Mount Everest female record-setter wants to be an inspiration.

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The most successful female Everest climber said after finishing her ninth ascent of the world’s highest mountain that she wants to inspire all women so they too can achieve their dreams.

Lhakpa Sherpa was guiding some 50 climbers with her brother when she scaled the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak last week, breaking her own record for the most climbs of Mount Everest by a woman.

“If an uneducated woman who is a single mother can climb Everest nine times, any woman can achieve their dreams,” Sherpa said in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

“I want be an inspiration to all the women in the world that they too can achieve their goal,” she said.

The 44-year-old Sherpa never got a chance for formal education because she was already working carrying climbing gear and supplies for the trekkers.

She plans to climb the mountain again next year.

“People who are 70 years old are still climbing Everest, I am no where there,” she said adding that she was healthy and fit to continue mountaineering.

Her recent climb was the toughest of the nine, she said, adding there was a lot of wind and snow and they had to wait a few days to make their climb to the summit.

“Only two of our clients did not make but most of them made it to the top and were happy clients,” she said.

This successful expedition is likely to help her brother Mingma’s mountaineering company grow. It would also mean that Lhakpa can continue to climb Everest.

She says she is also looking forward to seeing her three children back in Connecticut, where she works as a dishwasher at the Whole Foods Market in West Hartford.

At ceremony in Kathmandu on Wednesday, tourism community honored her and and the overall record-holder for successful Everest climbs, Kami Rita, who has reached the summit 22 times, for their achievement and contribution to mountaineering in Nepal.

NY Jets rookie Nathan Shepherd went from having to drop out of school because he couldn’t afford it, to working odd jobs for two years in construction and factories, to walking on at a junior college, to finally being drafted in the NFL and signing a million dollar signing bonus.

Not every player has a straight and narrow path to the NFL. Just ask Jets defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd.

Over the weekend, Shepherd’s NFL dreams came true when New York selected him in the third round of the 2018 draft. Four years ago, though, Shepherd’s path strayed about as far away from a football field as one can get.

A native of Ajax, Ontario, Shepherd attended Simon Fraser University in British Columbia for two years before he could no longer afford tuition. Shepherd spent the next two years working numerous jobs in order to save up enough money to return to school and the football field.

Whether it was working in construction, at a plant nursery or at a printing factory, Shepherd did whatever it took to come up with enough cash to go back to school. He wondered if he would ever be able to find a way back onto the gridiron.

“Honestly, it brought me to the point where I had to look myself in the mirror and decide how much football meant to me,” Shepherd told reporters, according to the New York Post. “It was just one of those loves that I couldn’t get over. It became a matter of just do whatever you have to do to make your dreams come true.”

In 2015, Shepherd left Canada and wound up at Fort Hays State in the middle of Kansas. It was there that Shepherd became an NFL prospect and performed well enough in his two seasons at the school to earn an invite to the Senior Bowl.

According to Todd Bowles, Shepherd projects as a 3-4 defensive end. Bowles expects Shepherd to play a part in New York’s defensive line rotation as a rookie and could see time filling the hole vacated by Muhammad Wilkerson.

Wilkerson would still be in New York if it weren’t for his rebellious attitude and habitual tardiness. A Linden, New Jersey native, Wilkerson was not always that way. When the Jets selected him out of Temple in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, they were getting a player who was hungry to make a name for himself.

Wilkerson played with that kind of drive and competitiveness up until 2016, which is when he earned a hefty contract extension from the Jets. Once Wilkerson got his money, that drive disappeared and the player who was once heralded for his high motor became disinterested and a problem in the locker room.

It’s no surprise that general manager Mike Maccagnan coveted a player with drive and determination to take over the spot Wilkerson once held. Maccagnan has made a concerted effort to bring in high-character guys throughout New York’s rebuilding process and Shepherd fits the mold of what Maccagnan is looking for.

Based on his backstory, it’s easy to imagineShepherd’s work ethic is top-notch. It takes some serious determination to do what he did, giving up school and entering the workforce just to find a way back to the sport one day.

Credit Maccagnan for finding a player who not only flew under the radar from a talent perspective, but from a character standpoint, as well. Shepherd’s drive should take him a long way in the NFL and he deserves every ounce of success that is bound to come his way.

Anonymous donor gives $10,000 toward lunch debts at Maine school district

An anonymous donor sent a $10,000 to a Maine school district to help eliminate families’ unpaid lunch debt, The Press Herald reports.

Westbrook Superintendent Peter Lancia was being interviewed about student lunch debt on a local TV station when he received an email alerting him to the donation.

The donor, who wished to remain anonymous, said they wanted to help families’ unpaid accounts and later sent a $10,000 check to Lancia’s office.

“I’m not speechless often, and it was one of those moments,” Lancia told the newspaper in Portland, Maine.

The donation eliminated more than half of the $17,000 owed to the school district for student lunches.

Lancia told The Press Herald that number is high but is comparable to other school years.

Lunch at the elementary and middle schools cost $2.30, so the donation will help settle more than 4,300 meals.

Sometimes the school district provides the only stable, guaranteed meal for a child, the superintendent said.

“We have a lot of people who are living paycheck to paycheck, and they may not be able to make every end meet,” Lancia said.

The school district isn’t sure how they will divide the donation up between individual accounts, he told the newspaper.

“We want children to eat,” Lancia said. “We feed kids, and we settle the bills with parents later.”

Veronica Bates, a member of the Westbrook School Committee and chairperson of its finance committee, said when she first heard about the donation, she assumed it was a mistake.

“Every time I say it, I get goosebumps,” she said. “I cannot express my gratitude enough.”

Dolphins now are appearing by the hundreds in the Chesapeake Bay

A group of teenagers learning to sail on the Patuxent River this past summer spotted it in the distance: A dolphin’s fin bouncing above the water. They steered closer and were surrounded by friendly marine mammals.
“All of a sudden, there were like 50 of them around us,” said Patuxent High School student Carolyn Wilson, an instructor for the Southern Maryland Sailing Association’s summer camp. She pulled out her iPhone and snapped some pictures.
Those photos helped researchers confirm one of hundreds of dolphin sightings reported around the Chesapeake Bay last year. The effort to better track movement of dolphins through the bay and its tributaries began in June, and the response has been overwhelming, said Helen Bailey, a research professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
“We were only expecting maybe 25 to 30 [dolphin sightings] a year,” Bailey said. “We had over 900 reported last year, and we were able to verify nearly 450 of those.”
Scientists say dolphins used to visit the bay more frequently. Published reports of sightings date back into the 1800s. But as pollution degraded the Chesapeake’s water quality through the 20th century, they became more rare.
Now, researchers are exploring whether more dolphins are swimming up the bay, possibly invited by clearer waters, abundant submerged grasses and rebounding fisheries. Through a website they set up to collect sighting reports — and a smartphone app that will launch soon — the researchers are learning that the beloved creatures venture miles upstream in rivers such as the York and Potomac, and as far north as Annapolis and the Bay Bridge.
“It’s very likely they’re following fish into the bay. Hopefully, that’s a good sign,” Bailey said. “It doesn’t look like it’s just amusement from the coast into the bay.”
Bottlenose dolphins, popular for their perceived humanlike intelligence and personalities, are common throughout the world’s oceans and in many estuaries. An estimated 11,500 of them migrate along the Atlantic Coast from the Carolinas to Long Island. Other distinct populations migrate along the Southeast Coast and in Central and South Florida.
[A swim in the Potomac? The river’s remarkable recovery makes that a possibility, report says.]
As in the Chesapeake, there are populations of unknown size, maybe a few hundred dolphins, in such waterways as Biscayne Bay in Florida and Charleston Harbor in South Carolina.
Janet Mann, a professor of biology and psychology at Georgetown University, who collaborates with Bailey, said the dolphins are important to track because they serve as a visible indicator of ecological health.
Because they often come to the surface, unlike most other aquatic life, it’s easy to notice when they are present — or conspicuously absent. And, Mann said, any lesions or other signs of disease are also visible because, being at the top of the food chain, any toxins in the environment build up in their bodies.
Advocates for the environment can use excitement about dolphins to promote broader ecological health, Mann said.
“They’re charismatic animals, so they’re really good to target for public interest and protection of the animals,” she said. “If you are interested in protecting dolphins, you have to protect all the animals in the area they use.”
With that in mind, researchers launched a website to collect reports last year. allows users to report the date, time and location of a dolphin sighting, an estimate of the number of creatures spotted and a description of what they were doing. The website has 1,500 active users.
Introduced in the summer, when dolphins in the Chesapeake Bay were at their most plentiful, the site quickly became a hit.
“What became clear is, we were right in the thick of it,” Bailey said.
Hundreds of entries came in, reporting dolphins in groups of 10 or even a few dozen. But there were also reports of dolphin pods 100 strong. Eight people estimated that they saw swarms of more than 100 dolphins.
Then, defying the researchers’ expectations, sightings continued into the fall, in decent numbers into November. A few were sighted over the winter. And reports have picked up, even as the weather was slow to warm this spring.
One morning last month, someone spotted a few dolphins off Solomons Island in Calvert County, Md. An hour later, there was a report of five or 10 in Annapolis Harbor. And then there were dozens — maybe more than 100 — seen at the mouth of the Severn River nearby.
The scientists say it is hard to draw conclusions yet. They noted that the data is biased because more sightings occur in the places people gather most frequently for recreation or commerce.
Researchers are surveying in some parts of the bay using underwater microphones designed to detect the clicks and squeals dolphins use to communicate with one another.
But they said it’s safe to guess there are probably thousands of dolphins in the Chesapeake during the warmest months. Using photos and video of dolphin fins, Mann and colleagues have analyzed scarring and other markings to identify 500 individuals. Using that data, and perhaps sound records, researchers hope to get a better estimate of the population as well as a sense of how often individual dolphins are venturing into the bay and how long they stay.
Any input from the public helps, they said, as long as people are observing them responsibly. They ask people to watch from a safe distance and not to touch or feed the dolphins — or swim with them. They tell boaters to maintain their speed and direction if the curious creatures approach, as they often do.
The dolphins have built up a reputation among those who frequent the bay and its rivers. Pasadena waterman C.J. Canby said friends have told him about pods of as many as 50 dolphins swimming around the Bay Bridge or in the lower bay off Calvert County.
Canby was disappointed that, in 16 years of crabbing, he had never seen one himself — until July, when he was near the mouth of the Patapsco River and Bodkin Creek.
“It had to be at least six or eight of them. They went right past us as we were working,” he said. “To see them this far north is pretty crazy.”
Baltimore Sun

Cancer deaths are down overall, new report says

Good news — cancer deaths are down overall.

Cancer deaths dipped almost 2 percent a year between 1999 and 2015 among men, about 1.5 percent a year for women, according to a new report. Although cancer rates actually increased slightly between 2010 and 2014 for children — 1 percent a year — their death rate also dropped 1.5 percent between 2011 and 2015.

This joint report of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the North American Associate of Central Cancer Registries measured how well the medical “war on cancer” progresses.

ABC News
PHOTO: Cancer Info Graphic

These are significant declines, reflecting more accurate and successful cancer treatments, and better detection as well. Cancer detected at earlier stages has more treatment options and a better five-year survival the statistics show that this progress in reducing cancer deaths hasn’t occurred for each type of cancer. Death rates are down for lung and colorectal cancers in both men and women, for instance, but up for pancreatic and liver cancers for both genders. Death rates are down for breast and prostate cancer as well. Rates and trends by race and ethnic groups still differ.

As to how many cancers occur (rather than how well we survive them), the rate of cancer came down 2.2 percent a year for men between 2008 and 2014; it was stable for women.

Manufacturing company offers rehabilitation rather than termination for employees who fail drug screens.

Roughly one out of 10 applicants for jobs at his factory in Richmond, Indiana, had failed their drug tests, disqualifying them for employment at the safety-conscious company. A handful of the 450 people already working there had failed random drug tests as well. With opioids ravaging the region, the CEO of Belden Inc. was short-staffed while orders for the company’s computer networking equipment were pouring in.

“Now that we’re seeing a bit of a manufacturing renaissance, unfortunately we don’t have the qualified labor that we need, and we have this terrible epidemic,” says Stroup.

It’s a challenge confronting employers across America. Drugs are sapping a workforce already spread thin across a tight job market. Factories are particularly affected, with high overdose rates concentrated in counties that have a greater number of manufacturing jobs, according to an analysis by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

Some employers have dealt with the opioid crisis by altering their insurance contracts to discourage physicians from prescribing addictive painkillers, a survey by the National Business Group on Health found. Many also offer Employee Assistance Plans, which generally cover a few sessions of counseling.

Stroup decided to do much more than that. What he came up with could be a model for employers across the country — if they’re desperate enough for workers.

For Stroup, the decision was a simple cost-benefit analysis: How much would it cost to help people get sober in this Rust Belt town of 37,000, compared to what he was losing by not having them available to work?

After a few meetings with board members and addiction experts, he came up with a plan. If an applicant or a current employee failed a drug test, but they still wanted the job, Belden would pay for an evaluation at a local substance abuse treatment center.

People deemed to have a low risk of developing an addiction could spend two months in a non-dangerous job before they are allowed to operate heavy equipment again, as long as they passed periodic random drug tests for the rest of their time at the company.

People at high risk would spend two months in an intensive outpatient monitoring and treatment program, with the promise of a job at the end if they made sufficient progress. On average, Belden figured it would have to shell out about $5,000 for each person it gave a second chance to.

The program offered a powerful incentive for drug users to get clean and stay that way. It’s also especially important for people who don’t have jobs yet. Robb Backmeyer, chief operating officer of Centerstone Indiana, the treatment center working with Belden, says other employers haven’t been as proactive about helping their potential workers.

“Someone else needs need to fix them, and then when they’re ready, send them to us,” says Backmeyer, characterizing the prevailing attitude among businesses. Some rehab programs include job training, but graduates still face tremendous stigma when job hunting. That’s why he thinks Belden’s program holds so much promise.

“A lot of times there’s no carrot at the end of treatment other than the fact that you’re in recovery,” Backmeyer says. “But here there’s really the idea that there’s a job. Employment is really important to people, and it’s critical to their success.”

Belden started its experiment in March. Since then, they’ve had eight participants, five of whom were either first-time applicants or about ready to be hired through a temp staffing company before they hit the drug test. Half were evaluated as having low risk of developing addiction issues, and two of the current employees have made it through the monitoring period and are back at work.

One employee, whom CNNMoney is keeping anonymous, had been at Belden for nearly two years before he had an accident. A drug test picked up traces of the opioid pain reliever hydrocodone, which he got from an expired prescription he’d had from an earlier injury. All of a sudden he was in more trouble than he bargained for.

But there was a way out: Two months of working in inventory, combined with counseling and more drug tests, before he was cleared to work again. “At any other place that didn’t have this program, I probably would’ve been just let go,” the worker said.

No one currently applying for work at Belden would agree to speak with CNN, and some are still being evaluated. So it will take a few months to see if the model works. But Belden’s management has high hopes — and so do its staff. whom the company informed in an all-hands meeting as the experiment was about to begin.

Louis Hubble, who has worked at Belden for 35 years, lost his sister to a drug overdose and has seen people fired for drug use. “When they first told us about it, I was about ready to jump up and cheer,” he said. “I think a lot of what will help is that sense of hope. As long as they have that as a motivation, that helps drive their wanting to get better.”

The program won’t help fix the people whose lives have already been totally destroyed by drugs, says Mitch Rosenthal, an addiction specialist who helped design Belden’s approach. But it could prevent casual users from getting to that point in the first place, he says.

“People have to get in a lot more trouble before they’re likely to be referred to treatment by the criminal justice system or even family,” Rosenthal says. “This is early detection.”

There are some government grants for job training within rehab programs, and legislation pending in the Senate would direct the federal Department of Labor to allocate some of its workforce development funds toward those recovering from addiction.

Without those kind of subsidies, Belden’s approach is probably only scalable while qualified workers are still hard to find. Research has linked the severity of the opioid crisis in part to economic conditions, and if unemployment were to spike again, employers will have plenty of less risky candidates to choose from.

“When you have a larger pool of potential labor,” says Michael Miller, director of programs for a nonprofit advocacy group called Young People in Recovery, “especially when someone has a substance abuse disorder or a criminal record as a result or a shoddy job history, their candidacy is going to be immediately disregarded.”

On the other hand, Miller says, people who make it through recovery are some of the most diligent and loyal employees he knows. That’s what Stroup is hoping, too: Even with the heavy investment up front, helping someone get well could pay dividends down the road.

“My instincts tell me that if someone goes through all the pain and difficulty to get themselves through a recovery program and then has the job at Belden, it’s unlikely that person is going to give me anything other than their full effort,” Stroup says.

Perth grandfather Terry Robinson meets four strangers who helped save his life

Terry Robinson looks pretty good for someone who was technically dead for five minutes.
“I can’t tell you what it feels like,” the 73-year-old grandfather said yesterday, just over two weeks after the cardiac arrest that almost killed him.
“The last thing I remember is driving in the car on the freeway. Next thing I wake up two days later in the cardiac unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital.”
Mr Robinson was in the passenger’s seat, heading home to Mandurah with his wife Alenka on May 8 when his heart suddenly stopped.
Camera IconThe scene on Kwinana Freeway when Terry Robinson went into cardiac arrest.Mrs Robinson pulled into the emergency lane just before the Armadale Road exit and flagged down four strangers to help.
“They said my heart stopped for five minutes and if these people had not been here, I wouldn’t be here,” Mr Robinson said.
“They saved my life and it is just amazing.”
Mr Robinson and his wife reunited yesterday with the good samaritans who helped save him with critical CPR, not far from where the drama unfolded.
Mrs Robinson recalled frantically waving from the passenger’s door for help as she reached inside the car to perform first aid.
Camera IconTerry Robinson says he owes his life to these four strangers.Picture: Megan Powell“I looked at him. He was trying to say something and his head rolled back,” she said.
“I grabbed his hand to check his pulse and there was no pulse.
“I started CPR but his tongue was in so I reached into his mouth and tried to pull it out.”
“I needed someone to help me and thankfully all these beautiful people helped.” Tradesman Rizwan Ahmad was driving home to Baldivis. Not far behind were Waroona couple Dennis Tyler and Daphne Zucaro. They all stopped to help.
Soon after, Gary McDonnell also stopped.
Having done his first-aid training just days earlier, Mr McDonnell took over CPR for about five minutes until paramedics arrived.
“I joined in afterwards but the communication between us was fantastic,” he said. “When I got a call from Terry a couple of days ago it was quite an experience to be able to talk to him.”
Mr Robinson spent a week recovering in hospital after having a stent put into his heart.
He is due to start rehabilitation this week but is expected to have no major lasting effects.
“To meet these people today face to face is fantastic,” Mr Robinson said.
He said he and his wife “now cherish every day”.

A US judge has ruled that federal law protects a transgender student’s right to use the bathroom corresponding to his gender identity.

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Gavin Grimm filed a lawsuit after his high school prevented him from using the men’s bathroom

A US judge has ruled that federal law protects a transgender student’s right to use the bathroom corresponding to his gender identity.
In the latest legal twist to a long-running case, a Virginia court rejected Gloucester County school board’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Gavin Grimm, a student who has since graduated.
Mr Grimm sued after his school barred him from using the men’s bathroom.
He said he felt an “incredible sense of relief” after the ruling.
“After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law,” he said.
Mr Grimm’s case has been the most prominent in the debate over which bathroom transgender people should be permitted to use, a debate that has come to the forefront of LGBT rights over the past few years.
This decision does not completely end his case, but the judge on Tuesday ordered the school board to arrange a settlement conference within 30 days.
“The district court’s ruling vindicates what Gavin has been saying from the beginning,” said Joshua Block, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
US district judge Arenda Wright Allen’s ruling said the school’s argument was “resoundingly unpersuasive”, and she refused to throw out Mr Grimm’s claim as the school had requested.
Mr Grimm sued Gloucester High School in July 2015, saying its policy of making him use a separate unisex bathroom violated the following:

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars discrimination in education on the basis of sex

Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which rules no state can deny “equal protection of its laws” to any of its people.

The school had initially allowed him to use the men’s bathroom after he explained he had transitioned to male.
But several adults complained about the the move, and the school’s principal said he would from then on have to use newly installed single-person bathrooms.

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Getty Images

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Many places in the US now have gender-neutral bathrooms

The lawsuit made its way up to the US Supreme Court after a series of cases in Virginia.
The country’s highest court agreed to take the suit after an appeals court ruled in favour of Mr Grimm following a directive from then-President Barack Obama, saying federal law protects transgender bathroom rights.
But the US Supreme Court reversed its decision after President Donald Trump rescinded his predecessor’s guidelines.

A parliamentary bill to bring in “one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales“ to protect elephants is being published. ‘Elephants are one of the world’s most iconic animals and we must do all we can to protect them for future generations.’

A parliamentary bill to bring in “one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales“ to protect elephants is being published.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove is publishing the bill, which will introduce a ban on the sale of ivory items of all ages, not just those produced after a certain date.

Making the move, which comes after a consultation showed 88 per cent of the 70,000 responses backed a ban, Mr Gove said the speed with which it was published signalled the UK’s leadership on the issue.

He said: “Elephants are one of the world’s most iconic animals and we must do all we can to protect them for future generations. That’s why we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales. The overwhelmingly positive response to our consultation shows the strength of public feeling to protect these magnificent animals.

He added: “We have acted quickly in introducing this Bill, less than six weeks after publishing our consultation responses. I hope this serves as a clear sign of our global leadership on this vital issue.”

People found guilty of breaching the ban will face a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine, or up to five years in jail.

Around 20,000 elephants a year are being slaughtered for their ivory, and wildlife campaigners believe reducing global demand for their tusks is an important part of ending the carnage.

Under the terms of the ban there will be certain “narrowly defined and carefully targeted” exemptions to ensure people are not unfairly impacted, officials said.

Items on this list include those comprised of less than 10 per cent ivory by volume and made prior to 1947, and musical instruments with an ivory content of less than 20 per cent and made prior to 1975.

Rare and important items of their type, which are at least 100 years old, will be assessed for their rarity and importance by specialist institutions before exemption permits are issued.

There will also be a specific exemption for portrait miniatures painted on thin slivers of ivory which are at least a century old.

Sales to and between accredited museums will also be exempt, which applies to museums accredited by Arts Council England, the Welsh Government, Museums and Galleries Scotland or the Northern Ireland Museums Council in the UK, or the International Council of Museums outside the UK.

Can I get an AMEN for the LADIES? —> Prominent Southern Baptist leader removed as seminary president following controversial remarks about abused women

FORT WORTH — Prominent Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson has been removed from his job as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary amid an evangelical #MeToo moment: a massive backlash from women upset over comments he made in the past that are newly perceived as sexist and demeaning.
Seminary leaders were vague as to the reason for the dramatic move, issuing a statement in the wee hours Wednesday morning that didn’t mention Patterson’s comments. Instead, the statement said that the seminary is moving “in the direction of new leadership” due to challenges related to “enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity.”
The brief statement said Patterson will be president emeritus, “for the benefit of the future mission of the Seminary.” He will receive compensation and may live on campus as “theologian-in-residence” at a brand new Baptist Heritage Center, the statement said.
For some among the thousands of Southern Baptist women who signed an unusual letter demanding Patterson’s ouster, his demotion on Wednesday came as a relief, a signal of change in a conservative denomination where men are understood to have the God-given role of leading the church and the family and where dissenters rarely speak up so publicly. For others, the lack of condemnation of sexism from the seminary, and Patterson’s continued compensation and home at the school, indicate Southern Baptists still aren’t taking discrimination against women seriously enough.
After 13 hours of closed-door sessions, the seminary’s trustees appointed D. Jeffrey Bingham, the seminary’s dean of the school of theology, as interim president. Bingham has worked for numerous evangelical institutions, including Criswell College, Dallas Theological Seminary and Wheaton College.
Karen Swallow Prior, an English professor at Liberty University who attends a Southern Baptist church and signed the letter denouncing Patterson, met the news with satisfaction. “Misogyny and disrespecting women has nothing to do with scriptural teaching,” Prior said.
[Southern Baptist leader encouraged a woman not to report alleged rape to police and told her to forgive assailant, she says]
But some Southern Baptists voiced concerns that allowing Patterson to continue to live on campus might not send a strong enough message.
Krissie Inserra, a signer of the letter and the wife of prominent young Tallahassee Southern Baptist pastor Dean Inserra, said she was disappointed the seminary didn’t go further. “Women and men in the SBC and in general aren’t going to stand for this. There has to be some real consequences, and we need to show people — we need to have the conviction to do what’s right. None of this was right,” she said Wednesday. “Just because he had a major role to play decades ago — and we’ll be forever grateful for that — there still need to be consequences for his actions in recent years.”
Bekah Mason, 38, another signatory and alumna of a Southern Baptist seminary, said she believes women who are abused will see the recent outcry against Patterson as encouragement that Southern Baptists do not condone abuse. But Mason, an administrator of a Christian school in Louisville and the daughter and granddaughter of Southern Baptist pastors, also found the seminary’s message lacking. “There hasn’t been any acknowledgment from the board or the Pattersons that we have considerably hurt and damaged not only those women who came forward, but because of that, we have a generation of our denomination who now has to work to overcome what we’ve been taught about gender roles and relations between men and women and how we handle abuse,” she said.
Albert Mohler Jr., president of the denomination’s largest seminary, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, released a blistering essay Wednesday evening comparing the Patterson’ saga and other recent evangelical scandals with the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis. His denomination, he said, paid attention to what conservatives see as the Biblical call to gender difference — but the same Bible also “reveals God’s steadfast and unyielding concern for the abused, the threatened, the suffering, and the fearful. There is no excuse whatsoever for abuse of any form, verbal, emotional, physical, spiritual or sexual. The Bible warns so clearly of those who would abuse power and weaponize authority.”
“Judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention. The terrible swift sword of public humiliation has come with a vengeance. There can be no doubt that this story is not over,” Mohler wrote. “This moment requires the very best of us. The Southern Baptist Convention is on trial and our public credibility is at stake. May God have mercy on us all.”
Patterson, who earlier apologized for one sermon example remarking on a teenager’s appearance but has remained largely defiant of his critics, sent an unapologetic email to seminary students and staff on Wednesday. “As for the Pattersons, we are, of course, hurt. But we did not compromise and we still have our voice to witness. That we will attempt faithfully to do,” he and his wife, Dorothy, wrote in the email. “What matters in all this is not the lives of a couple of old soldiers, but your bright futures for Christ. Pray for us when you thought arises, but steady your life and preparation for service to our Lord.”
About 30 male trustees and three female trustees of the 1,200-student Texas seminary were present for the meeting that began Tuesday afternoon to discuss the fate of Patterson, a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention who has been revered as a giant for standing guard for decades against liberalizing changes.
In recent weeks, Patterson, 75,  came under fire for taped comments he made between 2000 and 2014 about women, including remarking on a teenage girl’s figure and saying female seminarians need to work harder to look attractive. He also said women who are abused almost always should stay with their husbands. After thousands of Southern Baptist women petitioned the seminary’s board of trustees to oust him from his position, he apologized for his comments about the teenager but not those about abused women. The comments had resurfaced on a blog this year.
The Washington Post also reported Tuesday that Patterson allegedly told a woman who said she had been raped while a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. in 2003 that she should not report her allegations to the police and instead encouraged her to forgive her alleged assailant. Patterson was that seminary’s president at the time.
The Post’s story was published as the seminary’s board was meeting. Patterson did not respond to requests for comment on the alleged incident.
“The board also affirmed a motion stating evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse,” the board of trustees’ chairman, Kevin Ueckert, said in the board’s statement. He did not say more on that matter except a bullet point noting “The seminary stands against all forms of abuse.”
Ueckert also addressed the seminary’s firing of a PhD student from his $40,000-a-year job as the catering kitchen manager and the revoking of his scholarship for tweeting about the Patterson debate. The school had told the student that he was “indiscreet” and that his decision to speak publicly about the dispute “does not exhibit conduct becoming a follower of Jesus.” Patterson had told The Post that Nathan Montgomery had “a long history,” but Ueckert disputed this, saying that the board has found no evidence of misconduct in Montgomery’s employee file. He did not address whether the student’s job or scholarship would be reinstated.
Ueckert declined to answer further questions from The Post.
Patterson has been widely revered for his role, starting in the 1970s, in a conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination with 15 million members. During that time, Patterson and other leaders passed resolutions that tied Southern Baptists’ belief in the Bible’s inerrancy directly to a ban on female pastors and the teaching that women should be submissive to their husbands.
Paul Pressler, credited as Patterson’s co-founder of the “conservative resurgence,” also faces a lawsuit alleging he concealed inappropriate sexual conduct. The suit names Patterson and his seminary as well, saying that Patterson helped cover up the abuse; Pressler and the Southern Baptist Convention dispute the lawsuit’s claims.
Patterson was scheduled to deliver a high-profile sermon at the denomination’s annual meeting in Dallas next month. Now, it is unclear whether he will still deliver the sermon.
Patterson and his wife had planned to retire on the grounds of the Baptist Heritage Library, which the seminary plans to open this summer and which will house Patterson’s collections. The board passed a motion that would still allow the Pattersons to retire there.
R. Marie Griffith, director of the John Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University, said Patterson’s exit reflects a “turning point moment” for Southern Baptists. Any other time in recent decades, she said, Patterson could have avoided repercussions for statements like the ones recently circulated.
“The tide has shifted so strongly on these issues of sexual harassment and assault, all I can think is: Enough leaders knew they’d really be condemned and look terrible if they stood up for him at this point,” she said. Griffith said Patterson’s leaving doesn’t reflect less commitment among the younger generation of conservative male evangelicals to female submission — but it does show they have a limit as to what that means. “There are an awful lot of people who believe in female submission but don’t counsel people to stay with abusive husbands.”
[‘We are shocked’: Thousands of Southern Baptist women denounce leader’s ‘objectifying’ comments, advice to abused women]
Barry Hankins, a history professor at Baylor University, which is part of a separate Baptist convention, agreed that Patterson’s departure represents a turning point in the Southern Baptist Convention and in evangelicalism more broadly. “There is no bigger name in a Southern Baptist conservative movement that could be pressured out [of a job] than Paige Patterson,” said Hankins.
Denominational leaders expressed two sentiments on Wednesday: condemnation of abuse, but also ongoing reverence for Patterson.
For instance, Thom S. Rainer, the president of the Southern Baptist publisher LifeWay, said in a statement that he was praying for the Patterson family, then wrote, “We pray that this moment will be powerful and pivotal for all of us to stand boldly with all women who are victims of any form of abuse, and to stand together as the body of Christ saying ‘no’ to any type of abuse of women at any time and under any circumstance.”
J.D. Greear, another prominent Southern Baptist pastor, echoed those themes in his statement: “Dr. Patterson was very influential in my early ministry, which has made this whole situation heartbreaking for me …. One thing must be clear, however: There can be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused and to be a safe place for the vulnerable. Abuse can never be tolerated, minimized, hidden, or ‘handled internally.’ Those in leadership who turn a blind eye toward abuse are complicit with it and must be held accountable.”
During the board meeting Tuesday, the campus was quiet, with most students away for summer break.
Most female students approached by The Post declined to be interviewed, but Sarah Reiter, 20, a sophomore music major from Cross Plains, Tex., said she was happy to talk. Reiter’s father, Kenneth, is a Southwestern Baptist graduate and the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in her home town.
Reiter said she is torn over what Patterson said. On the one hand, she was in an emotionally abusive relationship that ended about a year ago, she said. On the other hand, her current boyfriend’s father was “doing awful things” at one time, such as using drugs, but his story wound up having a happy ending, she said. “His mother stuck around and loved his father through that,” said Reiter. “He became a Christian and was saved, and now their relationship is wonderful.”
Reiter, who said she hadn’t heard much discussion among her seminary friends about the controversy, said she was willing to give Patterson the benefit of the doubt. “I don’t feel like he’s promoting abuse,” she said. “He’s not saying, ‘Men, beat your wives so they know how to trust God.’ That’s not what he’s saying.”
[Southern Baptist leader who advised abused women not to divorce doubles down, says he has nothing to apologize for]
Another student, Sharayah Colter, who is pursuing a master’s degree in theological studies, came to the meeting — part of which was open before the closed session began — to show support for Patterson. Her husband, Scott, a fellow student and assistant pastor at Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth, serves as chief of staff for Patterson.
“I think people have mischaracterized him and misconstrued what he has said in the past,” Colter said. “And he’s clarified comments. So just like anybody likes to be taken at their word when they clarify what they really mean, I take him at his word when he explains what he means.”
“I’m just very grateful for Dr. Patterson,” she added. “He would be one of my faith heroes, I would say.”
This story has been updated.
Bobby Ross Jr. reported from Fort Worth. Sarah Pulliam Bailey reported from New York. Michelle Boorstein reported from Washington. Julie Zauzmer contributed to this story.
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