What is Christ Church? As Idaho murders' investigation continues, Moscow faces another battle for its SOUL

The experts have estimated the size of the congregation and its offshoot churches are at about 2,000, or 10% of the city’s total population

What is Christ Church? As Idaho murders' investigation continues, Moscow faces another battle for its SOUL
Pastor Douglas Wilson and the Christ Church (Photo by Moscow Idaho and Christ Church/Facebook)
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MOSCOW, IDAHO: While there is a manhunt on for the person responsible for the murders of four University of Idaho students, the residents of the close-knit town of Moscow are mounting their own battle against the cult-like Christ Church, which is making life on the Palouse surreal, even ghostly.

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Investigators have established that four students—Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin—were fatally stabbed inside their house between 3 am and 4 am on the morning of November 13. The medical experts have found defensive wounds on at least one of the victim’s hands. Despite restless efforts by the authorities, no concrete evidence leading to the suspects has been discovered.

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Amid this horror, the controversial church, whose leaders have publically expressed their desire to “make Moscow a Christian town” has had some significant influence on the city. As per the profile by Sarah Stankorb at Vice, the Christ Church is built on a deeply misogynistic ideology, that allows men to rape their wives and terrorize women who question the doctrines of the church.

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What is Christ Church?

Founded back in the late 1990s, the Christ Church is run by Pastor Douglas Wilson. From its theological warfare against Covid-19 restrictions to the criminal history of its male members, the church has sparked a slew of controversies in recent times. The experts have estimated the size of the congregation and its offshoot churches are at about 2,000, or 10% of the city’s total population. The church even buys property and businesses throughout the Latah County community, according to Daily Kos.

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The report by Stankorb even recites the stories of women who have survived Christ Church’s “culture that normalizes sexual abuse and harassing survivors.” One of the survivors describes how she was raped by her husband and how she was abandoned by the community when she opposed it and divorced him. Another woman revealed how she was sexually abused as a teenager by a male member of the community who taught at the church.

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The atmosphere within the church is said to be the outcome of the theologies taught by Pastor Wilson. Wilson has time and again argued that the men or husbands have complete spiritual responsibility of their households which includes the obligation of “preventing the wife from failing to submit to his will in spending habits, television viewing habits, weight, rejection of his leadership, laziness in cleaning the house, lack of responsiveness to sexual advances.” He has asserted that “the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party”; instead, “a man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants,” while a “woman receives, surrenders, accepts,” he argues. He concludes that “true authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity.”

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Wilson is a celebrated name when it comes to home-schooling and “classical Christian school” movements. He is also the founder of a publishing house, Logos Books that provides curriculum materials for both homeschoolers and “classical schools.” The books written by the Pastor have also sparked controversies in the community. ‘Southern Slavery: As It Was’, a book co-written by Wilson, claimed in a part that "Slavery as it existed in the South [...] was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.”

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It argued: "There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. [...] Slave life was to them [slaves] a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care." The Pastor is often noticed defending his book by claiming that it has been misinterpreted. "My defense of the South does not make me a racist," he said at a 2003 public forum. "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 [and] teach them Christian values.”

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Heightening this traditionalist attack on modern ideology, Wilson recently addressed students on the University of Idaho campus where he argued that everyone can agree the Bible is sexist—but that the Bible is always right. In the speech, he denounced the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira as “a skankfest.” In recent months, Christ Church has advocated for resistance to Covid mandates in Moscow, and Wilson has attempted to give theological ballast to opposition to restrictions and vaccination programs, as well as warning of political violence. The question now remains if any church member knew the victims and found their lifestyle offensive as per the church's cult-like belief?

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