Doug Phillips: Peace Maker or Truth Silencer?

02-07-13-saicff-beallOne year ago, the theme of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival seemed to be “Defending the Defenseless.”  This festival came only days on the heels of Doug Phillips being found in a compromising position with “Cassandra” and the subsequent sudden departure of her family from the beloved church they had attended for nearly thirteen years.  Putting women and children first, and defending the defenseless, seemed to be the farthest thing from Doug Phillips’ mind as he stood front and center on the stage and continued to hide his deep, dark secrets from his adoring fans. At that time, no one knew he had quietly stepped down as elder, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family.  The reality is that he probably turned on the charm in order to save his marriage after having been caught.  He waited until after the film festival to “confess” his sins to Bob Sarratt, the only other elder at BCA, a “yes man” who was very good at keeping Doug’s sins secret for the next nine months.

saicff postponedWhen Vision Forum Ministries announced online last October that the 9th annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival was first postponed, and then cancelled, it sparked waves of confusion and frustration for the filmmakers and their families who had worked so diligently to meet the film submission deadline which was only days away.  Rather than emailing those on the SAICFF list and telling them of the postponement and cancellation, and with absolutely no explanation of why Vision Forum Ministries’ most popular annual event was being suddenly dropped at the last moment, the grapevine soon became the de facto form of communication within this small, but tightly knit, troop of independent Christian film makers.  One by one, they contacted each other in utter disbelief: “How could this happen?  We just spent the last year of our lives working on making another film, and now what?”

Ten days later, when Doug Phillips announced his resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, it began to make some sense.  But did it really?  Or did it actually cause more questions and more confusion?  After all, according to World Magazine’s April 5, 2014 cover story article about Doug Phillips, the five men who confronted Doug Phillips on his doorstep did so the day before he resigned, which was October 30, 2013.  If that is true, why did Vision Forum cancel the film festival ten days prior to Doug being confronted?  I’m guessing there’s a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye, including why Scott Brown knew, at the latest, by September 9, 2013, and still allowed Doug Phillips to continue on with his duties as normal.

At this exact same time, a pastor in Illinois, Philip Telfer, was moving his family down to the San Antonio area to become the new pastor at Living Water Fellowship, which is Little Bear Wheeler’s church in the “community” here.  Although Pastor Telfer had gone to a couple of the film festivals put on by Vision Forum and submitted a couple films himself, he had no interest in patriarchy whatsoever.  Coming from an inner-city youth ministry in Chicago, patriarchy was a totally foreign concept to Pastor Telfer. Like so many other filmmakers and individuals who were just there to observe, they attended Vision Forum’s San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival simply because it was the only game in town for Christian films.

Not desiring all that work and talent to be wasted and discouraged, Pastor Telfer naively thought that it shouldn’t be too difficult to put together a new film festival for everyone who was already expecting one, so he went to Little Bear with his idea of simply providing an avenue for a film festival.  In his mind, he just needed to find a venue, pick a date relatively close to the original date, and organize it.  Little Bear thought he was nuts!  He had no idea of the politics behind Doug Phillips’ resignation and that he would now be painting a large target on his back for stepping on such sacred ground.  Not to be daunted, however, Pastor Telfer set out to provide a safe place for Christian filmmakers to gather and continue their annual film festival traditions.

CWFFWhen I first heard of this initiative, I was a bit dubious.  What were his real motives?  Is this just another ministry rising up to promote more patriarchy?  Is this man trying to make a name for himself on someone else’s coattails?  The only thing I knew about him was that one of our mutual friends was in ministry together with Pastor Telfer, in a ministry called Media Talk 101.  That was encouraging enough to me to check it out since I knew my friend, a humble man who dearly loves the Lord, was definitely not into patriarchy, although he is a godly family man.  I considered attending the new Christian Worldview Film Festival, held March 11-15, 2014, but I wasn’t really interested in just being a spy.  That didn’t seem like a good idea, so I thought about it for a long time.

I have been going to school for quite a while now to become a certified health coach and my area of emphasis is in learning how to help people who are going through traumatic events, or who have not healed from the stress and trauma and pain of past events in life.  Not only have I experienced much trauma and pain from the excommunication and all the aftermath from that, especially with my children, but I have also experienced a tremendous amount of agonizing and heartbreaking ordeals and upheavals in the last decade or so.  God has taught me many ways to not only handle the stress and emotion and pain that accompany these difficulties in life, but also how to bring about the level of healing that actually makes me stronger and a much better person because of attending the University of Hard Knocks.

With Doug Phillips’ resignation came a mass of chaos, confusion, pain, and deep wounds within the “community,” both local and nationwide.  Even many of those who thought they had finally put their differences with Doug Phillips in the past and had moved forward in life suddenly found themselves looking hurt in the mirror one more time.  And it was very confusing.  As TW Eston and I continued to write articles here after Doug’s resignation, the comments, both here and elsewhere, were filled with, first, denial, then anger accompanied by deep hurt.  In any grieving process, these two are the first stages of how we respond emotionally in any situation where we have loss.  Bargaining and depression are the next stages before finally coming to terms with accepting the loss.  For some, going through these five stages of grieving happens very rapidly, but for others, it takes a very long period of time, while there are many who never reach the last stage of acceptance, allowing one to move forward in life.  When we “bury” our feelings and emotions from a hurtful experience in life, we find ourselves stuck somewhere in this grieving process, unable to truly move forward freely in life.  Others remain in the anger stage forever.

Telling my story online seven years ago was a cathartic process for me, and for those who followed along, many saw me go through these stages right in this blog.  I am grateful that God brought me through the grieving process to the healing point of acceptance so that I could move forward in my own life, partly because I was able to respond to this whole recent debacle without personally involving myself the way I did the first time around.  This allowed me to be much more objective.  It also allowed me to be able to empathize with those who just had the rug pulled out from underneath them.  I have read the comments and followed the conversations here and there, both online and in real life, with greater insight and compassion.

Healing from emotional pain is one of the life’s most transforming events ever.  It is more powerful than the initial trauma.  So, as I considered whether or not I should attend this year’s new Christian film festival, I realized that what I most wanted to do was to help bring healing to a hurting community.  How could I do that?  I decided to sign up as a volunteer and see what happened.  Although I could have used a fake name to get in the door, I knew that if I was going to bring healing to this hurting community that I needed to be just me, so I signed up online with my real name.  When the volunteer coordinator called me to talk to me about volunteering, I was surprised to find that she also attended BCA, but I was just going to go with the flow here, since my only goal was to bring healing to a hurting community. After we talked, she decided to have me “manage” the registration desk for the majority of the film festival.  That meant that my face would be the first one everyone saw when they entered the front door.  I knew I could use this opportunity for good!

With less than two days to go before the film festival began, I got the phone call.  I’ve heard this so many times before.  I either get a letter, an email, or a phone call, but they all say pretty much the same thing:  “Don’t ever darken the doors here again.”  I was fully prepared for the fact that this may be just another door slammed in my face, but when Philip Telfer called me to tell me that someone had emailed him, concerned about what might happen if I showed up at the film festival, I was pleasantly surprised when, instead, he asked me to have dinner with him and his wife that evening.  I knew they were super busy getting ready for the film festival, so I was honored that he would give me his time and give me the opportunity to speak for myself.  I found both Pastor Telfer and his wife to be wonderful people, and we easily fell into much laughter and a delightful conversation together!  It turned out that we both had the same goals in this film festival:  to bring healing to a hurting community.

HEROI am happy to report that the first annual Christian Worldview Film Festival was drama-free.  There was no idol who everyone was clamoring to see, but rather a servant-leader who was not only available whenever he was needed, but also just milled about and interacted with everyone in attendance.  If there was a mafia dressed in black, packing pieces, I did not see them.  What I did see were hundreds of happy people, excited to see old friends again, enjoying all the workshops, films, and special events that filled the week!  And I enjoyed being there to greet every single person each day.  As I saw those I had not seen in 8-10 years, I attempted to go out of my way to give each one of them a hug.  My goal was to hug every person I knew from my days in the “community.”  But what I found instead was that most of those who I had not seen in a long time were the first to want to give me a hug instead!  There was even one family that currently attends BCA who wanted to hug me.  Although I was not wearing a name tag, apparently, there were some who recognized my picture from online and came up to speak to me.  One lady, upon confirming who I was, gave me a big hug and just said, “Thank you!” with tears in her eyes. One small step for healing, one giant leap for the “community.”

I really did have a wonderful time there.  There were a few conversations about Doug Phillips and Vision Forum, but for the most part, these people were here to focus on moving forward, not looking backward.  I went to a few films.  I really enjoyed a couple, like Hero and Creed of Gold.  There were a few I didn’t care for as well, but for me, that was not the main point.  I also attended a lecture by Rich Christiano because I heard he was controversial.  I wanted to hear that for myself. It was sad to see that certain young filmmakers did not show up, simply because it was not organized by Vision Forum.

Imagine the irony, then, of coming off the high of the first step toward healing, the first step toward making peace in this hurting “community,” of finding out in World’s article that Doug Phillips sent a letter, through his attorney, of course, threatening to sue three of the men who showed up on his doorstep that fateful day in October, 2013.  This letter was mailed March 13, 2014, right smack in the middle of the Christian Worldview Film Festival.  While many of us were working to bringing healing to a hurting community, Doug Phillips, obviously hurting himself that he was not the star of the show this year, was busy stirring up strife instead. The letter to Bob Renaud and Peter Bradrick (Doug Phillips’ former personal assistants) and Jordan Muela (former intern/VF employee) stated, in part: “the three of you have conspired together, and with others, in an attempt to destroy Doug Phillips, his family and Vision Forum Inc.”

internsThis immediately brings to mind several questions.  If there were five men standing on Doug Phillips’ doorstep on that red letter day in October, why were only these three threatened with a lawsuit?  Why not Dr. Joe Morecraft, who immediately preached a sermon about Doug Phillips’ fall, although he did not name him by name; and Mark Weaver, Doug’s close college friend?  I would posit that it has everything to do with the tiny little word found at the end of the sentence quoted above — “Inc.”  It seems readily apparent to me that while Doug Phillips rightfully acknowledged his responsibility to step down from ministry (albeit months and years too late, and only under duress), that he had every intention of keeping the business side of Vision Forum going strong, while he took a breather for a year or so from public speaking, and then he would pick up the reins once again, ready to lead the charge of his Vision Forum Ministries brigade, onward to victory over the evils of the real world.

Apparently, Doug Phillips believes that these three young men, whom he personally trained, not only in the patriarchal way of life but also in how to use any means possible to attain the desired results, were somehow responsible for destroying his business.  Pragmatism ruled the day in this business/ministry of Vision Forum, while love, respect, relationship, and all ethics were thrown to the wind.  So what did these three young men do to merit the threat of Doug Phillips suing them?  They broke the “No Gossip” rule.  Never mind that the “No Gossip” rule is not to be found anywhere in Scripture.  Never mind that there is no law that contains this supposed “No Gossip” rule.  Never mind that one current BCA member recently stood up and said that this “No Gossip” rule does not exist, even in the face of hundreds of others who state otherwise.  The “No Gossip” rule was originally put into place to keep people from speaking about what was happening between Doug Phillips and Joe Taylor, and it grew in intensity and reach ever since.  The “No Gossip” rule has kept hundreds of hurting people, and families, from sharing their pain and hurts with anyone, for fear of retribution for breaking the “No Gossip” rule, even long after they left BCA or the “community.”

So what was this great sin that Bob Renaud, Peter Bradrick, and Jordan Muela committed?  What was this juicy gossip that they shared, that would merit the level of a defamation lawsuit?  Although Peter Bradrick’s Facebook page has since been closed, Peter shared his pain of being disowned by a man he considered to be both a father and a mentor to him.  Bob Renaud shared a few other details, showing that he and Peter had worked together to confront a man they both deeply loved.  Jordan Muela wrote a heartfelt Facebook article, “How Silence Enables Abuse.”  Although he did not name Doug Phillips (if I remember correctly), everyone in the community knew who he was speaking about.  (He has since hid his Facebook page, so I do not have access to the article now.)

ndarnlIn addition to these three young men speaking out, there were a few others who have spoken publicly as well.  Apparently, Doug Phillips does not consider the others to be a threat, but one that has spoken out in favor of everyone keeping silent is Nathaniel Darnell.  His most recent article about how to respond to the allegations of the nature being made against Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard caused quite a stir when he suggested that the young women should go to their elders if they were sexually abused.  I guess he forgot that that’s exactly what got them into that situation to begin with.

Although no one I personally know from BCA and the community has publicly apologized to me, nor even really said anything about my situation, there have been a handful who have privately apologized. On a personal note, I will say that as I read each of the articles and comments above, as well as those by Nolan Manteufel and Ryan Short, that I have shed many tears.  For me, they were healing tears, because at least I was not the lone person out here warning those I love that danger lurks nearby.  Finally someone else was seeing it as well.  It is truly tragic that it had to come at such a heavy price.  Nathan Barnes, another former VF intern/employee, posted this status on Facebook recently:

The laws of friendship require a discovery of that which endangers one another. You would count him unworthy the name of a friend, who knowing a thief or an incendiary to lurk in your family, with a design to kill, or rob, or burn your house, would conceal it from you, and not acquaint you with it on his own accord. There is no such thief, murderer, incendiary, as sin: it more endangers us, and those concernments that are more precious than goods, or house, or life; and that most endangers us, by which the Lord’s anger is already kindled against us. Silence or concealment in this case is treachery. He is the most faithful friend, and worthy of most esteem and affection, that deals most plainly with us, in reference to the discovery of our sin. He that is reserved in this case is but a false friend, a mere pretender to love, whereas, indeed, he hates his brother in his heart.  Clarkson, David (1865). The Practical Works of David Clarkson Retrieved from http://books.google.com

gobobSo why are all these statements made by Bob Renaud, Peter Bradrick, and Jordan Muela libelous to the point of warranting a lawsuit? Apparently, I Cor. 6 is magically erased from Doug Phillips’ Bible, but beyond the “sin” of violating the “No Gossip” rule, Doug Phillips seems to think that these three men conspired together to destroy the business half of Vision Forum.  By Doug’s own actions, he destroyed Vision Forum ministries, which closed on November 11, 2013, although he has threatened to make legal claims against the remaining Vision Forum Ministries board as well.  At first, he made it known that Doug still owned the business side of Vision Forum, but by November 27, 2013, we announced on this blog that Vision Forum, Inc., the business, would be closing permanently by December 31, 2013.  Unless Doug Phillips was actually following our lead, we correctly reported this event.  Most likely, we were not the first to know that Vision Forum, Inc. would be closing their doors, so this decision was probably made several days earlier than November 27, 2013.  Look at the comments made by Peter Bradrick and Bob Renaud again. The only comment made publicly before we announced that Vision Forum, Inc. was closing was made by Bob Renaud on October 22, 2013: “Your sins will find you out so it’s best to follow Lanny’s advice: ‘Tell it early. Tell it all. Tell it yourself.’” (This comment causes me to question World Magazine’s timeline for the front door confrontation, unless Bob was just sending a message out ahead of time.)  But all those other comments and articles were posted after Doug Phillips had already decided to close his business.

The only person who destroyed Vision Forum, both the ministry and the business, was Doug Phillips himself.  The only person who destroyed Doug Phillips’ reputation was Doug Phillips himself.  While the words of his former interns and close associates deeply hurt him, they were the wounds of friends who loved him enough to publicly rebuke a sinning leader, in the hopes of restoring him to his senses, and to a right relationship with God.  As Doug Phillips once stated in church, when a man falls for a woman, all common sense goes right out the window.  How prophetically true, in his case.

On August 7, 2013, Doug Phillips wrote a brilliant article about “True Repentance.”  What happened that prompted this article we’re not sure at this point, but now seems like a good time to remind Doug of some key points that he made: “Those who remain unrepentant should not expect the blessing of the Lord. Unrepentance is not only an impediment to the very object of our life—true unity with God—but it leads to the judgment of the Lord. It is the single greatest roadblock to family vision.”  Doug goes on to list six elements of godly sorrow that produce true repentance: brokenness, forsaking sin, truth telling, acceptance of responsibility, restitution, and peace.

From day one, we have been saying that Doug Phillips did not show any evidence of true repentance in his public statements.  I know him well enough to read between the crafty wording clever disguised as godly sorrow.  If Doug’s recent threats of legal action against his close friends and his former board members are any indication of where his heart is right now, these acts of retribution rather than restitution openly belie his words of resignation that are still publicly displayed for all to see.  Although I had held out a tiny spark of hope that Doug Phillips would truly repent, in the manner he himself prescribes, his blame shifting, his arrogance, his refusal to accept responsibility for tearing down his own house and ministry, and his insistence that others pay him restitution instead, all point to his stirring up even more strife rather than being the one who brings peace and healing to a hurting community.

In his latest article, TW Eston presciently stated:

Doug Phillips is hasty to resort to legal intimidation. He has legally threatened dozens of people. To my knowledge Doug Phillips has never actually taken anyone to trial. Rather, he only threatens to take them to court, but out of the goodness of his heart he agrees to settle with them out of court, provided they keep their mouths shut, i.e. they must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Are Non-Disclosure Agreements biblical? In certain cases an NDA may be appropriate, and they may not necessarily in all cases be expressly unbiblical. However, they should never be used if the underlying motive is to silence critics and cover up unrepentant sin. The purposes for which Doug Phillips has so frequently coerced the signing of NDA’s is only intended to silence those who would speak out against his egregious sins and hold him accountable for his duplicity and corruption. Doug Phillips’ habitual use of NDAs has allowed him to cover up a huge amount of sin, both his own sins and the sins of his accomplices.

But let us not be too hasty to judge Doug Phillips’ latest attempts to take his brothers to public court.  Perhaps he has found I Cor. 6 in his Bible after all, and has mentioned the possibility of Christian conciliation instead. On the surface, appealing to Peacemaker Ministries sounds promising, but what is Doug Phillips’ track record with these types of situations? The first instance of using Peacemaker Ministries, that I am aware of, was when Mark and I asked Doug Phillips to go to mediation with us, through the trained Peacemaker counselors at Faith PCA here locally.  The first thing we were required to do was to clean up all derogatory comments, whether they were ours or others, to refrain from saying that we were repentant, and to be silent.  Since I had diligently sought to fully forgive Doug Phillips, and all those involved, privately in my heart before telling my story publicly (a public leader’s sins need to be made known to the same degree that their teachings are), and I was already extremely cautious in using my words carefully, it was a difficult decision to abide by these rules during the conciliation process.  But for the greater good of bringing healing to the situation at hand, we did so willingly.

A couple months later, after an emotionally charged meeting between Doug Phillips and the elders at Faith PCA (two of whom were also the Christian conciliators for Peacemaker Ministries), we were informed that Doug Phillips refused any reconciliation with us. Doug Phillips told the elders that there is only one way for the Epsteins to be reconciled with me; they must come to me and repent fully without any equivocation of everything that we excommunicated them for, and they also have to repent for blogging about me. We were also invited by these Christian conciliators to never darken the door of their church again.  When asked about the situation privately, one of the Christian conciliator elders remarked, “We f***ed up.”  That was Doug Phillips’ first interaction with Peacemaker, that I am aware of.

PeacemakerEncouraged by even the thought of Christian conciliation, Joe Taylor thought he would attempt the same offer of mediation through Peacemaker. As you can see by TW Eston’s latest article on Joe Taylor, not only did Doug Phillips refuse Joe Taylor’s offer of using Christians to mediate, but he also took him to court.  Two strikes for Doug Phillips.

But what happens when Doug Phillips decides he wants to be the one to call for mediation through Peacemaker Ministries?  Rumor has it that Beall Phillips asked Peacemaker to mediate between Doug Phillips and Cassandra and her family before this all went public.  Knowing that Peacemaker always requires silence on both sides during and after conciliation, this would have been a perfect way to forever keep Doug Phillips’ adultery hidden, allowing the family to continue their opulent lifestyle and the public fame and glory that they so enjoyed.  However, Cassandra was wise enough to decline such an arrangement, and so was Peacemaker Ministries.  Having met with Doug Phillips before, they probably knew it would not be a prudent case to take on. Three strikes.

Doug Mac girlsAs I consider the possibility of Peacemaker having taken that particular case, I cringe at the tremendous amount of damage that would have mounted had Doug Phillips been allowed to continue on as if nothing had ever happened.  This is one of the reasons why using Peacemaker Ministries can be a very bad idea.  While I readily acknowledge that many people have been helped through this ministry, I wonder how many others have actually been allowed to cover their sin, or worse yet, continue in their sinful lifestyle, because of this requirement of forever remaining silent.

In my training as a professional health coach, I have found that unresolved emotional pain causes more health problems, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well, than any other aspect of health.  I remember when Mark, my first husband, required me to never speak about my adultery in the first couple years of our marriage, even though I had fully repented from it.  There were times during those fifteen years of silence when I wanted to be able to share with others how God brought me through that time in my life and what I learned and how I repented and moved forward in life (although Mark never found it in his heart to forgive me).  As the years went on, that enforced silence built up inside me and caused me deep turmoil.  When Doug Phillips took it upon himself to tell the church about my adultery, which had happened 15 years earlier and for which Doug Phillips himself agreed that he saw true repentance in me, and I was now free to talk about it, it was like a load of bricks was finally lifted off my back.  While Doug Phillips certainly had no business sharing a pastoral confidence which Mark had shared with him privately, it ended up being one of the most freeing things that ever happened to me, and I was now on the road to being healed emotionally.

Peter BradrickTo Peter Bradrick, Bob Renaud, and Jordan Muela:  Don’t fall for it!  You all know Doug Phillips well enough to know that his offer of going to Peacemaker Ministries is for one purpose only:  to shut you up.  Confidentiality rules the day in Peacemaker’s mediation process.  While a public trial can bring to light every single detail and expose all the dirt on every side, Peacemaker goes to the opposite extreme and covers up all sin.  Bob, with your legal training, you know that Doug Phillips does not have any legal grounds against you three.  Yes, the easy thing to do is to settle quietly behind the scenes and go on about your life.  But the right thing to do takes much more work, and only a man with great integrity will do the right thing.

This is not about making peace.  This is all about silencing the truth.  “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” is a principle that applies to many different aspects of life.  Everyone who sat under Doug Phillips’ teachings and ministry needs to know the truth now so that each person, each family, each BCA member, each VF employee and board member, can be set free, emotionally and spiritually, to begin healing that will lead to acceptance of what has happened, in order to move forward in life.  May we all we be stronger and wiser for having walked this journey, but may we learn to love and forgive as we begin our new paths in life.

Doug Phillips: Portrait of a Religious Sociological Cult Leader

Doug Phillips the wizardThe public exposure of Doug Phillips’ clergy sexual abuses have had the net effect of Toto pulling the curtain back on The Great and Powerful Wizard Of Oz. With the exposure of his colossal hypocrisies, Doug Phillips has lost all credibility, along with all his close personal friends and most of his admirers. Even several former Vision Forum employees and interns are posting articles and Facebook comments that clearly target their former boss, Jordan Muela’s article being the best example so far. Though in most cases they fail to mention Doug Phillips by name, everyone gets the idea anyway.

Doug Phillips has also lost his ability to control and intimidate through scare tactics. The level of fear from current and former members of Boerne Christian Assembly — “The Community”, as they call it — is not completely evaporated, at least not quite yet; but it’s been rapidly diminishing in the past month.

Seldom has any man fallen so abruptly from such a high and respected position to such a low one. With his public plunge comes the abrupt loss of Doug Phillips’ power over others, in particular his power to dominate Boerne Christian Assembly and Vision Forum employees. The fear of Doug Phillips has diminished commensurate with the plunge in his public image. With the loss of that fear more and more people are willing to come forward to tell their stories.

Those who have never been in a mind control cult themselves, or who have never studied the psychology of religious sociological cults, will have  difficulty believing that one 5’4″ man could wield so much power and control over one church, not to mention tremendous influence over thousands of his adoring followers. But for those who have gone through a cult experience yourself you’ll very much relate to this exposé, just as you’d relate to The Village.

When people who have never been in a cult themselves hear accounts of a cult they typically exclaim, “Why didn’t those people just get out of there? What held them back? Have they all lost their minds?” The answers are somewhat complex, except for this one: Yes, in a sense, they did lose control over their otherwise very sane minds. That’s not to say that any of them ever were or became stupid or crazy or mindless drones. They’re not any of those things. Anyone who believes they are too smart or invulnerable to coming under the mind control of a master manipulator, such as a Douglas W. Phillips, Esq., may be a prime cult group recruitment candidate themselves. Millions of people have gone through experiences just like the people of Boerne Christian Assembly. Those millions would have no trouble at all believing the stories of BCA victims.

What sort of people join cults? If BCA is any indication then it would seem that surprisingly intelligent and successful people often do. In BCA’s case they have included:

  • Medical doctors
  • Military officers and enlisted
  • College professors
  • Ranchers
  • Missionaries
  • Construction contractor
  • Business owners
  • Electrical engineer
  • Hotel manager
  • Financial analyst

I may not have believed their stories myself had I heard of them as a younger man. I’ve since experienced the devastation of joining what I thought was a perfectly normal church, only to recognize some six months later that I was actually in a religious sociological cult. I very much relate to BCA members because my own cult had been heavily influenced by the teachings of Doug Phillips and his fellow Patriarchy/Quiverfull/Home School/Stay At Home Daughter/Family Integrated Church gurus. My cult was led by a man who suffers from the same personality disorders as Doug Phillips (most cult leaders are sociopathic narcissists).

Cults are generally categorized as religious, sociological, and sometimes both. Religious cults are typically benign in practice and aberrant in doctrine. In other words they’re often non-abusive. Sociological cults are highly manipulative and often abusive. Religious sociological cults are the worst of both worlds. The abuses in these cults often manifest in clusters — various combinations of:

  • Emotional Abuse
  • Psychological Abuse
  • Spiritual Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Physical Abuse

Every cult will manifest at least one of these forms of abuses, and where one abuse is manifest it’s common to see additional forms manifested too. The fact that Doug Phillips has been publicly exposed for clergy sexual abuse means there is good cause to scrutinize him for perpetrating other forms of abuse. In my previous article I exposed a very perverse form of clergy sexual abuse that Doug Phillips is directly and personally responsible for. In this article I’ll address the emotional, psychological, and spiritual abuses that Doug Phillips is guilty of. It is only by the methodical and repetitive application of these other abuses that Doug Phillips was able to condition and control BCA members, thereby making them vulnerable to the clergy sexual abuses which followed.

Cult leaders generally have an entire toolbox of manipulation and control tools that they rely on. Charm is generally the first choice of Doug Phillips’ manipulation tools, and he’s a very accomplished charmer. Charm usually does work for him. However, “charm is deceitful” (Prov 31:30), and charm will only take a man so far. When charm doesn’t work Doug Phillips can abruptly shift to scare tactics. He can transform from friendly soft-spoken charmer to furious red-faced screamer in half a heart beat. An example of this is how he could charm the audience at the San Antonio International Christian Film Festival, yet go back stage and scream at the young BCA volunteers who were helping there. This Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde whipsaw effect is a classic cult leader conditioning technique. Not many people have personally witnessed Doug’s explosive rage, but those who have will never forget it.

As a religious cult leader Doug relies on the authority of the scriptures to give him an air of legitimacy. Like all other religious cult leaders, Doug Phillips cherry-picks scripture, twisting and perverting for his own manipulative agenda. The Doctrines of Grace don’t make for particularly effective tools of mind control, which is why Doug rarely, if ever, preaches on grace. But in the right hands the “Law-Word” Doug Phillips adulterers stoned to deathcan be terrifying. It doesn’t get any scarier than the prospect of eternal conscious punishment in the lake of fire. Law in the hands of a religious sociopath can be a terrifyingly effective mind-control tool. Doug Phillips preaches Old Testament Law every Sunday, and rarely ever exposits anything from the New Testament (with the exception of a brief homily during communion). Grace is given little more than a passing nod. Ironically enough, throughout the entire time Doug Phillips was cheating on his wife he was also preaching, “The Bible requires that all adulterers be stoned to death.”

To any casual observer BCA would strike them as having an appearance much like any other conventional family-friendly church. In fact BCA members have consistently praised the genuine “community” atmosphere that is hard to find in so many other churches. Sunday church often turns into an all-day affair, just like church typically was a hundred years ago, with services lasting 2-3 hours, and then a dinner on the ground “pot-providence” (pot-luck is evil). BCA families become intimate friends, fellowshipping not just at church on Sunday but also throughout the week. Children grow up together and some have married, making the bonds of family friendship just that much more intimate. For most BCA members these become the closest friendships they have ever known. That level of family investment in any church would make it extraordinarily painful to have to leave. This too can be another tool in the toolbox of the cult leader, and in the hands of a malicious man he can easily rip families to shreds.

In those times where there were no causes for conflict, things tended to operate much at just like other family-friendly churches. But every church still has problems arise from time to time, and every pastor must have some conflict resolution skills. Doug Phillips is woefully equipped in this department, and he has a penchant for turning a conflict into the makings of a church split. When conflicts have arisen at BCA Doug Phillips has often resorted to resolution by threat. Fear, if not terror, is the emotion that has overwhelmed many under Doug Phillips’ pastoral care. Doug Phillips has used threats and intimidation to great effect — to control The Community.

Doug Phillips excommunicationAt BCA one can come under “church discipline” for practically any reason at all. One does not need to be guilty of any particular sin, as the Bible defines sin. All that is necessary to come under “church discipline” (a euphemism for the wrath of Doug) is to say or do anything contrary to Doug Phillips’ personal preferences. Such was the case for Jennifer Epstein. According to Doug no Christian should or could vote for George Bush. Doug held that, as pastor, it was his prerogative to coerce his church members to vote for Constitution Party Candidate Michael Peroutka (Doug’s father, Howard, is founder of the Constitution Party). Anyone who disagreed was subject to church discipline. Jen dared to write Doug Phillips a letter expressing an opinion contrary to his. She believed that it was acceptable to vote for the Republican candidate. She was wrong. She found out that voting Republican was an excommunicatable offense. In response to Jen’s letter Doug snarled, “You’ll pay for this!” She was excommunicated by Doug’s Star Chamber proceedings absent any due process. The church was then ordered to shun Jen and her entire family.

Shunning is the big stick in most cults. However, religious cults, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, only shun the accused sinner. A sure sign of a religious sociological cult is that they will shun an entire family for the sins of just one member of the family. Not only were Jen and her husband treated as pariahs, so were the Epstein children. Their friends could no longer so much as say, “Hello.” Natasha Epstein experienced the devastation of having her best friend fold her arms and turn her back on her. If ever there were a system intended to destroy the Christian faith of children and teens, Doug Phillips has perfected it.

Another sure sign of a religious sociological cult is what happens when anyone tries to leave. In a normal church, if a member wants to leave, they can just leave. More formal churches have more formal expectations, such as requesting a letter of transfer to another church. But in all cases, real churches will always permit members to leave for any cause, at any time, with relative ease. A sure sign of a cult is that the cult leader makes it difficult to get out. If a request is made to leave, or for a letter of transfer, and the response is a threat, you know it’s a cult. Like all other cults it’s relatively easy to join BCA. One attends a membership class and then signs “The Covenant.” The problem is that Doug views The Covenant as being akin to marriage: ‘Til death do us part. To quote Doug Phillips: “There are only two ways you can leave BCA. You can die or the Elders can agree to transfer you to another church.”

Multiple BCA members have tried to leave over the years and there have been multiple threats.  The threats get especially ugly if a member wishes to transfer their membership to another church because they are displeased with Doug in any way. It’s unacceptable to ever show any displeasure or disapproval in a cult leader. Doug Phillips has seldom permitted a transfer to another local church, even under the best of circumstances, but leaving because someone is displeased with him is rarely ever permitted. Transfers are usually only permitted if you’re moving out of state, and a move out of state must be for a reason that Doug approves of. Any who try and leave without first obtaining Doug’s permission are “put under church discipline,” a preliminary sanction intended to dissuade the member from departing. If that doesn’t work the member is excommunicated.

Excommunication from BCA is emotionally and spiritually traumatic enough as it is. But Doug Phillips has often shown himself to be a very vindictive man. In Doug Phillips’ way of thinking excommunication is often insufficient punishment. Like so many other ecclesiastical bullies, Doug recruits teams of men as enforcers. At BCA it’s been Bob Sarratt, and Michael Gobart. At Vision Forum it’s been his interns and a few select employees. Through his henchmen he has proactively meddled and interfered with various “excommunicants” ability to join any other church, and he will keep up the harassment for years after an excommunication. Doug Phillips is also known for meddling and interfering in excommunicants livelihoods, including their businesses and employment. If he can ruin excommunicants financially he will. Last but not least is the threat of litigation which Doug Phillips has made against many.

As is the case in most religious sociological cults, conditioning through repetition is a key component of successful mind control. Squelching any and all complaints necessitates fabricating a plausible biblical doctrine. Labeling all grievances, legitimate or not, as “gossip” is a ready-made excuse for stifling complaints. Gossip is a subject Doug has harped on many Sundays, labeling it a “horrific sin.” Any gossip is subject to “church discipline.” This includes even listening to “gossip” or looking at “gossip” on the internet. Any web site that ever says the least thing unfavorable towards Doug Phillips is especially “horrific”, and any bloggers who have ever said anything negative of Doug have been branded “internet assassins” (such as Jen’s Gems). BCA members have been threatened with church discipline should they so much as look at any such blogs. So-called gossips have been made examples of by Doug to maintain control through instilling fear. BCA members have lived in mortal fear of speaking or listening to one another about any problems they have witnessed in the church, regardless of their severity.

However, everyone has their limits, and that limit is usually reached where it concerns the safety of one’s own children. Doug Phillips’ refusal to take charge of the Jennifer Grady issue ultimately pushed numerous BCA parents past their limits. Every BCA member has witnessed many examples of Doug Phillips meddling, interfering and being a control freak; and yet he wouldn’t take control of the Jennifer Grady sexual harassment. It remains a great mystery to this day.

Group conformity is another significant psychological factor of mind control in religious sociological cults. Even outside of cult settings, group conformity can be an enormous influence, as the Asch Conformity Experiments in the 1950’s proved. As the group grows in numbers the influence of conformity grows with it and it becomes ever more difficult for individual members to voice dissent. Any nonconformity is dealt with swiftly, and nonconformists often won’t even have to be corrected by the cult leader — the members themselves will often put down any nonconformity. An example of this is the BCA dress code. BCA women must wear dresses, not just to church, but at all times. Several of the BCA women are so observant that they can actually tell when a woman walks into church if she’s been wearing pants that week. One woman in particular won’t hesitate to call any such nonconformists out back of the church and give her a shaming session.

One would think that a cult leader’s influence would extend only as far as the four walls of his “church.” However, the power of group conformity is sometimes so significant that it can easily extend far beyond those four walls. Doug Phillips’ influence has extended coast to coast, largely through the micro-culture of the Christian home school community. It’s primary platform for leaders like Doug Phillips are its various state conferences and conventions. As a gifted and charming orator, thousands have hung on Doug Phillips’ every word. Being enamored by his charm, eloquence and gushing, an audience’s logic and common sense often goes right out the window. They become easy candidates for indoctrination. Even in spite of Doug Phillips’ public disgrace, many are still hearing his voice in their heads saying, “As Christians we must hate the horrific sin of gossip.”

For years many conference attending home schoolers have, because of Doug’s programming, lived an almost neo-Amish existence, viewing the internet as an evil promoter of “horrific gossip” with blogs like this one being run by “internet assassins.” No truth or insight can be found here because, as everyone knows, Doug Phillips is a godly righteous servant of Christ worthy of only praise and adulation. To go anywhere near a blog that mentions Doug Phillips by name without praising him to the heavens is “horrific sin.” Naturally, they also refuse to listen to any of the numerous home schoolers who feel betrayed and feel compelled to talk openly about it.

Preaching against the “horrific sin of gossip” has proven to be an effective mind-control tool. In spite of the magnitude of the Doug Phillips’ sex scandal, a scandal one would easily assume that everyone by now is up to speed on, we know from the numerous emails we’ve received that there are likely still thousands of Doug Phillips fans that refuse to inform themselves on Doug’s self-destruction.

A Cult Leader Destroys Himself, Yet His Followers Remain Under His Influence:

Jen was sent via email a newsletter from CHEF, a Missouri-based home school organization with a large membership. In it they plead with members to contribute generously toward “a special care package” for Doug Phillips and family. I thought this a nice gesture, at least up until I got to the part of the obsequious praises they sing to “our hero.” It makes me wonder just how odious Doug’s sins would have to be before they’d stop worshiping him. Be forewarned — it takes a strong stomach to read this:

Dear Families,

As many of you know by now, on October 30, Doug Philips resigned from Vision Forum, with Vision Forum Ministries dissolving on November 11. Like most of you, we are deeply grieved over this tragedy. On behalf of Doug, we would like to say that in all our years of leadership, we have never known another man with such a brilliant mind, clear reasoning, great wisdom, passion for God’s Word, courage and fortitude in fighting for the family, an innovative mind in creating tools for equipping families for the cultural battle, and who possessed a genuine love for his family. Nor have we known another man who has produced so much fruit for God’s kingdom. Just think of all the fruit Doug created and spearheaded. It is truly phenomenal! He deeply cared for the flock and labored continuously to feed the flock God’s best. He protected many from continuing in their sin of neglecting their duty as fathers, mothers, and children. He fed; he fed; he fed. He took God’s people to the choicest of pastures and the purest of waters. He elevated their sights to the heavenly throne of God and labored to keep them there. Doug had been given a vision and mission from God.

Doug was clearly raised up for such a time as this. He was our hero—the man who could lead us to victory through this horrific war. We revered him, loved him, and cheered him on. He was family.    Furthermore, in all the years we worked with Doug, we have never known another man who adhered to such high standards in keeping himself above reproach. He always traveled with his family, or at least one of his children, and surrounded himself with interns and staff. Doug told us that he went so far as to refrain from entering an elevator alone with a woman. So you may wonder, with all this protection, how did this great sin occur?

From our study of history, we know that the enemy always works at destroying the very thing that leaders boldly proclaim—the very principles upon which the fortress is built— and like a lion ferociously devours his prey.    Doug built his ministry on Christian marriage, Christian patriarchy, the Christian family, virtuous boyhood, virtuous manhood, virtuous womanhood, virtuous families. Boldly engaging in the cultural battle for the family, Doug was winning victory after victory, so naturally, the foundational truths upon which the ministry was built was the area that Satan must destroy.

Everyone knows that the best strategy for winning a war is to concentrate all efforts against the leaders of the battle. You simply take out the generals, the captains, the colonels—those who lead the fight—and you demoralize the troops to the point of total defeat.

Doug Phillips was the general in the homeschooling community. He led the battles, so it comes as no surprise that Satan pointed his biggest guns against him—to silence the voice of hope and destroy the heart and soul of the ministry. Although God is mightier than Satan, we must never underestimate the power of the enemy and the endless legions he has for fighting his battles. Although the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, leaders always suffer heavy losses because they are in the forefront of the battle for life.

So if God is greater than the enemy, why did He give Satan permission to sift him and allow this to happen?

This is a perfect illustration of the magnitude of willful ignorance that often comes of following a cult leader. Their hero has fallen but they remain in abject denial of the fact that he isn’t just an adulterer, he’s an abusive narcissistic sociopath. They are prime candidates for blindly following after the next charismatic home school guru that rises to the top, only to repeat the cycle of abuse. And who will that next guru be? Voddie Baucham? Scott Brown? Peter Bradrick? Gregg Harris? Geoffrey Botkin? R.C. Sproul Jr? Kevin Swanson? Most of them, with the likely exception of Voddie Baucham, are already skilled manipulators and just a hair’s breadth away from being cult leaders, if they’re not that already. The last thing their overinflated egos now need is to assume Doug Phillips’ mantle.

Sadly, there remain thousands of home schoolers who just don’t get it. They’ve learned nothing from the example of the disastrous life of Doug Phillips. They don’t recognize they were conned by a huckster, a carnival barker, a facile manipulator. As such, they’re almost certain to get conned again.

Thankfully there are those who see clearly that Doug Phillips is nothing more than a master manipulator. To quote Nathan Huber, a former Vision Forum intern and BCA member:

“I thank God that I experienced the art of manipulation from a master and can now spot it a 1,000 miles away.”

_______________

All memes used by permission of Doug Phillips Memes

_______________

Yet Another Doug Phillips Sex Scandal

A Unique Case of Clergy Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment

This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The names of the guilty have not.
 

For several years I’ve been hearing rumors of clergy sexual abuse at Boerne Christian Assembly. Those rumors, if true, would prove far worse in their ramifications than Doug Phillips’ so-called “extra-marital affair” that resulted in his resignation from Vision Forum Ministries. I say “so-called” because, although many have termed it that, including the Press, in point of fact it was a classic case of clergy sexual abuse. The name of the young lady victim should remain confidential with those who know her, and unknown to those who don’t.

However, the name of the woman who is the subject of this particular story will be divulged herein, since she is guilty. Likewise the name of Doug Phillips is disclosed herein since he is directly responsible for all the sexual abuse, as well as the sexual harassment, that took place at Boerne Christian Assembly. In anticipation of the Matthew 18 Police, yes, numerous BCA families did everything possible to follow the dictates of Matthew 18:15-17 to put an end to the rampant sexual abuse and sexual harassment in their midst.

Bob and Cathy Johnson recently emailed me a lengthy and detailed narrative of the years-long unimpeded sexual exploits of Jennifer Grady at Boerne Christian Assembly. Their narrative completely confirms the shocking rumors I have long heard. Upon reviewing their narrative I arranged a phone interview to clarify some key points of their story and to discuss the specifics of how they wanted their story told.

In writing the Johnson’s story I realized that many people would be shaking their heads in disbelief while muttering, “Why didn’t those people just get out of there? What held them back? Have they all lost their minds?” Those are questions that don’t get asked by anyone who’s ever been in a religious sociological cult. They can easily relate to the Johnson’s story. For those that haven’t been in a cult before it will require some explaining. As such, this will be a two part article. This first part focuses on sexual abuse and sexual harassment at Boerne Christian Assembly, as well as the actions Doug Phillips took that ensured it would continue long term. The second part, which will be posted later in the week, focuses on the other clergy abuses perpetrated by Doug Phillips — emotional, psychological, and spiritual — that enabled him to create an environment ripe for sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The second part will also show why Boerne Christian Assembly is not a church but a religious sociological cult.

Any number of current and former BCA members are likely to read this story. This may be difficult for them by bringing up painful old memories. To them I wish to express my deepest sympathies for what you have endured. Most of you have suffered in silence, trying hard to forget the nightmare that is BCA. But you need not suffer in silence, fear, and shame any longer. You too have stories to tell, and friends here who deeply care for you. Each former BCA member has their own vantage point and own unique history. In telling your story you can help others in their recovery, and by doing so you will find it therapeutic for yourself, as well. As any competent therapist knows and would tell you, sharing your story is a vital part of abuse recovery.

To quote from Bob and Cathy Johnson’s narrative:

“What we are about to share further supports T.W. Eston’s ending to his article stating this is only the tip of the ice burg. Well here is another huge chunk we will drop in the sea and expose. This is related in many ways to Doug’s ‘romantic and affectionate relationship with another woman other than his wife.’ It also shows an abusive pattern in the way he treated Jen Epstein, Joe Taylor and countless others including those of us who are now sharing our stories.

“Our purpose in sharing is not to gossip, nor to try to ruin Doug Phillips, but to make sure that Doug is held accountable for all he has done and not think he can only confess to part of his sins and state he is contacting those he has offended to make amends when to our knowledge no one we know he offended has been contacted in any way…

“Unfortunately this man’s actions have been so severe we must bring out our stories in order for Doug to not think he can confess to just part of what he has done to hide his sins.”

The Johnson family became members of BCA in 2007 by signing a document known as “The Covenant.” It stipulates various terms and conditions of BCA membership. According to Doug Phillips’ broad interpretation of The Covenant, “There are only two ways you can leave BCA. You can die or the Elders can agree to transfer you to another church.” If you want to leave BCA to join another church you must first obtain a letter of transfer from Elder Doug Phillips and/or Doug’s sycophant-Elder Bob Sarratt. However, church transfers are seldom granted unless you have a job-related or other necessary reason to move out of state.

Upon arrival at BCA, Jennifer Grady, with her husband and seven children, were warmly received. The family became members and took up an active part in the life of the church. In the fall of 2007 Jennifer’s brother, Michael Billings, was killed in an automobile accident. This was immediately followed by a drastic change in Jennifer’s behavior. She became inappropriately friendly with the men. Jennifer’s behavior stood in stark contrast to all the other BCA women, this in a church where modesty and a decorum of distance between the sexes was expected.

Stan Rogers, father of 18 year-old Joe Rogers, found evidence of an inappropriate romantic relationship going on between Jennifer and Joe late in 2007. He took the matter to the elders of BCA, Doug Phillips and Bob Sarratt. Stan complained repeatedly to Doug and Bob about Jennifer Grady coming on to young Joe. Stan had cause to believe that Joe had succumbed to Jennifer’s seductions and was involved in an adulterous affair with her. From all appearances Doug and Bob took no action.

In the Spring of 2008 Doug Phillips called the BCA men together for, what the men later described as, “a secret members-only camping trip.” Once secured on the private property, the men were informed that all the gates would be locked and no one could leave until Doug said they could. That evening in the cabin Doug spoke cryptically to the men of his doomsday end of the world prognostications. They were each to prepare their families for the resultant societal meltdown. Paranoia of an uncertain future is a common mind control technique used by cult leaders. Things were getting more cultish by the month at BCA.

Stan Rogers and son Joe were not at that secret camping trip. Stan was at home, remotely keeping an eye on Joe, and he had good cause. Stan Rogers was convinced that Joe was being bedded by Jennifer Grady. He’d provided evidence of the affair to Doug and Bob in the form of dozens of emails. Once again, nothing was done by the Elders. In desperation Stan hid a GPS tracking device in his son’s car. Shortly after the conclusion of Doug’s doomsday talk that evening, Stan had tracked his son’s car to the Grady’s tiny home. Stan called Elders Doug Phillips and Bob Sarratt and pleaded with them to meet him at the Grady’s home. Bob agreed to come but Doug dismissed Stan’s pleas for help. Bob Sarratt,  Michael Gobart (Elder in training) and Mr. Grady raced to the Grady home and surrounded the house. Young Joe, in a panic, attempted to sneak out the back window of Jennifer’s bedroom where his father was waiting. Busted! The Elders soon claimed that Jennifer had “repented.” She apologized to the Rogers. However there was no indication of genuine repentance, and this was soon proven by her continuing predations.

Jennifer had morphed into a cougar — a woman who preys on younger men. But she also wasn’t always that particular. Her advances often occurred in the homes of BCA families. Fathers complained to Doug Phillips and Bob Sarratt, but they did nothing about it. This encouraged Jennifer to bring her predations right into the church Sunday morning where she became ever more overt in her intentions. Neither Doug Phillips, Bob Sarratt, or Michael Gobart dissuaded her in any way. Her favorite come-on was, “All great men have many women.” She would touch and caress the men inappropriately, run her hands through their hair, stroke their faces and necks, and rub her body up against theirs. Fathers were outraged and mothers were afraid for their sons.

Within the same time frame that Stan had brought his complaints to Doug, at least seven other fathers also made the same complaints to Doug and Bob about Jennifer’s advances on their respective sons. Neither Doug or Bob did anything about the men’s complaints, other than to warn the men from even speaking to one another about it lest they be brought under “church discipline.”  By that point most of them were eager to leave the church altogether, and some did request letters of transfer, but all were denied and told they would be excommunicated if they attempted to leave. All the men could do at the time was exclude Jennifer from their homes.

JenniferGradyCaptionJennifer Grady should have been the talk of the church as she escalated her seductions with more of the men and boys and became ever more brazen about it. But as is typical of religious sociological cults, no one was permitted to talk or complain about it for fear of being “put under church discipline” as “gossips.” The sin of gossip is frequently preached on at BCA by Doug Phillips as being “one of the most wicked of all sins.”

Jennifer Grady found herself excluded from one home after another. But it’s hard to stop a determined cougar. Jennifer Grady found other ways of accessing the young men — what some might perhaps characterize as “stalking.” For example, she would find out where the Vision Forum Interns, and other young men (all of them BCA members), would have their outings and join them, uninvited. In one case Jennifer showed up at a VF Intern rock climbing/repelling excursion in a skirt. I’m a rock climber myself, so I have no idea how a woman in a skirt can strap on a climbing harness at all, let alone do so without indecently exposing herself. Perhaps that was the whole point. Later at church she showed the pictures of the outing to the young men and stated they were getting a “free show of my legs.” One young man replied in shock, “Mrs. Grady!” Complaints were directed to Doug Phillips but, again, he did nothing about it. The message to Jennifer Grady was loud and clear: she was free to seduce and sexually harass any BCA men.

By this time more than a full year had passed of BCA having to endure Jennifer Grady’s brazen seductions. Fathers, mothers and children had been conditioned by Doug Phillips’ to trust their Elders. Everyone wanted so very much to believe that the Jennifer Grady problem would be taken care of. But as month after month crept by it became more apparent that Doug Phillips would not intervene. Multiple attempts were made by multiple fathers to seek Doug’s intervention. He evaded all such attempts by the fathers to meet with him by subterfuge and failing to show up at church for weeks at a time. In one case he finally did agree to meet with a father, telling him, “I’ll meet with you in four months.” But shortly thereafter the man received a letter informing him that he was under church discipline and would be excommunicated if he didn’t repent. No explanation of what he was to repent of was named.

Early in 2011 a father confronted Doug and Bob and pleaded with them to discipline Jennifer Grady. He was excoriated (in a manner similar to what Peter Bradrick described on a November 27 posting on his Facebook). The father tried again later, this time by appealing to Matthew 18:15-17, saying that the Bible required him to now bring his witnesses, but he was forbidden by Doug to bring any witnesses, thereby preventing the father from confronting Doug with the other fathers. This was the last straw for this father.

It also proved to be the last straw for eight other BCA fathers who had personally witnessed many of Jennifer Grady’s predations. Some of these eight fathers had also been sexually harassed and/or their sons sexually harassed. They had repeatedly complained to Doug, but they were threatened with church discipline, and this only because they had pleaded for protection from a cougar. One by one they just stopped attending BCA without formally announcing their intentions. But after several months of absence they were each threatened with church discipline if they didn’t start attending again. Ultimately the families all left for good, some by announcing their intentions to become members of other churches whether or not they ever received a letter of transfer, some by asking for transfers which they never received, and others just refused to come back again. They are technically, still to this day, considered “Members not in good standing, under church discipline.” They lived for many months under the constant threat of being excommunicated at any time.

BCA was already a small church and the departure of eight families qualified as a significant reduction in the size of the congregation. The lives of each of these “dishonorable covenant-breaking” families (the label given to all who leave BCA without Doug’s permission), from adults to small children, have been devastated emotionally and spiritually. Most of them are still deeply wounded and grieving years after the fact. This is a textbook case of the devastation that so often happens at the hands of a religious sociopathic narcissist.

Like all gifted cult leaders, Doug Phillips is all about image. It, therefore, is completely consistent that this hypocrite of hypocrites would include this photo on the BCA web site. It portrays a kind and benevolent shepherd watching over and guarding his sheep, protecting them from predators — like cougars, for example. Needless to say, Doug Phillips is no shepherd at all. He is, at best, “a hireling” (John 10:13). But even that is too kind. Doug Phillips is a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15), a predator animal who aided and abetted another predator.

Most anyone would have to ask, “But why? Why would Doug Phillips allow that to go on for years? What was his incentive? What did he get out of it?” This is a unique case of clergy sexual abuse and sexual harassment that would necessitate that Doug Phillips be in full-time psychiatric care for months before anyone could really know the answers for sure. At this juncture all anyone can say with any certainty is that Doug Phillips’ conduct is completely consistent with other sociopathic narcissistic abusive cult leaders.

Needless to say there will be much speculation. The first question I would anticipate in the comments below might be “Were Doug Phillips and Jennifer Grady having an affair?” The answer is I don’t know. Plenty of people at BCA were suspicious of that very thing. Flirtation is one thing. But catching two people in the act can be quite a challenge (just look at all the trouble Stan Rogers had to go through to catch his son). The necessary eye witness testimony hasn’t come forward yet. If there was an affair between Doug Phillips and Jennifer Grady, or even just a one night stand, it might have made it impossible for Doug Phillips to ever get rid of her for fear of her publicly exposing him.

The next question I might anticipate is, “Did Jennifer Grady have something on Doug that made it impossible for him to make her leave BCA?” There remains considerable speculation in BCA over that very thing. There’s also been much speculation over the fact that the impoverished Grady family, deep in debt and struggling to pay bills, suddenly and inexplicably enjoyed a dramatic increase in their standard of living. With Doug no longer an Elder, the term “Payoff” can now be spoken of at BCA without fear of Doug’s reprisals. But there may be other reasons than sex and payoffs for why Doug Phillips acquiesced to a cougar remaining while he threatened excommunication against members for leaving. The whys aren’t nearly as important as the whats.

Doug Phillips’ behavior in the Jennifer Grady case stands in stark contrast to his reactions to far less egregious transgressions within the BCA congregation. In other cases Doug never hesitated to accuse any woman of being a “Jezebel”, women who were never guilty of anything even remotely approaching the sins of Jennifer Grady. Jennifer Grady likely had something very damning on Doug Phillips, and perhaps on Doug’s hand-picked yes-men Elders too. That most certainly is the case with Michael Gobart (Elder in training) who made a regular habit of “counseling” Jennifer Grady after church in his Suburban. Quite often they would disappear together down to the river five minutes from the church. Those “counseling sessions” often lasted several hours each, and many at BCA knew it was going on, including Doug Phillips.

In January 2013 another mass exodus occurred when half of the remaining church (approximately ten families) left BCA. Around the same time, the young lady that Doug Phillips had been carrying on a long-term “inappropriate relationship” with also left BCA, as did her family. In February Doug Phillips stepped down as Teaching Elder.

To the best of our knowledge Jennifer Grady remains “a member in good standing” at Boerne Christian Assembly, to this day.

………………

Post Script

For current and former BCA members:
For any who do want to tell your BCA stories, feel free to email me, just as the Johnson family has done. As always, I never divulge the identities of my sources unless they specifically request to be identified. For any current or former BCA members who would like to comment below on the Johnson’s story, if you’re comfortable doing so please let everyone know your BCA membership status (past, current, excommunicated, etc.), and feel free to use an alias if you’re not comfortable using your real name.

For current and former VF employees and Interns:
There is one significant element to this story which I must leave unnamed at this time, and can only allude to. It concerns a key piece of physical evidence that exposes Doug Phillips to significant additional public shame were the contents of it to become widely known. That evidence confirms what some insiders already suspected — Doug Phillips’ clergy sexual abuses had been going on for years even prior to the discovery of that physical evidence in 2007. That evidence first came into the hands of a VF employee who, through reviewing it, found out about Doug Phillips’ “inappropriate relationship” with the young lady. Other important facts are also revealed by that physical evidence. That piece of evidence is now in the hands of someone unknown to me. It might even be in the hands of Jennifer Grady, and if it were it would explain a lot as to why Doug Phillips sacrificed the sheep to save his own skin. One or more VF employees and perhaps one or more VF Interns know exactly of the evidence I now allude to. They are the only ones who know, and who need to know about what I speak of, and they require no further clarification.

I’m now making a formal request to receive either the original or a copy of the original. Please contact me via email (anonymously, if you prefer) and we can make arrangements. Whoever now possesses it should understand that if they were to destroy it, there could be serious legal consequences.

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