The Southern Baptist pastor who joked about fellow Southern Baptists raping a donkey has resigned from his leadership role with Connect 316.
Rick Patrick, pastor at First Baptist Church in Sylacauga, Alabama, has apologized and announced in a blog post Wednesday on SBC Today that he has turned over responsibilities of the ministry to new leadership.
The Alabama pastor posted a joke in a private Facebook group conversation earlier this week in a response to the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's decision to instate a new president and name Paige Patterson president emeritus and a theologian-in-residence.
Patrick joked that he had once seen a donkey being gang raped by five individuals, among them the current Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, whom he believed had been behind Patterson's ouster, in a sarcastic attempt to show how anyone could be accused of anything in today's culture. Patrick considered the swirl of charges surrounding Patterson a witch hunt against a good man he respects.
He took down his comments soon after he posted them, but not before they had been screenshotted and republished elsewhere online.
"On a private Facebook group, we were discussing how anyone could make any kind of accusation about someone, even from years ago, and they would be assumed to be guilty until proven innocent," Patrick wrote in his apology.
"I sinned by posting a comment about the worst thing I could think of that a person could do, and then sarcastically imagined five of the people I felt were responsible for the 'hit job' doing that thing. I am truly sorry for typing those words. I have reached out by telephone to two of the people and by email to the other three while I attempt to reach them by phone as well. The two I have spoken with have both been gracious."
In a statement on SBC Today the Connect 316 board said they have accepted Patrick's resignation and have called upon him to apologize to the people he insulted and ask for their forgiveness.
"Although Rick Patrick was not speaking on behalf of Connect 316 when he made those deplorable remarks, we understand how terribly hurtful they were and would like to extend our apologies to each individual who was maligned. Patrick's comments do not reflect the character, heart, and purposes of C316," the board said.
Connect 316 is a Southern Baptist ministry that celebrates the Hobbs-Rogers tradition in Southern Baptist life, according to its About Us page. The ministry is resisting the rising tide of Calvinism within the denomination and prefers "the kind of salvation doctrine one might hear at a Billy Graham Crusade," representing the theological camp in the SBC called "traditionalists."
Patrick explained Wednesday that he posted his comment while he was "extremely upset" about Patterson's firing, reiterating his regret for his words.
"I do not speak of such things in my daily conversation. It is truly not who I am. After lashing out with sarcasm, I realized how wrong I was and removed the post from the private Facebook group after about 90 seconds. However, someone had already taken a screen shot and posted it publicly. My sin was thus exposed on social media."
"While I had intended that my sarcasm be directed at those I felt were attacking my hero, because the nature of the charges related to the #MeToo movement, some people felt I might be minimizing the pain of those who had gone through real hardship, abuse, and suffering. I would never do such a thing. I have a heart of compassion for all people who have endured any type of abuse," he said, and asked for forgiveness.
In November 2016, Patrick preached at a chapel service at SWBTS during which he spoke of his dislike for and disagreement with Calvinism, expressing alarm at the trend of younger Southern Baptists embracing Reformed theology and accompanying approaches to ministry that come with it.
"If God has chosen, actively or passively, before the foundation of the world to place the reprobate unconditionally into a category from which they can never possibly escape, then this is, as even Calvin admitted, a dreadful decree," Patrick said during his chapel sermon.
"I will never forget the first time a Calvinist looked me straight in the eye and said God does not love everybody. I was speechless, and frankly, that doesn't happen much," he said, explaining he believed Calvinism to be a "Trojan horse" for all kinds of troubling beliefs and practices.
Patterson took the stage after Patrick's sermon and said at the time that if he believed in Calvinism he would not remain a Southern Baptist.
"I know there are a fair number of you who think you are a Calvinist, but understand there is a denomination which represents that view," Patterson told SWBTS students at the time. "It's called Presbyterian."