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Pastor’s Remarks, Implying Women in Shorts Deserve to Be Raped, Prompt Local Protest

By Josh Shepherd
bobby leonard women shorts rape
A video clip has gone viral of Pastor Bobby Leonard preaching on Aug. 16, 2023, at Bible Baptist Tabernacle in Monroe, North Carolina. (Video screengrab)

Video of a North Carolina pastor implying that women in shorts deserve to be raped is sparking outrage—not just on social media, but in the pastor’s local community, where a protest was held.

Yesterday, The Roys Report (TRR) Founder Julie Roys posted a clip on X, formerly Twitter, of a sermon last August by Pastor Bobby Leonard of Bible Baptist Tabernacle in Monroe, North Carolina.

Commenting on seeing women wearing shorts at an outlet mall, Leonard said, “If you dress like that and you get raped, and I’m on the jury, he’s going to go free. You don’t like that, do you? I’m right, though. Because a man’s a man.”

As of publication time, the post has been viewed 2.7 million times, only 26 hours after being posted. 

In the post, which also has 100,000 total engagements and over 18,000 likes, Roys writes: “Yes, a man is a man—not an animal. And HE is responsible for controlling himself. This pastor needs to resign.”

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The post on X sparked a response from the local community and the pastor’s church. This morning, the church marquee out front was changed to read: “I am sorry for any hurt. I was wrong. – Pastor Leonard.” 

pastor shorts monroe
On Feb. 22, 2024, the marquee outside Bible Baptist Tabernacle in Monroe, North Carolina references a viral video clip of Pastor Bobby Leonard. (Photo: Facebook)

Last night, Jason King, a truck driver from nearby Wadesboro, organized a small protest of a half-dozen people outside the church during a mid-week service. He said “the video is all over social media,” which sparked the protest. 

In the Facebook Live video, King summed up some of Leonard’s remarks and responded. 

“We don’t condone that,” he said. “We are totally against that. I have young girls, and I am totally against that. The people of God should not condone that and shouldn’t be in the pulpit saying it. That’s why we’re out here.” 

King added in a statement to TRR that he and other protestors are seeking “apology and acknowledgement that the statement was wrong, both biblically and morally.”

Monroe resident Hilary Christina, said she, King, and others are planning a “larger protest for Sunday.” Christina said that the posts have been circulating to call for more Christians to get involved. 

She added: “Christians are the face of the church. You cannot speak this evil and expect people to want to be a part of it.”

‘Beyond gross,’ say survivor advocates

The clip originated from Bad Sermon Clips, which posted a two-minute clip from a sermon that Leonard delivered on Aug. 16, 2023. 

In the sermon, Leonard recounted a conversation with his wife, on the way to shop in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

“Go sit in the parking lot of the outlet mall. I said, count and you watch ‘em. You’ll find more women going to those places with shorts than you will women with pants and dresses put together,” he said. “If you got time, try it. Have your boy go up (and) watch for it.”

One user on X, Josh Bird, said the context makes it worse. “He admits to sitting in a parking lot to watch women in shorts and encourages others to do the same,” posted Bird. 

Founded in 1970, Bible Baptist Tabernacle is listed as an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church, a Protestant sect known for its ties to reality TV’s Josh Duggar, whose family has attended an IFB church. Duggar is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for child pornography.

In recent months, IFB ministers in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire have been arrested on child sex abuse charges, as well as an IFB missionary. An IFB-affiliated boarding school in Missouri was shuttered last year following years of reported abuse. 

Advocates widely condemned the video clip of Leonard.

“Well this is beyond gross,” said Kristen McKnight, a survivor advocate and wife of Scot McKnight, co-author of A Church Called Tov. 

Ohio State Representative Jessica Miranda (D-28th) reposted the clip and wrote in part, “I see something like this here in 2024 and I’m reminded how far we still need to go. I wish I could say I’m surprised by this kind of backward rhetoric. Women can wear whatever the hell they want, including shorts!” 

And a user named Ethan Byerly said, “Pull him out of the pulpit. This shouldn’t even be a discussion.”

For his part, local advocate King said he felt the church’s marquee apology was inadequate. “The statement was verbal in a sermon. Why isn’t there a public verbal apology?” he asked.

WBTV News Charlotte reports on Controversial Monroe Pastor – Feb. 22, 2024

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his family live in the Washington, D.C. area.



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31 Responses

    1. Right now his church is in damage control mode which seems odd since most of those churches are antagonistic towards the outside world. But I’m sure many in his congregation (And outside) agree with his words. Scary

  1. I’m old enough to remember conservative Baptists preaching personal responsibility and against situation ethics.

    1. I’m old enough to remember when conservative Baptists taught me that if I got raped it would be my fault. So, you know, this message isn’t new- it’s the party line. Personal responsibility, yes, but only for the women. Men get grace and forgiveness and understanding don’t gossip and not guilty verdicts.

      1. You are right, the baptists have always thought this way. They often have preached different, for public prestige and approval. But their doctrines even agree with this attitude. My comment here explains what I am talking about. Listen closely to the audio, and he admits he has said this before. This time he got caught.

      2. Jen, you are 100%correct.

        As we have seen over and over, men are given grace and forgiveness by the church for rape, molestation and sexual abuse because “that’s just the way they are made.”

        This whole line of thought is part of the patriarchy package.

        1. There’s rules in the OT for when a rapist can or should marry his victim. I think that’s reason enough not to use it as a guide or law book.

    1. I guarantee you that this is not the first time he’s said this- he said it with his full chest knowing there’s be amens and agreement. He wasn’t disqualified last time, or the time before.

      The only difference now is that someone thought to video it and share it.

      Even in the event that he IS “disqualified”- he’ll take a couple weeks off, be “restored” and back in the pulpit- only more careful to shame people filming him for satan’s work to take down a good man.

      1. I absolutely agree with jen. Misogyny lives on. Think of how many boys and men were given the green light through the years to act like a cad (archaic, I know). And how many women had their self-esteem shattered.

  2. This is why I don’t attend church any longer. That’s NOT a man of God. I guarantee his wife is being abused.

  3. Well, the Baptist Church world teaches reformation theology, which says that a person still has a sin nature even after born again, salvation. Even though many of that type would condemn this type of preaching, still, it is what you expect. Look closely at his words in the sermon. “A man will be a man” tells you all you need to know. Many Christians will tell you a man needs to be born again, and changed. This pastor, not being changed, born again, as the Bible puts it, is simply not a Christian, and it finally slipped out.

    1. “Well, the Baptist Church world teaches reformation theology,” – more innaccuracies (I am being polite):

      1. “Reformed theology is hardly confined to the “Baptist Church world”, as you imply; and ,

      2. MANY “Baptist” churches/denoms DO NOT hold to/teach “Reformed doctrine”…nice try……

      1. Not any of this “nice try” stuff. Most baptists and Presbyterians are reformation theology, which teaches OSAS and Christians have a sin nature, those two condemned doctrines. Some do not, only some. As such, you can read the comments and see this type of teaching has been going on for decades.
        Just think about it. Even most unsaved heathen know better than that OSAS/reformed theology preacher. You cannot condemn loudly enough the doctrines/teachings that allow his type of thinking to occur. Reading through the article, they have links to other fellowships within this group who are also having the same type of problems. It could not be because they all teach the same corrupt things? Of course it is.

  4. How can we find out how many members of that church will split because of his callous remarks? Did he make any reference to Dinah?

  5. So he’s admitting to watching girls and women in shorts at the outlet mall. Reminds me a little of former Senator Roy Moore.

  6. I thought people like this were long gone from the pulpit and replaced with prosperity preaching. Guess not! I hope the congregants in this church realize this man does not belong there or in any other church for that matter.

  7. “I am sorry for any hurt” —like there might be any doubt!?!What a total creep this guy is. He has no place in any pulpit or in any place pretending to speak for God. He needs to slither back into the place he belongs. Shudder…..

  8. After looking at their website I noticed that his church was one of those “King James Only” Baptist churches. Many of them are source of bad ideas esp. about women.

  9. There is a lot to hate about social media. And then there is the opportunity to call out a man like this who says terrible things in the name of God to people sitting in pews who will never have an opportunity to speak up and challenge him.

    If covering the body would guarantee a woman’s safety then women in Afghanistan wearing full burqas would be the safest women in the world. They’re not; they are raped, abused and killed by men and male family members at an alarming rate. No amount of clothing protects women from rape and abuse. Women will be safe when men control themselves.

  10. All the news reports are saying he “apologized”. NO. He did NOT. Pretty sure he didn’t even put those words on the billboard. How are letters on a billboard an apology??!!!! Regardless, you don’t make a strong statement like that and turn around and say you’re sorry. It’s not genuine. The man needs help. He needs to step down. He basically gave every man in that congregation and who watched that video, permission to rape. And every women that their right to safety is based upon what they wear. This is so dangerous and only a warped mind would think this way. He will need years of therapy to undo that shit…and that’s even if he wants to. Highly doubtful. God, I hope he doesn’t have kids.

  11. My question to this “pastor” that I would really like an answer to.
    You’ve been surrounded by women wearing shorts all of your life. Have you ever raped one of them? If not why not?

  12. The saddest aspect of all this is that it seems his congregation sit and let this lie be fed to them and nobody stands up and protests.
    What is wrong with us?
    It gives insight into the acceptance of Trump by evangelicals….he does and says things they only wish they could.

    1. ….precisely. Until and unless change starts in the pews, it won’t start. I hold the position that the door I came in also swings the other way. But, to go out will almost always include loss of relationships, associations, valued constituents in one’s life. There’s always a cost to doing something (like leaving, objecting, questioning, etc.) and the cost of doing nothing (like sitting on our hands). The cost of doing something is typically obvious, proximal, etc. We know what will happen if we act. We know that because it will likely happen to us. The cost of doing nothing is typically more nebulous, perhaps even undetectable, but its there. The difference is that such a cost will usually be incurred by someone else…..perhaps because we sat on our hands, which makes us an accomplice, in a manner of speaking. The key difference between the two costs is to whom the cost accrues. TNSTAAFL*

      *There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

    2. I mean, someone in the pews filmed this and put it on the internet. so somehtings happening there.

      but maybe don’t blame shift to the victims- his congregation are under his “authority”- that’s how this works. you don’t question the “man of God”.

  13. Margaret,
    Nice try on tying Trump to this disgusting (notice the correct spelling) “pastor”. One has nothing to do with the other. But if it does then what is to be said about non-believers and believers and Biden? Why is it that rarely does a story get reported here that does not in some way have a political comment in the replies and mostly something negative about Trump?

    1. Mark,

      Can you at least acknowledge that this pastor’s response does say something about Trumpism?

      In the 90s, conservative Christians believed “Character Matters.” Even simple adultery could disqualify a Republican candidate for them.

      But in the last couple elections Christian conservatives have backed Trump supported candidates in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Pennsylvania and other states that were credibly accused of sexual assault and even rape.

      Now they are preparing to back a candidate for president who was accused of sexually assaulting 28 women in the same manner he bragged about on the Access Hollywood tape, even to the exclusion of other qualified Christian Republican candidates without that kind of moral baggage.

      Just this year a jury voted that Trump “sexually abused E Jean Carroll by forcibly inserting his fingers into her vagina.”

      Yet he won’t lose their vote.

      Can you at least admit there is a problem in Evangelical Trump land?

  14. Wow. Stalking, leering, unbridled lust and misogyny are mysteriously absent from the list of things to expect from those claiming to follow Jesus….🤔

    Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

    Sounds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing to me. He is a disgrace to all those who call on The Name and should be removed from his position immediately.

  15. Those of us required to wear dresses–and now letting ourselves think about who made those rules–are still hoping for clarification on the difference between shorts and a dress. You’re still seeing legs, patriarchs. Our Bible College required girls to change into dresses for meals at the dining hall. Hmmmmm. Guessing a group of men around some conference table somehow “got the mind of the Lord” on that one. Boys never had to worry about what they wore to the dining hall, or pretty much anywhere else. But girls – oh those girls – and all those lovely dresses.
    Let us hope thinking people can gain some real insight because this creep finally said the quiet part out loud.

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