Moreover, the Committee seeks to discover if there was any corruption involved in the handling of these cases or any subsequent effort to cover up any sins, errors or corruption. Randy Booth
Randy Booth’s conflict of interest as chair of the CREC Review Committee runs much deeper than a financial concern in a positive outcome. It’s personal.
In 1998 Mr. Booth’s son, Aaron Booth, graduated from New Saint Andrews College. By 1999 Aaron Booth found gainful employment teaching seventh-grade Latin at Logos School in Moscow. He was 22-years old and a member of Christ Church, Moscow. Aaron Booth also trafficked hallucinogens — psilocybin mushrooms & marijuana — to Logos School students & NSA students, and he engaged in immorality with a 17-year-old Logos School student. Aaron Booth committed these crimes in Moscow, Idaho, while his father pastored a church in the CRE (now called the CREC) in Texarkana, Arkansas.
Pastor Douglas Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, notified the Kirk of some of these sins in writing but he did not identify any of the criminal behavior, he did not report Aaron Booth to the legal authorities, and he covered up the sexual abuse. Mr. Wilson wrote,
The second aspect of the situation concerns Aaron Booth, a member of our church, who was deeply involved in this sin (and other sins), and in very serious ways. The elders met with Aaron Booth this last Thursday, and have suspended him from the Lord’s Supper through the end of 1999. He has expressed repentance, and is in the process of making restitution. But because his sin involved so much deception, including self-deception, the purpose of the suspension is to bring him under the active discipline of the church while he seeks to put things right. His father Randy Booth, a pastor in a sister church of the CRE, will likely take a leave of absence from the pastorate for a year. Please pray for the Booths, and for Grace Covenant Church.
Mr. Wilson overstated a few facts in this letter, understated others, and completely omitted some facts altogether. For example, he had to drag a confession out of Aaron Booth by sitting him down in his office and saying, “I won’t believe a word you say until you start telling me things I don’t know.” Mr. Wilson had already debriefed everyone else in the drug ring, learning as much as possible from Booth’s clients. But he still didn’t know how far outside the Kirk Booth’s illegal enterprise extended. Hence the hardball. Aaron Booth cracked but to this day only Doug Wilson, Randy Booth, and Aaron Booth know the complete details of his criminal behavior because Mr. Wilson successfully covered it up.
Mr. Wilson said that Randy Booth planned to take a one-year leave of absence from the pulpit but this too understates the magnitude of the problem. People generally take LOAs to address personal issues that require full-time attention. And while Mr. Booth’s issue did require his full-time attention, it also required his resignation from the pastorate because Aaron Booth committed crimes sufficient to disqualify his father from the ministry. In Idaho, distribution of a Schedule I controlled substance (marijuana) to minors is a felony. Aaron Booth would have faced 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for this crime, if they had reported him. And if he possessed three ounces or more of marijuana, he committed another felony and faced 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Hence the cover up. Mr. Wilson saved Randy Booth’s career in the ministry.
But while Mr. Wilson’s cover up hid the state of Randy Booth’s household; it did not change it. Mr. Booth did not meet Paul’s standard in 1 Timothy 3:4–5. His household was a disaster zone and it was ground zero for the Kirk’s first big scandal (we think). Randy Booth’s household infected the households of three Kirk officers, disqualifying them from the ministry, and we have no idea how many households he corrupted elsewhere.
Randy Booth’s one-year leave of absence lasted ten months. He left the church in Texarkana, Arkansas, and took a pastorate in Nacogdoches, Texas, bringing that church into the CRE (now called the CREC) along with him. We have no details about why he left his church before finishing his self-imposed LOA. But it reinforces the perception that few if any in the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches understand presbyterian polity and it reinforces the perception of the CREC as a safe harbor for rogue pastors.
Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, published the booklet One Toke Over the Line to help clean up the mess created by Randy Booth’s household. Its opening paragraph applies more today than it did sixteen years ago when Mr. Wilson wrote it:
For multiple reasons, certain ethical standards which used to be taken for granted in the Christian world are no longer. Recent years have seen a terrible erosion in our ability to distinguish good from evil; in certain frightening ways, the ethical competence of the Christian world is frankly disintegrating. In some places, the standards have simply collapsed.
Which brings us back to Randy Booth’s claim that “the Committee seeks to discover if there was any corruption involved in the handling of these cases or any subsequent effort to cover up any sins, errors or corruption.” Few men have worked closer with Mr. Wilson in covering up sins, errors, and corruption than Randy Booth. To be sure, Mr. Wilson groomed Randy Booth for this moment, which shines the light directly on his credibility. He has none.
So when the committee chaired by Randy Booth releases its report about the two convicted felons at Christ Church, remember the debt that Mr. Booth owes to Mr. Wilson for keeping his son’s felonies a secret. And don’t forget that some debts take a lifetime to repay.