.” The last published reference to an adopted daughter we can find is in the Nov. 1981 issue of Texas Monthly.
  • There’s no mention of a sister, Dawn. (Note: In a letter dated July 8, 1999, to a woman in Winters, TX, Patterson writes: “In regard to your questions about mom, she passed away just a little over a year and a half ago. She was living with Dawn, my sister, in Kansas at the time of her death. There was a service there and then at grave side in Dallas where we buried her next to dad. Mother never finished the book, and the manuscript, if it still exists, is in Dawn’s possession. I do not have a good relationship with Dawn (she is now living with her third husband, and I fear that one will not last past her money running out), and though I hurt for her and would do anything even now to help her, she does not seem to wish to have the relationship with me.”**
  • There is a closing mention of a black Labrador Retriever, of course.


Editor’s Note: Broken relationships happen in every family, and they are some of the more painful experiences in life. In recent weeks, we have interviewed persons closely familiar with the Pattersons’ adopted daughter narrative, and their testimonies are equally painful. We’ve pulled wedding records in Arkansas, divorce records in Mississippi, and genealogy records. We’ve scoured hours of oral history interviews, pored over dozens of years of personal correspondence, and exchanged numerous emails with University of Arkansas alumni from the 1970s.

The whole story of Mary Sinclair has never been told publicly. Her identity has been excluded from every Patterson family Christmas Card for nearly 40 years. She is not mentioned in any published biography, and we cannot find any reference to her in available audio or video recordings of Dorothy Patterson’s sermons. People have known the Pattersons for four decades or more and never heard of her. We’ve asked around.

But we’ve been intrigued by the disappearance of an adopted daughter. For one, if the Pattersons adopted her in New Orleans, as Texas Monthly reports, why was her name “Mary Sinclair” on documents in Fayetteville? And why did she ask for her membership to be withdrawn from FBC Fayetteville on July 11, 1973, just weeks after she was married? And why did Paige tell Texas Monthly that her birth mother “had harmed her?” What harm? Was there ever a legal adoption?

And why did Dorothy misspell “Carmon” on their 1972 Christmas letter? (See above image.)

There are so many more questions.  And we have many answers.

But the rest of it will be included in a chapter of our forthcoming book.  That chapter is currently in draft and tentatively entitled, “Break Them Down.”


*Wayne Ward Papers, Archives and Special Collections, James P. Boyce Centennial Library, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
** Paige Patterson Papers, Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.


C’mon man . . .

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Dr. Evan Lenow is Associate Professor of Ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Bobby L. and Janis Eklund Chair of Stewardship, Director of the Center for Biblical Stewardship, and Director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement.

That’s a 34-word title, if you’re counting.

We are counting.

Lenow was our contemporary at Southeastern, and we sang together in a church choir for a while. No bad blood. No axes to grind whatsoever.

He holds a PhD. in Christian Ethics from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. with Advanced Biblical Studies also from Southeastern, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Mississippi College.  He’s a research fellow in Christian Ethics for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s Chairman of the Ethics Review Commission for the City of Fort Worth; he writes regularly for his own website (most recent post: Sept. 2018) and for ERLC (most recent post: May 2016) He’s written on polyamory, cohabitation, baseball, and Duck Dynasty.  He’s spoken publicly on issues related to gun ownership, chicken sandwiches, and pregnancy rates among gay teens.

This summer, however, he didn’t have “enough information about what’s happening on the [Southern U.S.] border to determine whether it’s biblically ethical.”

And there’s another thing he doesn’t have: an iron.

Posted to Lenow’s Twitter account earlier today is an image of the Southwestern Seminary booth at the Mississippi Baptist Convention. On the table are two pens, one coffee mug, an assortment of candy, and a few small piles of promotional literature.

But the table covering?

C’mon man. Your wife wouldn’t let you out of the house with a shirt that looked like that, and you shouldn’t want the seminary’s branded table covering to look like it was fished out of a dumpster bin either.

Southwestern Seminary is a serious place where serious biblical scholarship meets serious passion for the missionary mandate of the New Testament. Or at least, that’s what every person representing Southwestern should strive to show and model at every turn.

Get up an hour earlier next time. Pack a travel steamer. Call Dorothy and ask her how to iron. But by all means, do something.  But do not show up to represent a seminary that is trying to put its best foot forward in the wake of a terribly difficult year with this kind of sloppiness.  Too many people are pulling for Southwestern for you to stand back, look at this image, and think “Gee, this looks pretty good. I’ll share it on Twitter.”

It does not look good. The seminary deserves better. The convention deserves better.

And you owe it to your fellow faculty and the student body to pull it together next time.

/rant over/

ARCHIVES: Rules for Radicals


More than 11 years ago, we published a ten-part series that not only stated our purpose and motives at the time, but defined the strategy we employed in pursuit of those purposes. Interested readers may enjoy this stroll down memory lane, wherein we make a rather pedestrian attempt to exegete and analyze concepts from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals in light of Southern Baptist issues and events.

Rules for Radicals for the SBC, Pt. 1.
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

Dottie fraud exposed


We’ve known it all along. Thankfully, Dorothy has those degrees from Luther Rice and South Africa and was able to personally authenticate the seminary’s multi-million dollar acquisitions. With an assist from Candi, of course.

We wonder how many more “investments” in “families” could have been “preserved” with those millions?  (HT: Charles Patrick)

Oh . . . and this.

Louisville’s Ghosts: Pt. 1


Earlier this month in what was an inaugural visit, we spent four days in Louisville, KY, on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A friend from Nashville drove up on Monday, picked us up at the airport, and took us to the home we rented on AirBnB not far from the seminary campus.

Our primary purpose for the campus visit was to do research in Boyce Library, specifically to dig through a significant portion of the 110 boxes of files that comprise the Wayne Ward Papers. By his own count, Wayne Ward sat on more doctoral committees at Southern Seminary than any other professor in the school’s history. He was, by every account, one of the more influential Southern Baptist preacher-theologians during the last half of the 20th century.  But more about Dr. Ward in a subsequent post.

The dates of our planned visit happened to coincide with the week-long celebration of Dr. R. Albert Mohler’s 25th anniversary as the seminary’s president. The parking lots were overflowing. The mood on campus was vibrant. From the moment we stepped foot on campus, there was a palpable sense that something consequential was happening. Russell Kirk, who in many ways was the father of modern American conservatism, might have sensed the presence of ghosts.  In fact, it’s almost impossible to walk the campus in Louisville without sensing the degree that history has been made there, and that it’s still being made.

Perhaps, more accurately, you get a sense that these stones have meaning.

One cannot visit four of the six Southern Baptist seminary campuses in a span of several months without making some comparisons. The campus of Southwestern — particularly the buildings constructed in the last decade — lacks architectural coherence. In North Carolina, Southeastern Seminary has as its central focus the large, stately Binkley Chapel.  New Orleans, whose official logo depicts the chapel steeple, has a similar feel. Years ago on the campus of Midwestern Seminary, we noted how dated the facilities appeared. A forthcoming visit there promises to reinforce reports of new life on campus. And we’ve yet to plan a visit to Gateway Seminary’s new facilities in Ontario, Calif.

But Southern, how shall we put this?

Southern’s campus is straight out of central casting. It’s how a school that has shaped, and continues to shape the contours of evangelical theology should look and feel. It is simple, elegant, tidy, and well maintained. It’s true we were there for an important week and extra housekeeping might have been ordered, but everyone we asked — from faculty to students and staff — said that’s how it always feels on campus. It is a place where the serious work of theological formation occurs, and from chapel to classroom, coffee shop to cafeteria, there is something refined about Southern Seminary.

But enough about bricks and mortar.

To be continued . . .

Two girls and a boy . . .


On Sunday morning, June 28, 1970, the First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Ark., had a special called church business meeting and a vote during the morning worship service. The purpose of the business meeting was to elect a new pastor.

The week before, the pulpit committee announced their selection to the church and published a brief biography of the pastoral candidate in the church bulletin. It reads:

Paige Patterson will be our preacher Sunday. He is a young man of intelligence, advanced education, and rich and varied experience in ministry. His ministry is far beyond his twenty-eight years.

He began preaching at the age of fifteen after having felt that God was calling him to preach since nine years of age. His first pulpit was a Bowery Mission in Beaumont, Texas.

After his ordination by the First Baptist Church of Beaumont, at the age of sixteen, he went on an overseas preaching mission. During that trip, he preached in Japan, Korea, Tawin (sic), Thailand, Hong Kong, and Lebanon and visited mission points in many other lands. He returned to Japan in 1963 for a series of revivals in connection with the New Life Movement.

He has pastored three churches during his years as a student. He received his B.A. degree from Hardin-Simmons University, his Th.M. degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and will receive his Th.D. frm (sic) N.O.B.T.S. in May, 1971.

He is a serious student of the Bible and makes skillful applications of its message to contemporary life and problems.

He has the capacity, dedication, and zeal to lead people to spiritual knowledge and application. He believes that the primary mission of the local church is reconciliation of man to God and that this will inevitably result in the Christian activity which God expects of each of us who trusts him.

His wife, Dorothy, is most attractive and pleasing in personality. She has a Master’s Degree in Theology from N.O.B.T.S. Her desire is to complement her husbands (sic) ministry. They have three children, two girls and a boy.

The Pulpit Committee has carefully considered the many persons you have suggested. After earnest consideration and prayer we believe, unanimously, that we have been led to ask Paige Patterson to preach in view of a call to be our pastor, upon your approval.

Sunday is a day of unusual significance for our church. May we all come prepared by prayer, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Pulpit Committee.

Semper Fi

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On September 8, 1968, in the Dai Loc District alongside a stream that supplies water to the largest rice fields in Quang Nam Province, a couple of Vietnamese children discovered the body of an American Marine. A short distance away, another body was discovered.

Two days earlier, while attempting to cross the flooded waters with a group from the 1st Marine Division, the boys were caught in a fast-moving current. The oldest boy, an 18-year old native Tennessean from Memphis, developed a cramp. A few seconds later the rushing waters overwhelmed him and he went under.

Mere feet away, the younger boy from New Orleans who had lied about his birthday so he would be eligible to serve, attempted a rescue. But the water currents proved too strong; his equipment too heavy, and he went under. He was 17.

They never resurfaced alive.

Both boys were riflemen serving with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. They’d left behind their families and friends to serve their country just like more than 9 million other men and women who served during the long, deadly course of the Vietnam War. Just months earlier, on May 26, 1968, they had arrived in Vietnam and begun their tours of duty. They left behind no children and no spouses.  The body of the older boy, Jeff, was escorted by a Marine officer home to Memphis where he is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery just south of downtown.

The younger boy, Patrick, is buried in the Chapel Mausoleum in Mulhearn Memorial Park Cemetery, Ouachita Parish. His father, who had left the family some years earlier and remarried, died in 1978 after what reads like a terribly tragic life. His mother, Bessie, died in 1992. His baby sister, Mary, who was doubtlessly traumatized by Patrick’s death, seemed to find hope in the midst of her loss and was baptized a believer at the Oak Park Baptist Church in New Orleans.  She later transferred her membership to the First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Ark. The year was 1971.

Today we visited the Vietnam War Memorial to pay our respects to Lance Corporal Patrick Eugene Sinclair, who received the Navy Marine Corp Medal “for heroism and prompt actions in rescuing a comrade.” We found his name etched into the long, black granite wall on Panel 45W, Line 57.  A few lines away is the name of Jeffrey Woodrow Norvell.

Semper Fi. Rest in peace.

BREAKING: Bingham lifts censorship of McKissic sermon


The Baptist Blogger was informed this morning that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s interim president, Jeffrey Bingham, has authorized the release of Rev. Dwight McKissic’s banned 2006 sermon on the seminary’s digital archive.  You can listen to it here.

Now we wait to see if the Ledbetters will report this development in the TEXAN. They certainly covered the sermon’s censorship with plenty of ink.

For the backstory:

Art Rogers (1966-2017): BOOOOOOM!!!

Southwestern trustee sermon on tongues prompts response

Seminary pulls plug on trustee’s online sermon

McKissic responds to Patterson’s censorship

Patterson’s defense of sermon censorship contradicts his own actions, critics say

McKissic resigns as seminary trustee

Time to end censorship of Dwight McKissic

ARCHIVES: Robert Naylor on the dignity of man


In 1958, Dr. Robert Naylor, then chairman of the trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and soon-to-be the school’s president, preached the annual sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention. He took as his texts John 1:40-51 and John 2:23-25.  The title: “The New Horizon.”

At the time, Naylor was the first president of Southwestern Seminary asked to preach the annual convention sermon.  Since 1958, two other Southwestern presidents have been elected to preach it: Russell Dilday was chosen in 1983; and Paige Patterson was chosen in 2017.

But only two Southwestern presidents have actually fulfilled the preaching assignment in convention history. It seems that not many are called, and even fewer are chosen.

Today, one of our research associates visited the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville, TN, to assist us with some of the work on one of our present writing projects.  Below is an excerpt from Naylor’s 1958 convention sermon.

“…Jesus knew what was in man and therefore knew him to be worth saving. We say, correctly, that salvation is by grace. It is not of works lest any man should boast. There is no merit by which a man may claim salvation.

In our emphasis on man’s lack of merit in salvation we may have missed his basic worth. Certain it is that the dignity of man and human worth have reached an all time low in our generation. Unfit, undeserving, unmerited, we undoubtedly are, but there is something in man which, in the eyes of Jesus, was worth the price of his redemption.

The chief charge leveled against Jesus in the days of His flesh was that He mingled with sinners. His reply was that He came to seek and save that which was lost. In the 8th Chapter of John there is the story of a woman taken in adultery about to be stoned by her accusers. Jesus comes to her defense saying, ‘let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone.’ As he stands there defending the woman, presently to say to her go and sin no more, His is a startling divine affirmation that she was worth saving.

The repentant thief on the cross is assured, ‘today thou shalt be with me in paradise.’ It would seem that Jesus was too busy dying to bother with a guilty thief. More to the point, it would seem that a man like this is not worth any consideration. Jesus indicates that he is worth saving, even worth dying in order that he might save him, even worth stopping the processes of death that he might assure him of his salvation.

Calvary, the cross of Jesus, establishes the par value of man. We know that the cross presents the sinner’s substitute. There is no theory of the atonement that should be satisfactory to the believer that does not make Jesus our substitute. ‘Jesus tasted death for every man,’ we are told. ‘The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,’ the prophet said. Sure it is that he bore our sins on the tree . . .

. . . But it begins to dawn on us that there is something here that we may have missed. Having said these other things we have not said it all. God knows something we do not know.

He knew what is in man but he went right ahead and died for him. He knew what was in man and he continued to rescue him. He knew that which was in man and gave himself for him. Man is worth more than any other man has dared to believe.

What if this new horizon of knowledge should be opened to us? What if we began to make relevant inquiry into the worth of a man? If we discover the answer that lies basic in the cross, the result would be to make war impossible.”

About those windows . . .

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October 19, 2018

Mr. Travis Trawick
Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
2001 W. Seminary Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76115

Dear Sir:

On Dec. 17, 2013, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary published a news item directing the attention of the school’s constituency to an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram which, according to the seminary website, served the purpose of “highlighting the efforts of Dorothy Patterson, wife of [then]-seminary president Paige Patterson, to tell the story of the conservative resurgence in the SBC through stained glass.” The original article’s lede noted how the windows’ creator, Don Young, “watched anxiously as Dorothy Patterson’s dream came one window closer to fulfillment.”

Readers were further informed that the windows would “immortalize Baptists who helped effect the culture change to more conservative attitudes in the Southern Baptist Convention.” Furthermore, the windows – numbering at least 69 at the time of the Star-Telegram report, would delight “anyone who loves nature, sunrises, and sunsets.” At least that’s what Mrs. Patterson explained.

“I really hope the public will have an interest and want to come and see,” Patterson said. “I’m proud of this for Fort Worth. I think it’s pretty unique for Paige’s hometown.

As one who loves nature, sunrises, and sunsets – and who is sympathetic with the conservative turn in the Southern Baptist Convention – I would like to register my unyielding objection to the continued display of the so-called Patterson windows.  Indeed, their dubious aesthetic value is exceeded only by the grotesque and perverse theology that conceived their commission in the first place.  So long as they remain in place, they serve only as a reminder of the dark and shameful era from which Southwestern has recently begun to emerge. And while they are certainly “unique” in Fort Worth and among the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Patterson windows in no wise make Southwestern’s constituency any more “proud” of the school than do the “enrollment, financial, leadership, and institutional identity” concerns that warranted the Pattersons’ dismissal in the first place.

Nevertheless, I do not send this letter for the singular purpose of registering my strong protest against one of many vanity projects inspired by the seminary’s previous administration over the course of fifteen years.  I write to reinforce my wholehearted desire to support the school in every way as it enters a new era of financial stability, enrollment growth, and institutional integrity.

With that in mind, I would like to offer to purchase from the seminary at full cost the window that purports to depict Paige Patterson, Dorothy Patterson, and an unnamed dog.  I will also contribute to the seminary any such costs associated with their removal, storage, and safe delivery to me intact. Additionally, I am in communication with other seminary supporters – some of whom are depicted in the Patterson windows – who have expressed similar desire to see the windows removed and to help raise support for their removal as needed.

At your earliest convenience, could you inform me in writing of both the window’s original cost and the seminary’s plan – if any – to remove all 69-plus of the Patterson windows; moreover, I would like to know if the opportunity to purchase the windows and offset the cost of their removal will be made available to seminary supporters like me.


/signed/ BSC

CC: Mr. Kevin Ueckert; Dr. Jeffrey Bingham


Editor’s note: A partial list of the windows which may become available for purchase from Southwestern Seminary are: Ronnie Floyd; Huber Drumwright; Rick Warren; Dottie Riley; O.S. & Susie Hawkins; Paul & Nancy Pressler; W.A. Criswell & Jack Pogue; Andy & Joan Horner; Charles Stanley; Bailey Smith; Adrian Rogers; Ed Young, Sr; Gerald Harris; Dana Collett; Jimmy & Carol Ann Draper; Tommy French; Jim Richards; Bobby & Phoebe Lambeth; Harold & Barbara O’Chester; Jerry Vines; The Brumbelows; Bob Tenery; Jerry Sutton; Fred Powell; T.C. Pinckney; Lollie Cogswell; Lou Brooks; Bill Harrell; Danny Watters; Richard Land; Barry McCarty; Joe Atchison; Simon Tsoi; Morris Chapman; Frank Page; Homer Lindsay, Jr; Johnny Hunt; Jerry Falwell; Ken Whitten; Jimmy Jackson; Chuck & Rhonda Kelley; Gary & Tammi Ledbetter; John Yeats; Jim Wells; Ron Wilson; Jay Strack. 

get ready get ready get ready . . .


One of our Federal Express packages has been received by representatives of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The other package, which is destined for First Baptist Church of Georgetown, TX, is due for delivery tomorrow.  The contents of both packages are identical. At 2PM ET today, we will publish the contents of the package(s).

Get ready get ready get ready get read get get get get get . . .

BREAKING: Dorothy’s fraudulent fragments


We haven’t heard much from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Or the TEXAN, for that matter) about the school’s Dead Sea Scrolls that promised to help former trustee Gary Loveless gain recognition in heaven.  We do know their publicity campaign and exhibition lost the school lots of money . . . up to $5 million by some estimates. We also know that Southwestern Seminary has lost both of its Dead Sea Scroll authenticators and one of the exhibit’s directors in recent months

And we have interviewed both current and former Southwestern faculty and staff about the seminary’s much-touted Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, all of whom have raised additional concerns about the problematic provenance of the Patterson papyri.

(A little alliteration, anyone?)

Today, we learn that another major purchaser of recent Dead Sea Scrolls has announced their fragments are frauds. Will Southwestern report anything about the Patterson papyri and the loss the seminary incurred from this vanity project?

Where are the Southwestern scraps today?  Is any reputable scholar or independent third party expert analyzing them? Why has the seminary shut down the website dedicated to the scrolls?

Can we no longer “see the scrolls?” Will we ever get to see them again?

Will Mr. Loveless be recognized in heaven anymore?

And one observation:  At least the Greens spent their own money and not somebody else’s on the Fake Sea Scrolls. And Hobby Lobby didn’t stop paying employee retirement benefits to cover the cost either.


Developing . . .

Si Deus vult … non flumen inundans


The Baptist Blogger has been typing with the speed of ten thousand Arabian horses and/or one frog: emails, letters, chapter outlines, transcriptions, essays, diaries, on top of our client work. Nevertheless, as best we are able, we will publish the following over the course of the next week:

  1. Reflections on a visit to the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  2. The contents of these packages (within 24 hours of their confirmed delivery)
  3. Why we now oppose the publication of SBC executive salaries, with a caveat
  4. What we can learn from Dr. Wayne Ward about family, faith, and freedom
  5. A letter to the Council on Seminary Presidents

God willing . . . and the creek don’t rise.

In the meantime, enjoy some light reading from our archives:

I think I could live with a Deist version of Paige Patterson, an architect or a clockmaker if you will, who wound up the conservative resurgence and then stepped back and let it run by itself. Instead, Southern Baptists have been left with an unmoved mover, an unseen hand, whose capricious tinkering has left the convention unable to define words like “autonomy,” “priesthood,” “competence,” and “liberty” in ways that our Baptist forebears would recognize.

Click here to read the rest . . .




Oct. 20, 2018

Rev. Jim Richards
Executive Director
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
P.O. Box 1988
Grapevine, TX 76099

Rev. Richards:

Greetings as you approach the 20-year anniversary of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC). We were present at the inaugural meeting of the state convention, and we remember keenly the messengers’ excitement about the new association of churches in support of Southern Baptists causes both in Texas and around the world. We also recall the enthusiasm over your selection as the inaugural executive director and the prospect of creating a news magazine for Texas Baptist churches that were increasingly frustrated with editorial content of The Baptist Standard.

In 2001, Rev. Gary Ledbetter and his wife, Tammi Reed Ledbetter, were hired to serve in SBTC communications roles, and together they have served as chief editorial and content providers for the TEXAN, a tabloid of the SBTC with a circulation of more than 45,000. Since its first publication in 2002, the TEXAN has supplied Texas Baptist churches with information about SBTC’s work, including significant financial and ministry support of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. In fact, SBTC’s support and affirmation of Southwestern Seminary have been reciprocated consistently for the past 20 years.

Nevertheless, recent contributions to the TEXAN by its associate editor give rise to growing concern that the principal newsjournal of Southern Baptists in Texas may have reported with editorial bias and lax journalistic standards to the detriment of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s public witness.  In her most recent article, entitled “SWBTS Board of Visitors hears progress report from interim president,” Mrs. Ledbetter conveys to TEXAN readers impressions about the seminary community that leave doubt about the future support of seminary donors and the atmosphere on campus that is reflected in Baptist Press’s own coverage of that week’s events. Moreover, since it was originally published online, her story has undergone numerous and substantial edits without any notation of editorial adjustments.

Even more threatening to the relationship between SBTC, the TEXAN, and Southwestern Seminary is the fact that Mrs. Ledbetter, who is a member of the SWBTS Board of Visitors, attended meetings on campus this week that would not otherwise be available for outside media coverage. She ostensibly utilized her special status as a member of the seminary’s board of visitors to gain access to these private meetings and interview seminary donors for her clandestine reporting without full disclosure of her dual purpose to seminary officials. And then, once her report was published, she proceeded to edit the piece in numerous and substantive paragraphs without proper editorial notation.

Rev. Richards, SBTC and the TEXAN have enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Southwestern Seminary.  The Editor-in-Chief is himself a distinguished alumnus of the institution, and Mrs. Ledbetter has long been “under the wing” of the seminary’s former First Lady Emerita, Dorothy Kelley Patterson.

The Pattersons are now gone from Southwestern. And while securing their legacy may be a personal agenda for the TEXAN’s associate editor, it is not a concern of the official publication of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Indeed, the seminary’s own board of trustees acknowledged the challenges the Pattersons’ ongoing administration presented to the school’s “enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity,” none of which have been substantially reported by the TEXAN.

If SBTC churches cannot rely on the TEXAN to provide unbiased coverage of Southwestern Seminary, or if the publication’s associate editor is either unwilling or incapable of providing the same, then both SBTC and Southwestern Seminary are better served by her future recusal from all reporting on seminary-related matters. Moreover, journalistic integrity demands that any TEXAN reporter who gains access to private meetings on the seminary campus by pretext must disclose their journalistic purposes both to the seminary administration and TEXAN readers.

Integrity for a Christian publication is concomitant with the virtues of honesty and transparency. I trust you will address this important matter appropriately, thus confirming the confidence TEXAN readers have in both the publication itself and its sponsoring organization’s historic and mutually-beneficial relationship with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.


The Baptist Blogger

P.S. — Your stained glass window in the Southwestern Seminary chapel is one of the clearer likenesses and better depictions of the whole God-awful bunch. The Ledbetter window: not so much.

Two arms to cling to . . .


We are hearing reports that some Southwestern alumni are increasingly frustrated with the Southern Baptist Texan’s coverage of the recent trustee meeting in Fort Worth. The Texan is a publication of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

In an article written this week by longtime Patterson associate Tammi Reed Ledbetter, the SBTexan published numerous alleged misrepresentations and assertions without proper sourcing or sufficient fact-checking. Some seminary supporters have expressed anger to The Baptist Blogger that Ledbetter’s article leaves a false impression about the spirit on campus during the meeting and overstates disappointment donors have in the school’s new direction. No “longtime contributors” whom Ledbetter characterized as unsure “they would come back to the seminary” were identified in the article. Neither was it disclosed how Ledbetter determined that “most students, faculty, staff and donors could not imagine Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary without Paige Patterson as president.”

A majority of trustees voted this week to ratify the unanimous May 30 decision of the trustee executive committee to terminate Patterson.

We are reminded of what happened to the Baptist Standard when the publication of the Baptist General Convention in Texas misreported matters involving the seminary:

Southwestern files protest, removes Texas paper from campus
Baptist Press — Monday, May 12, 2003

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has removed a Texas Baptist newspaper from its campus and filed a formal grievance against the paper and its managing editor.

The Fort Worth, Texas, seminary took the actions in response to controversial coverage by the Baptist Standard over the recent retirement announcement of Southwestern President Ken Hemphill.

In the Standard’s April 21 edition, managing editor Mark Wingfield reported that Southern Baptist Convention officials and seminary trustees had called Hemphill to meetings in recent years and demanded that he resign or be fired. Hemphill, in a letter to the editor in the Standard’s April 28 edition, stated that the reports were incorrect and that he had never been contacted to verify the truth of the allegations. The Standard, in an editor’s note at the end of Hemphill’s statements, said it stands by its story.

For years, the seminary placed stacks of the Standard, which is owned by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, on its campus.

Southwestern’s director of public relations, David Porter, had the stacks removed May 1 after the editorial rebuttal, “which implicitly called Hemphill a liar,” Porter said. He said he made the difficult decision to remove the paper on his own, not at Hemphill’s direction. Click here to keep reading . . .

We are also reminded that Tammi Reed Ledbetter is depicted in one of Southwestern Seminary chapel’s stained glass windows.

Well, we say stand by your man, Tammi.  The Baptist Blogger always looks forward to your unbiased reporting.

Cue the music . . .