Two female alumni of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have come forward to share stories about the school’s “toxic” environment for female students under president Paige Patterson. They call it a “culture of silence” and an “unrelentingly abusive environment.”
April Armstrong graduated from SBTS in 2007. She said she was in an abusive relationship with another student, but when administration became involved, things became worse. In a blog post, Armstrong wrote that while the school’s chief of security said in an ethics hearing he was inclined to believe her story, a high-level administrator presiding said they’d hear from the predator, but Armstrong wouldn’t be notified of the result of that conversation.
Armstrong wrote: “Some time later I discussed my disappointment with the situation with a professor whose response was that I was sinning by not accepting the decision of ‘those in authority over you.'” She also said that her and another victim were told if they spoke more about the abuse, they would face disciplinary action.
The predator, according to the story, taunted his victims after the decision, saying Patterson had overruled the ethics committee because “It’s not like you did drugs or anything. It’s just girls.”
In her own blog post, another SBTS alumnus Diane Montgomery detailed her experiences as a student. She wrote about a mentality of “arrogance, hypocrisy, narcissism” and a “boys’ club.” She details accounts of Patterson hosting dinner parties and driving Escalades during periods of budget cuts for the institution, and said the president would make sexist remarks from the pulpit.
“I witnessed the aftermath of those comments and saw the hurt caused for so many women on campus. The disrespect he showed to his sisters in Christ that day offended many of us deeply, but we never saw any repentance for his hurtful and careless speech,” she wrote.