Alabama pastor Rick Patrick has resigned as the leader of Connect316, an organization advocating a “traditionalist” view of salvation, due to a Facebook post he subsequently acknowledged as “reprehensible and completely unworthy of Christ.”
Patrick, in a public statement at Connect 316’s SBC Today website on May 23 titled “My Heartfelt Apology and Resignation,” said he wrote the Facebook post May 22 “when I was extremely upset” over trustee deliberations regarding Paige Patterson as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Patterson was removed as president after a 13-hour trustee meeting.
Patrick had written of “a donkey being gang raped” in “lashing out with sarcasm” May 22 over the timing of an alleged unreported student rape when Patterson was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary – published by The Washington Post on the day the trustees began their meeting.
Patrick named five individuals in his Facebook post: Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Ed Stetzer, executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center; Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson; writer Jonathan Merritt; and blogger Ben Cole.
Patrick, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sylacauga, Ala., said he removed the post from a private Facebook group “after about 90 seconds” but a screen shot had already been publicly posted. “My sin was thus exposed on social media,” he wrote.
The Connect316 board of directors, with whom Patrick has served as executive director for five years, issued a statement May 23 stating that “Connect 316 does not condone, endorse, or approve of Rick Patrick’s remarks. We find them reprehensible and unbecoming of Christian comportment.
“We have accepted the resignation of Rick Patrick from Connect 316 and have called upon him to apologize to each individual he insulted and ask for their forgiveness.
“Although Rick Patrick was not speaking on behalf of Connect 316 when he made those deplorable remarks, we understand how terribly hurtful they were and would like to extend our apologies to each individual who was maligned.
“Dr. Patrick’s comments do not reflect the character, heart, and purposes of C316.”
Patrick, in his statement at SBC Today, said, “I have reached out by telephone to two of the people and by email to the other three while I attempt to reach them by phone as well. The two I have spoken with have both been gracious.”
Moore, soon after Patrick’s post went public May 22, called it “unconscionable.” Stetzer told Baptist Press he had received a call from Patrick “and I accepted his apology.”
In light of the #MeToo movement, Patrick wrote in his May 23 statement, “some people felt I might be minimizing the pain of those who had gone through real hardship, abuse, and suffering. I would never do such a thing. I have a heart of compassion for all people who have endured any type of abuse.
“Even preachers make mistakes, and Tuesday I made a big one. I am truly, truly sorry. I am grieved beyond words. I will learn from this. And it will never happen again. If you can find it in your heart to do so, please forgive me.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by BP general assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler.)