Anti-gay pastor charged with child molestation

An anti-gay pastor in Nashville has been charged with molesting children across two decades.

Pastor Matthew Dennis ‘Denny’ Patterson of Nolensville Road Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, was arrested by police after members of the congregation reported that he had made requests to “engage in strange activities” with children.

A six-month investigation into the complaints found multiple victims, most of them boys, who were molested from 1998 to 2017.

Patterson, 45, has been indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery in relation to the incidents.

JoeMyGod notes that Patterson was previously known locally for his aggressive campaign to battle against LGBT anti-discrimination protections.

The pastor helped spearhead a 2003 effort to block a bill that would have extended legal protections to cover workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

At the time, he said: “We want to make sure we keep the pressure on, let them know that anytime they bring this up, we’ll be down here to oppose it.”

A similar bill was eventually passed in 2011, in the face of fierce opposition from religious groups.

Police added that the leadership of Nolensville Road Baptist Church had been “fully cooperative” with the investigation.

Church members allege that Patteron encouraged children to sit on his face and stomach, sometimes in their underwear.

Patterson’s bond has been set at $100,000.

Related: ‘Death to gays’ pastor jailed for 35 years for child molestation