Baptist pro: Don’t meet the press, unless you want to

Here’s an interesting piece of church-crisis communications advice: Don’t take your story to the press. In fact, don’t even try to answer their questions.

In a nutshell, that’s the Oct. 15 advice from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, who cited I Corinthians 6 to justify it. Since Paul wrote that believers shouldn’t go to secular courts for justice, that means, the Associated Baptist Press quoted Patterson as saying:

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson said the prohibition in First Corinthians 6 on church members suing one another in secular court means “we don’t take matters before unbelievers.”

“This also means that you don’t take matters to the press,’ Patterson said. “What goes on in the church of God doesn’t go to the press.

“‘If I had 50 dollars for every time that I have told somebody from the press: ‘I’m not going to comment on that because, frankly, it’s none of your business; it’s the church of God’ — if I had 50 dollars for every time I’ve done that, this would be a wealthy institution and you wouldn’t have to pay any tuition at all,” he said.

Southwestern Seminary has helpfully put the sermon audio online, and you can download the audio if you like. This isn’t the usual GetReligion critique of a mainstream religion-news story, but your GetReligionistas thought that people who follow life on the Godbeat would be interested in what Patterson had to say.

So I downloaded the sermon. Patterson’s press criticism begins at about 17 minutes into the message, and he adds this, as the ABP quoted:

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