Are condoms distributed in Africa to prevent the spread of AIDS or to prevent Africans from having babies?
Moscow Christ Church Pastor Doug Wilson says he believes the latter. Wilson claimed Planned Parenthood, one of the largest distributors of contraceptives in African nations, is a racist organization. He said the fact that condoms do not effectively prevent AIDS is proof of his argument.
"It's like stopping a mosquito with a chain-link fence," Wilson said Wednesday at a public discussion at the University of Idaho. The purpose of the discussion, he claimed, was to set the record straight about his thoughts on racism. He asserted that local liberals have vilified his church and labeled him a racist. The attacks, Wilson claimed, represent an overly dramatic response to a publication he co-wrote with Steve Wilkins, a Louisiana pastor and executive committee member of the League of the South. The organization is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white supremacist hate group.
Wilson said those who are offended by the booklet, "Southern Slavery, as it Was," misinterpret his defense of the Bible as a defense of slavery.
New St. Andrews student Woelke Leithart said the community has overreacted. He said "non-believers" throw stones out of fear.
"This is not surprising," he said. "This booklet has been misunderstood as a lot of things that people say about slavery can be. People are looking for anything they can. Wilson and the Christ Church stand behind the Bible. We believe that man was created in God's image. People have definitely overreacted. All this book was, was a defense of the Bible. Mr. Wilson only wanted to show people that the South is not as evil as people have made it out to be."
Wilson said the idea that he and members of his church worship racist ideology is laughable. He said he's aware activists are trying to organize a boycott of Moscow businesses owned by Christ Church followers. In response, Wilson held up a picture of Bucer's owner and Christ Church member Gary Greenfield and Greenfield's multiracial family. He told protesters they should feel free to boycott peaceful race relations.
"I am not a racist. The Bible says racism is a sin. I oppose and hate racism," Wilson said. "My position has always been that the war between the states was not an appropriate way to end slavery and that it should have been ended peacefully as it has been in every other civilized nation. The whole debate was how we should have ended slavery."
Wednesday's discussion, "The Legacy of Racism: the Dark Closet of Planned Parenthood," compared theories of creation against theories of evolution and eugenics, which promotes one pure race. Wilson said it's obvious he is not racist because he believes in creation -- all humans were created from Adam and share the same blood. In contrast, he said people like Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who believe in evolution, are the equivalent of Nazis. Evolution includes philosophies like survival of the fittest and desirable and undesirable characteristics. Wilson said evolutionists are clearly racist, because "they believe in weeding out the undesirable, inferior races and cleansing the gene pool."
"Evolution is fundamentally racist," he said. "I think Planned Parenthood is still advocating eugenics."
Wilson said the organization continues to push its racist agenda to secretly weed out African Americans and members of other ethnic groups through birth control and abortion.
UI Southern history professor William Ramsey did not attend the discussion to hear Wilson's views on Sanger and evolution. He came to hear Wilson's explanation of his booklet.
Ramsey said "Southern Slavery, as it Was" lacks historical credibility. He said Wilson used unreliable sources to write a pamphlet that alleges Southern slaves enjoyed captivity and were fond of their masters.
"It's thoroughly inaccurate and irresponsible," Ramsey said of the booklet. "I'm very concerned about the issues that are being raised here."
Ramsey was not alone. The Silver Room of the UI Student Union Building, where Wilson spoke, was packed. Audience members overflowed into the outer hallways.
Protesters made their presence known before the discussion even began. They passed out fliers about Planned Parenthood, and held signs that read, "The Legacy of Racism: The Dark Closet of Doug Wilson."
UI Gay Straight Alliance President Selena Lloyd propped up her sign in the common area outside the Silver Room. Her message was not received well by some Christ Church members, including Wilson's daughter, Rachel Wilson.
"My father is not a racist. I've lived with him all my life," Rachel said. "I ought to know. This is just people's way of attacking him because they are scared. The whole thing has been a lie. All you people say, 'I know your father's a racist because I read this about him in the paper and on the Web.' Well, I've known him my whole life and he brought me up to believe racism is wrong."
Wilson began his discussion with a disclaimer about some of the quotes he would use to show how evolutionists are necessarily racist.
"I'm here on the defensive because of an unwarranted attack against me. I was minding my own business and got attacked for some ridiculous thing," Wilson said. "I've told everyone that I am more than willing to lead a discussion on racism. Throw me in that briar patch."
Wilson said he would put his mixed-race congregation against the membership of any civic group in Moscow. He said true believers cannot be racist because the Bible "is fundamentally opposed to it." It's evolutionists and non-believers that are racists, he said.
"My defense of the South does not make me a racist," he said. "I am not interested in defending slavery. I don't believe we should practice slavery. What I said is that a Christian man in the South could be a slave owner. He needed to follow the rules in the New Testament. Christian slave owners were compelled to teach their slaves to read E teach them Christian values. When there is a chance for freedom, the Bible tells the slaves to take it. Paul lays out the peaceful end to slavery. That is not how Southern slavery ended in the United States."
UI student April Stephenson said she was confused by Wilson's argument. She asked how anyone could rationalize owning another human.
"You say that slavery is wrong. And that if it existed today you would follow the rules of the Bible. How does it make sense to bring your slaves up in to culture, teach them Christian values and set them free?" she asked. "So basically, you would keep them as slaves and set them free only when they accept Christianity. That may not be part of their culture. I don't understand this. I see it in everything you say, this culture against culture. Is this the new form of racism?"
Wilson said the Bible requires Christians to follow the Gospel. Part of that, he said, is spreading God's word. Christianity is not forced upon anyone.
"As a Christian who believes the Bible, I have an obligation to be a Bible absolutist," Wilson said. "What was the purpose of this discussion? I wanted to articulate my convictions. I was attacked. That is what started this hubbub. The whole debate about Southern slavery was whether 600,000 people should have been killed in a war to end the practice. With an atrocity such as the holocaust, I believe war was a moral necessity. I don't believe Nazi Germany and the South were the same evil."
Alexis Bacharach can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 234, or by e-mail at .