The Seeds are Sown for a Culture War in Moscow, Idaho
Nick Gier printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 02:07:10 PM EST
We are delighted to welcome Nick Gier as a new front page regular for a series on Christian Reconstructionist activist Douglas Wilson. Nick has taught religion and philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years. He was coordinator of religious studies (1980-2003), and Senior Fellow at the Martin Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution (1990-2000). His books include Wittgenstein and Phenomenology (SUNY Press, 1981), God, Reason, and the Evangelicals (Univ. Press of America, 1987), Spiritual Titanism (SUNY, 2000) ngier/steab.htm, and The Virtue of Non-Violence (SUNY, 2004) He is currently working on a book entitled "The Origins of Religious Violence" -- FC

[Christ Church's] teaching style is often abrasive, even at times caustic toward both believers and non-believers. We believe this style of teaching is contrary to Christ's teaching and to his example . . . . --Elders of the Evangelical Free Church of Pullman, Washington, November 23, 2003.

Preface Douglas Wilson of Moscow, Idaho has established a very impressive religious empire, about which I will write a series of columns. Wilson is pastor of Christ Church, which together with a sister church Trinity Reformed, has about 650 adult members in a town of 21,000 (including 10,000 University of Idaho students). He is founder of the Classical and Christian School Association, which, beginning with Moscow's Logos School, now has 204 affiliated schools in the U.S., Indonesia, and Nigeria.

Wilson is also founder of New St. Andrews College in Moscow, on which the City Council has placed an enrollment cap because of its central downtown location. Wilson also runs a 3-year seminary program Greyfriars Hall, the graduates of which are sent to plant new churches after the Christ Church model. Furthermore, Wilson co-founded the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches, a small denomination that follows the “Federal Vision,” a theology now rejected by every major conservative Presbyterian denomination. Finally, Wilson has his own publishing house, Canon Press, which at one time grossed an average of $1 million per year.

The articles that follow will reveal that Douglas Wilson embodies all the qualities of the discredited evangelical pastor, everything except having TV program, great hair, and sexual escapades.

After resigning is navy commission, James Wilson was active in the Officers Christian Union during the 1950s. His vision of a "literature" ministry led to the founding of many Christian bookstores in college towns all over America. In 1971, Wilson started One-Way Books on the Washington State University campus, 8 miles across the border, and then Crossroads Bookstore in Moscow not long after.

In 1954 Wilson started writing a small book that would have the title Principles of War: A Handbook on Strategic Evangelism, first published in 1964. He thought that college towns, especially those with state universities, would be both strategic and feasible evangelistic targets. In a recent interview, Jim Wilson said that he was fortunate to find two such towns and universities so close together. With some relish he recalled a thought he had then: "We could fight one battle and win two states [for Christ]!"

I told Jim Wilson that I thought that upraised sword on the front cover of his war book was rather provocative, but he just shrugged his shoulders and said that it was only a symbol. A very dangerous symbol I was tempted to add.

Wilson argued that even though the methods of warfare should not be used to evangelize, its principles could be applied very well. I missed another chance for a comeback as I thought about the Christian Taipings in the 1850s having altar calls with the aisles guarded by soldiers with upraised swords. See more on the Taipings at www.class.uidaho.edu/ngier/taiping2.htm.

Qualifying this, as many Christian extremists do, as spiritual warfare, as if to imply that physical warfare is worse, is deceptive. The stakes in spiritual warfare are much, much higher and require all expedient means. In such a war there is no option for diplomacy, cease-fires, and there is no Geneva Convention to set any legal framework.

As one bathroom scribner once wrote: "Constant war is a small price to pay for eternal peace." Items for sale at Moscow's New St. Andrews College bookstore are engraved with a Latin motto translated as "for the faithful, wars shall never cease."

The New York Times Magazine carried an article (9/30/07) entitled "Onward Christian Scholars," which featured New St. Andrews College, founded by Wilson's son Douglas. In it Father Wilson took issue with his son's application of his evangelical war principles:

"The object was to take over the town with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but to do it in an underground fashion. One of the principles of war is surprise. You don't tell people what you're going to do. Douglas told them, and he gave them someone to shoot at."

I first met Douglas Wilson after the first session of my “Introduction to Philosophy” class in late August, 1975. He introduced himself and asked me one question: “Is it OK if I defend the faith in this class?” I answered with a fate-filled Yes. When I told this story to faculty and students at Wilson's New St. Andrews College in April 2000, I got a big laugh when I said that saying No would not have made any difference.

While Jim Wilson sold his religious books and pastored Pullman's Evangelical Free Church, Doug and I were having friendly debates in and out of the classroom. Wilson took nearly every course that I offered, but we agreed that I would not be the best person to chair his thesis committee.

Wilson wrote a fairly respectable M.A. thesis on free will and then returned to his local ministry at Faith Fellowship, later renamed Community Evangelical Fellowship (CEF). Faith Fellowship started as sister church of Pullman's Evangelical Free Church.

In the early 1980s Wilson and I team taught (along with two other people) a course on 20th Century theology, and then we had a debate on abortion in February of 1983. My side of the debate has developed into the essay at www.class.uidaho.edu/ngier/103/abortion.htm.

Wilson had a regular column in what was then called The Idahonian, and he came out with a piece that listed points that I tried to refute in the debate. In a letter to the editor, I cried foul, not because I could claim that my refutations were necessarily sound; rather, because Wilson did not mention my responses at all. It was at that point that I began to question Wilson’s intellectual integrity, and subsequent actions and events have convinced me that he and his closest associates are not honest men.

In December 1993, the CEF elders, concerned about doctrinal shifts in Wilson's theology, presented him with an ultimatum that he either conform to the CEF statement of faith or resign as pastor. (There was also a dispute about Wilson mixing church and non-church funds.) Wilson organized church members against the elders and successfully outmaneuvered them.

In order to validate his usurpation of power, Wilson drafted a letter attesting to his godly character and his qualifications to remain pastor. Even though the elders refused to sign the document, Wilson and his closest associates continued to swear until July 2003 that the signatures were obtained. Two of the three elders then resigned in disgust.

With the dissenters gone, Wilson moved forward with changing the name of his church to Christ Church, and he pushed his own doctrinal agenda, including infant baptism and paedo-communion, the rare practice of giving children the consecrated wine and bread. This was a dramatic change considering the fact that, from its very beginnings CEF was Arminian (non-Calvinist) and Baptist.

In February, 2003, two Christ Church members brought "Solemn Charges" (a 108-page document) against Wilson for maladministration, pastoral abuse, and doctrinal errors, and the unsigned document of December 1993 reemerged as an issue. Wilson demanded that members of Pullman's Evangelical Free Church (EFC) investigate some of the charges. When EFC members asked to see the "signed" letter, no one in Christ Church could produce the goods. Six months later the Christ Church website contained a statement conceding that the CEF elder signatures were never obtained.

To this day, all that Wilson can muster as an explanation is that he corrected the "mistake" as soon as it was discovered—"soon" defined in this case as 127 months. See Wilson's convoluted defense of January 31, 2006 at www.dougwils.com.

As I conclude Part One of this series, I will only note, because I cannot fully explain, what I call "The Navy connection." Jim Wilson, Christ Church elders Dale Courtney and Patch Blakey are retired naval officers. (There are undoubtedly more.) Jim Wilson brought Doug Busby out from Annapolis and he now is pastor at Pullman's Evangelical Free Church, estranged from Christ Church because of the crisis explained above.

Douglas Wilson and Michael Lawyer, Wilson's administrative assistant and Christ Church elder, met on a submarine during the early 1970s. We know that the Air Force Academy is a veritable den of conservative Christians. Does the Naval Academy also have its fair share?




Display:
Most of us have little sense of the little religious/political empires that comprise the religious right. Your authoratative and yet up-close and personal reporting on the rise of the neo-theocratic organization of Doug Wilson is exactly the kind of specificity we need to get a clearer grasp of what we are up against culturally and politically around the country.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Dec 30, 2007 at 11:37:57 PM EST

You are correct about Wilson's lack of integrity. For all the preaching about accountability, he takes none, nor does Tom Garfield, who is the most irresponsible "principal" (pawn) in his empire. I believe he has become totally blind to the evil that has grown in him, and is powerful enough (though not from God) to emotionally bludgeon and manipulate others to stand by him-thinking he can do no wrong when he is just another imperfect person-who "sees through a glass darkly".
I was there at the beginning, and I remember you at a meeting and being shut down when attempting to speak. He has always done that with rudeness and ridicule, whatever the subject matter. He is nothing but a bully on the playground and so teaches the same behavior. Thank you for being vigilant--though in truth no one needs to tear them down; they will cannibalize themselves. But there is much devastation and human pain as the result. As another believer is destroyed, he realizes that the others before him were ambushed the same way--and Wilson's "love" is only his warped creation, the result of pride and sick need for power.

by sylslater on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 12:13:42 PM EST

What a great writing it was. The seeds sown for the war i just cant imagine what would have happened in those days during war. I better go through best essay reviews articles for ancient history. But it has been related with the spiritual life.

by ConnieScholl on Fri Mar 17, 2017 at 04:58:02 AM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (147 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (39 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (29 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (35 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (34 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (32 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (31 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (31 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (16 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (14 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (18 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (43 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (11 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (24 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (32 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (48 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (31 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (28 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (72 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (28 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (31 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (34 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (24 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (22 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (24 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (25 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (24 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (33 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (32 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (30 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else © 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.