Douglas Wilson, Southern Presbyterians, and Neo-Confederates
Nick Gier printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 07:15:49 PM EST
This is the third installment in my series on Wilson's religious empire.  The first was "The Seeds are Sown for Moscow's Culture War," and the second "No Burning at the Stake in Moscow's Friendship Square." A full inventory of Wilson's empire is found in the first installment.
DOUGLAS WILSON, SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIANS, AND NEO-CONFEDERATES

by Nick Gier, Professor Emeritus, University of Idaho

In early October 2003 flyers were found posted all over Moscow, Idaho, home of Douglas Wilson's Christ Church.  The flyers contained passages from Wilson's booklet Southern Slavery As It Was , published by Wilson's own Canon Press in 1996.  All but one of Wilson's two dozen books are issued by Canon Press.

For some time I had heard rumors that Wilson had connections with neo-Confederates, but I had always rejected them as not believable.  The information took the town by surprise and led to a petition drive that led to a full-page ad in the local newspaper entitled "Not in Our Town," signed by 1,200 outraged residents.

Wilson's co-author was Steve Wilkins, pastor of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana and founding director of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS), declared a white supremacist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

LOS president Michael Hill, who attends Wilkins' church, proposes that an independent neo-Confederacy of fifteen states would have the duty to protect the values of Anglo-Celtic culture from black Americans, who are "a compliant and deadly underclass."  A key word for the League is "hierarchy," the God-given right for superiors (read "propertied white males") to rule over inferiors.

In 1994 Wilkins and Wilson presented papers at a "history" conference on slavery that Wilson hosted in Moscow, renting University of Idaho facilities to lend credibility to his efforts.  I placed "scare" quotation marks around history to indicate that nothing approaching accurate history was being discussed at this conference or any of the others that followed annually.

Wilson defended the booklet in the local press, saying that good Christians should never be ashamed of what the Bible teaches. He and Wilkins make the incredible claim that since the Bible condones slavery but condemns kidnapping, it was not sinful for people to own Africans that they themselves did not ship from Africa.  This is as absurd as Buddhists who rationalize meat eating because they claim they were not involved in the slaughter of the animal itself.

The most incredible statement in the booklet is this one: "There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world" (p. 24).  After such section headings as "The Stability of the Slave Family" and "The Strength of the Slave Family," and general support for southern slavery "as it truly was," the first sentence of the "Conclusion" that "none need lament the passing of slavery" is an incredible non sequitur.  If the Confederate South was the best multiracial society in world history and the Confederate Army was the most evangelical ever, then why should such a glorious culture ever have to change?

Not only is the slavery booklet historically inaccurate, it is theologically arrogant and misinformed: "By the time of the [Civil] War, the leadership of the South was conservative, orthodox, and Christian. By contrast, the leadership of the North was radical and Unitarian" (p. 12).  In contrast to the righteous Confederates, the abolitionists in the North were "wicked" and were "driven by a zealous hatred for the Word of God" (p. 13).

Of the hundreds of books on slavery, the Wilson and Wilkins chose a single reference volume to support their thesis: Stanley Engerman and Robert Fogel's widely discredited Time on the Cross . They did not even bother to quote from the second and revised edition. The authors also neglected to mention that Herbert Gutman wrote a critique of this book entitled Slavery and the Numbers Game . A review in the American Historical Review states: "Gutman has destroyed the mathematical mystique of Time on the Cross , [and] punctured its claims of novelty, accuracy, and understanding."

Two University of Idaho historians Shawn Quinlan and William Ramsey weighed in with a devastating critique of the booklet entitled "Southern Slavery As It Wasn't." Wilson's idea of an academic response was to write to Idaho's governor requesting that the good professors be fired.

Quinlan and Ramsey focus on interviews with former slaves conducted by the Works Progress Administration, and how Wilson and Wilkins use the information without proper scholarly scrutiny.  As they state: "No historian worthy of the name, for example, would dare take the word of a white southern planter as definitive evidence that slavery was a good thing" (p. 6).

Professor Robert T. McKenzie, a civil war expert at the University of Washington and a member of a sister Christ Church in Seattle, urged Wilson to withdraw the book for another reason other than its ugly, unsupported thesis.  McKenzie knew Time on the Cross very well and he was able to determine that about 20 percent of the slavery booklet had been lifted from the book.

Wilson first explained that it was sloppy editing on this part, but Wilkins finally came clean and admitted that it was his entire fault.  A more thorough investigation of Wilkins' other books found that he committed the sin of kidnapping texts on a regular basis.  I've learned that Wilkins hires some of his parishioners to input entire texts of southern history, from which the good pastor is able to block, copy, and paste at will.  Wilkins' plagiarism is documented, complete with facing pages of the respective texts, under sections 2 and 5 of Not on the Palouse, Not Ever, the most comprehensive website for all matters relating to Wilson's religious empire.

Under intense pressure, Wilson ceased publication of the booklet, although thousands of copies still remain in conservative Christian schools and neo-Confederate bookstores.  Wilson promised to reissue quickly a revised edition with proper citation, but we waited 18 months before a very different version under the title Black and Tan was issued, without its plagiarizing co-author and without deference Professor McKenzie, his brother in Christ.  Indeed, Wilson's hubris is so great that he believes that he can teach the Antebellum South expert a thing or two.

The original slavery booklet was republished as it was (the footnotes were fixed) in The War Between the States: America's Uncivil War (Bluebonnet Press, 2005), John J. Dwyer, general editor.  Historian Ed Sebesta claims that this book "seems to incorporate every 'Lost Cause' and modern Neo-Confederate idea."

Wilson says that he is not a neo-Confederate but a "paleo-Confederate."  By the latter I think he means, by implication and by direct statements, that the US should return to only propertied males voting, the appointment of senators, the repeal (at the least) of the 14th and 16th Amendments, and a loose confederation of autonomous states.

Despite his objections, neo-Confederate ideas, events, and symbols abound in his religious empire.  Robert E. Lee's birthday, not Lincoln's, is celebrated in Moscow's Logos School.  Even though the school's principal he denied its presence, this link contains a picture of Lee's portrait hanging in a Logos schoolroom.

General Lee was also featured in a PowerPoint presentation given at a Moscow Chamber of Commerce retreat by its executive director and Christ Church member Paul Kimmell.  The last slide showed the Confederate flag and Old Glory side by side as if they should be given equal value. In an article in the Spokesman Review (10/22/06), Wilson confessed that the Confederate flag has been displayed at church and school functions.

One of Wilson's defenders complained that his critics are picking one small book on slavery out of his voluminous writings on other redeeming topics. Wilson's support for slavery, however, is intimately connected with other writings that affirm male superiority, hierarchy, and inequality. As to support for the Old South in other works, Wilson and his co-author Douglas Jones describes the Antebellum South as "the last nation of the first Christendom," and they predict that by God's will "the South will rise again" (Angels in the Architecture , pp. 203, 205).




Display:
is Wilkins Auburn Avenue Presbyterian affiliated?  The PCA?  How widespread is the influence of the LOS in southern Presbyterian churches?

by Rusty Pipes on Sat Jan 12, 2008 at 07:45:42 PM EST
Wilkins church is or at least was, affiliated with PCA.

Intelligence Report, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, had a long article about the LOS, Wilkins and the PCA awhile back. I am not sure if Wilkins et al are still part of it, or if the issue of "federal" theology has caused a schism.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 02:46:57 PM EST
Parent

Just a small correction.  Wilson's Christ Church and all of its clones are affiliated with Wilson's own Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches.  The PCA would definitely not have them.

by Nick Gier on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 12:51:28 PM EST
Parent


Wilkins' church is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America, but last year he cleared by the Louisiana PCA Prebytery of heresy charges, but now they are under investigation by the national PCA for letting him go.  At their national meeting in June the "Federal Vision" of Wilson and Wilkins was rejected as incompatible with the Westminster Confession.  I will write an installment on this topic later.

by Nick Gier on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 02:25:41 AM EST
Parent



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 (4 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 (2 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 (0 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 (4 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 (5 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 (0 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 (2 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 (4 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 (3 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 (2 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 (1 comment)
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 (6 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 (6 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 (7 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 (21 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 (4 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 (4 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 (4 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 (6 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 (5 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 (3 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 (4 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 (3 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 (2 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 (13 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 (5 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 (7 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 (2 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 (2 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 (2 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.