Doug Wilson’s Shaming Letter to the Father of an Abuse Survivor
By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Content warning: discussion about child sexual abuse and victim-blaming.
In 2005, on behalf of the elders of Christ Church, pastor Doug Wilson wrote a letter to a member of his church, Gary. Gary is the father of Natalie Rose Greenfield**, the young woman who was sexually abused by one of Wilson’s students from 2000-2003 when she was 13-16 years old. I previously wrote about the story of that child molestor, Jamin C. Wight, a homeschooled alumnus.
Today, Greenfield made public the letter Wilson wrote to her father in 2005. To be honest, it made me sick just to read it. The way Wilson blames Gary for his daughter’s abuse, the way he tries to manipulate Gary into extending mercy to Wilson’s 24-year-old, youth ministry-bound child molester, is simply inexcusable.
With Greenfield’s permission, I am sharing a copy of the letter below. Click the images to see larger versions:
I think the most telling excerpts are these:
Although we believe the sins were very different, we also wanted to let you know that we have considered whether or not we should suspend you from the Supper for your dereliction of your duties as a father…
As Jamin is discovering, sinful behavior can have (and should have) destructive consequences. But different kinds of sins destroy in different ways, and we would urge you to have a merciful heart toward him, just as you would have others show mercy to you.
Wilson’s intentional comparison between Wight’s sins (carefully grooming and then sexually abusing a child) and Gary’s so-called “sins” (not detecting Wight’s careful grooming process and thus being unaware that Wilson’s student was molesting his 13-year-old girl) is one of the most victim-blaming pieces of writing I have ever had the misfortune of reading. And then Wilson doubles-down with the manipulation by urging Gary to have “a merciful heart toward” the man who molested his little girl, because, hey, Gary needs mercy to for his “sins,” too. If that’s not the most glaring example of religious abuse, I’m not sure what is.
Greenfield has written commentary about the letter’s context, which I would encourage you to read here. I want to highlight a few sections here. First, Greenfield points out that her father was actually wise in putting distance between himself and Greenfield and Wilson and Christ Church after the fact because of how destructively the latter was handling the situation:
How my father could be placed at a similar level of blame to this monster is completely unfathomable to me. My father’s response was shock and injury, and while I know there were many previous instances of him realizing this church was not a place particularly well-versed in exhibiting the love of Christ, I believe this was something of a nail in the coffin for him, as would be expected. I recently spoke with my father about the details of his additional communication with Doug concerning my abuse and it is true that my father told them to stay away from his family, but not until after he saw the despicable way the situation was being handled. In hindsight, perhaps it’s a good thing I wasn’t much ministered to.
Greenfield also identifies key failings in Wilson and Christ Church’s response, namely, that they were sorely ill-equipped to respond to child sexual abuse within their midst. And from Wilson’s current self-centered defense, it appears that not much has changed:
I knew I was being blamed for a good deal of the ‘sexual sin’ in my abuse from Jamin (not strictly from Doug but also from many other individuals in the church, mostly men and many of whom I had previously considered to be like older brothers to me, who wrote to the judge citing varying degrees of unladylike behaviors and temptress-like qualities I possessed as a 13 year old girl), and while the damage the deafening silence did to my psyche was extensive, it’s now clear to me they had no idea what they were doing. Not a clue. Doug’s daughter, Rachel, admitted as much when we met for coffee late last year to discuss her father’s involvement and my misgivings. She wasn’t privy to many of the details surrounding the situation but her general impression was that nobody really knew what to do for me. Considering their utter lack of knowledge in dealing with sexual abuse, I shudder to think of what support would have looked like, had I received any.
Katie Botkin also wrote commentary about the letter, which I also would encourage you to read here. Botkin asks some important questions:
Why would Wilson hold Gary accountable for Jamin’s crimes? And ask that Gary be merciful in Jamin’s court proceedings? I don’t know, but I’m guessing it had something to do with image control. It looks pretty bad if your seminary student is convicted as a child rapist.
Botkin also observes that,
By refusing to answer any questions about these cases and by refusing to apologize for his own actions, Wilson isn’t protecting “the sheep,” he’s protecting himself.
But it’s not just that Wilson is trying to protect himself. Honestly, this situation (and the Steven Sitler situation) have grown beyond the point at which Wilson has any control anymore over how they get portrayed. Yet Wilson still refuses to humble himself before God and those among God’s people he has hurt and alienated. Wilson’s unwillingness to compassionately and openly dialogue and reflect on his mishandling of these abuse cases points to an even deeper problem:
Doug Wilson continues to sacrifice the least of those among him to further his self-imaged empire. Wilson is walking a road far from the Samaritan’s footprints, and I shudder to think where that road will end.
** I am using Greenfield’s name with her permission.
Doug Wilson is irreparably exposed as what he has been all along, a morally bankrupt and narcissistic charlatan, and obviously not a Christian. Judgement begins at the house of God and all that. I love this stuff 🙂
I disagree that he is not a Christian. He is most clearly and definitely a Christian with influence. It is damaging to suggest that those clearly involved in Christian work like this are not Christian. You may state that he is not the Christ-Christian you would prefer him to be but he clearly represents countless Christians I have endured over 60 years of living among and near them. Many Christians would say, Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I would encourage them to look at the origin of this phrase from many centuries back. When folks used to bathe less often, the bath was prepared and shared by the whole family: First, Doug Wilson, of course, the patriarch, the penis man. Then, the sons… then the women, mom and the rest and finally the babies. By that time the water was so dirty that little ones could be lost in it! Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! is based on patriarchal abuse, one putting children last in line of importance. Doug Wilson is a ferocious abuser and reveals his sick heart most clearly in this writing. How can we associate with a Christianity like this? How is it permissible to speak of women this way, to judge others like this? The royal holy scriptures??? The House of God is a house of abuse. Doug Wilson is one clearly holy man. He cares only for Christ and has not one fucking clue with regard to basic human respect.
i was sexually abused as a child, by my grandfather, as was another of my sisters. we were laughed at and called liars. eventually i forced my pastor to deal with the issue, afterwards we were told “now it’s over and we will never speak of this again”. all of this from ‘CHRISTIANS’, including my grandfather. whatever it is that ‘christians’ practice in america today is not christianity as jesus proclaimed it, i know he would not even recognize this stinking mess we call christianity in this country today. SO GLAD this is all being exposed so that hopefully it can be stopped and victims healed, unlike my experience and so many like me.
Rob, I am so sorry to hear of your abuse and that of your sibling. You are well aware that you did not deserve such treatment and that it has been an awful legacy in your life but I wanted to state that clearly again. You were a child, an innocent child. That you can speak the truth now is such strength and evidence of your character. Please keep telling the truth because that is our freedom, not some pie-in-the-sky promise from magic powers. I rejoice in the truth coming out too! And thank-you, Mr. Stollar for the important work you do here.
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Ah, the Arrogance of Gawd’s Anointed…
Amen, amen !! Church life for the most part is a stinking mess…and I don’t miss it at all when I think of what I saw over the years.. fat, greedy, uncaring pastors, who ignored the suffering in front of them as they chased the dollar and status/power. Wilson is like something out of a factory ,so TYPICAL of that ilk. Rob Roy, can you in any way go after your grandfather(legally) for his actions, and the pastor who accused you of lying, for spiritual malpractice at all ?
CPS is investigating Sitler now.
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My response to Doug Wilson who is seeking to bring further harm to members of the Greenfield family for his own gain:
This is Gary Greenfield and I’m going to reminisce a bit here. It’s been a long time since we’ve interacted with each other and it’s been a long time since we first met in 1976 when you were playing guitar in the Christian fellowship we both attended as young men still in college. You advanced quickly from guitarist to teacher after the older teacher/pastor ran off with a young lady in a our very small group and you ended up taking over as our teacher. From the first time I heard you teach, I knew you were going to become a dynamic and renown Christian leader. Why? You were endowed from the very beginning of your ministry with a knack for teaching in a very powerful and compelling manner that was unique, fresh and forceful. Just as Jesus says, the student will be become greater than the teacher, I think the charisma of your father, who was a great teacher and evangelist was passed on to you and you ended up building your ministry on the shoulders of your father.
I still look fondly back on the days when you would faithfully drive down to Lewiston from Moscow every Sunday to teach the small band of converts that met in the living room of our tiny home. That gathering evolved into Port Cities Evangelical Fellowship and our friendship grew as we both led that group as elders for something like ten years. I still remember computers being something of a novelty back then and you talked about how much one of those contraptions could help you to become a more prolific writer and I ended up purchasing your first computer for you. It brought me great joy to know I was helping you to practice your gift of writing and teaching for the benefit of helping more students and young families to become better grounded in the truths of God’s word.
During those early years of living out our faith as zealous and committed followers of Jesus Christ, we were filled with innocence, exuberance, sincerity and a great hope in the power of the gospel to change lives in significant ways first in Moscow and Pullman, then Lewiston and Clarkson and eventually the entire country. Early on, we were just a bunch of folks, young and old who loved Jesus with a desire to live out our lives without hypocrisy or fakery and we were ready to take the world captive for Jesus Christ. I also remember the day I opened up my computer to a message from you asking me to review the formation document for what was then to be called, The Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Christians. I opened it, read it, and closed it and I never responded to your request for input.
Something in my heart told me that this was a bandwagon that I was not going to jump onto. I had been adverse to organised religion since I was a little seven year old crying boy who was forced to go to confession to talk to a man I didn’t know who was hidden behind a screen in a dark little closet. Maybe my fears of being alone in a dark closet with a man I didn’t know stemmed from being sexually abused by my uncle when I was two years old. Maybe a lot of problems I encountered in my early years or even perhaps even later years were a result of sexual abuse that was kept a secret for most of my life and when I finally did get up the courage to talk to someone, I was an older man and I told my Mom. Her response was a total emotional shut down, she couldn’t cope and refused to believe it or talk about it and that was the end of it. For all of my life, I’ve lived with traumatising memories that I have found too repulsive and too embarrassing to talk about to anyone, not even my wife of 32 years.
Anyways, I attended mass with my Mom most every Sunday until I was old enough to rebel at which time I refused to spend time in a place I felt was a waste of time. Why did I feel it was a waste of time? Because my heart hungered for truth and I intuitively knew the Church was supposed to be the place where we learned God’s word but it wasn’t being taught there, so I angrily left at the age of thirteen and never went back. When I became a follower of Jesus Christ at the age of twenty-one, I ended up attending a few services of various mainline denominations but even then, something in my heart drove me away from those places.
For all of my life up until the age of fifty, I’ve had an aversion to organised religion institutions and when Doug Wilson sent me sent me a document that would make the church I attended an official religious organisation like all the others I had known, everything in my being told me to flee and to have nothing to do with it, but yet, this was my family, these were my brothers and sisters in Christ, these were the people with which so many rich memories had been created over the years, not bad memories like from my past.
After the formation of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals, I began to quietly distance myself from the leadership of the CRE while at the same time seeking to raise my family in the church, develop friendships and to be involved in selective ministry that was not an official part of the church. As time went on, my fears that the CRE would become like all the other religious organisations came to fruition. It’s not that I expected perfection or a problem free environment but because it was what I thought was the Church of Jesus Christ and I expected that problems and challenges that would inevitably arise would be dealt with in loving, honest and sincere ways that reflected the heart of Christ and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
As Christ Church grew to be huge and the CRE grew across the country and around the world, of course problems and challenges became bigger and the wherewithal to deal with those challenges and problems required a great degree of knowledge, wisdom and experience and what I observed time and time again with increasing regularity was a departure from exercising the love of Jesus Christ and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and more of doing what was expedient and necessary to eliminate troublesome situations which oftentimes meant dealing with individuals in hypocritical and even downright evil ways.
During the fifteen or so years of attending Christ Church as a dysfunctional member and not as a full fledged passenger on the bandwagon, I began to come under ever increasing scrutiny to either get on board, conform or suffer the consequences of choosing to remain aloof while keeping arms length between my family and Christ Church elders with whom I found myself increasingly at odds. During this time, my wife and I remained heavily involved in Christian ministry within the Moscow community, not only as owners of Bucer’s Coffeehouse Pub but also within our home where the front door was never locked and students were free to come and go as they pleased, to study in our living room or eat at our table. Our house was always full and we always had boarders. All of these activities and more, we were involved in because of our love for Jesus Christ and for our brothers and sisters in Christ and especially for college students who were away from home and family. I can say with all conviction, that my wife and I were 100% committed to being faithful servants for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we both loved with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength.
I can also say with all conviction of heart that my wife and I did the very best we knew how to raise up our children in the ways of the Lord. Were we perfect in doing so, of course not, but I can say with all confidence that we gave our hearts, minds and souls to taking care of our children, to giving them childhoods with rich and fun memories while making every effort to protect them from the pitfalls and dangers of this broken world. We even homeschooled our kids because we wanted to protect them from the evils of the world, yet ironically, the evils of the world found their way into the bedroom of my teenage daughter. Even now as I contemplate what took place only feet from our bedroom, the tears flow from my eyes and my breaths become gasps of grief and I mourn and lament, knowing that my daughter will have to live with such filthy memories from her youth. I know what she’s going through because I’ve been there and I’ve lived through it. It was different though for her, because when she finally told us what had been occurring within our home, we believed her, we embraced her, we loved her, we supported and we grieved with her. That was something I never experienced as a little boy who was sexually abused. Nobody comforted me, no body helped me work through the trauma, nobody believed me and now as I share what I’ve never shared with anyone, the tears flow and my heart is sad, yet, I know with all confidence that ever since I was a little innocent boy, even though my own parents couldn’t care for the wounds inflicted by my perverted uncle, I know God did and has and will continue to heal my wounds and take care of me until the day I pass from this life to next and even into all eternity and He will make all things new again.
I’m sure many of you may be thinking, what really happened to cause the breakup of our marriage of thirty-two years? It’s been ten years now since Pat and I separated and eventually divorced. I’ve never talked about what happened between us in a public forum and I’m not quite sure how far to go with this but I do think its important to talk about for the sake of the greater good of perhaps helping others gain clarity and even perhaps comfort from knowing that perhaps their concerns and intuitions are indeed valid.
Troubles began to escalate to an intermittently intolerable level between me, Doug and the church elders shortly after moving to Moscow from Lewiston in the year 2000 to be closer to the Moscow Christ Church community of believers and to our business, Bucer’s Coffeehouse Pub. Sometime around early 2004, we made a decision to quietly begin extracting ourselves from the Moscow community to begin a new life in the Couer d Alene, Idaho area. I was a serial entrepreneur and figured we would start a new life and new business there. My primary goal in moving was to get out from the under constant pressure from Doug to get with the program and join the club, lock, stock and barrel but that was something I wasn’t about to do. Given the circumstances, it would have been like giving up my masculinity and the authority of my home to a person who had gone from being someone I respected and was proud to call my friend to being a meglomaniac and control freak.
So, by the grace of God, we were able to secretly sell our mansion in the historic section of Moscow for significantly more money than we paid for it and it was accomplished without listing it or anyone even knowing that we sold it. The family that purchased it even agreed to allow us to live in the home for year while we worked out the rest of the details of our move. The next step was to quietly sell Bucer’s without listing it and without any public fanfare. It was at this stage of the plan that Pat began to act rather oddly in that whenever we would find a buyer which wasn’t all that difficult, she would find excuses not to sell.
Eventually, she confessed to me that she didn’t want to sell Bucer’s and she wanted to figure out a way to move to CDA while also keeping an apartment in Moscow so that we could run Bucer’s, while also starting a new business up North. So, because both our names were on the business papers as partners, I couldn’t sell without her consent, so, I put money down for the purchase of an office/apartment building downtown to live in, so that we could commute between CDA and Moscow. For me, this was a compromise because I really wanted to get out of Moscow but Pat was now coming out of the closet with her adamancy to remain in Moscow and I was between a rock and hard place.
In the meantime, having been a part of the Christ Church/Wilson community in one capacity or another since 1976, I was always searching and studying the scriptures as a check and balance in regards to the Wilson teachings. As concerns and conflicts began to become increasingly apparent over the years and so much more so as the CRE grew, I began to come to the conclusion that perhaps this Christian movement had evolved into a cult like religious organisation that claimed the name of Christ but was gradually drifting away from tenants of faith as they had been preserved and passed down through the centuries. It all became clear to me as I was sitting in church one Sunday and I asked myself if the Holy Spirit was really here with us. I am a man who follows my heart and my intuition and I’ve been that way since I was a little boy, so I couldn’t ignore what my heart was telling me.
In the meantime, we were somewhere in the midst of dealing with the fallout of our daughter’s sexual abuse. ‘I’m not going to discuss the details of how that stress contributed to our breakup. Why? Because to do so at this time would in no way be loving, kind, gentle or considerate of the wife of my youth from whom I am now estranged.
Shortly after I came to the realisation that Christ Church was what I would consider to be a cult and not the true Church that Jesus Christ founded on the earth two thousand years ago, I met a professor of ancient Christianity from Oxford who was hanging out in the Bucer’s cigar room enjoying a dessert. I was enjoying a cigar and a beer and I struck up a conversation with the man and after he told me he was a professor of ancient Christianity at Oxford, I asked the question, “What is ancient Christianity?”
For the rest of the story of my conversion to the Eastern Orthodox faith, you can go to http://joypeacehope.blogspot.in
It was after my decision to leave Christ Church and attend the Eastern Orthodox Church that the #$%@ hit the fan big time. Again, I’m not going to go into the details other than to say things literally got crazy, insane and intolerable. Meeting with Doug and Peter which I did solely to pacify my wife to try to mend what was quickly falling apart was a last ditch effort out of desperation to try to win my wife back and fix the brokenness. Ultimately meeting with Doug and Peter did just the opposite in that they securely hammered the final nails into the coffin suffocating what life was left in our marriage.
In the end, that which I feared most occurred and my authority as the head of my household was snatched away. My wife’s allegiance was transferred to the church and to the pastor and that is where it remains to this day and enough has been said. Lord have mercy on us all.
Dear Gary Greenfield, Follow your heart and believe in your own intuition. I believe you are wise to flee Wilson’s cultic arrangements. Not knowing him personally and only reading some of his writings regarding your situation, I am shocked at his willingness to shame and blame, to try to wield some imagined authority over others. I suppose he believes that God gives him the right and duty to harm others the way he does so willingly and clearly in his formal letter to you as a father. He wields his knowledge of your personal life like a club and then lovingly says he could never share it with us out of respect for the family. This is very sick stuff and typical, as you say, of cult arrangements full of manipulation and bullying. That you are strong enough to share your own story is laudable and deflates the bully’s attempts to control you.
I am sorry that you have had no support in sharing your own childhood horror. It is so important that you share this with someone trained to help with trauma, not a Wilson preacher whose every answer is Jesus and an offering plate. It is integral for your own well-being that you be able to fully feel the reality of your loss as a child and be helped through those injuries so that you need not feel such a weight forever. You were an innocent child and did nothing wrong. That uncle should be called to accounts, named and all the responsibility for your harm goes on him where it belongs. You talk of forgiveness elsewhere and I think that forgiveness is something that cannot occur until you properly allow responsibility to go to the perpetrator. Your daughter has been very brave and told the truth. That you are able to speak the truth about your own childhood now, is partly because you know that she has done the right thing. It feels right in your heart. A perpetrator is outed… Nothing is swept under the church rug and denied. It saddens me to think that your ex-wife can still be a part of something led by Wilson, a man who would write a letter such at his to you. So sad. Usually a wolf like this hides in sheep clothes but not Wilson. He is a proud of his ‘faith’ with TEETH.
Reblogged this on lifeofgraceandpeace.
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I update my post with a brief explanation of why Doug Wilson’s reasoning requires Doug Wilson to punish Doug Wilson to a GREATER extent than he planned to punish the victim’s father: https://liturgical.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/read-along-as-doug-wilson-strains-out-the-gnat-and-swallows-the-camel/
No shock or surprise at all; just another manifestation of the corrupt culture of impunity rampant in these personality cult “churches.” Before it was just protecting crooked business- and tradesmen, and, having been successful, the good old boys have branched out to pedophiles.
I wanted to give some important resources on sexual abuse in the church, since there is an epidemic of it according to insurance companies like Church Mutual (the largest insurer of churches in the U.S.) and attorneys (like Richard Hammer at Church Law & Tax; attorney/former sex crimes prosecutor/law school professor/Christian/Billy Graham’s grandson Boz Tchividjian).
1. Boz’s organization – Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment
2. Finding a Healing Place (Clara Hinton’s blog)
Pastor Jimmy Hinton turned in his pastor/father for sexually abusing children in the church they have both pastored (a church that was founded more than 100 years ago and is part of a larger denomination). Jimmy’s father is serving a life sentence in prison.
Jimmy’s mom Clara Hinton started the blog Finding a Healing Place. Their family has advocated for victims and also to teach churches and parents how to prevent child sexual abuse.
Here is Jimmy’s excellent training video about how to protect children from sexual abuse.
http://www.findingahealingplace.com/resources-that-will-help/ (you can find additional recommended books on the Resources tab)
After the first hour Jimmy is joined by another pastor Les Ferguson, whose disabled son was sexually abused by an older respected church member at their church. That sex abuser went on to murder the pastor’s wife and disabled son.
http://www.churchprotect.org/ [Jimmy’s organization]
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This is Natalie’s dad again. I was just reviewing my blog and noted that I had posted yet another response to one of many letters sent to me by Doug during the early years seeking my return back to Christ Church. Please note Doug’s response in the comments section. http://joypeacehope.blogspot.in/2007/02/one-must-endure-many-tribulations-to_12.html
“Hurt your family”? Ummm, no. Anyone reading can see through that manipulative cover-up. Doug was afraid you’d hurt *him*….his reputation, his image, and his control over people. Those that thrive in the darkness don’t like being drug into the light. Good for you for not backing down.
I think it’s worth listening to what Dr. Robert Hare has to say about psychopaths. They’re not the same as a sociopath, but there are areas of overlap.
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