Philosophy PhD Student Fired for Tweet Critical of Seminary President

A PhD student in the philosophy program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was fired from a $40,000/year food service job and had his $7,000/year tuition benefits taken from him after he endorsed, on Twitter, an article critical of the Seminary’s president.The Seminary President, Paige Patterson, is known for his highly conservative religious views, particularly the idea that women—abused women, in particular—should be “submissive in every way that you can.” Criticism of Patterson has been increasing since the recent circulation of a recording of an interview from 2000. The Washington Post reports:

Patterson… is heard on an audiotape being interviewed in 2000 about what he recommends for women “who are undergoing genuine physical abuse from their husbands, and the husband says they should submit.” 

“It depends on the level of abuse, to some degree,” Patterson says. “I have never in my ministry counseled anyone to seek a divorce and that’s always wrong counsel.” Only on an occasion or two in his career, he says, when the level of abuse “was serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough,” has he recommended a temporary separation and the seeking of help. He goes on to tell the story of a woman who came to him about abuse, and how he counseled her to pray at night beside her bed, quietly, for God to intervene. The woman, he said, came to him later with two black eyes. “She said: ‘I hope you’re happy.’ And I said ‘Yes … I’m very happy,’ ” because it turned out her husband had heard her quiet prayers and come for the first time to church the next day, he said.

In an op-ed at Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer, a professor at Wheaton College and executive director of its Billy Graham Center, listed a number of problematic incidents involving Patterson and called on him to retire.

Nathan Montgomery, the philosophy PhD student, shared Stetzer’s piece on Twitter, saying “this is the best article I have read, and I agree with it fully.”

According to The Washington Post, the seminary told Montgomery that his Tweet was “indiscreet,” that his decision to speak publicly about the dispute “does not exhibit conduct becoming a follower of Jesus,” and that it showed he was not properly deferring to “those placed in authority over you.” The Post reports that Montgomery recorded the meeting at which he was fired and was told he was disloyal.

“Public disagreement does not align with Scripture,” a document outlining Montgomery’s termination states… Patterson said… that Montgomery had “a long history,” but declined to provide specifics. The document that lists reasons for Montgomery’s termination cited just one previous incident, which Montgomery said was a misunderstanding over catering for Patterson’s wife. He said he has never been given any warnings. Montgomery still hopes to stay at the seminary, where he expects his PhD will take another four years to finish. “I’m for the school,” he said while he sipped a Starbucks iced tea. “This is not a personal attack.”

Montgomery, on Twitter, says he is “not a victim” and that he will be appealing to the Seminary’s Board of Trustees to reverse the decision to fire him and revoke his tuition benefits.

Further details available here and here.

(via David Pulliam)

There are 17 comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please enter an e-mail address