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Major Christian Right Leader to Speak At Conference Hosted by Anti-Gay, Pro-Old South Preacher

By Casey Sanchez on June 10, 2009 - 9:14 am, Posted in Christian Right

Douglas Wilson runs an extreme-right religious empire based out of St. Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. Popular in neo-Confederate circles as well, Wilson has co-authored a partly plagiarized booklet defending Old South slavery as a “life of plenty” with Steve Wilkins, a founding member of the neo-secessionist and racist League of the South.  A serious hardliner, Wilson recently told reporters at Christianity Today that he’s in favor of the “exile [of] some homosexuals, depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim. There are circumstances where I’d be in favor of execution for adultery.”

Wilson’s now found a new friend in Chuck Colson, recipient of the 2008 Presidential Citizens Medal and a revered Christian Right leader for decades, dating back to 1975 when he founded the Prison Fellowship ministry after serving time for obstruction of justice after being caught up in the Watergate scandal. Later this month in Atlanta, Colson will be the featured speaker at Wilson’s annual conference of classical Christian educators and homeschoolers, known as the Association of Classical and Christian Schools. It’s a leap off the deep end for Colson, or as the Americans United for Separation of Church and State put it,  “So let’s get this straight: Colson is happily speaking at a conference whose founder and guiding light celebrates theocracy, defends slavery as biblical and expresses regret that the Confederacy lost the Civil War.”

Over the past three years however, Colson has given speeches that suggest a move from conservative evangelical Christianity into the far ends of Christian dominionism, a belief that America, along with the rest of the world, should be governed by conservative Christians using a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law. In a 2007 column for Christianity Today, Colson ripped into Christian parents who are unable to “defend Christian truth … because we worship at the altar of the bitch goddess of tolerance.”

Still, Colson’s flirtation with dominionism is one thing. The antebellum slavery-defending “paleo-confederacy” advocated by Wilson, his conference host, is quite another.  Wilson’s booklet Southern Slavery, As It Was, is an outrageous apologia for the enslavement of black Americans in the Old South. “Slavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence,” wrote Wilson and his co-author Wilkins. “There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.”  Wilson is also a promoter of some of the more draconian tenets of Christian Reconstructionism, a theocratic movement that seeks to demolish American democracy and replace it with the legal code of the Old Testament, which calls for stoning to death adulterers, homosexuals and in some cases, wayward children. In an April 2009 interview with Christianity Today, Wilson distanced himself only ever so slightly from the most hardline reconstructionists.  “You can’t apply Scripture woodenly,” said Wilson. “I’m not proposing legislation. All I’m doing is refusing to apologize for certain parts of the Bible.”

Despite these extremist views, Wilson hopes to fashion himself as a mainstream Christian evangelical. Last year, he sparred with outspoken atheist writer Christopher Hitchens in a filmed six-part debate entitled “Is Christianity Good for the World?” The text of the debate arguments were widely reprinted in the evangelical Christian press. When Hitchens was asked about his debate opponent Wilson, he replied “He has a ministry on the Washington-Idaho border, I believe,” Hitchens said. “I don’t know of what Christian denomination he precisely describes himself … I try not to do too much homework on people.” It’s unlikely that Colson, who is now featured in the same publications as Wilson, has the same excuse.

  • George

    It is oh so amusing that the very crowd which insists there is no black and white only shades of grey when it comes to morality and religion can only see stark white and black when it comes to history.

    The history of humans is certainly shades of grey, because humans tend to miss the mark at being good and are never quite as evil as their opponents allege.

    There is room for debate on the Old South. NO, I am not pro-slavery! Look at the slavery now in the world and you will see it is a very complex issue being that often the only options are to sell yourself as a slave or starve to death. Can you prove me wrong on that? Then please solve the problem. Don’t be ignorant of history.

    I suggest you all read more and talk less. Members of these same groups – Wilson’s to be specific, are adopting multiracially by the boatloads and some schools that are certified by his organization are far more racially diverse than the traditionally highly academic private schools in their area.
    I know at least five families who have moved from all white neighborhoods to multiethnic neighborhoods in order to send their kids there. They aren’t sorry a bit and are convinced that school choice will do more to integrate neighborhoods than anything else.
    When we surveyed our parents as to what was most important to them about our school amongst the top five answers (of about fifteen options) were that it was racially diverse. Do your homework. You sound like the very judgmental morons you accuse others of being.

  • Carey Rowland

    Thank you, Casey, for the informative article.

    Although these people think they represent the Christian faith, they do not. They are the people of whom Gandhi spoke; they alienate others. I am disappointed to see Mr. Colson associating with them.
    I am a Christian; the Messiah whom to whom I give worship was crucified because he refused to excuse the evil inclinations of all men. And he came back to life from death so that all people would know that he has defeated this kind of evil, which is resident, believe or not, in all of us.

    If these racists ever read their Bibles all the way through, I hope they’ll notice this passage in Revelation: (as a song sung to the Messiah) “You were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

    Christ died for the sins of all men who will accept his cross instead of their own self-righteous hate and error.

    Carey Rowland, author of Glass half-Full

  • terry

    I believe Colson (christian dominionist) and Wilson (slavery apologist) are nothing more than a mutual admiration society
    (me-me-me-me). A trend is emerging; this is the story of the two movements holding hands to increase numbers in order to create “gang land” style radical violence to further their desire for power and control. This is not about religion, race or any belief system–it is about behavior of aberrant control freaks that is not quiet illegal, but eventually spirals out of control until they do break the law. Movements like these that turn to terror as a form of patriot rebellion are pathological, unstable, and a force to be reckoned. They are true believers of fanaticism…like the t-shirt idea…

  • carrisima

    Jen good point!
    “I think Gandhi said it best: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” It’s sad how often this proves to be true.”

    Reminds me of a guy who said, “I don’t want to go to church — there are hypocrites there” — I responded, I go to work to see hypocrites but I don’t go church to see them. In other words, there are also very wonderful people espousing to be Christians in churches. We seek
    G-d first, then his fellowship. And PRAY for the best !

  • mountaingirl08

    I believe CHRISTIANITY TODAY is a mainstream magazine.

  • http://none R.J.

    I am so totally on board for the t-shirt.However,I am unfamiliar w/”Christianity Today” Is this a mainstream publication or yet another nutjob rag?

  • Sam Molloy

    These are the same concrete headed egotists that killed Jesus. Sign me up for a T shirt. Small g though.

  • jen

    I think Gandhi said it best: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” It’s sad how often this proves to be true.

    And Ghigau, I’m with you–I am *so* making a Bitch Goddess of Tolerance t-shirt!

  • Martha Wenstrand

    This type of attitude is appalling to me on all levels – the fact that they tie it to religion is as bad or worse. It is people like this that cause me to have to explain myself when I identify myself as a Christian but not like these folks.

  • Ghigau

    “Bitch Goddess of Tolerance” is my new very favorite phrase. I need a t-shirt.