Letters List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters

Letter to Dr. Paige Patterson
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

February 21, 2008

Via fax to (817) 923-0610 and email to [email protected]

Dr. Paige Patterson
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, TX 76122

Dear Dr. Patterson:

It’s clear you are extremely angry that we have sought your suspension. It’s obvious that you feel very defensive about your actions surrounding sexual abuse reports involving Pastor Darrell Gilyard. It’s no secret that you think ill of our organization, despite your having never met or spoken with us.

Still, we are surprised and saddened that you felt compelled to take your anger out on a wounded child sex abuse victim who contacted you seeking help. We are puzzled and disappointed that you would say such harsh words to a clergy abuse survivor who deserves solace and seeks protection for others.

We would like you to publicly apologize for those unduly harsh and highly insulting words about SNAP. And we would like to sit down with you face-to-face in the near future to educate you about our efforts and intentions for preventing Baptist clergy sex abuse, and perhaps work together to reach out to those who were wounded by pastor Gilyard.

We know that you may not welcome public attention regarding your response to repeated sex abuse reports against Gilyard. We understand that you take issue with how we have characterized your actions in that situation.

But one short letter, signed by three of SNAP’s thousands of members, even if you deemed it unfair, surely doesn’t warrant such a severe, sweeping and hateful response, especially to a distraught woman who was sexually assaulted by her pastor and who turned to you for help. (In the future, if you are sought out by victims, we beg you to respond to them with compassion, not combativeness. If you feel like lashing out about SNAP, we hope you’ll find it in your heart to do so directly, to us, instead of to others who seek guidance and help from you.)

It’s not just that individuals feel hurt by your harsh remarks. The harm done is much more extensive and severe.

Many child sex abuse victims are trapped in isolation, fear, shame and self-blame. Almost all mental health professionals find that victims begin to heal when the break their silence and reach out to others for help. When you attack the nation’s largest self-help group for clergy sex abuse victims, especially in such radical and unfounded ways, it deters deeply wounded individuals from getting the support they so desperately need and deserve. We don’t believe that is the intent of your actions. But we deeply fear that is the result of your actions.

Of course, people often say or write ill-advised things in haste and anger. It’s a sign of wisdom, maturity and humility when people apologize for such hurtful comments. We hope you will consider our request for an apology.

However, please don’t feel that an apology is a necessary precursor to discussion. We are hopeful you will talk with us whether you apologize to us or not.

In a spirit of forgiveness and in hopes of collaboration, we hope you will accept our offer to meet. We hope to hear from you soon.

David Clohessy
SNAP National Director
(314) 566-9790 / [email protected]

Christa Brown
SNAP Baptist Outreach Director
(512) 217-1730 / [email protected]

Barbara Dorris
SNAP Outreach Director
(314) 862-7688 / [email protected]

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests