Questions for Vines and Patterson….Darrell Gilyard

Shining light on Baptist clergy sex abuse: reflections of a Southern Baptist survivor

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Patterson & Vines: Their words raise questions

Recent lewd conduct charges against Florida pastor Darrell Gilyard brought a media spotlight to sex abuse accusations made against him years ago in Texas… and to how Southern Baptist leaders reportedly turned a blind eye. The story implicates two former Southern Baptist presidents, Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson (shown at right). Now they’re both trying to do damage control, but their words raise more questions than answers.

Former Southern Baptist president Jerry Vines now says:

Let the truth be found and let justice be done.”

  • Why wasn’t he more concerned about letting “the truth be found” BEFORE all the media attention?
  • Where was his concern for “the truth” when he lent his own name and credibility to Gilyard by reportedly speaking from the pulpit of Gilyard’s Florida church?
  • Where was his concern about “justice” for Gilyard’s prior victims when when he “agreed to forgive” Gilyard for his troubles in Texas?

Former Southern Baptist president Paige Patterson now says:

“Mr. Gilyard is very convincing and he always denied the accusations.”

  • Will Southern Baptist leaders take action only if a clergy-perpetrator admits his deeds?
  • Will a clergyman’s denial trump even dozens of accusations?
  • How safe are kids in Baptist churches if Baptist leaders take action only if a minister actually admits to sexual abuse?

I was neither an investigator nor a judge but the president of a small Bible college. I certainly did not have resources available to me to pursue the case…when allegations concerning Mr. Gilyard were brought to my attention.”

  • This “golly – gee whiz – I didn’t know what to do” attitude of Southern Baptist leaders is wearing thin. Then and now, Paige Patterson was a very influential Southern Baptist leader. Criswell College was connected to what was then the largest Southern Baptist church in the country, First Baptist of Dallas. When someone as powerful as Paige Patterson whines that (gee whiz) he wasn’t “an investigator,” and (gee whiz) he didn’t “have resources,” it provides a good illustration of exactly why Southern Baptists so desperately need the resource of an independent review board to objectively and professionally consider clergy abuse reports. If a high-honcho like Paige Patterson can’t do a better job of handling abuse allegations, why do Southern Baptist officials keep pretending that ordinary pastors in ordinary churches are going to be able to handle things any better when one of their staff ministers is accused?
  • Does the ordinary Baptist church have more resources than Paige Patterson and First Baptist of Dallas? [For Bellevue people, Patterson’s self-exculpatory remark must have brought back memories of pastor Steve Gaines’ “uncharted waters” excuse. That was Gaines’ explanation for why he kept quiet about a staff minister’s confession to sexual abuse of a kid. Though Bellevue is a prominent church with more resources than most, Gaines apparently just didn’t know what to do. Gee whiz.]

“I never asked anybody to remain quiet about anything.”

  • In 1991, a woman publicly stated that “Paige Patterson asked me to refrain from speaking to anybody about this.” So who’s telling the truth? With troubling accounts from so many college students and church women, someone should get to the bottom of it, and that’s why SNAP called upon the seminary’s trustees to fully investigate.

The leadership of the [Shiloh] church was fully aware of the fact that all of this had gone on.”

  • Were they really “fully aware” or were they merely aware of the minimized version of events that Patterson publicly described, when he said that Gilyard confessed to “adulterous relationships?”
  • Were they really made “fully aware” that what numerous college students and church women reported was actually sexual abuse and sexual assault?
  • Were they really made “fully aware” of how many people reported Gilyard – 25 at his first church alone?
  • Didn’t it at least send a mixed message to Shiloh when a former Southern Baptist president preached from Gilyard’s pulpit and thereby lent him credibility?
  • If Southern Baptist leaders wanted to make Shiloh “fully aware” of how egregious Gilyard’s conduct was, why did Vines reportedly speak from Gilyard’s pulpit?
  • And why does Patterson now point the finger at Shiloh when, back in 1991, Patterson was making public statements blaming Gilyard’s victims? He said the complaints against Gilyard involved “culpability on the women’s part” and that “it’s amazing how jealousy, frustration and racism can be motives for making accusations.” With public statements like that from a high Baptist leader, is it any wonder why Shiloh people may have been confused?
  • No doubt the leadership of Shiloh bears some blame. But isn’t it also long past the time when Paige Patterson should take a hard look at himself and at how his own failings played a part in this?

I agree with Jerry Vines: “Let the truth be found.”

But the truth needs to be found, not only about Gilyard, but about ALL credibly accused Baptist clergy. That’s exactly why SNAP has been urging Southern Baptist leaders to create an independent review board for receiving and considering clergy abuse reports. If Vines feels any regret for his “poor choice” of speaking in Gilyard’s church, then he should turn his powerful voice toward supporting a review board.

Both Vines and Patterson now have an opportunity. If they choose, they can learn from the mistakes of the past and use those mistakes to make things better for others in the future. Will they? That may be the most important question of al

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3 Comments on “Questions for Vines and Patterson….Darrell Gilyard”

  1. All I can say is…”Wow!” Everything about this situation just stinks.

  2. dwight easler Says:

    In the Words of Judges 19: 30, ” No such deed has been done or seen from teh day the children of Israel came up from teh land of Egypt until this day. Consider it, confer, and SPEAK UP!”

  3. Jay Says:

    I am utterly amazed at how these events unfolded and continue to unfold. How can this continue to happen and so many women and girls continue to get hurt? Quite naturally, Gillyard has to pay the piper IF he heard the music, but who is most culpable……..a sane church or a sick pastor?

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