Idaho Pastor a Hard-Liner, With an Exception or Two
Wilson normally favors draconian Old Testament
punishments for all kinds of biblical infractions.
But in the case of a student at his New Saint
Andrews College, he took a kinder, gentler view.
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Doug Wilson, pastor of a radical church in
, and co-author of an infamous booklet describing antebellum slavery as
an easygoing "life of plenty," has always seemed to project a
persona of smug and self-satisfied arrogance.
When hundreds of students, history professors, town
officials and others decried the racism and sorry scholarship of his
Southern Slavery, As It Was,
mocked them all publicly, scoffing at what he called the "intoleristas."
He continued with a tit-for-tat attack on the "racism" of
Abraham Lincoln and Ted Kennedy.
When a local professor revealed later in 2004 that
Wilson's booklet contained 22 passages plagiarized from a discredited
1974 academic treatise, Wilson scoffed again, deriding the "local
Banshees" who criticized him over what he portrayed as a mere
citation problem. Wilson went on to say that his Moscow-based Canon
Press was issuing a corrected version of the booklet -- correct in its
citations, that is, but maintaining unchanged its portrayal of happy and
well-fed slaves whose relationship with their masters was described as
one of "mutual confidence and affection."
is back in the news. This summer, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News
published a story on "rumors" that Wilson, who controls an
extreme-right religious empire in
, and his
had tried to "cover up" serial sexual molestations by a
college student -- molestations of very young boys and girls carried out
over several years. Although the newspaper quoted none of them, many
people were angry that
had failed to notify families in his
for eight months after Steven Sitler confessed to him in March 2005. One
church family with young children had boarded Sitler, and others
welcomed him as a visitor in their homes (Sitler molested one 2-year-old
girl in a similar visiting situation in
). Critics complained that
's lack of action had eliminated the possibility of identifying other
victims in the community.
Wilson and college officials told the newspaper
that they had immediately kicked Sitler out of school and notified
police of his crimes, but decided not to inform members of the public
because of concerns for victims' privacy.
Five months after Sitler's confession, another man
who had been boarded by a
family while he studied to become a minister there was arrested and
ultimately pleaded guilty to lewd conduct with an underage girl. When
details of the matter came up on a local blog run by a disgruntled
follower, part of the pastor's response was to liken the blogger to
"a sucking chest wound."
The father of the girl in the second incident told
the Intelligence Report that church officials tried to keep that quiet
as well. At one point, he said, they threatened to bring him under
church discipline for failing to protect his daughter. "It would be
like me getting robbed and the police coming over and arresting me
because I didn't have five locks on the door, only one," he said.
"It was just bizarre."
What may have been most remarkable about the entire
's role in the case of Sitler, who he ministered to after Sitler was
wrote the sentencing judge in Sitler's case, describing him as
"most responsive" and "completely honest" and asking
that criminal penalties be "measured and limited."
That might seem like an understandable request
coming from a man's pastor. But Doug Wilson is no normal pastor. He is a
biblical hard-liner, a man who in numerous books and speeches is quick
to advocate the most draconian punishments of the Old Testament for all
kinds of offenses, some quite minor. And that applies to the Sitler case
directly, judging from what
wrote in his 1999 book Fidelity: "When we are dealing with young
children who are abused by adults (pederasty, child porn, etc.), the
penalty for those guilty of the crime should be death."
Except, apparently, when Pastor Wilson decides