A Smear Memorialized

This is the portion of the trailer for the video By What Standard? released by Founders Ministry in which video, known in the business as “B-roll,” of Rachael Denhollander is used to illustrate the words, “always having the powers, the spiritual powers and principalities [cut to Denhollander B-roll] exert pressure on us. That’s not new.” The phrase “spiritual powers and principalities” seems to be an allusion to Ephesians 6:12 (from the Authorized Version): “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The message of the the juxtaposition of Denhollander’s blurred but discernible image with the invocation of Ephesians 6:12, which refers to powers of spiritual darkness, is hard to miss.

The juxtaposition of the blurred image of Denhollander, a Southern Baptist laywoman, a respected attorney, and an advocate for the victims of sexual abuse, was deliberate. Such editing is done frame by frame. The B-roll video and the audio must be synchronized by the editor. In this case, the editing was done by a co-host of the CrossPolitic podcast, based in Moscow, ID and staffed by a minister, an elder, and a deacon of Christ Church. That congregation is controversial because of its senior minister, Doug Wilson, who is notorious for publishing a plagiarized defense of southern slavery, a plagiarized book on Christian ethics, as well as for his advocacy of the self-described Federal Vision theology. Wilson was rebuked by his own federation of churches for his mishandling of two pastoral cases, one involving a pedophile and the other involving a rapist. The documentation of these controversies is noted below.

It would seem that we need not draw inferences from the video. According to Jacob Denhollander, Rachael’s husband, other members of the CrossPolitic podcast contacted him “not to apologize but to demand that I demonstrate to them why the characterization of Rachael as [a] demonic influence wasn’t accurate.”

The video trailer caused a significant disruption in the Founders Ministry, since three members, Fred Malone, Tom Hicks, and Joe English resigned from the board in its wake. Hicks wrote:

“[Denhollander’s] presence in the trailer, along with other sexual abuse survivors, seemed to conflate sexual abuse with other problematic views of social justice,” Hicks said. “Jacob and Rachael communicated to me that her primary concern was not her portrayal as much as the portrayal of sexual abuse survivors and the conflation of sexual abuse with other issues.”

Malone calls the inclusion of Denhollander in the trailer a violation of the 6th and 9th commandments. Tom Ascol, who was hospitalized this past Lord’s Day after collapsing in the pulpit, denied that the Founders sinned or intended to portray Denhollander as demonic. He said that the clip was removed from the film and apologized for causing hurt to the Denhollanders.

In light of the clip’s removal from the film and in light of recent claims on social media that Denhollander was not so portrayed as demonic, the clip is preserved here for posterity.

This episode is significant. It is a visual indication of a strange and unexpected alignment between some Particular Baptists and the Federal Visionists in Moscow, ID.


  1. Hohn Cho Responds To Wilson Regarding Rachael Denhollander
  2. Resources On Theonomy And Reconstructionism
  3. Heidelcast 131: The Heidelcast Is Back And So Is The Federal Vision
  4. When The Culture War Trumps The Gospel
  5. Resources On The Federal Vision Theology
  6. CREC Report On Wilson’s Handling Of the Sitler and Wight Cases
  7. Documentation of the Wight Case
  8. Documentation of the Sitler Case
  9. A Question for Wilson Fans
  10. Natalie Greenfield’s Correspondence with Douglas Wilson

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  1. Just to make sure I understand this: A stodgy Southern Baptist reformed group, the Founders, decided to do edgy media marketing for a new film. Someone in the “Reformed” networks suggested a media group directly attached to Doug Wilson and his church: “a co-host of the CrossPolitic podcast.” And the Founders naively gave them the contract. The Wilsonite decided to be diabolically clever and put a blurred picture of Rachel Denhollander, suggesting that she was wicked in a segment. The Founder board has imploded due to confusion and shame, because they didn’t catch what the editor had done in review.

    But is somebody going after whoever the editor was? He’s just smeared Denhollander, destroyed whatever good could have come from the film, and possibly ruined the Founders.

  2. Isn’t this simply the application of “biblical patriarchy”? It seems to me that the underlying assumption of those responsible for this editing believe that a woman’s place is in the home, under the oversight of her husband, certainly not in the public sphere questioning men.

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