GOP bill would allow group founded by anti-gay slavery defender to accredit Tennessee schools

The legislature’s Republican supermajority is doubling down on right-wing extremism today. This afternoon, the Senate is considering a bill to add a really kooky outfit to the state’s list of recognized accreditation organizations for church-related schools.

SB1792 by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, adds the Association of Classical and Christian Schools. It was founded by a charming guy named Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. He believes in exiling gay people and executing adulterers and thinks slaves had it made in the shade in the South. You might say he’s on the fringe of the lunatic fringe.

He remains an ex officio member of its association’s board of directors, and he’s giving the plenary talk at the association’s conference this year.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Wilson has written that slavery in the South was a “life of plenty.” In a booklet titled Southern Slavery, As it Was, he wrote: “Slavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. … There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.”

He told Christianity Today that he supports “exile [of] some homosexuals, depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim.” He added, “There are circumstances where I’d be in favor of execution for adultery.” Cursing one’s parents is likewise “deserving of punishment by death.”

Update: When the bill came up in the Senate this afternoon, Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, asked Kelsey if he knew the association’s founder thinks slavery was a wonderful thing. Kelsey obviously was taken aback and, after fumbling with the papers in his hands for a little bit, he said: “I’m not sure of the actual person.” We guess he didn’t have time to do a little Internet searching on this association before bringing his bill. After a couple of lame attempts to defend his bill, Kelsey postponed the vote.


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