#MeToo Movement Ripples Through Prominent Christian Community
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We've heard a lot about the #MeToo movement over the course of the past few months. But in parallel, there has been a similar movement happening inside the Christian church. Earlier this week, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary removed their school's president, Paige Patterson, from his job. This after a storm of criticism about the way that he has counseled women who have been raped or sexually abused. Thousands of women in the Southern Baptist Church (ph) signed a letter condemning Patterson, especially because he had advised a woman who had been beaten by her husband to pray for him and not to take any other action or report him to authorities.
We spoke to one of the women who signed that letter. Her name is Amanda Jones. She runs a Baptist church with her husband in Houston, Texas.
AMANDA JONES: I think that we're going to see more women speaking out about their experiences. And I think that we will all grieve what has happened, what has been hidden, how power has been the priority and not the protection of vulnerable people.
MARTIN: I imagine this is hard as a member of the church, as a person of faith, when your faith community is supposed to be a respite, a sanctuary from...
MARTIN: ...Things like this. Can you talk a little bit about what you specifically have been praying and meditating on?
JONES: I pray constantly that God will protect our church from predators, from people who have bad motives that want to take advantage of others. I pray for our protection. I pray that if people like that exist in our church that they will be exposed. I've been praying recently that God would show me where my beliefs about myself as a woman are false. There are men in our denomination who want to go back to the '50s. I don't want to have these - just things that are just cultural like that be part of how I see myself and how I see other women in the church.
MARTIN: Earlier this week, Paige Patterson was asked to step down. He's been taken out of his leadership position at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Does that satisfy you?
JONES: I felt disheartened when I heard the results of that very long meeting that they had with the trustees. I felt that giving him the title of president emeritus and continuing to pay him and having him live on the campus - I felt like that really wasn't diminishing his leadership. And I feel like it's not healthy to continue these views, to pass them down to the next generation of pastors. And I guess we'll see as time passes if he really does continue to have influence or not, but it seems to me that he would still.
MARTIN: Do you see this moment in the broader church affecting how you minister to young people in your congregation, particularly young women?
JONES: Well, I feel that I want to get it right, the responsibility that I have as a pastor's wife and as a shepherd that I would not pass down, you know, skewed views of what's biblical. I - so I want to learn. I need to get smarter about what the Bible really says about women and not just accept what I've always heard. And I've definitely had the women that work at our church approach me and say, thank you for signing the letter. I know that these matters have really been on their hearts. And we haven't gotten to have long conversations about that. But I know that they're paying attention, and it's important to them.
MARTIN: Thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.
JONES: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: Amanda Jones - she runs a Baptist church in Houston along with her husband.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In the broadcast version of this report, we incorrectly said Paige Patterson had been president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He actually had been president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The reference has been corrected in the audio available online. Additionally, the headline has been updated for clarity.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.