Word for word

"Word for word" Continued...

Issue: "Rick Santorum: Penn Station," April 30, 2005

And before desperate preachers download Sunday's sermon from the internet, they might consider something their congregations would get more out of than amusing anecdotes and vivid word pictures: Take a passage from the Bible and preach that.

Doug Wilson and slavery

Southern Slavery: As it Was, a booklet defending slavery as biblically viable, has roused considerable controversy since its release in 1996. Critics of co-authors Douglas Wilson and Steve Wilkins have added to their content-driven charges of racism and shoddy history one more accusation: plagiarism.

The text failed 24 times to attribute word-for-word quotations pulled from the 1974 book Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery by Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman. University of Washington history professor Tracie McKenzie, who attends a Seattle-area church connected to Mr. Wilson's Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, easily recognized the stolen sections because he teaches on the work of Mr. Fogel and Mr. Engerman.

Concerned with both plagiarism and the content of Southern Slavery, Mr. McKenzie drafted a response pointing out what he saw as poor historical conclusions and detailing the plagiarized sections.

After reviewing Mr. McKenzie's document, Mr. Wilson pulled Southern Slavery from the shelves in 2003 with the intent of correcting attribution oversights for a second edition. Now set for publication in the coming months under the title Black and Tan, the 150-page new edition reduces Southern Slavery to a single chapter and adds other essays on slavery, culture war, and Scripture in America. Mr. Wilson told WORLD the original thesis that slavery wasn't bad enough to justify violent abolitionism remains prominent.

The absence of plagiarism may not quiet opposition. University of Idaho philosophy professor Nick Gier collected the endorsements of 45 local academics for a widely circulated flier condemning the plagiarism. Steve Wilkins, pastor of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, La., admits to authoring every plagiarized section: "It wasn't [Mr. Wilson's] doing. It was my fault, not his fault."

Nevertheless, Mr. Wilson, who edited the booklet, has taken the brunt of the criticism. The charges fuel an ongoing spat between Christ Church and the Moscow community, a quarrel to which Mr. Wilson admits his blunt style has contributed, but one he blames more heavily on community intolerance: "This is the first issue where we deserve the lump on our head. There's no question it was wrong and inappropriate."

Canon Press, a ministry of Christ Church and publisher of Southern Slavery, issued a letter of apology to the publisher of Time on the Cross, and no legal action appears imminent.

-Mark Bergin

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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