The following letter went out to a number of home school leaders across the nation and abroad. A copy was also sent to Doug Phillips asking for his response.
We know that there are many more leaders, home school groups, and home school families out there who need to hear this, so if you would like to forward this to them yourself, please feel free (just be sure the links are included). Or you can send us their email address and we would be glad to send it to them.
Dear Home School Leader,
I’ve been a Christian home educator for twelve years now and have been president of a local home school group for seven years. I’ve been active in the home school community for quite some time and have helped to coordinate numerous home school functions and co-ops in the San Antonio, Texas area and have worked at many homeschool conventions.
Home schoolers have worked very hard for a number of years to earn a good reputation for Christian home education. Our proven track record of educational excellence has largely overcome the criticisms of the government educrats. However, we need to remain ever vigilant to maintain that good reputation. If our reputation is undermined by any among us who have divisive and potentially harmful agendas, we stand to lose much.
It’s vital that the most prominent of our home school leadership be men and women of impeccable reputation and strong moral character. We’re very concerned that one of the most prominent of our home education leaders runs the risk of causing the entire home school movement great damage. We speak of Douglas W. Phillips, the founder of Vision Forum. We believe that Doug Phillips’ intentions may be good for his attempts to shed light on a number of wrongs that have crept into the Christian home, the church, and society on the whole, in recent decades. However, a number of Doug Phillips’ methods and ambitions for correcting these problems are seriously flawed. Rather than working to bring about reformation, Doug Phillips embraces opinions and methods which are reactionary, harmful and even potentially dangerous to the family and the church.
Home schoolers are already considered by many to be “radicals” and “extremists.” Of course, we know that most Christian home educators are actually very moderate and do their best to “live at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18). However, Doug Phillips, even by many Christian home schooling standards, is very much an extremist. We’ve known Doug personally for many years and have spent much time studying and analyzing his opinions, as well as his actions. As a result, we’ve become increasingly concerned that Doug Phillips may be far more a liability than an asset to the Christian home school movement.
There is much to show how unhealthy and problematic Doug’s views are, and in this brief email we hope to demonstrate just a few of those. Our goal is to warn you as a Christian home school leader so that you can take any precautionary steps you deem appropriate to minimize any adverse impact to your own family and home school organization. In order to protect the Christian home school movement, we believe it is important that Doug Phillips be isolated and relegated to the outer fringes where he properly belongs, and where he can do little harm. We believe that it is risky for your organization to be identifying yourself with Doug Phillips, and to give him a platform from which he can promote his views. Please now allow us to explain why.
Doug Phillips has just expressed his views publicly on the massacre at Virginia Tech in an article entitled On The Horror At Virginia Tech. Though Doug makes some valid theological observations, his timing couldn’t have been worse. Doug is taking considerable heat over how insensitive and calloused his remarks appear to be. Most troubling is the fact that Doug is publicly advocating arming students. This is a classic example of Doug’s reactionary thinking. Because gun control advocates are calling for further gun control legislation, Doug reacts by saying the solution is to permit students to bring guns into the classroom. This isn’t to say that he wants all students armed, though. In Doug’s patriarchal world, only male students would be armed.
Doug Phillips is known as a significant leader of “Patriarchy,” a movement which seeks to restore homes and churches to an idyllic antebellum image, a time of chivalrous gentlemen and ladies in fluffy dresses. However, just below the surface of this superficial “Gone With The Wind” veneer lurks a far less honorable side. Doug Phillips often challenges radical feminism, and he’s right to do so. However, the solution to radical feminism isn’t a shift to the opposite extreme. Phillips’ views aren’t “complementarian,” or even just patriarchal, but rather hyper-patriarchal, a world in which women are effectively treated as doormats and not permitted to have any opinions of their own. Phillips’ patriarchy vision is an autocratic pseudo-feudal world in which women are completely dominated by husbands, and daughters are deprived of higher education and careers of any kind.
Doug Phillips’ jaded view of women is no more clearly evidenced than the way that he directs his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly, as its self-appointed and unordained pastor and sole elder. At BCA, “Let your women keep silence in the churches” (1 Cor. 14:34) is interpreted in such an extreme manner that women aren’t even permitted to introduce guests, women aren’t permitted to make prayer requests, and women aren’t even permitted to get their own communion (if her husband isn’t present, she must be served by another man, or one of her own sons, even if that son is too young to partake of communion himself). We were members of Doug’s church for five years, and so our comments about this are based on personal experience.
Doug Phillips takes his low opinion of women into the marriage counseling setting as well. Where marital problems are brought to his attention, he’s known to avoid any judicious examination of underlying issues, but rather immediately side entirely with the husband and seek out any excuse to blame the wife for any problems. We know this not only because of what’s been reported to us, but because of what we personally experienced. Some of Phillips’ more common questions to husbands of troubled marriages are: “Isn’t your wife a dripping faucet and a nag?” “Isn’t your wife rebellious?” “Isn’t your wife a Jezebel?” In Doug Phillips’ world, the wife is always to blame. Doug Phillips is not known to have ever asked a wife, “Does your husband love you as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her?”
Considering the fact that women quite often are doing the majority of the practical teaching at home, and also making many of the decisions about home school curriculum, we consider it remarkable that Doug Phillips evidences all the tendencies of a misogynist. Since women are probably making many of the decisions about what materials to order from Vision Forum, and women make up such a large percentage of the home school leadership, one would think that Doug Phillips would want to treat women with much more regard than he does.
Doug Phillips is an attorney and claims to have a biblical world view about law and justice. He even sponsors an annual law conference. This is one of the reasons that we recently exposed Doug on the internet for having conducted a Kangaroo Court in his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly. For those who will take the time to carefully examine the facts, they will come away deeply troubled by the huge disparity between what Doug publicly espouses about justice versus what he actually practices when given the opportunity to exercise justice himself. Without any due process whatsoever, Doug Phillips unjustly excommunicated us for sins that we’d already repented of, as well as sins for which there wasn’t a shred of evidence to support. In fact, one of Doug’s charges against Jen was over a sin that she had committed years before she had even become a Christian, and years after she had repented of that sin! The Lord Jesus forgave her of that sin over seventeen years ago, but apparently Doug Phillips’ standards of forgiveness are far higher than the Lord’s.
After leaving Boerne Christian Assembly, we were welcomed into a church led by Richard “Little Bear” Wheeler. Pastor Wheeler’s church is a “sister church” to BCA. Aside from being a pastor, Little Bear Wheeler is a prominent home school leader and the founder of Mantle Ministries. Doug and Little Bear were close personal friends and have spoken from the podium at many of the same home school conferences and retreats. Little Bear Wheeler worked diligently for fourteen months to reconcile our relationship to Doug Phillips and BCA, but Doug refused to make an appearance for any of the numerous meetings that Little Bear arranged between us. Doug rebuffed all efforts at reconciliation. Worse yet, Doug retaliated against Little Bear by terminating their long friendship, and he even removed most, if not all, Mantle Ministries products from the Vision Forum catalog. For his kindness toward us, Doug Phillips shunned Little Bear Wheeler.
Doug Phillips is a significant leader in the “Family Integrated Church” movement. Many churches do indeed segregate family members by age and pressure parents to have their children participate in youth groups which, though often consistent with the values of public school parents, are often at odds with the values of “family integrated” home school parents. While well intentioned, the family integrated church movement, much like the patriarchy movement, has too often shown itself to be extremist, self-righteous and divisive. Rather than seeking to reform churches from within and wean them from being “programmatic,” the Family Integrated Church movement has become a “program” in itself and has caused a number of church splits. Though Doug Phillips has spoken on “how leave a church honorably,” much of the fruit of the Family Integrated Church movement has been anything but honorable.
Most troubling in its ramifications for how it could adversely impact the cause of Christian education is Doug Phillips’ video documentary “Raising The Allosaur.” Some have referred to this video as a “fakeumentary.” Indeed, there is overwhelming evidence that many of the claims made by Phillips in “Raising The Allosaur” are blatant fabrications. Phillips has never been able to provide any reasonable explanations for the glaring inconsistencies and serious allegations that have been put to him as a result of his video production, masquerading as a documentary. Phillips suffered so much negative public exposure for his fakeumentary that he withdrew it from the Vision Forum catalog, without any public explanation, and he did so in spite of the fact that “Raising The Allosaur” had been a very lucrative product for Vision Forum. Phillips’ fakeumentary has greatly harmed the cause of creationism. If even just a few of the allegations against this video are true, then Doug Phillips is guilty of perpetrating a huge fraud against many thousands of Christians, and especially against Christian home schoolers (in the video Phillips falsely credits home schoolers as having been responsible for finding the allosaur). Phillips owes the Christian public either an explanation or an apology. However, after many such demands, he has completely evaded doing either one. There are numerous other issues that call into question Doug Phillips’ integrity, but “Raising The Allosaur” may be the most glaring example yet.
Perhaps the single greatest risk of all though, in associating with Doug Phillips, are the numerous concerns expressed that he may be a closet racist. We ourselves are not prepared to make such an allegation. We believe that some of these allegations are based on the logical fallacy of “guilt by association.” The problem for Doug, though, is that some of the things that he has said and written do tend to cast strong suspicion on his views of race. Many of Doug Phillips’ personal heroes are notorious racists. As just one example, Doug has written a poem about Robert L. Dabney in which he says, “Hail Dabney, defender of the South!” This is an obvious reference to Dabney’s book, “A Defense Of Virginia and the South.” If you’ve read Dabney’s book, you already know that it was written for one purpose only — as a defense of Southern slavery. Dabney was the South’s strongest apologist for slavery. Dabney had an extremely low view of Blacks, believing that their only appropriate station in life was in perpetual servitude to Whites. For Doug Phillips to “Hail Dabney!” seems extremely problematic.
Doug has left himself wide open to scrutiny on the question of racism. This isn’t to say that we personally believe that Doug is a racist. We do believe, however, that Doug has been very foolish by using his close personal friends to make “racist” allegations against others, based on nothing but guilt by association, when his own associations with known racists are so problematic. We haven’t and we won’t accuse Doug being a racist. However, we believe that the allegations against him of racism are potentially very dangerous to the home school movement.
We would ask that you carefully consider the ramifications of your organization’s relationship with Doug Phillips, through his serving as a speaker at your conferences or otherwise, and the great harm that it could cause to not only your organization’s reputation, but to Christian home education in general, by promoting him and giving him a platform to advance his extremist views.
We recognize that some will choose to immediately dismiss our concerns on the assumption that this is some kind of “personal vendetta motivated by unforgiveness and bitterness.” That’s simply not the case. We both worked for nearly two years to privately reconcile with Doug. We attempted to do so by going through appropriate ecclesiastical channels with not just one, but two different different churches and their elders in our area. In both cases, Doug refused their offers of reconciliation. We’re not motivated by vengeance. We’re motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of the Christian home school movement.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.
Yours for Christian Education,
Mark and Jennifer Epstein
*Our concern about Doug Phillips’ blog article on Virginia Tech is not that Doug is a proponent of the Second Amendment. We are, too. But we also believe that Doug should be consistent. What Doug advocates is a disparity, based on gender. Men are free to carry guns anywhere, including to their college classes, and they do so allegedly to protect the poor, helpless women, while not allowing for women to carry guns for self-defense as well. What would happen if a public university was full of armed men and unarmed women? What would happen if everyone was armed and a debate ensued in a classroom? How long before the first gun came out? Or maybe we have a problem with the hypocrisy of Doug espousing that only the young men be armed, when we see this video of his daughter?