Bill yanked after school group founder's views on slavery, homosexuals, adultery revealed

GOP state Sen. Brian Kelsey withdraws bill to add Association of Classical and Christian Schools as a church-school accrediting body

Rep. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, speaks on the floor of the House during the opening session Jan. 13, 2009, in Nashville.

NASHVILLE -- A Republican lawmaker said today he has withdrawn a bill recognizing the Association of Classical and Christian Schools as a church-school accrediting body after learning the group's founder has defended Southern slavery as "a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence."

"We moved it back to the Calendar Committee," Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, said in a brief interview as he left the Senate chamber. "I'm not going to pursue it this year."

Asked whether the bill was dead after he looked into assertions by Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, regarding past writings of Doug Wilson, founder of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, Kesley said, "yeah, I never heard of him."

Kelsey's bill sought to add the Association of Classical and Christian Schools to the state's list of accrediting organizations for church-related schools.

The group's website lists 15 Tennessee private schools as among its members nationwide.

On Tuesday, Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini charged Wilson "has espoused the most imaginable, defending slavery, proposing to exile people who are gay and lesbian and killing people for infidelity."

"It is unconscionable that Sen. Kelsey would bring legislation to extend accrediting authority to an organization he founded and still serves. The hate he spreads has no place in our schools, and I am calling on Sen. Kelsey to withdraw the bill," Mancini said.

Wilson remains an "ex officio" member of the association's board of directors, according to the Moscow, Idaho-based group"s website.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that in the booklet titled Southern Slavery, Wilson wrote the antebellum period was a "life of plenty."

"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," the Southern Poverty Law Center quotes the booklet saying.

The law center also says Wilson once told Christianity Today 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."

In one lengthy 2005 posting on his web blog, whoever, Wilson contended critics are taking many of his statements out of context or outright misquoting him as he discussed discussions of Old Testament injunctions against homosexuality and adultery.

"In recent decades, there was a school of thought among some Christians that such laws were to be applied 'straight across.' In other words, the death penalty should be applied today for adultery, sodomy, etc.," Wilson blogged.

"In response to that position, critiquing it, I have argued that things weren't that simple. The Old Testament contains instances of individuals receiving penalties that were far less than what the Mosaic code required."

For example, Wilson cited the case of the biblical king David's adultery with Bathsheba "and was not executed. Certain kings exiled homosexuals, or banished them from the house of God, which was not the strict penalty apparently required by the Mosaic law.

"This meant that there was a certain latitude in the law," Wilson wrote. "It could be applied as a case law system where the principles were observed, with adjustments made according to circumstance. This is not relativism; it is how common law works."

During Monday's brief debate, Yarbro told Kelsey "I am a little worried ... that we are giving accreditation authority to the sort of the extreme of the extreme in this instance."

Kelsey told him "I am not aware of those issues at all."