Christ Church is a megachurch in the small town of Moscow, Idaho that’s quickly gaining national attention.
The Guardian recently released its findings on an investigation it conducted regarding the church’s goal to make the city of Moscow, Idaho a “theocracy,” or, in their words, a “Christian town.” Christ Church has an estimated 1000 congregants, which is roughly 4 percent of Moscow’s population of 25,000.
Christ Church’s Mission
Christ Church’s mission statement appears as follows on their website:
Our mission at Christ Church is summed up by the phrase “all of Christ for all of life.” Under the grace of God, this means that our desire is to make Moscow a Christian town through faithful and robust covenant renewal worship on the Lord’s Day, through proclamation of the gospel to unbelievers, while training additional evangelists who will continue proclaiming that gospel, through teaching men and women how to live together in harmonious Christian marriage, through establishing a family-friendly culture of Christian education in which well-loved and well-disciplined children will learn to stay the course, through outreach that brings people to church, accommodating them where they are while seeking to bring them into maturity in a structured way, through genuine cultural engagement that provides Christian leadership in the arts, in business, in education, in politics, and in literature, and through a regular series of church plants on the Palouse as we have gifted, trained and ordained men, willing congregants, adequate resources, and available facilities. And we seek to do all of this in gladness and simplicity of heart, as we pursue love for God and love for our neighbor.
The Guardian’s Investigation
In their investigation, the Guardian reveals how Christ Church has acquired “significant influence” in the city of Moscow and continues to extend its leadership’s “power” and “activities” in order to accomplish their mission.
Douglas Wilson is Christ Church’s pastor. Wilson is the author of over 100 books, and serves on the board of trustees at New Saint Andrews College (a small local Christian college affiliated with the church). Wilson also founded the college’s theology program and serves as its senior fellow.
The investigation said that “church figures have browbeaten elected officials over COVID restrictions, built powerful institutions in parallel to secular government, harassed perceived opponents, and accumulated land and businesses in pursuit of a long-term goal of transforming America into a nation ruled according to its own, ultra-conservative moral precepts.”
The Guardian attempted to show how the church leadership has been influencing the city by listing the ways many of Wilson’s family members are employed. The college employs Wilson’s son-in-law, Ben Merkle [president], other son-in-law, Luke Jankovic [trustee], son Nathan [fellow of literature], brother Gordon [senior fellow of natural history], and Christ Church’s associate pastor, Toby Sumpter [trustee]. All of those men also serve as elders at Christ Church.
The Guardian also revealed that Christ Church elder Andrew Crapuchettes was the chief executive of one of the city’s largest employers, a labor marketing data company called Emsi. Fifty-five of Emsi’s employees are graduates of New Saint Andrews College. That number is significant, given that the college has only graduated 635 in its lifetime. The Guardian additionally linked other church elders to senior positions within the company, including one of Wilson’s son-in-laws.
This isn’t the first time a news outlet has reported about the church’s quest. In 2019, an article from The Spokesman-Review titled “Controversial Church Aims to ‘Make Moscow a Christian Town’” quoted Wilson as saying that the idea of a “spiritual takeover” of the city originated with is dad, James Wilson, after he retired from the Navy.