Friday, May 2, 2008

Anonymity Excursus: The Kult Police State Part 2

Today I want to continue our series considering Douglas Wilson’s denial that Christ Church, Moscow, is a totalitarian organization that uses its front as a Christian church to conceal its true nature. A few days ago we considered Christ Church’s secret police when we saw that unless it’s common for pastors to participate in telephone wire-tap sting operations to entrap members of their congregation, then it’s safe to say that Moscow has Orwellian tendencies. And unless Scripture obligates wives violate their marriage vows and their conscience in order to submit to the elders, then we have Jonestown situation developing. Today we want to consider propaganda.

Most of the people for whom I write already know that Douglas Wilson is a master of spin. To be sure, he has more spin cycles than a Laundromat. And half the time he doesn’t bother to use detergent. He’s satisfied as long as he concocts something for his disciples to believe. So he’ll finesse a point world without end until he lands a story that sticks and then he’ll propagate it to the four corners of the earth, making sure everybody hears his version of events, which usually bears no resemblance to the truth. But spin is not quite the same as propaganda, though they certainly intersect at many points. Accordingly,

Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people. Instead of impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.

Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist. — Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion

Working from these two definitions, we want to consider how the Kult uses propaganda to indoctrinate and control its membership and how they use propaganda to shape public opinion in a manner not consistent with the truth. Let me start by noting that Wilson has four primary audiences whom he targets with propaganda at any given time:

  1. Members of the Kult

  2. Loyalists Outside the Kult

  3. Potential Recruits for the Kult

  4. Outsiders
And he has four primary Kult-controlled media outlets that he uses for propaganda, since he cannot control the media proper, though not for a lack of trying.[6] They are

  1. “Grace & Peace” emails

  2. Blog and Mablog

  3. Credenda Agenda

  4. Paid Advertising
1. Propaganda to Members of the Kult
Douglas Wilson sends a weekly email to the Kult membership that he titles “Grace & Peace,” which is usually a 200- to 300-word vignette and, depending on the circumstances, any particular “Grace & Peace” could be entirely benign, addressing ordinary issues that Christians face from day to day, or it could be total brainwashing propaganda designed to shape his disciples’ thought processes. For example, Wilson sent the following two emails as part of a “Grace & Peace” series during his Southern Slavery scandal of 2003–2004:

----- Original Message -----
From: Christ Church
Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 3:08 PM
Subject: Grace and Peace

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11)

Controversy, Part 2
One of the great temptations that comes with controversy is that we would like everything to be clear and tidy. But this is not how battles go. Battles are chaotic, and it takes wisdom, long experience, and discernment to detect any order in the midst of it. It takes even more of these characteristics to shape that order to your desired ends. This is where our faith in the sovereignty of God comes in He sees, knows, understands, and directs all the various details which appear to us to be chaotic.

So in the midst of apparent chaos, it is not our responsibility to usurp the “generalship” of God, but rather to serve as faithful foot soldiers. We do not have to fully understand the big picture; we have to understand what we were given to do, and we should do it with a cheerful and humble demeanor. When everything erupts around us, this does not necessarily mean we have done anything wrong at all. We should perhaps think about it the way a faithful soldier would, “Everyone is shooting at me because they see that what I am doing is a significant threat to their cause. Well, praise God, let’s hope so.”

Douglas Wilson

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Chris LaMoreaux, Administrative Secretary
Christ Church - Anselm House
205 East 5th Street P.O. Box 8741
Moscow, ID 83843
Voice: (208) 882-2034 Fax: (208) 892-8724
Credenda/Agenda: (208) 882-7963

The first thing you have to notice is that this was the second installment in a series of emails. In other words, it belonged to “a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people.” The second thing you have to notice is the series’ title: “Controversy.” And the third thing you have to notice is that the email assumes a state of controversy in the Kult while it completely ignores the reasons for the controversy.[7] In other words, he doesn’t say, “I co-wrote a wildly fantastic revision of Southern slavery that defended the Peculiar Institution as a biblical practice and since we live in an academic community the locals are understandably disturbed.” He doesn’t state these facts because “Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented.” He needed to re-orient his disciples’ minds to contradict the almost-daily headlines and the countless letters to the editor that they’d been reading in the News.[8] Notice his three points:

  1. Since God was in charge, no one else had to fully understand the big picture,[9] which meant that members of the Kult should not expect the Fearless Leader to account for his ungodly behavior.

  2. Members of the Kult should be cheerful and humble through this controversy (despite the absence of cheer and humility in him; his tantrums on 20/20 were unbelievable).
  3. The Kult posed a significant threat to the community.[10]
But his primary objective was to keep the Kult together in the midst of this scandal by leading them to believe they were in it together, according to God’s will, when it was really his scandal that he generated.[11]

He wrote this “Grace & Peace,” as part of the same series, a couple weeks later:

----- Original Message -----
From: Christ Church
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2003 11:29 AM
Subject: Fwd: Grace and Peace

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11)

Controversy, Part 4
In any public controversy in the church, there is a fine line that those who are not “in the know” must walk. On the one hand, a slavish acquiescence to whatever the elders or pastor might say is clearly a mentality more suited to a cult than to a Christian people. On the other hand, often controversies arise publicly in a setting where all the reasons for the controversy cannot be made public. If every person in the church must decide on the facts of the case before making up his mind, we soon have scores of courts and judges, and the results are a form of ecclesiastical anarchy.

This is why the elder qualifications set forth in Scripture are so important. The people of God do not have to know all the details their elders know, but they must know what kind of men they are (1 Pet. 5:1–4; 1 Tim. 3:1–7; Tit. 1:5–9). This prevents the blind trust of the cult member, and it also prevents the chaos of individualism. And in addition, this explains why slander is such an important weapon in the arsenal of antagonists. Slander aims to unsettle the trust which makes this kind of decency and order within the church possible.

Douglas Wilson

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Chris LaMoreaux, Administrative Secretary
Christ Church - Anselm House
205 East 5th Street P.O. Box 8741
Moscow, ID 83843
Voice: (208) 882-2034 Fax: (208) 892-8724
Credenda/Agenda: (208) 882-7963

As before, this propaganda communicated that he had no intention to account for his scandal: “often controversies arise publicly in a setting where all the reasons for the controversy cannot be made public.” He would not make public the reasons for the controversy because he was the reason for the controversy — unless you can think of another interpretation. But then he pointed to the twelve(?) hand-picked hirelings whom he appointed to the office of elder as proof that, even though they would not reveal anything to the membership, the members could still trust their leadership:

This is why the elder qualifications set forth in Scripture are so important. The people of God do not have to know all the details their elders know, but they must know what kind of men they are (1 Pet. 5:1–4; 1 Tim. 3:1–7; Tit. 1:5–9).[12] This prevents the blind trust of the cult member, and it also prevents the chaos of individualism.

Strangely, the point of this email was to encourage Kult members to put their blind trust in the misdemeanants running the show — you know, the same men who gave you April Fools and who approved the Fearless Leader’s eavesdropping — men of sound moral fiber. And remember, no matter what anyone else says, you are not in a cult.

Finally, “Grace & Peace” functions as an electronic outlet for Wilson to fill the gossip mill about members in good standing whenever he prepares for their public execution. For example, this family never saw it coming and they never had a prayer. Wilson sent the email at the same time that he began spreading horrible rumors about how the family betrayed him (he appreciates the tag-team approach to gossip) and if you didn’t know who he was talking about when you received the email, it was just a matter of time before his tasty trifle came your way. He needed to prep everyone for the upcoming hate ritual whereby Kult members could publicly detest this family by scowling at them and deriding them on the Lord’s Day.[13] You should also notice that he included this email as part 12 of his “Controversy” series. Controversy indeed.

2. Propaganda to Loyalists Outside the Kult
Blog and Mablog is the familiar medium that Wilson uses to indoctrinate his disciples, and the ongoing Federal Vision controversy demonstrates this point well. For example, after the PCA adopted “Report of the Ad Interim Study Committee on Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theology” Wilson used Blog and Mablog to brainwash his disciples into thinking that the PCA “stacked the committee.” Of course, this is an ad hominem argument, and to the extent that he heaped contempt on the PCA and its committee it was an abusive ad hominem argument, but these dishonest tactics didn’t stop the Fearless Leader from relentlessly pounding the PCA. In fact, he even had a contest to see who from among his loyalists could think of the most creative analogy for how much the PCA “stacked” its committee, calling it “As Stacked As . . .”[14] And you can determine Wilson’s effectiveness on this one point alone by observing the vast number of loyalists who regularly repeat his mantra — “It was a stacked committee!” — without giving it a second thought. And I could cite one example after another (make that one Wilson-generated controversy after another) where he has used his blog to misinform and indoctrinate his disciples.

3. Propaganda for Potential Recruits
Credenda Agenda once served as the Kult’s principal medium for propaganda but the emergence of instant publishing on the web, as seen in Blog and Mablog, has pushed Credenda into the back seat. Nevertheless, Credenda is still an effective tool for propaganda as we saw when Wilson used it to instruct wives to roll on their husbands. Moreover, anyone following the Federal Vision controversy knows that Wilson has used his self-published periodical to peddle heresy. In fact, as I write Pastor Lane of Green Baggins is critiquing an issue of Credenda Agenda dedicated to the Federal Vision.

But I believe Credenda’s primary strength as propaganda is the family-friendly face it puts on the Kult, and by “family friendly” I mean all the columns on husbandry, femininity, marriage, childrearing, etc., where the Wilsons present themselves as authorities on these subjects and they present Kult life as the zenith of Christian culture. In this respect Credenda Agenda constitutes pure unadulterated propaganda. It’s all for show. They want to project an Aryan-like image of Christian perfection in Moscow where their paint-by-numbers formula for federal headship will solve all your Christian problems. But it’s a good thing that Credenda doesn’t represent itself as a news journal because then they might have to report the truth. Drug rings, rampant drunkenness, casinos, April Fools,[15] deadbeat dads, serial pedophiles, convicted child molesters — all these documented historical facts, and more, are sure signs that Christ Church culture is rotten to the core — hence the need to baptize their message with family-friendly propaganda. Appearance is better than substance if you want others to believe that your community fosters healthy family relationships, and they absolutely need outsiders to believe their propaganda for recruiting purposes. Douglas Wilson has completely fried the local population and he has no hope of rehabilitating his reputation, which is to say that he cannot sustain his base by evangelizing Moscow because everyone knows he’s a con artist: he has no credibility. Consequently he has to keep his home base supplied by recruiting loyalists to join the new reformation. And if you read Credenda, they give you the distinct impression that they nurture those things essential for the family. Don’t believe it. It’s propaganda designed to lure the unsuspecting.

4. Propaganda for Outsiders
I really don’t think it’s possible to overstate the magnitude of the slavery scandal. Indeed, I’m on record for saying that Wilson could have averted the whole thing by simply admitting he erred in his thesis and exaggerated his conclusions, and that in hindsight he should not have written the book. Problem solved. There is no story. There is no headline. But things didn’t go that way and consequently Christ Church, Moscow, put itself in the unbelievable position of buying quarter-page ads in all the local newspapers (the Daily News, the Lewiston Trib, the UI’s Argonaut, and WSU’s Daily Evergreen), which they ran daily for about a full month.[16] They wrote two different ads and published them in two-week increments. You can read digitized versions here, or since this is a fully documented anonymous attack blog you may view them below. Here’s the first ad:

There’s nothing subtle here, starting with the politically oriented title that reeks of propaganda to suggest that these men, who censored others,[17] lived in a Soviet-like community: “It’s About Silencing Dissent.” I am not aware that anyone on the Palouse wanted to silence Christ Church and I am not aware that Southern Slavery As It Was represented itself as dissent. It revised American history to put a happy face on the slaves and noble character on their owners. Yes, massa. But since I’m way over my word limit, let me highlight one sentence in this ad for your consideration:

“Christ Church has a deep hatred of war, and our comments against the butchery of 600,000 persons in the Civil War have been opportunistically twisted into a defense of the hell of slavery.”

Sure. Here you see the Kult leadership attempting to capitalize on the ignorance of anyone who never read the book, because if you’d actually read it you would know that this representation bears no resemblance to reality. It’s a complete lie — just like the book. Southern Slavery As It Was was absolutely a defense of the slave-holding South. Even worse, it represented itself as a biblical defense of the slave-holding South.[18]

But the thing I don’t understand is why the Kult leaders refused to admit the obvious. If they had to run an ad, which they didn’t, then why wouldn’t they admit the very point that the Fearless Leader admitted to the Daily News when he started this controversy? He said, “I resolved a long time ago that I would not be ashamed of anything in the Bible.” I don’t recall ever reading about the Civil War in the Bible, but I know God’s Word addresses “the hell of slavery,” which their “comments” described thus:

Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.

Where’s the hell of slavery in that sound bite? Who twisted what words? Why did the Kult leaders refuse to admit the truth? Apparently they thought the citizens of the Palouse were as gullible as the members of the Kult. They are not. The propaganda didn’t sell. Therefore Christ Church ran the following ad for two weeks in all the local papers:

If you got past the condescending sarcasm,[19] please notice how this ad subtly changed the subject of the controversy from slavery to the gospel and then called on the community to repent. If you wonder why I call Wilson evil, here is one more example. It is morally perverted to unashamedly write a defense of Southern slavery and call it biblical. It is slander to purchase an ad accusing an entire community of twisting your words, even though you had just unashamedly owned them as your words. But it is evil to purchase an ad that drags the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ into the center of your scandal, so that you could call on believers and unbelievers alike to repent simply because they caught you unashamedly perverting God’s holy word.

As I said, Wilson cannot rehabilitate his reputation on the Palouse. He threw it all away on a dirty little book and then bought a month’s worth of ads to insure everyone got the point. He scorched the earth to obtain his pound of flesh and now the City of Moscow knows him for his true self. As he said, “Sin and guilt make people do weird things.” I note this as a taunt.

Every one of the examples I cited demonstrates a systematic effort on the part of the Kult “to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent” of Christ Church, Moscow, and none of the examples I cited have anything to do with the Christian gospel. As a friend says, “It’s all about Doug.” I could cite dozens of other examples where the Kult resorted to the manipulative devices of deceitful propaganda but these few will have to do. I would apologize for the length of this post but that’s the cost of fully documenting my posts.

Thank you.

[6] A reporter from the Moscow–Pullman Daily News told me that when the slavery story erupted, Wilson demanded a meeting with Nathan Alford, owner and publisher for the News, to demand a retraction of the story. According to the reporter, Wilson showed up with 14 officers from the church, but Alford (who is a real marshmallow) didn’t budge. So Wilson threw a fit on Vision 20/20, complaining about the Daily News. He did the same thing when two professional historians from the University of Idaho published a factual rebuttal to Southern Slavery As It Was; he went so far as to write a letter to the governor of the State of Idaho asking him to chill the UI. We saw a similar response from Wilson after WORLD Magazine reported Wilson’s and Wilkins’ plagiarism in Southern Slavery As It Was. True to form, Wilson demanded a retraction and an apology. He even said that they missed the real story — something about a culture war in Moscow (see “Accuracy and Objectivity” and “What in the World?”). He demanded an apology from the Idaho Statesman after they compared Christ Church to “Neo-Nazis” (see “Libel Simpliciter”; I wrote a letter to the editor demanding that they apologize to the Third Reich, but they did not print it). His aversion to bad press is evident, especially when it’s grounded in truth.

[7] The timing of this email is important to note. Wilson dispatched it exactly four days before the Moscow–Pullman Daily News ran this front-page headline, for which the News interviewed him. He saw bad news on the horizon.

[8] It didn’t take long for Wilson to organize a silent boycott of the Daily Newssilent, in the sense that he privately encouraged members of the Kult to cancel their subscriptions to the News. Economic sanctions: If you can’t chill ’em, boycott ’em.

[9] Wilson makes a similar argument in favor of chaos during controversy here. He creates and exploits confusion for his own ends (cf. 1 Cor. 14:33).

[10] Notice that Wilson arrived at his third point by affirming the consequent: “Everyone is shooting at me because they see that what I am doing is a significant threat to their cause.” More importantly, no one shot at anyone. Douglas Wilson completely scandalized the Palouse with his contemptible monograph and his equally contemptible behavior.

[11] We see another example of him indoctrinating his disciples with a so-called “parable” that he delivered to the Kult three months after the so-called “history” conference and right as two local citizens challenged (and won) the Kult’s property-tax exemption:

The Real Reasons They Left

It was the early evening of the day in which Gideon had told his army that all who were faint of heart could return to their homes. A group of soldiers were gathered around their campfire, and they were explaining to one another why they had all decided to return to their homes in just an hour or so.

It was the eve of battle, and so their various explanations rang a little hollow. But they all protested Gideon’s mischaracterization of their motives, saying that to describe 22,000 men as “fearful and afraid” was surely a rash generalization.

One man said that he had decided to go home after he had seen the swagger in the three hundred who were the remaining force that had inexplicably been chosen by Gideon — by methods that were, to say the least, unorthodox and bizarre. “There is not enough humility there,” he said. “We need to have more tears and introspection as we deal with the enemies of God. Those men seemed positively eager to fight.”

“I agree completely,” another man said. “That is why I have been feeding information to the Daily Midianite [the Daily News]. If there is corruption and sin in our ranks, shouldn’t we be willing to have the facts made public? And I know Gideon is a tax protester.”

“Exactly,” said a third man. “I never liked the colors of this uniform either. On top of that, I live next door to one of the the [sic] so-called elite 300, and he has a dog that he can’t keep out of my yard. These are grave concerns.”

But not only was it the eve of battle, but it was the eve of an Old Testament Agincourt, a victory against all odds. And tens of thousands of covenant men were not there because their cowardice robbed them of all sense of proportion.
Posted by Douglas Wilson - 6/9/2004 7:54:23 PM

He has to keep the rank and file together and in this instance he compared his never-ending wars to Gideon’s victory over Midian. Unfortunately for the Fearless Leader, the comparison ended in his imagination. Christ Church surrendered to the community by replacing its “history” conference with the Trinity Fest and the Latah County Commissioners revoked their property-tax exemption. He would have been more accurate if he compared his ongoing battle to Ai, as long as he cast himself as Achan.

[12] This assertion begs the question; Wilson assumes what he has not established. His elders were no better fit for office than him — that’s why he picked them.

[13] Everyone reading this post should stop for a for a moment to consider how this works (though I intend to document a Kult execution in detail). The targeted family knew immediately what the email meant, if no else did yet. I know this because the father forwarded the email to me with a follow-up phone call. Wilson deliberately used the most inflammatory language possible from the Bible to describe the situation, but he cared not a whit about the Scriptures or the family — he wanted to incite terror in that household by invoking the most severe imagery possible to describe his desire for the earth swallow these souls alive. And if you’re curious about the particular sin that incurred such wrath from the Fearless Leader, you won’t believe it: Wilson discovered that the wife called him “papa bear” in a private email exchange that she had with a Kult enemy. As Wilson’s sister-in-law says, “Nobody thinks Doug is capable of doing it, until he does it to them.” She speaks from experience.

[14] More evidence of Wilson’s resolve to corrupt those within his sphere of influence.

[15] Credenda’s clever interpretation of their April Fools’ Day joke that went awry is another good example propaganda. Everyone has a fun time in Moscow, just don’t ask about the illegal activity.

[16] Since most of my readers serve in the ministry, let me run a question by you: Have you ever seen a church purchase two political ads to defend itself against the charge of racism and historical revisionism because they published a book that revised American history in order to defend race-based slavery? This is just one reason why we call it “the Kult.”

[17] Let me remind you that these are the same goons who expect Kult wives to rat out their husbands if they dissent; they require groupthink on the session; they imposed the “Christ Church Commitment to Loyalty” on a godly family who caught Wilson in sin; and Wilson went so far as to write a letter to the governor of the State of Idaho asking him to silence the University of Idaho’s dissent. We shall address their prohibition of free speech later in this series, but it’s important to note their brazen hypocrisy here. These dissemblers leave the false impression that they stand opposed to those who would silence dissent when they are the physical embodiment of political and spiritual oppression.

[18] Here is how Canon Press describes the book:

Book Description
How is it that a pervasively Christian culture could have supported slavery? While opposing the South’s abuses and racism, this essay seeks to correct some of the gross slanders of that culture. It explains Scripture’s defense of a form of slavery against evangelicals who are embarrassed by it. (

I didn’t catch any references to the butchery of 600,000 persons in the Civil War. In fact, if you take twenty minutes to read the book, you’ll see that the authors never made any comments relative to this claim. In other words, not only is this propaganda in the most politically pejorative sense of the word, it’s a big fat lie.

[19] Please note that while the shepherds of Christ Church warned the community to “Guard Your Children from the Humorless,” no one was guarding the children of Christ Church from Steven Sitler. He’d been in town for four months by the time they started their PR blitz, and in the end he had his way with God’s lambs for 18 months while the Fearless Leader instigated one controversy after another. Perhaps he should “Triumph Over Pettiness,” or else be born again.


wesley said...

It seems there is a good bit about this theology that breeds the type behaviors you have described. Otherwise there would not be so many similar incidences occurring over a period of years in groups that are geographically distant but theologically close to the Moscow group.

There were several cases of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church deacons entering church members’ homes in a somewhat less than ethical manner. One case involved a deacon entering a church elder’s home under false pretenses. The deacon was involved with a group that was highly critical of this elder. The ringleader of this large group pointed out every action taken by the elder on each and every Sunday. During the week, he expertly mimicked the elder’s every voice inflection during prayer, his gait, his posture, and his expressions as he ridiculed the elder. The elder stood at the side or back of the sanctuary during Sunday School with his hands crossed over his chest (he had a bad back). This was evidence of more of the elder’s wrongdoing, the ringleader said. The elder’s sin? He was “lording it over the congregation” according to the group. They interpreted his every action, no matter how benign, as further evidence of his arrogance. They discussed the fact that the elder was rumored to have a bust of himself on a pedestal in his bedroom. This was evidence, they said, that he had taught his family to exalt and worship him. When they were told that the bust was probably Beethoven, since the elder was musically inclined, they resolved to have a look. Within a day, they were calling around to many heads of households to report that the bust was, indeed, an image of the elder himself. And it was in his bedroom on a pedestal. When the ringleader was asked how they had accomplished the feat of gaining access to the elder’s bedroom so quickly, he laughed and said that a deacon had been dispatched to the elder’s house during the day while he was away under the pretense of inquiring about some sheet music from the elder’s wife. Once inside, he asked to use the restroom. While shutting the door and pretending to use the restroom, he sprinted down the hall to the back of the house to view the bust in the elder’s bedroom. The group, which included two deacons, was very proud of this accomplishment and laughed about it. One person told them that he wanted no part of bringing “charges” against the elder. He believed it was worse to gain access to someone’s house by lying than it was for the elder to have a bust of himself in his bedroom. The deacon who lied to the elder’s wife to gain access to her and her husband’s bedroom was the author of the article “Rahab’s Lie” that was posted on Auburn’s website for many years. This article was a synopsis of Steve Wilkins’ many sermons on the necessity of “holy lying” during spiritual warfare. The ringleader of this group is now an elder in the Associate Reformed Presbytery (ARP).

Another incident involved two deacons and a widow. The widow and her teenage daughter were both church members. The teenage daughter rarely missed church. The widow seldom came. The widow’s daughter was out of town on a trip with one of the church families. Like many teenagers in the church, she helped care for church families’ children. The deacons began asking where the widow was during Sunday School. They asked several people if they had seen her yet. It was surprising that they would say this because the widow had not been attending regularly. In fact, she had not been to church much lately at all. When asked why they were looking for her, one deacon said, “She’s supposed to be here. We told her we needed her. Her daughter’s not here and we’ve got visitors coming from up North.” They needed the mother to attend because her daughter, who was usually there, was out of town on a trip. And we had visitors coming from up North. The widow and her daughter were our only black members.

The deacons went to the widow’s home in a predominately black housing complex. They returned without her and discussed the situation. She had not answered her door, they said. “She’s in there,” one of them said. They apparently believed she was just being difficult. “Must be nice to have all your bills paid and not have to do nothing for it,” one of the deacons said. “We told her to be here,” he said, “We told her it was important.” They mulled this over some more when, finally, one of the deacons stated that he knew she was in there and he was going back and going in after her. When he was asked how he was going to justify this, he said that he would just say he was afraid something might have happened to her and he panicked and broke in. He left saying, “Besides, Steve said get her here! Now!” He went back to the apartment and broke in. She was not there. He came back a while later. Church had already started. The Northern visitors were already at their seats. All were singing. The deacon had not found our church member, the black widow woman, but he walked down the center aisle with another middle aged black lady in tow. He took her down to the front of the sanctuary and seated her at the front of the congregation near the pulpit. Since he could not find our black church member and her daughter was out of town, he brought one of their black neighbors whom he had encountered during the break in at the apartment complex back to church with him. She had witnessed the break in. God only knows how he convinced her to come to church with him after she saw all that. After the service when they were discussing all this, the deacons said they were going to move the widow woman closer to the church in a house. They seemed to think this would improve their chances of finding her when she was needed. They moved her to a house nearby that had recently been occupied by a deacon, a short time later. They discussed the fact that she never would tell them where she was that Sunday when she was so sorely needed. They expressed anger, disappointment, and indignation to others in the congregation because the widow would not tell them where she was, even though they asked her many times.

Another case involved two church youth who broke into a church member’s house while he was out of town, took the keys to his car, and went joyriding in it. The car was subsequently damaged. One child was an elder’s son. The other child was the son of a deacon. The elder discovered his son’s involvement in the burglary and car theft. The matter was covered up. A police report was filed on the incident with the Monroe Police Department. The police were told that the perpetrators were unknown. In addition to his compensation by the insurance company, the children worked for the victim to help make restitution for their actions. The congregation was not told about the incident, even though it involved the sons of an elder and a deacon. Several found out about it years later. They felt betrayed, they said, because they had financially supported the elder in a political campaign that was taking place at the very time his son was involved in the burglary and car theft. They believed this very public sin should have been publicly confessed to the congregation, especially in light of the ongoing judicial campaign. The elder’s campaign slogan? “Not Just A Judge. A Just Judge.”

Yet another case involved the theft of emergency flashing lights from construction sites. These lights are normally posted on brightly colored, reflective sawhorses, traffic cones, and other barriers to denote construction zones. They are placed there so motorists will slow down and proceed with caution through the construction zones. They also serve to route traffic during changing road conditions that result from repairs and construction of highways. Several Auburn youth, including the son of an elder and the sons of two deacons, stole some of these lights from construction zones. They hid them in the trunks of their cars. One of the deacons, a former elder, came home after dark and noticed his son’s taillights on his older model car glowing and flashing as the car sat parked in his driveway. He opened the trunk to find that it was full of emergency lights. The elders and deacons met to discuss what should be done. The youth group had traveled around searching for as many of these lights as they could find. It was determined that the youth had a great many emergency lights. Since the lights were removed from multiple construction zones, there could be a great deal of potential liability; someone could have already had a wreck and been seriously injured due to the missing lights that provided direction through uneven pavement and hazardous road conditions in construction zones at night. There was no way of knowing how much liability might be involved. The removal of these lights could conceivably have already caused a death. The Auburn elders and deacons were in quite a theological dilemma. They could not just destroy the lights without returning them. That would send the wrong message to the youth. They could not take the youth to the police or highway department and make them confess and offer restitution because that could very well cause repercussions that would last the remainder of all their lives. Most of the youth were old enough to be charged in criminal court as adults. Civil suits might arise from victims seeking monetary damages. The astute Auburn theologians resolved their theological dilemma quickly; they decided that one elder, a lawyer, would return the emergency lights to the appropriate agencies without admitting any guilt or knowledge of the identity of those responsible. Since he was a lawyer, this elder could accomplish this without getting “tripped up” in case the police were called in. They then talked to the youth involved. They told them that they were returning the lights for them, but they must never talk about the theft with anyone, no matter who came to inquire. The attorney/elder counseled the youth: he said they would get in far more trouble for talking about the incident than they ever did for stealing the emergency lights in the first place. The irony of the Auburn elder’s statement was not lost on the church youth.

He was…after all:

Not Just A Judge. A Just Judge

Mark T. said...


Thanks for the comment. Do you have tapes of Wilkins’ sermons on lying? And I’m curious to know if they have any misdemeanants or felons in the leadership.

wesley said...

None of the Auburn leadership has a criminal record as far as I know. They have a great deal of political clout and they know how to expertly work the police, as was evidenced by their handling of the break in and car theft as well as the misappropriated road-hazard lights. I’ll check on the sermon series that included the doctrine of Rahab’s lie. The tapes are in storage at a distant location. I have archived the original series of articles on Rahab’s lie that was posted on the Auburn website for years. I have a good many tapes that are helpful in clarifying this theology, including one lecture that closely follows “Southern Slavery, As It Was” and was delivered about the time this booklet was written. It contains some material that was not in the book. In this lecture, Wilkins uses the “N” word in a joking manner within the context of mitigating the circumstances surrounding the institution of slavery as it was practiced in the Old South. Using this word is considered insensitive in most cases. It is especially distasteful to use this racially charged derogatory term with modern audiences in a joking manner while vindicating historical race-based slavery, even if you are quoting someone from the past and the word was part of their everyday vocabulary at the time it was originally spoken. To have a minister of the Word of God reveling in the past while making light of the vernacular of oppression and bondage is sad at best. To have him do this in the holy Sanctuary of a house of worship is nothing less than shameful.

Mark T. said...

Wilkins’s use of the N word made its rounds in Moscow in 2004, after the “history” conference. He’s a racist pig, plain and simple, as well as a liar and a thief. For all that blathering I hear about him being a gentleman and all, I cannot reconcile his real self — the plagiarist, the liar, the thief, and the racist — with the carefully crafted public persona he has managed successfully to put forth. I would also add that, after listening to LAP’s second exam of him, he struck me as exceedingly cunning and manipulative — especially in his treatment of Howard Davis.

And since we’re on propaganda, I remember that when the Southern slavery scandal hit the Palouse, Wilson had Wilkins draft a letter for Vision 20/20 declaring that he was not a racist and that they had lots of black families in the church to prove it. The whole letter from start to finish was a transparent attempt to whitewash (literally) his racism. As I recall, the community did not buy it.