Someone, PLEASE, Make Douglas Wilson Shut Up
Let’s talk about what happened in Moscow, ID this week.
So, on Wednesday, September 23, this happened in Moscow, ID:
The group seen here is actually a church — Christ Church — whose pastor Douglas Wilson is an influential Christian theologian and writer. I’ll get more into that in a minute, including some personal experiences I have with him.
The man seen arrested here is Gabe Rench: a member of Christ Church and a GOP county commissioner candidate.
Why were they there?
To protest the extension of a mask ordinance. By singing hymns in front of Moscow City Hall.
In fact, the ordinance states that:
The Resolution and Order require each of us to maintain a physical distancing of 6-feet from non-household members when in a public setting AND if that distancing can’t be maintained, wear a face covering unless there is a health or disability exemption.
To sum up, Moscow’s ordinance says that masks are only required if social distancing cannot be maintained.
To see Gabe Rench describe the scene in his own words, you can check out this episode of his podcast where he describes the situation:
Essentially, he describes taunting the cops sent there to monitor the situation, then refusing to identify himself by providing his driver’s license, and is then arrested. In the footage following, he and the people around him continue to try to guilt the cops about what they’re doing.
We know that there are a bunch of people trying to politicize and religious-ize the use of masks in the USA. For example, in May, Rep. Nino Vitale said this on Facebook:
“This is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles. One of those principles is that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That image is seen the most by our face. I will not wear a mask…That’s the image of God right there, and I want to see it in my brothers and sisters.”
That there are Christians who have taken on mask-wearing, while rightly infuriating, probably does not come as a shock to most people — at least, not anymore.
There is, however, a larger story here.
That story is Doug Wilson, the pastor of Christ Church, who apparently — according to Rench — went around and warned the people in the parking lot that if they didn’t social distance, they might get cited.
Which, they did.
On top of that, Douglas Wilson has openly spoken against the mask referendum. In a blog post about what happened at the event, he states:
If a hypocritical city government really wants to double down on issuing misdemeanor citations to its most responsible citizens for singing psalms, I am pretty sure we can arrange for hundreds of not guilty pleas, along with hundreds of requests for a jury trial.
He also adds this extreme, little, tone-deaf nugget:
I do want to mention that our protest was not conducted Portland style. The federal building is just a block away from city hall, and I can say that I was very proud of our people — not one of them tried to burn it down. Rather, we addressed this hypocritical and nonsensical law in a peaceful, orderly, law-abiding, and responsible way.
Just so you get the tone right, Wilson sounds quite tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic throughout his posts. It’s kind of his thing.
This off-the-cuff comparison between the protests for the justice of black lives lost and his own “but-I-feel-uncomfortable” rally seem…how should I put it?…SUPER racist.
It’s important to note that Doug has a penchant for stoking the fire because he seems to really enjoy doing it.
I was first exposed to Douglas Wilson when I was in 4th grade.
At that time, I attended a very small Classical Christian School, and Wilson was invited to come speak to our tiny group about his latest book: a pamphlet entitled Southern Slavery: As It Was.
I remember sitting in the sanctuary of the church, only 10-years-old, where the school was then located, and being captivated by his talk.
As a young, white Evangelical, missionary kid with southern heritage, the message was completely clear: slavery wasn’t as bad as people say.
Get this. Years later, in high school, as I attended yet another Classical Christian School, I was assigned his pamphlet as history reading material.
Years later, I learned the full ugliness of Wilson’s pamphlet.
— It was cowritten with Steven Wilkins, a founding director for the League of the South, which has since been recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
— In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that “Wilkins and Wilson have together probably done more than any others to construct the theology now animating much of the neo-Confederate movement.”
— The pamphlet contains multiple, serious citation errors, which were designated as simply “sloppy,” and for which Wilson rightly apologized
— While it does technically condemn slavery, it also says such things like…
Slavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence,” the excerpts read in part. “There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world…
Slave life was to them [slaves] a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.
With this history in mind, here are a few quotes from some of Doug Wilson’s blog quotes regarding Black Lives Matter:
If you insist on “zooming out” and evaluating black culture with “blackness” as the sole determining variable of the group you are studying, what you will find is manifest inferiority. You will find a dysfunctional mess — high levels of criminality, illegitimacy, substandard education, and other forms of destructive behavior. This was not created by the welfare state, but the welfare state has most certainly grievously exacerbated it — a welfare state that was the brain child of officious white people. As Paul would say, therefore rebuke them sharply . . .
When you find, as you will, that black Americans have many more run-ins with the cops than do white citizens, you shouldn’t put on a shocked face. Blacks are around 12% of the total American population, and make up around 35% of the prison population. You will have to give some account of this. If you are a liberal, you will blame white privilege, the legacy of slavery, etc. If you are a racist, you will blame the incorrigible nature of blacks. But if you are a Christian, you will blame the world, the flesh, and the devil, and you will undertake the task of “rebuking them sharply” so that they might be sound in the faith.
Wilson, here, is essentially arguing that liberals are the racist ones because we insist on viewing the world as “blacks” and “whites” instead of as “tribes” (his words). He says that when you take this narrow view of humanity, you run into problems.
The problem, he says, is the sin.
Those who minister among blacks ought not labor to have their rebukes line up with some sort of egalitarian cultural mythology. The sins rebuked should be the sins actually on display, the sins that are destroying the people. The different sins destroying other people in other places and in other ways are not relevant.
In fact, Wilson is quick to point out that Black Lies Matter.
With a heavy dose of snark at his self-labeled “click-baity” title, he follows with “Would you rather I had said that all lies matter?”
No, Doug. I wish you wouldn’t say ANYTHING AT ALL.
I have needed forgiveness from God for many things, over many years. But not once have I needed to be forgiven for what you call “privilege” and what the Bible calls “blessing.” If you are an envious Marxist, it is a sin for somebody else to have more than you do. But I have not been baptized into Marx, and I don’t believe any of that stuff. Repent of the blessings that God has given me? You can call it checking my privilege; the Scriptures would call it ingratitude.
And the final, gigantic problem with all this.
The problem isn’t a single, small-ish church and a GOP candidate getting arrested for being an idiot.
The problem isn’t just Douglas Wilson being a tone-deaf cult leader who spews racism…because he’s been that for a very long time.
The real problem is his continuing influence.
— Founded the ACCS (Association of Classical Christian Schools), which now has over 300 members, according to their website
— Founded the publishing company Canon Press, which is used by thousands of homeschoolers across the country
— Helped start the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals (CRE), of which Christ Church is a member along with over 100 churches across the world, according to their website
— Has written…a LOT…of books. Dozens, it seems.
I recently wrote about the pain that Christian Fundamentalism causes children because of the unattainable expectations placed on them.
But, here is another area in which they are being failed.
When I recall that morning, sitting in front of Doug Wilson and watching him illustrate with diagrams and speak passionately about his racist pet project, I feel a lot of anger and despair.
I was ten. TEN!
Honestly, I’m not sure what needs to happen, but something DOES need to happen.
Because, Doug Wilson’s influence isn’t just with his cultish church. It’s thousands and thousands of kids attending school across the country — in private school settings and in their own homes.