The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

NYT College Profile Omits Some Key Facts

By Mark Potok on October 2, 2007 - 8:26 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Christian Reconstruction, Hate on Campus

This Sunday, The New York Times Magazine ran a 3,000-plus-word piece on one Doug Wilson, a Moscow, Idaho, pastor described as trying to “reinvent conservative Protestant education” with his New Saint Andrews College. The story, a major feature in the magazine’s annual “college issue,” suggests that Saint Andrews is home to “a band of cultured missionaries,” a place that “tries to unite faith and reason.”

images.jpegWell, sort of. “Onward, Christian Scholars,” by Molly Worthen, does describe Wilson’s religious empire as “radically conservative” and notes that Wilson (pictured, right) would like to see Jefferson Davis, late president of the Confederacy, as president. But Worthen, a student of American religious history, omits a few critical points (here and here and here).

In fact, Doug Wilson is co-author of a piece of sorry scholarship, entitled Southern Slavery, As It Was, that argues that “[s]lavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.” “There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world,” the book continues. And then: “Slave life was to them [slaves] a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.” No serious scholar of slavery or the Civil War accepts these ludicrous assertions.

Incredibly, Worthen completely missed this fact — hard to understand, given that the book produced a raging 2003-2004 controversy, including demonstrations by hundreds of University of Idaho students against Wilson, anti-racist statements by two local university presidents, and a damning anti-Wilson essay by two academic historians, that convulsed the entire community around Moscow for months. Instead, Worthen concentrates on the “Latin textbooks” and “Greek vocabulary” that the hardworking Saint Andrews students pore over as part of their “classical Christian education.”

That’s not all. Saint Andrews treats as a foundational Western thinker, right up there with Plato and Aristotle, a 19th-century theologian named Robert L. Dabney — a Confederate Civil War chaplain who described blacks as “a morally inferior race,” a “sordid, alien taint” marked by “lying, theft, drunkenness, laziness, waste.” Wilson also argues that cursing one’s parents is punishable by death; that children of parents who don’t believe in Jesus Christ are “foul” and “unclean”; that women were created to be submissive to men; and that if a woman is raped, the rapist should pay her father a bride price and then, if the father approves, marry his victim.

None of this makes it into Worthen’s article. In fact, when she does give a three-word quote to a Wilson critic, she uses the occasion to sarcastically describe how the woman took “two hours to detail Wilson’s crimes” — almost none of which are mentioned. Instead, Worthen refers lightly to Saint Andrews’ “chronic spats with liberals in town.”

One last thing you might have expected to see mentioned in a magazine that purports to explore the pros and cons of various colleges and approaches to education: In 2004, a retired philosophy professor at the University of Idaho exposed the fact that at least 22 passages from Wilson’s tendentious book on slavery were plagiarized from a 1974 book. Wilson scornfully derided his critics, saying he and his co-author were guilty only of a “citation problem” that he would fix up in later editions. His upbeat take on “biblical slavery,” however, would not change.

  • Clayton Daniels

    Philip, though the point is lost on you, it’s probably not lost on most other readers here.

    Robert L. Dabney, by virtue of his A Defense Of Virginia And The South, and his other racist and racial-slavery apologia, provided contemporary “religious” leaders like Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins, and other Neo-Conferederates (Doug Phillips was mentioned in the comments here as a Neo-Confederate racist, and from what I’ve seen of he and his Vision Forum business he is) with the philosophical and “moral” framework from which to justify the subjugation of races that they view as intellectually inferior.

    The bigoted philosophies of Dabney were revived by the Reconstructionists, most noteworthy being R.J. Rushdoony. According to Dabney and Rushdoony slavery is “biblical.” Like Dabney and Rushdoony, Wilson and Wilkins have declared that slavery is “biblical,” and even a desirable institution. Just like Dabney and Rushdoony, they wouldn’t mind seeing the repeal of the 13th and 14th amendments and slavery restored in America.

    Mr. Potok could just as easily say, “Saint Andrews treats as a foundational Western thinker, right up there with Plato and Aristotle, a 20th-century theologian named R.J. Rushdoony.” Whether Dabney or Rushdoony are ever specifically mentioned by name, or whether their own writings are directly studied, doesn’t lessen their impact and influence at NSA. That was the case in the very recent past, specifically through the publication of Wilson and Wilkins’ Southern Slavery As It Was.

    Philip, if you weren’t personally and directly subjected to the writings of Dabney at NSA, that doesn’t negate the fact that NSA has earned a reputation as a Neo-Confederate institution. Though it may now be somewhat better concealed, and though perhaps Doug Wilson may no longer fly the Stars And Bars in his office (or maybe he still does?), it’s doubtful that Neo-Confederate philosophy has been eradicated, even if Southern Slavery As It Was is no longer studied at NSA.

  • Philip

    Dabney as a founding thinker for NSA? Sheesh, I went there and never read a single thing by him. Barely mentioned. Who’s got the shoddy scholarship now, SPLC?

  • Chris Ricketts

    Mentioning Doug Wilson, Christ Church, New St. Andrews College and their racist views isn’t even scratching the surface. Why not discuss their views on homosexuality or womens issues? Imagine what good could be done if their mindless sheep and tax exempt status were used to improve public education, instead of reducing it’s funding as they are attempting to accomplish.These people are so horrible that I felt compelled to move from Moscow due to their invasion of the local political and business scene.

  • Michael Metzler

    For the record, I deny most of “Bill’s” claims and I think most the quotes are out of context; I have not changed any of my general views but rather simply deffended Phillips when he was libeled — rather than inconsistency, this the consistent double edged sword of lady Justice, a precious rarity here in the anonymous world wide web.

    I should have mentioned earlier, regarding a more relevant remark, that I have never considered Wilson a ‘bigot’. (see: “for Michael Metzler to call Doug Wilson a bigot”)

    Michael Metzler

  • David Tyler

    Who let the door on the mental asylum open?

  • Bill Gafts

    Michael Metzler,

    I didn’t say that I was a member of Doug Wilson’s church, and I didn’t even try to hint that I was. But either way, why would that even be an issue? Why would anyone but you even care?

    How does posting a link to another web site make me “associated with” that web site?

    Michael, why did you for months regularly attack Doug Phillips, calling him a “corrupt idiot” and a “corrupt misogynist” who seeks to reduce women to a state of “slavery” in which “they get fondled, lied to, and passed around as useful objects”? You’ve compared Doug Phillips to Adolph Hitler. You even said that Doug Phillips might be a closet Kinist. If the things you’ve written before about Doug Phillips are true, then the SPLC would probably be very interested in hearing about it from you. But the problem now is that you’ve proven that your opinions cannot be trusted. You flip flop and hold your personal convictions about as firm and steady as jello on a hot sidewalk.

    Why, as soon as the Epsteins started exposing Doug Phillips’ various wicked deeds, did you all of a sudden completely reverse yourself in your opinions about Doug Phillips, without giving any kind of a logical explanation? Why is it that ever since the Epsteins started writing about Doug Phillips did you start defending Doug Phillips?

    You’re so gleeful about the SPLC exposing Doug Wilson. Yet it’s become obvious that Doug Phillips’ views on race and many other things are far more extreme and problematic than Doug Wilson’s. Why are you so eager to see Doug Wilson’s Southern-slavery-sympathizer views exposed and yet you’ve become such an ardent defender of the Neo-Confederate Christian Reconstructionist Patriarchal Dominionist and racist Doug Phillips?

    Funny world we live in…

    For the record: Michael Metzler, you are Doug Wilson’s single biggest PR asset. I’m sure he must be very grateful to you. If I were going to be publicly vilified, and I got to choose my attacker, you’d be the logical choice.

  • Michael Metzler

    For the record folks: The above two posts were unlikely written by someone in Doug Wilson’s church. You should note the concern about four things here: kinism, Epstein, Phillips, and the poohs think site “with comments”. The anti-Phillips/kinist back lash for my criticism of kinism and defense of Phillips is parasitical and actually has little to do with Wilson and my history at his church. Folks at Christ Church typically do not post anonymously, and I doubt any of them would want to be associated with the “with comments” pooh’s think. I think this is a very important clarification. Funny world we live in . . .

    Michael Metzler

  • Bill Gafts

    “To all reading: there is much more to the story of Mr. Metzler than he is letting on. He is certainly not an objective witness to anything Moscownian.”

    After reading the comments on your blog, The Other Pooh, all I can say is that must be the understatement of the year. I knew that Michael Metzler didn’t have a good reputation, but I never knew he had so many serious “issues.”

    The comments here are well worth the read.

  • End The Racism, End The Hypocrisy

    In another SPLC article it says, “When details of the matter came up on a local blog run by a disgruntled Wilson follower, part of the pastor’s response was to liken the blogger to ‘a sucking chest wound’.” That disgruntled Wilson follower is Michael Metzler, the same Michael Metzler that’s posting comments here.

    For those of us in Moscow who’ve personally known Michael we can attest that he really is “the emotional equivalent of a sucking chest wound.” Regardless of what one thinks of Doug Wilson, one should still carefully consider the source of the information that they factor in to the question of whether or not Doug Wilson is as bad a man as some would like to think.

    Michael Metzler here claims to be “objective”, but that strains all verisimilitude, especially when it comes to racial issues. Michael is grossly inconsistent when it comes to racial concerns, and the only time he talks about race relations is to indiscriminately and often unjustly level the charge of “racist” or “Kinist” as a weapon for attacking an opponent, whether there is any real evidence to support it or not. This isn’t to say that every once in a while he may not be technically correct (even a broken clock is right twice a day). The problem for Michael is that he’s often far more guilty himself of the very things that he accuses others of.

    Whether or not Doug Wilson is a bigot, it at least makes some sense for the SPLC to be the one to make the allegations that Doug Wilson has some misguided historical and philosophical views on slavery, the antebellum South, etc. However, it makes absolutely no sense for Michael Metzler to call Doug Wilson a bigot, and for Michael Metzler to do so actually undermines the case against Doug Wilson.

    One of the most disturbing things about Michael Metzler’s M.O. is his manifest hypocrisy. He’s not above attacking others for things that he’s a gross offender of himself. For example, Michael Metzler has (understandably) attacked Kinists and Kinism. Yet he’s also publicly defended one of the biggest Neo-Confederate “Christian” racists there is today, Doug Phillips of Vision Forum and attacked a Jewish family, Jennifer and Mark Epstein, because they’ve posted exposes about Doug Phillips.

    If one wants to get to the bottom of what’s true or not true about Doug Wilson, it would be ill-advised to rely on the testimony of a manifest hypocrite like Michael Metzler.

    For more about the racist that Michael Metzler has staunchly defended, see the articles about Doug Phillips at and see also:
    Many more can be found by Googling “Doug Phillips racist”

    For more about the Jewish family that Michael Metzler has attacked for writing exposes about the racist Doug Phillips see

  • Michael Metzler

    Yes, I did not mean to imply that I am still a member of Wilson’s community. However, there is nothing about my trajectory out of the community that disqualifies me as an objective witness. I encourage all Wilson defenders to use their real name and identity — that would seem consistent with Wilson’s public teaching. Thanks.

  • The other Pooh

    To all reading: there is much more to the story of Mr. Metzler than he is letting on. He is certainly not an objective witness to anything Moscownian.

  • Michael Metzler

    * ‘breadth’ that is.

  • Michael Metzler

    Well, I to was a bit disappointed in not seeing more breath in the article. However, with the limitation to NSA, I believe Worthen did a fine job. As a long term ‘insider’ in Wilson’s community, and affiliated with NSA in various ways, I’d vote here to say that NSA, when considered alone, is not shot through with Wilson’s deceit and serrated edge . . . just sprinkled with it perhaps. So I can understand Worthen’s moderation, given her more ecumenical journalistic task.

    Michael P Metzler

  • Gabe Rench

    Mark- before stirring up your support for more money… you might want to check your facts and maybe simmer down your “upbeat” rhetoric.

  • Christian Burns

    It looks like Wilson has responded.

  • Gregory Peterson

    Christianity Today didn’t mention Wilson’s neo-confederate leanings in their liveblog piece: Classical Christian College Education(s)

    Two classical Christian colleges are at philosophical odds.

    Kristen Scharold