On Randy Booth

A Corruption of Justice Primer

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,

Drug Ring, page 1

Click to enlarge.

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.

Collapsed indeed.

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.

9 Comments

  1. I am envious of your ability to take the current situation and place it in context with what’s happened in the past. This is a dynamite piece that casts a long shadow over the inquiry. The inquiry has no legitimacy without addressing these concerns.

  2. You hit the nail on the head, Ulysses. Randy Booth owes Doug Wilson like the undertaker owed Don Corleone in “The Godfather” movie. Now the godfather in Moscow wants to be repaid, and Randy can’t say no. He really can’t. But there are people in the CREC who do not owe Wilson anything, and they could speak up. Why don’t they?

    1. “Makes one wonder how many more problems have been swept under the carpet.”

      Wilson sweeps all problems. But he keeps a record of them in case he ever needs to control someone’s behavior.

  3. Aaron Booth was 22 years old when this happened. He was an adult, living on his own outside of his father’s house. Randy had no biblical reason to leave the pastorate at that time. Give me a break; Aaron was an adult fully responsible for his own actions.

    Also, love does cover a multitude of sins so while it seems to an outside world that these are “cover ups” they are not. It is Love folks and really the heart is what we are looking to change and jail just changes an address.

    1. I apologize for not being clearer. I put one verse for the whole, which I should not have done. And by “whole” I include Titus 1:6 — “if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination,” which Wilson quotes in his letter.

      Faithful children, not accused of dissipation and insubordination. Paul doesn’t say “until they’re 22-years old and teach at a so-called Christian school,” contra your argument.

      Further, the CREC Constitution cites Titus 1:6 regarding qualifications for CREC ministers:

      “The CREC affirms the need for spiritually-disciplined, well-educated pastors, qualified in their households, grounded in rigorous and wise handling of the Scriptures, and exhibiting a thorough understanding of the biblical world and life view (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Tit. 1:5–9).” (Article II § E)

      I assumed CREC members would be familiar with their own constitution, if not Scripture. I will not make that assumption again.

      Now please answer me this: If “Randy had no biblical reason to leave the pastorate at that time,” why did he take a 10-month leave of absence?

      1. I guess it would be helpful to note I am not a CREC member. Therefore, I wasn’t aware that this was the scriptural interpretation that the CREC holds to. I do not.

        Let me ask this question; if we are to be Christlike and He is our ultimate example, would we say that the 12 disciples were those in His “household” certainly they were since He called them to leave their families and follow Him and they did. However, Judas apostatized so did that make Jesus unqualified to lead?

        I’m really not an academic theologian nor a CREC member so perhaps I should not comment.

        I don’t know this situation intimately — nor do I know Randy — so I have no idea why he left for 10 months except that you have pointed out to me that the CREC interprets the Titus passage differently than I do and others.

        This is an article that explains my position.

      2. “if we are to be Christ-like and He is our ultimate example, would we say that the 12 disciples were those in His “household”?”

        Now you’re just being stupid. Why stop with the 12? Why not make it all of Israel? Or why stop with Israel? You could assert the entire Middle East. Or let’s just say that the whole earth is his household and therefore he’s not qualified as Messiah.

        οἴκου = house, not circle of friends

        The article that you link quotes Wilson: “if a man’s children fall away from the faith (either doctrinally or morally), he is at that point disqualified from formal ministry in the church.” By Wilson’s standard, which you quote authoritatively, Randy Booth’s son fell away both doctrinally and morally. Therefore, he disqualified his father “from formal ministry in the church.”

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