Thursday, February 7, 2008

Think Al Capone Part 2

True story: A few years ago I received a phone call from one of the contributors of the book The Auburn Avenue Theology Pros & Cons: Debating the Federal Vision (E. Calvin Beisner ed.) I had never met him before and I don’t even remember who referred him to me. But I do remember the point of his call. He and a few others had just locked horns with Wilson over a quotation by John Calvin that the Fearless Leader lifted out of context to leave a false impression. These brothers called him on it and asked him to correct his misrepresentation. I suppose they assumed they were dealing with an honest brother, which is a bad assumption; he is neither honest nor a brother, and true to form Wilson refused to correct the false representation because he insisted everyone else was wrong. And if I’m not mistaken, nothing has changed since then.

So this brother calls me and the second thing I remember about the conversation was that after about an hour I volunteered, “Whenever you think of Wilson, don’t think of a minister of the gospel, think Al Capone. He is not a Christian, he’s a gangster — a thug — and in this respect he’s no different than Al Capone.” I’m sure I developed my point, but it really didn’t matter because the second I said “think Al Capone” I lost my caller. Comparing Wilson to one of America’s most notorious mobsters put him on overload. And to be fair it is a rather large jump from Wilson the habitual liar to Wilson the crime lord (but we only had an hour!).

This brings me to Pastor Dewey Roberts’ answer to my question yesterday on Green Bagginses. Pastor Roberts is a member of the PCA’s highest court — the SJC — and he made it clear that the thought of corrupting justice repulses him when he wrote:

Doug Wilson has tried to get a lot of mileage out of his “charge” against the SJC that we have never talked with Wilkins. Our constitution forbids us to do so! Think Al Capone. Capone wiggled out of several cases which the government brought against him by jury tampering. The members of the SJC are the jury of the highest court in the PCA. Would Wilson really want the SJC members to engage in despicable jury tampering? If Steve had remained in the PCA he would have had his opportunity to talk face-to-face with the SJC. He chose to leave instead. So, wise people will take what Wilson says with a grain of salt and consider them to be equal. (emphasis added)

Notice the imperative: “Think Al Capone.” When I read it last night I almost dropped a load on the spot. A member of the PCA’s highest court instructed me to think Al Capone in relation to Wilson’s accusations against the SJC. Déjà vu? Coincidence? Providence? Wire tap? Warp in the Earth’s time-space continuum? You guess.

Then notice the question “Would Wilson really want the SJC members to engage in despicable jury tampering?” Presumably Pastor Roberts meant this rhetorically, as a figure of speech where he didn’t want an answer so much as he wanted to make the point that jury tampering defies every principle of justice revealed in Scripture. In law it’s an ex parte (Latin, from (by or for) one party) conversation and it refers to improper contact between a litigant and the judge or a jury member, and Al Capone took his ex parte conversations to new levels — if he couldn’t bribe an official he intimidated them. But rhetorical or not, I want to answer Pastor Roberts’ question because this point cannot be overstated.

In 2004, two local citizens successfully challenged Christ Church’s 501(c)(3) property-tax exemption, based in part on Canon Press’ for-profit status. It’s one thing if Canon Press operates as a nonprofit enterprise for charitable purposes, i.e. the gospel; it’s quite another if the Fearless Leader signs a contract to skim 10% from the “nonprofit” proceeds. At that point Canon Press crosses the line that separates business from charity. The county commissioners had no choice — they had to revoke the exemption, and in doing so they made straight the road for more challenges. Accordingly, in 2005 the same two citizens challenged the property-tax exemptions for two other buildings in the kingdom of Doug — Logos School and the Nuart Theater. This brings us back to Al Capone.

You see, Wilson, like Capone, has a personal aversion to paying taxes, which is probably related to his contempt of lawful authority, and consequently the thought of losing his property-tax exemption, i.e. the thought of the government compelling him to pay taxes, sent him over the edge. In fact, it sent him so far over the edge that he visited the Latah County commissioners to express his concern. Sure, it was a scheduled visit but when he called the county he didn’t state his reason for requesting the meeting, most likely because the County Attorney would not have allowed it — something about ex parte. It’s illegal. Therefore, the meeting took place as scheduled on April 27, 2005; here are excerpts from Douglas Wilson’s testimony to the Latah County commissioners, which he delivered ex parte five weeks before the scheduled tax hearing:

If that is the case and if there are people in town who have had a very public vendetta against us for personal or ideological reasons of their own, my concern, which I wanted to express to you all, face to face, is that the mechanism of the law should not be used, or should not be allowed to be used, as a cat’s paw for fulfilling personal, settling personal scores. That sort of thing, it appears to me, would be a flagrant example of applying the law selectively. So in other words the “exclusive use,” the particular interpretation of “exclusive use” that you all decided on in the last go round, is now in appeal. That understanding of “exclusive use” must apply to all tax-exempt entities in Moscow or Latah County and not just to those entities that have me sitting on the board. . . . But I think we should all agree that the law should not just be applied to those who are the brunt of the animosity of a handful of people in town who want to run ’em out of town and who want to use the zoning requirements, the Latah County commissioners, or the Board of Adjustors, the Idaho State Attorney General, there was a complaint filed against me there on another thing. I don’t think that that should be — I think that should be recognized and I wanted to appear before you face to face and tell you face to face that that is my fundamental concern. I think it opens Latah County up to a great deal of exposure if the law is applied selectively in that way and I simply wanted to tell you that. . . . I guess the thing I wanted to say is that monsters don’t shrink when you feed them. And I believe it is your responsibility to not just look at the letter of the law, what’s going on in the law but also to look at the town and see what’s happening in town. The animosity, the ideological agenda that’s directed against us, is open, public; the archives of Vision 20/20 are there for anybody to read and in the last two years our adversaries have been overt about what they want to do; they want to run us out of town and they are using every device that they can get their hands on to do that. . . . But the fact remains that there is a de facto situation on the ground where a year later the tax exemptions that have been removed have been from our two entities; the next two that are threatened are two entities that I sit on the board of and I just wouldn’t want Latah County to make a very expensive mistake. And that’s why I wanted to appear. (emphasis added)

One of the complainants who was not invited and therefore not present for the ex parte meeting posted Wilson’s testimony to the local electronic bulletin board. Moreover, I’ve heard the tapes (there’s bootleg copies floating all over the Palouse) and every word of this transcription is accurate. Furthermore, Beelzeblog himself confirmed his witness in an evasive post called “How We Handle Words”; but if you read it you’ll notice he offers no interpretation and no explanation. I suppose some words defy comment.

Whatever he meant, I am confident that Douglas Wilson’s ex parte conversation with two Latah County commissioners regarding an upcoming hearing answers Pastor Roberts’ question — “Would Wilson really want the SJC members to engage in despicable jury tampering?” Yes, he really would want the SJC members to engage in despicable jury tampering as long as he benefited from the hanky-panky. And if this surprises you then you have been working with a lot of false assumptions about the Fearless Leader.

Let there be no illusion: if you ever have doubts about Douglas Wilson’s moral character; if you ever wonder about all the stories of his ruthless behavior; if you ever ask yourself how far he’s willing to go in order to advance his kingdom, then do yourself a favor — Think Al Capone.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

You might look over the "other" Wilkins' Rationale. Steve's eldest son had this to say on his blog about Auburn's departure from the PCA "...we are not with the PCA anymore. Our church has left the denomination that weaves a Webb of deceit and has moved on. It’s better this way." I wonder what he meant by the "Webb of deceit" (two b's)?

Mark T. said...

I don’t know how the little snit can square his statement with his father’s:

“We are all very thankful for the many years we have enjoyed in communion with the PCA and look forward to a continuing relationship with many brothers who remain in it. We do not leave with any bitterness or self-pity. . .”


Anonymous said...


Not sure if your question is rhetorical or not, but for the sake of clarity, I think, it's worth stating the answer: Andrew Webb.

That's a man who has certainly endured his share of libel.

Anonymous said...

It will be most interesting and likely very sad to watch the course of the second-generation FV.

Remember, it's all about the kids
(or so I think Leithart said).

Mark T. said...

Wilson said it too, many times. And you can see FV’s second generation in Moscow, where in the last ten years Wilson has unrolled his concept of cultural reform and it unraveled before his eyes. Like begets like, whether we like it or not, and when the leader of a movement, such as the Fearless Leader, recreates his image in the movement’s youth, then no one should be surprised to see those youth hold authority in contempt, like unto the one who begat them. And the first place you see them demonstrate their contempt is the Fifth Commandment, which came to fruition with such scandals as the drug ring, the casino, some late-night drunken arson, excessive drinking (he managed to cover up a few DUIs), and the Greyfriar molester (not to be confused with the serial paedophile) the deadbeat dad Greyfriar — all these felonies and misdemeanors took place in Moscow during a seven-year period. These knaves are the face of FV’s future. I just wish more people knew about them.

Anonymous said...

Mark -- can you expand on your statement, "it’s quite another if the Fearless Leader signs a contract to skim 10% from the 'nonprofit' proceeds"?

Is this a royalty, which every author accrues? If so, that's probably consistent with the organization itself being non-profit. I guess the question is, (a) who owns Canon Press, and (b) if it is a person, does that person accrue profits from the enterprise?

Tim H.

Mark T. said...

Hi Tim,

I’m going to answer your question from a different angle. Canon Press is (possibly was) a nonprofit ministry of Christ Church, Moscow, which is (possibly was) a nonprofit ministry recognized by the IRS as a “church.” The Internal Revenue Service has extremely strict guidelines in place to protect the nonprofit system from abuses and swindles. For example, a CEO may draw a salary from nonprofit entity as long as he recuses himself from the board meeting where they discuss his salary. Sure, it’s a matter of appearance, but at the heart there’s substance there as well.

For another example, if a church owns and operates a publishing wing to advance its charitable cause, then it may pay royalties under restricted circumstances such as when the beneficiary is not a member of the board. However, if the beneficiary sits on the board and already draws a salary from the entity for his services, then skimming a 10% royalty from the gross sales of the charitable proceeds he’s supposed to oversee becomes a conflict of interest. After all, writing books is something he does on charitable time for the charitable cause. It’s one thing to oversee nonprofit moneys and to reinvest them into the nonprofit cause; it’s another to dip into the proceeds after you’ve already drawn a salary for writing the book. He’s double dipping from the money the IRS charged him to reinvest.

Along these lines, during one of the tax hearings Wilson LIED UNDER OATH when the judge asked him point blank: “Do I understand you to say that every dime you make from these books you reinvest into printing more books?” Wilson answered, “That is correct.” He left out the part about royalties because he knew it would sink the deal.

Mark T. said...


I forgot to note that in the years 1999–2002 Canon Press averaged over 1 million dollars in gross sales and the Fearless Leader wrote about 60% of their books. You do the math. It’s not chump change.

Todd Van Campen said...

"I forgot to note that in the years 1999–2002 Canon Press averaged over 1 million dollars in gross sales and the Fearless Leader wrote about 60% of their books. You do the math. It’s not chump change."

Reforming Marriage is a work of brilliance that I have no doubt has helped redeem countless marriages, including mine.

From that standpoint, Wilson deserves every penny, IMO.

Mark T. said...


I am sure that for every marriage you think Wilson saved, I can point you a marriage that I know Wilson sank. Nevertheless, you missed the point. If he wants to get paid for the book, then he should restructure the organization to reflect that goal. Lying under oath is an odd way to secure a paycheck.