A group of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) donors released a letter June 29 announcing their decision to halt financial support for the school as a result of former president Paige Patterson’s termination.
BP photo by Matthew Miller
Former SWBTS president Paige Patterson (left) thanks Gary and Stephanie Loveless at a chapel service in 2010 for their lead gift for the acquisition of Dead Sea Scroll fragments.
The seven-page document, apparently drafted by oil industry executive Gary Loveless and cosigned by 25 other alleged donors, expressed “utter disdain” for the actions of the trustee board’s executive committee and Chairman Kevin Ueckert.
“Please know that until the serious wrongs against Dr. and Mrs. Patterson are righted, we will be unable to continue our financial support of the seminary,” the letter stated.
Future gifts could total “well in excess of tens of millions of dollars,” donors said.
Patterson came under fire earlier this year for past advice he gave to a woman about domestic violence and for making comments about a teenage girl’s physical attractiveness in a sermon.
The seminary’s board decided May 23 to move Patterson into an honorary role as president emeritus, which included compensation and a lifetime housing arrangement on campus.
The board’s executive committee met again May 30 and removed him from leadership at the seminary entirely, citing new information about his mishandling of two sexual assault allegations. A committee member said Patterson also acted inappropriately in response to the board’s investigation of the school’s financial condition.
The donor letter called the committee’s action “illegal” and a “complete miscarriage of justice.” The document also disputed the sexual assault allegations, citing previously unreleased and graphic details about one of the female student’s activities. It is unclear how donors obtained this information. Loveless did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.
The letter’s signers urged the board to reconsider Patterson’s emeritus status by launching an investigative committee comprised of ten individuals selected from among trustees or those “officially associated” with the seminary: five chosen by the board and five by donors.