Slavery Apologist to Lecture Indiana University Students on Sex
This Friday, a far-right religious activist who co-authored a repulsive apologia for Southern slavery and argues that women were created to be “dependent and responsive” to men, will speak on sexuality and the Bible at Indiana University, Bloomington. Invited by a campus Christian group, Douglas Wilson’s impending visit to this major university has set off something of a local firestorm.
Wilson, who runs a religious empire in Moscow, Idaho, that includes a church, a college, a lower school, and a right-wing religious press, is best known for his 1996 book, Southern Slavery, As It Was, written with another far-right pastor. “Slavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence,” it claims. “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 food, clothes and good medical care.”
But his two-part lecture this week is specifically aimed at the school’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, founded in 1947 by the late IU researcher Alfred Kinsey. The ClearNote Campus Fellowship, which invited Wilson, said in its announcement that Kinsey sought to “normalize perversion,” adding that the Idaho pastor “intends to bring biblical wisdom and sexual sanity” to IU.
Several groups, including IU’s Progressive Faculty & Staff Caucus, a town group called Bloomington United and a representative of the IU Student Association, have called for a rally to coincide with Wilson’s presentation. None have suggested cancelling his talk, saying they treasure free speech on campus but believe that Wilson’s views should be made public and fully discussed.
Those views, as captured in more than 30 Wilson books published by his own Canon Press, go beyond adulation of the Old South as a truly “orthodox” Christian society to dwell heavily on family and sexual matters. Wilson argues that women should only be allowed to date with their father’s permission; that if a woman is raped, the rapist should pay the father a bride price and then, if the father approves, marry his victim; and that gay men and lesbians are “sodomites” and “people with foul sexual habits.” The biblical punishment for homosexuality, he adds, is not necessarily death, though it could be under biblical law — exile is another possibility. (Wilson has also been accused of hypocrisy with regard to his sexual puritanism.)