“I went to boarding school, and then I went to Oxford, and I know how easy it is for certain groups of people to become wholly insulated from ordinary life”. Mark Haddon
I have been writing about Doug Wilson since I first started blogging. Here is a man who is not theologically trained running a group of churches and schools. In August 2021, Religion News posted: In Moscow, Idaho, conservative ‘Christian Reconstructionists’ are thriving amid evangelical turmoil. Although this group appears small (around 1300), they have become influential. According to this article, it is their intention to “take over” Moscow, Idaho.
For the past 30 years, believers from across the United States and beyond have been gathering in Moscow, a city in northern Idaho with a population of around 25,000. Here, as part of the Christ Church congregation, they have set their face against the cultures of American modernity. Guided by a controversial social theory known as “Christian Reconstruction,” which holds that biblical law should apply in today’s setting, they look to the Bible to understand how they believe American institutions should be reformed.
…In Moscow, the community has established churches, a classical Christian school, a liberal arts college, a music conservatory, a publishing house, and the makings of a media empire. With books published by major trade and academic presses, and a talk show on Amazon Prime, the community is setting the agenda for a theologically vigorous and politically reactionary evangelical revival.
So what’s the big deal about the pretty town of Moscow, Idaho? It is the home of the University of Idaho which is politically liberal. As a point of interest, Wilson’s liberal arts school, New St Andrews College, has a small enrollment but many of the 10-15 graduates each year go onto doctoral programs in well-known universities. One odd feature of this school is there are no dormitories. Many of the students board with members of Wilson’s church (he likes to call a *kirk* as he attempts to channel a Scottish don.)
The college limits new student enrollment to about 50–60 new undergraduates and 10–15 graduate students each year. The student body numbers about 160 students (150 full-time equivalent) from about 30 states, five foreign countries, and more than 20 Christian denominations. Approximately half of the college’s students were home-schooled and a quarter attended Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS) affiliated high schools.
The college provides no dormitories or food services, by board policy. Instead, it encourages students to live as residents in the community.
In fact, in 2015, TWW wrote about the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl by a boarder, Jamin Wright, from one of Wilson’s schools. As you will see in our post, Doug Wilson simply blamed the father for his daughter’s abuse. There have been a number of disturbing incidents of sexual abuse which have been downplayed by Wilson, in my opinion.
Sarah Stankorb and the church in which women must be led by their husbands with a firm hand.
In September of this year, Sarah Stankorb took on the difficult task of describing what I believe is the abuse of women in this church. Remember, it is a small, insular community lorded over by Doug Wilson who controls things. One might think that this is some cultish group to be ignored. Except that would be a mistake. Doug Wilson is a darling of The Gospel Coalition. Go over to the TGC website and plugin Doug Wilson’s name. The dudebros appear to get the giggles when Doug Wilson writes on all sorts of topics, including slavery, and gets in all sorts of trouble. OPINION: Christ Church resurfaces, so do old scandals and While hosting a conference featuring his defense of Southern Slavery, Douglas Wilson exposes the radicalism of his growing ‘Christian’ empire.
Enough of that! Wilson has caused so much controversy. So let’s take a look at one part of the mess. Here are three tweets by Stankorb which lead into her post.
As posted in Vice: Inside the Church That Preaches ‘Wives Need to Be Led with a Firm Hand’
Please pay attention to the last line which probably sums up what you are in for when Doug Wilson’s name comes up.
Cigar-puffing and presenting like a Christian philosopher king on YouTube videos, pastor Doug Wilson is a radical provocateur, even among outspoken Christian conservatives, and appears to relish Twitter wars and blog battles. In the 1970s, he became pastor of Christ Church, which is now influential within the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches, a denomination Wilson helped found that includes more than 100 churches nationally. In 2003, 94 ecclesiastical charges were brought against Wilson by his denomination—from improperly using church funds to pay off students’ casino debts to “carnal threatening” of others—but the charges were ultimately dropped. Last year, Wilson published a novel called Ride, Sally, Ride about a Christian man who runs his neighbor’s sexbot “wife” named Sally through a trash compactor, and YouTube recently removed Wilson’s video making a moral argument for fake vaccine passports.
In order to understand the abuse of women in this community:
VICE has interviewed 12 former and current church members and Logos students, and reviewed court and medical documents, church correspondence, and business filings. Ex-kirkers describe a punitive community in which women are told they must defer to church leaders and cannot say “no” to their husbands, men are taught to strictly control their homes, and those who speak out can be isolated and harassed.
One woman outlined the sexual abuse that she endured. Trigger Warning: graphic descriptors of rape.
After being raped one night by her husband, Jean reached out for help which was not forthcoming.
The friend attended a Christ Church plant—a seedling congregation based in Christ Church’s doctrine and culture—and “she said the same thing was going on in her marriage.” Marital rape, it seemed, was normal. So, Jean didn’t report it. Jean’s husband raped her over and again a couple of times a week for about a decade, either with violence or by waiting until after she took a prescription sleeping pill. Sometimes, “I’d wake up with him having me or I’d wake up the next morning and be bleeding or see the signs.” Jean has since been diagnosed with PTSD from sexual assault.
…the pastors at Trinity, “all told me not to report it and that I was wrong. These pastors told me a wife is not allowed to tell her husband no.”
…Jean’s then-husband’s drinking increased. She says he held her against walls, slammed a lot of doors, pounded the walls, once pointed a loaded gun at her, raped her with a champagne bottle. The pastors at Trinity told her not to go to the police, not to separate.
When Jean finally decided to go ahead with the divorce, she left the church knowing she’d be excommunicated.
Did the Kirkers retaliate against Jean? It would appear so.
Tne woman’s counselor called her after the split, telling Jean that she “was causing [her husband] to turn to porn now that I was divorcing him.”
In the time since leaving the Christ Church community, Jean’s car has been vandalized regularly, the air let out of her tires several times. Online, she’s had to block kirkers, including teachers from Logos, angry about her divorce. “I have been called a whore, bitch, and cunt,” she said.
There are many more examples of this in posts at TWW and Spiritual Sounding Board. Just put Doug Wilson’s name in the search.
Wilson has strong views on the husband’s dominant role in marriage.
Doug Wilson articulates those lessons in his book Reforming Marriage, writing: “Wives need to be led with a firm hand” and that “it is tragic that wholesale abdication on the part of modern men has made the idea of lordship in the home such a laughable thing.” In Federal Husband, Doug Wilson asserts men must assume full spiritual responsibility for the household, including any wifely negligence to submit in: “spending habits, television viewing habits, weight, rejection of his leadership, laziness in cleaning the house, lack of responsiveness to sexual advances.”
…In a letter on Christ Church letterhead, the church’s Center for Biblical Counseling ministry counselor Mike Lawyer informed one woman after hundreds of hours of counseling she was being suspended “from the Table of the Lord” until she confessed and repented after leaving it up to her husband to clean and prep food, putting her kids in daycare, and “ignoring the God given roles,” including submission.
There are many more examples in this article.
What has happened to Courageous Empathy?
I was encouraged by the following.
That may be changing: a wave of former and current church members are stepping forward now, thanks to a new YouTube channel. On Courageous Empathy, host Kevin McGill, a Seventh Day Adventist pastor, interviews ex-kirkers about their scarring experiences with the church.
Except, that channel no longer exists. Let’s just say I am deeply suspicious. Wilson and friends have been known to play hardball.
Why is the Illinois Family Institute carrying the water for Doug Wilson?
I was doing some reading on Wilson (I’ve been reading about Wilson for the past 12 years!) and I came across this. The Smearing of Doug Wilson was written by Laurie Higgens for the Illinois Family Institute. This was written 9 days after Sarah Stankorb’s article appeared in Vice. Why is an Illinois *family institute* writing about an Idaho pastor? In fact, she has been extolling his virtues since about 2015 in Come Hear the Remarkable Douglas Wilson!
My guess is that she is a true believer and follower.
For those who don’t know Douglas Wilson, he is a faithful, wise Christian, a theologian, and pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho with the increasingly rare gift for foreseeing where intellectual trends are leading both the church and the culture and for fearlessly warning against these trends. He is a brilliant writer with a gift for incisive metaphor and biting satire, which he has employed to critique, among other things, toxic feminism, toxic un-masculinity, unbiblical egalitarianism, the failure of churches to apply biblical church discipline, and “pomosexuality” (i.e., post-modern sexuality, including “trans”-cultism).
Wilson is semi-regularly attacked in an unholy effort to destroy him by false allegations, innuendo, lies of omission, and idiotic out-of-context memes. All of these tactics are aided and abetted by the poor reading skills of Americans, a stubborn refusal to do the hard work of closely and objectively examining sensationalistic allegations, and a faux-Victorian sensibility that sends some to the fainting couch following an encounter with toasty rhetoric (as opposed to church lady-approved milquetoasty rhetoric).
The most recent attack comes by way of that purveyor of wisdom and virtue: Vice Magazine—or as Wilson aptly calls it Vile Magazine. In an article titled, “Inside the Church That Preaches ‘Women Need to Be Led by a Firm Hand,’” feminist and opponent of theological orthodoxy, Sarah Stankorb, admits to interviewing only “12 former and current church members and Logos students.” Logos schools is the K-12 school founded by Christ Church.
It looks like Stankorb touched a nerve. Frankly, the post made me laugh. Laurie attacked Stankorb as a “feminist and opponent of theological orthodoxy.’ Interpretation: Stankorb got too close and Laurie is going to defend Wilson. I have news for Laurie. I am theologically orthodox and conservative and I applaud Stankorb for continuing to help us all expose abuse in the church. Wilson is notorious in theological circles. As for getting “only 12 former and current church members…” I’m sure Laurie is well aware of how hard it is for anyone to write anything negative about Wilson. I’m sure he s glad to have her as his “wingman.”