The Heavy Burden of Doug Phillips’ Legalism Leads to His Resignation From Vision Forum

When I first told my story about Doug Phillips, nearly seven years ago now, it caused a bit of a stir.  At the time, I felt like I had done nothing worthy of excommunication, I had exhausted all efforts to reconcile with both Doug Phillips and BCA, the church I was excommunicated from, and I had forgiven everyone in my heart of hearts.  The reason I went public with my story was because Doug Phillips was a very public leader in the homeschooling movement and was primarily responsible for the patriarchy movement.  This was not just a personal issue between Doug Phillips and me, this was a case of a very public leader who preached “Family First” everywhere he went, yet he totally destroyed and devastated my family.  I felt it was important to warn others that their number one leader in the movement was not really about putting family first (after God, of course).

Doug 4I was surprised, I suppose naively so, to begin to hear privately from person after person after person who told me stories of abuse by Doug Phillips and how he had threatened to harm their families, their career, and their church life if they did not keep quiet about what had taken place.  Any anecdote or story told within those circles was immediately put into the “gossip” category and was severely dealt with.  Legal means were often employed to keep people quiet.  I heard many stories of men “dressed in black,” carrying pieces (or so I was told), who used mafia-like techniques to make sure any and all stories involving Doug Phillips in any way other than idolizing him were decidedly dealt with, quickly and severely.

And so, when I was threatened with the same types of actions, as I realized how many people cowered in fear for their lives and their families’ lives, I stood up against such tyranny and abuse and fought for freedom from ecclesiastical terror.  Doug Phillips and his cohorts put up multiple websites about me, dedicated solely to attacking my family and me.  Many were outright lies; some were twisted truths, while others were simply about airing my personal “sins” for the whole world to see.  While that was not enough to stop me from telling my story about Doug Phillips truthfully and respectfully, it was enough to stop nearly everyone else from considering telling their stories publicly as well.  As I promised them all so many years ago, I will keep their secrets secret, but it was just all the more reason for me to proclaim to the world that Doug Phillips does not practice what he preaches.  And there is a time and a place to warn people against impending danger.

Statistics say that for every one person who writes a letter to the editor, or for every one person who writes a letter to a corporation, there are probably one hundred other people who feel the same way.  So, if a corporation gets one letter complaining about the taste of their peanut butter, for example, they may just blow it off and send them a voucher for a new jar of peanut butter.  But if they receive ten such letters in a short period of time, the peanut butter manufacturer will not think that ten people are complaining about their precious commodity, but rather that those ten are representative of one hundred people each, so that would be the equivalent of one thousand people probably feeling that same way.

I found those statistics to hold true for my blog.  For every one hundred readers, I had one comment, almost exactly.  It was eerily accurate.  But those were just the public comments.  I also received many, many private emails, especially that first year when I told my story.  In the first year my blog was up, I had over one million readers.  I also received approximately one thousand emails from people who were involved in patriarchy who had decided to leave the legalism and judgmentalism of patriarchy because of my blog.  If statistics hold true, and I do believe they do, that equates to about 100,000 families who decided to leave patriarchy because I told my story about the ecclesiastical abuse and tyranny of Doug Phillips.

If I could go back in history and be anyone I wanted to be, I have often dreamed of being Susan B. Anthony, because she freed women from the prisons of their lives then.  While it cost me nearly everything I had and nearly every friend in life, I believe God used me to be a modern-day Susan B. Anthony of sorts, leading women and their families out of the legalism and bondage of patriarchy.  And that made it all worth it.

Let me be clear that I am still strongly in favor of homeschooling.  I think that for a mother to be able to stay at home and raise her children and homeschool them is the best of all worlds for a child.  I believe that children should have two parents at home, that an intact family is a strong and healthy family.  I believe that husbands should love and cherish their wives, and wives should love and respect their husbands.  I believe that many, many of the things Doug Phillips taught in the patriarchy movement are good, valuable, honorable, necessary aspects of a strong family.

But it doesn’t come through legalism.  We don’t need a long list of rules to tell us how to love.  Doug Phillips wrote up several lists of “beliefs” that patriarchal families were to hold to, with each one being more and more restrictive.  Doug Phillips also insisted that the Law of Moses applied to us today.  I wish I could share with him the truth that Jesus came to free us from that bondage!

Love.  Or rules.

Which one binds us together?  Which one holds the family together?  Which one holds the church together?  Which one is written on our hearts now?

Early in my marriage, I committed adultery.  I repented from that many years ago, but what keeps me from committing adultery again?  Love?  Or rules?  Which is a stronger bond?

When we live our life by rules, which are just another form of legalism, we will stumble and fall.  We can’t help ourselves.  However, when we live our lives by LOVE, it is a whole different story.  Today, I don’t need a rule to tell me not to commit adultery.  Love for others keeps me from even thinking in that direction.  But even if I were to commit adultery again, love would bring me to repentance, not rules.

I still do not know why my adultery of 25 years ago was brought up in the excommunication, and why Doug Phillips found it necessary to tell the whole world about something I long ago repented from, but the Bible has a verse that seems rather appropriate to all this today:

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)

Today, Doug Phillips announced his resignation from Vision Forum, a ministry and business that is the culmination of his life’s work, his passion and love that he has given himself fully to for the last twenty years or so.  I do not rejoice in this announcement, as I realize how devastating this must be for Doug Phillips and his family, but I cannot help but think that today, Doug Phillips is reaping what he has sown.

Here is his announcement:

Statement of Resignation

Doug 1by Douglas Phillips, Esq., October 30, 2013

With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities.

There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries.  I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.

There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.

This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.

Doug Phillips

This is the difference between a life of love versus a life of legalism.  The rules were too heavy, too burdensome for him to bear.  No one could continue under all those rules and experience the abundant life God has for us.  This is very sad.

I pray that Doug Phillips will use this time to do some serious soul searching, not just in this one area, but in the burdens of life that he has put upon himself and his family and thousands of other families who have looked up to him for so many years.  Now is the time to reevaluate rules in favor of love.

Beall, I love you.  My heart hurts for you.

Someday, I hope to hear Doug Phillips preaching that not only does love cover a multitude of sins but that life is all about love.  Period.


106 Responses to “The Heavy Burden of Doug Phillips’ Legalism Leads to His Resignation From Vision Forum”

  1. Sarah Pressler (@sarahpressler) Says:

    No apology to the community. No understanding of how this is just another example of his utter lack of regard for other people. Total narcissist.

    So glad you have kept this blog up!!!

    • Georgia Says:

      He says he’s still in the process of making apologies. Give him the time he needs. I’m not sure he needs to make an apology “to the community”. Not sure why this apology was made public.

      Making this public is a red flag to me. I may never know if his apology is genuine. Maybe it’s not for me to know. :-/

      • Jen Says:

        When he apologizes to me, it will need to be public. I have already forgiven him, but that does not preclude the necessity for him to apologize.

      • Georgia Says:

        Jen, now that I remember reading your story a couple of years ago, I agree-he does need to make a public apology to you!

    • Jen Says:

      Sarah, perhaps this will turn out to be for his own good in the end.

  2. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Hey Jen!!! Morgan here, WOW amazing. I have to agree with Sarah Pressler. It’s still all about him. Sad.

    • Jen Says:

      Yes, the resignation does sound very self-centered, doesn’t it?

      • Eileen Says:

        yes it does. I am thinking that something (like bribery) has forced him to come forward. I don’t think he did this “just out of conviction and remorse.” That it’s much more than Just emotional (reminds me of Bill Clinton) and not many are calling it adultery. Also I am grieved that so many are saying (especially his supporters) that they are praying for him and his family but almost NO ONE is saying that they are praying for “the other woman” involved and her family. Because people had put him up on a pedestal and idolized him, she might suffer much more of a bigger “hit” than he will. Because you were shunned/excommunicated because of your past, do you think he will suffer the same consequences at BCA? I am still trying to wrap my head around all of this (and how it happened), because Doug is hardly EVER alone. His little assistant/Entourage is with him all the time.

        I know from this circle that they are HIGHLY judgmental of those that do this type of sin, especially Doug himself. They point fingers, they shun etc. But it’s sad and interesting to see how compassionate they are when the shoe is on the foot of “one of their own”…… I guess the same rules don’t apply for others that they do for him?

        Just praying all around. This is grievous for not only Doug, his family but the young lady, her family, Christians, the church, homeschoolers and anyone associated with or connected with Vision forum and those alike!

        just a small question for you Jen: I have read your detailed explanation of what happened to you. Are you still, in anyway, connected to members of BCA? Does anyone talk to you or remains friends with you?

        • Jen Says:

          Eileen, I will be writing an article soon, perhaps today, with more thoughts about this whole thing. It will expose how this all happened.

          For the most part, everyone at BCA still shuns me publicly. I recently had a conversation with one family privately, and there have been a couple families who have left BCA who will speak to me.

          As of yet, no one has told me what my sin was. 🙂

      • Headless Unicorn Guy Says:

        Someone (Spiritual Sounding Board?) counted up and highlighted the number of times “I” appear in the resignation/confession. When highlighted, it looked like “I” was the most frequently-used word in the document. Like that scene in the final episode of The Prisoner — “I! I! I! I! I! I! I! I! I!”

      • Eileen Says:

        I was surprised, I suppose naively so, to begin to hear privately from person after person after person who told me stories of abuse by Doug Phillips and how he had threatened to harm their families, their career, and their church life if they did not keep quiet about what had taken place. Any anecdote or story told within those circles was immediately put into the “gossip” category and was severely dealt with. Legal means were often employed to keep people quiet. I heard many stories of men “dressed in black,” carrying pieces (or so I was told), who used mafia-like techniques to make sure any and all stories involving Doug Phillips in any way other than idolizing him were decidedly dealt with, quickly and severely.

        And so, when I was threatened with the same types of actions, as I realized how many people cowered in fear for their lives and their families’ lives, I stood up against such tyranny and abuse and fought for freedom from ecclesiastical terror. Doug Phillips and his cohorts put up multiple websites about me, dedicated solely to attacking my family and me. Many were outright lies; some were twisted truths, while others were simply about airing my personal “sins” for the whole world to see. While that was not enough to stop me from telling my story about Doug Phillips truthfully and respectfully, it was enough to stop nearly everyone else from considering telling their stories publicly as well. As I promised them all so many years ago, I will keep their secrets secret, but it was just all the more reason for me to proclaim to the world that Doug Phillips does not practice what he preaches. And there is a time and a place to warn people against impending danger.

        **THIS** is one of many many reasons WHY I think this is WAY bigger……….MUCH MUCH bigger than just “an emotional affair with a woman”. I also have a feeling since you are still in that area, you know way more of the details of what’s actually going on, than you are telling us. I know why you are doing it, but I have this feeling that you know the gravity of the situation.

        • Jen Says:

          Eileen, I have told as much as is necessary for people to understand and know at this time. I don’t think anyone really believes it was just a little flirting going on here.

  3. Gertrude M. Bell Says:

    Douggie has an ego that won’t quit. It’s likely like Ted Haggard and others before he will be redeemed and continue to fleece the sheeple. I wonder what his buddy Voddie has to say about all of this or Daddy Phillips. I’m predicting that Douggie will get a job working with some hate group just like Josh Duggar. Rinse, lather and repeat.

    • Eileen Says:

      I wonder what his buddy Voddie has to say about all of this His response when he posted the article was “pray for his family” on his fb page. They have not had much contact for the last 3 years or so btw. Very little……it’s very distant.

      Daddy Phillips: Howard Phillips died a few months ago in the DC area so he’s not talking 🙂

      • Jen Says:

        Eileen, gossip is strictly condemned in patriarchy, so I doubt if Voddie Baucham will say anything publicly, other than giving the typical biblical response.

        I am glad Howard is not alive during this time. He would have supported his son, certainly, but he would have been very hurt as well.

      • Eileen Says:

        actually Voddie Addressed some of it on his facebook page but as I stated prior, Voddie & Doug really haven’t had much contact the last few years and if they have, it’s been very little.:

        Voddie I am wondering if you can clear something up. Doug Phillips is only resigning from Vision Forum Ministries not Vision Forum. Is that correct? He is still in fact the President of Vision Forum. He posted on his blog as recently as today. They are two seperate ministries. Please correct me if I am wrong
        Like · · November 1 at 1:40pm via mobile
        Top Comments

        member: Voddie, do you know if Doug Phillips has stepped down as elder at his church?
        Like · Reply · November 2 at 3:01pm via mobile

        Voddie Baucham Ministries As I said, that happened months ago. That, however, I do not believe that was not related to this issue.
        Like · November 2 at 9:40pm

        Voddie Baucham Ministries Sarah,

        One is a ministry, the other is a ‘for-profit’ corporation. That’s why they have different names.
        Like · Reply · November 1 at 6:59pm

        Voddie Baucham Ministries I don’t know what’s going to happen with The Vision Forum. I just read the letter like everyone else. I had heard about him stepping down at his church prior to this, but didn’t know why. In fact, I still don’t know if that was connected to this.

        • Jen Says:

          Eileen, thank you for sharing that. I don’t really follow these things at all. I stepped away from all this about five years ago. I was not aware that Doug stepped down separately as elder.

          Regarding the vs., yes, they are two separate organizations, for tax purposes. But it is the ministry that fuels the business. The speaking and tours and events are what draw people in and then the business side sells them stuff.

          As far as the latest report on Doug’s blog, that appears to be from his son, Joshua.

      • Eileen Says:

        yes I read elsewhere on another site that he stepped down in February, which is 9 MONTHS before his resignation. I thought they were connected. Voddie says they’re not. Someone must have something big hanging over his head. Question for you Jen: If Beall wanted/need to leave Doug with the children, do you think she could? would? I just keep thinking what a culture shock it will be for their kids to have to go to college and/or get REAL jobs one day, especially Joshua. But from what I understand, he would fit in VERY well with the frat/party culture at a secular college nicely :/

        • Jen Says:

          Eileen, although Vision Forum and BCA are not OFFICIALLY connected, nearly everyone (all?) who works at Vision Forum attends BCA. Likewise, about 75% of those who attend BCA work at Vision Forum. That is one reason why no one was willing to stand up on my behalf when I was wrongfully excommunicated — they weren’t willing to risk their source of income.

          Even if Doug openly cheated on Beall, which I don’t think he ever would, I sincerely doubt Beall would ever leave him. It was drilled into us how divorce was a sin in EVERY circumstance.

          It remains to be seen what happens to the Phillips’ children. I am sure they have been “brainwashed” so heavily that they will think twice before stepping out of the culture they have been saturated in.

  4. Miss M Says:

    As far as I can see he only resigned from the Ministry side, no announcement on the book/catalog/film/homeschool side!!

    • Jen Says:

      Miss M, the “negative” news is always kept on the ministry side. They wouldn’t want to let it affect the business side. But this news will be very public very quickly, and the business side will feel it, too. Fourth quarter is not a good time to make such an announcement, especially for a company that makes 90% of its income from Christmas sales.

  5. Gideon TheReaper Eilat Says:

    Personally, I do not see an infinitesimal sign of real repentance. I think Doug was probably “busted” flagrante delicto and was left no choice but to resign. From a DSM-IV perspective, I find Doug closely resembles the diagnostic criteria for a sociopath. His narcissism is on an equal par with Obama’s and his conscienceless methods are definitely similar. Frankly, Doug needs to do an “apology tour” to get right with those he has harmed over the years. Not that this “tour” has to be public, but those he sinned against publicly do deserve a public apology and Doug’s public request for forgiveness from the injured parties. Until such time, I can only watch and observe.

    • Jen Says:

      Mark, I am sure that there is far more to this story than meets the eye. It appears that he got caught “with his pants down,” and is admitting to only the obvious. It is highly doubtful that the president of a ministry would resign for getting too close emotionally to another woman. Not likely. He would not give up his whole life’s work for that.

    • Sherrill Batts Says:

      Amen., my thoughts exactly. Only weak minded people could believe him after a short period of time. God help the children in his church who he has harmed.

      • exKool-AidDrinker Says:

        Please be more careful with this assessment “Only weak minded people could believe him after a short period of time…”

        I know what it’s like to “drink the Kool-aid”. You don’t know you’re drinking the Kool-aid until some how you’re taken away. You don’t realize the Kool-aid tastes funny until you get away from it. Pray that they notice the funny taste of the Kool-aid… :-/

      • Eileen Says:

        yes, be VERY careful about making “broad brushed statements”. thank you

    • zooey111 Says:

      Indeed. This is exactly what I have been thinking.
      Except that, to be perfectly honest, I can live with the shenanigans of politicians. I expect them to be, well…..scoundrels, at least on occasion.
      DP put himself & his twisted notions of what religious people should think/do/be up on a great big high hill with all of us supposed to bow down. Well, I am allergic idols, & I refuse to worship them. May be that’s why my first reaction to this news was: “At last. At last, he is found out as a hypocrite….and not before time”.
      I do not see DP as a fellow Christian. I see him as a modern-day pharisee, posturing for the crowds to “ooh ” & “aah” over. This makes his fall all the more precipitous. And as others have said, I strongly suspect that we have only seen & heard the tip of the iceberg…….

  6. Lana Says:

    He mentioned that he didn’t have enough accountability twice. Rules require accountability to keep you following the rules. Life can’t function that way. I hope some day he gets it like you said.

  7. Robin Schneider Houchens Says:

    You were the first person I thought of when I heard about this through the grapevine today. Reaping and sowing indeed.
    I see that doug has repented for hurting his wife and family. It doesn’t look like he has repented for or to the woman that he “defrauded” in all this though. But why would he apologize to the evil wench that ruined his life, right? This is the problem. To ‘men’ like Doug Phillips, women aren’t people. They are temptations to be controlled. Doug, the problem isn’t some other woman’s wiles or body. The problem is your depraved heart and rancid mind. You are the problem Doug, and I hope you wake up and fall on your face and cry with a broken heart before the woman that you hurt as well, but I know it won’t happen.

    • Jen Says:

      Robin, yes, it is interesting that not only did he not apologize to the “other woman,” but he didn’t call her a Jezebel. He sure was quick to call other women, like me, a Jezebel when he perceived that they conducted themselves in any manner other than obeying his long list of rules.

  8. Stop the Ministry Madness | The Hope Blog Says:

    […] leader of Vision Forum, had publicly resigned over an affair was the last straw. I was aware of complaints and concerns swirling around Mr. Phillips for years. But his surprise resignation over conduct that he […]

  9. thar Says:

    I, too, am a first generation Christian, saved by grace. My past sins are forgiven, though there are lifelong consequences. I read your posts on your 5 year experience at BCA today. They both saddened and angered me. I’m so very sorry that you were treated in such a legalistic, callous, unChrist-like manner (because, clearly, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”) Like you, I believe in the benefits and blessings of homeschooling (I’ll also be the first to admit that it can be stressful and overwhelming at times as well.) I also believe that a 2-parent, traditional family home is a “best case scenario” for children (specifically, God’s best), and that biblical submission WITHOUT legalism brings blessing into a marriage (and the type of submission I speak of, involves yielding of one to another, where appropriate, be it man OR woman.) But I don’t believe, Jen, that YOU should have EVER had to endure what Doug Phillips put you through. Others also played a role in your unnecessary suffering, though I wonder to what extent that was impacted by his control over them. THANK YOU for sharing your story candidly, tactfully, and bravely. May you continue to know the love of a God who, unlike Doug Phillips, extends grace, mercy, and forgiveness to each of us who seek Him.

    • Jen Says:

      Thank you, Thar. I appreciate your thoughts and kind words. Yes, Doug was not the only one at fault here, but he was the leader, in more ways than one.

  10. Pearl Says:

    What I want to know, is what poor woman was stupid enough to want to have an affair with an egomaniac like doug phillips? Tons of sympathy go out to Beall, but not just for the affair. I think just living w/ that man is way worse than we could imagine. Also I don’t believe for a second that the affair was only emotional. If it was “only” emotional he would have found some way to excuse it.

    • Jen Says:

      I agree, Pearl. There had to be far more to it than that. That is a smokescreen. And while I do not know who was involved, most of the available women were in their twenties. They idolize him.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy Says:

        Sounds like he had a harem of hot & cold running girls.

        Like L Ron Hubbard and his “Commodore’s Staff” — all 16, all Sea Org, all required to dress in string bikinis and wait upon him hand & foot.

    • notsurprised Says:

      he is an arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic man……..especially if you have gone head to head with him! He does NOT back down and he is VERY intimidating as Jen found out. VERY intimidating. He’s a bully. He IS a lawyer, so for him to step down, I think this had to be HUGE and of epic & scandalous proportions! I like everyone else, think this “Clinton smoke screen” is just a deflection of something more earth shattering. It will have so many sad implications on so many different areas. It grieves me.

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  12. Cindy Says:

    Wow, Jen! I just read your entire story… thanks for having the courage to share. I hope that your family is in a healthy church, a church filled with love, mercy and grace.

  13. Biblical Marriage Says:

    I meant to comment on this one, Jen. Sorry for my technical difficulties. Doug Phillips is not at fault here. It’s got to be the fault of the authority figure ruling over the woman in question for not keeping her properly shut away from other men.

  14. Eileen Says:

    Jen……another thing. I, as a Christian and a human being, appreciate how you are handling this situation with Doug. You are handling it with class, grace and dignity.

  15. Dom Walk Says:

    “While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense”

    Anyone else pick up the eerily Bill Clintonesque vibe here?

  16. Dana Says:

    You mention that love would keep you from sinning again through an affair. Don’t you think it is only by God’s grace that any of us have not fallen into sin?

    • Jen Says:

      Dana, if it was by God’s grace that we do not “sin,” then none of us would sin today, and certainly Doug Phillips would never have committed this “serious sin.” No, love is what changes our hearts.

  17. Chris Jeub Says:

    “Love. Or rules. Which one binds us together?”
    You nailed it.

  18. notsurprised Says:

    AMEN! This is the last paragraph: P.S. And I don’t want to hear whining about “Christians eating our own” or “shooting our wounded.” These leaders have spent decades claiming moral authority. If you don’t want to lead with integrity, go get a job elsewhere and quit demanding people listen to you as though you have something vital to say in the midst of this country’s collapse. I believe in personal restoration when we fall. All of us need grace and forgiveness when we sin. But it’s time for some righteous anger from those who were misled by spiritual leaders. Yes, misled by these men who think they can lie about who they really are and deceive their followers with a sham image, making a mockery of their beliefs. It’s a lie. And until we start getting justly angry about these men making a living by lying to trusting donors and exploiting their good faith, this spiritual fraud is just going to get worse.

  19. Vision Forum Ministries President Doug Phillips Resigns Due to Infidelilty | The Wartburg Watch 2013 Says:

    […] Jen's Gems.  Yesterday she wrote a post in response to Doug Phillips' resignation, and here is a pertinent […]

  20. Bethany Says:

    Shocked over this today–even though I disagree with Phillips on virtually everything, and HATE the abuse that his ‘ministry’ has wreaked on people over the years, and believe (in part due to your story, Jen) that he has personally done untold damage to innocent people–I guess my childhood image of Vision Forum as godly and upright still held, to the point where I sort of believed he would be ‘proved right’. I exited patriarchy several years ago, but still sometimes struggle with wondering, is patriarchy really God’s will after all? I can’t imagine the shock, horror and loss that his followers must be going through right now–to people who often idolize their leaders and subconsciously see them as unable to do wrong, this must mean a sickening sense of their footing slipping out from under them.

    As soon as I read Phillips’ statement, however, I had a question and I wonder what you all think of it? These extreme patriarchal groups place a *huge* emphasis on emotional purity. I think that many girls have been called ‘impure’ for having a crush/romantic thoughts about a guy…..clearly, the Vision Forum definition of what is inappropriate includes harmless behaviors. So, I wonder if possibly Doug has been trapped by his own rules and legalism? Is there a chance that what behavior he/whoever may have discovered him considered to be inappropriately romantic and affectionate, might be something that outsiders might not consider adultery?
    Just a thought. I agree with Dom and Georgia that he carefully thought over his words, and I cannot imagine Doug Phillips giving up his position without a truly grievous offense.

    • Jen Says:

      Bethany, is Doug trapped by his rules and legalism? I think that is very likely exactly what is happening here. Only Doug knows the full extent of what he has done, and apparently he feels it is “serious” enough to step down. That tells me enough.

  21. Theresa Foley Says:

    When I read Jen’s story a few years ago, I thought that the severe abuse she suffered from Doug Phillips was an extreme situation, because it was hard to believe that any so-called pastor could treat a parishioner so horribly. Then a close friend who had to get a divorce from her abusive, law-breaking husband, and she encountered a very similar situation at the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod church we attended. The pastors excommunicated her while her husband who refuses to support his family remains a member in good standing. After reading Jen’s story, I strongly urged her to not attend any meetings with the pastors and her husband. Luckily she heeded my advise, and was able to avoid the harsh vitriol that Jen endured, although the letters and email messages were bad enough. She lives in a big city where the pastors also lacked the power of Doug Phillips, so they were not able to prevent her from joining another church. My friend has talked to other women who were similarly mistreated, so unfortunately I now realize that Jen’s experience is very common in evangelical circles. I think no woman is safe in a Christian church, so I stopped attending church although I still believe.

    • Jen Says:

      Theresa, thank you for helping your friend through that difficult time. Although I totally understand leaving the church over situations like this, what really needs to happens is a heart transformation, especially in pastors/elders.

    • Dana Says:

      I am sorry you don’t “feel” safe in a church. I can tell you there is protection in accountability. Find a denomination with a presbytery.

      I am sad for many of you on this comment board. I am sad that bitterness has overtaken your life.

      I, too, know that VF teachings had their faults but some of the comments here are so Vindictive and cruel that it grieves me.

      As soon as I figure out how I will log off if this feed, in the meantime I will pray.

      • exKool-AidDrinker Says:

        Dana…Don’t think that a “Presbytery” is the safe place. Although our TE has not hurt us with sexual sin in any way, he has definitely hurt and broken apart our family. He refuses to admit any fault and our Presbytery has greatly let us down all in the name of “Protecting the TE”. Or not wanting to “Hurt him”. What about the DEEP DEEP grief our family has endured?!?! We have been victimized. There are a few good men in our Presbytery that have seen what is happenening. But, there enough bullies that nothing has happened to our TE. They have found every loophole imaginable to sneak through.

        Presbyteries are made up of humans also….

        I understand that…but, that doesn’t stop the DEEP grief of our family. The deep PAIN of our family. The brokeness that HE caused. The hiding that he was able to achieve. The TE’s that helped him to hide…

        Never mind the massive amounts of ‘proof’ we had to have. All of it was discredited in one form or another.

        I’m sorry that I’m rambling. You’re talking to someone who (and their family) has been SOOO DEEPLY hurt by a Presbytery…

        • Dana Says:

          I am sorry about your pain. I pray that you are able to heal from your abuse and move on. That will be a true work of God’s grace and will be a testimony to his goodness in your life.
          If you live anywhere close to PA there are some excellent counselor that your entire family might benefit from speaking with. (I am not one of them).

        • Jen Says:

          Dana, for me, this happened nearly nine years ago. I believe I have long ago healed from this, and just left my website silent for about five years. With Doug’s resignation, I pray that God will use me to help bring healing to the patriarchy community.

      • Eileen Says:

        Dana: I hate to say it but Unless you have interacted with someone who has LOST their child(ren) after they have been an intern at VF, or a family that has been abused by Doug at their church or encountered Doug one on one and see what he’s like face to face (not in a good way either), You will understand what people have gone through. It has affected countless numbers of people. Walk a mile in their shoes and you will understand. It’s sad yes but it’s true. You will see and realize that Jen’s story was just the beginning 😦

        • Dana Says:

          I am sure there are countless heartbreaking stories of sinful interactions with people however , if we are assuming that people responding here are True believers in Christ, we are all held to the same commands to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. This is truth. Although it is not easy it is a greater testimony to God’s grace (and Love) for us as individuals who have been wounded. Even marriages destroyed and children “lost”.

        • Jen Says:

          Eileen speaks like one who understands from experience.

        • Dana Says:

          Jen, somehow I get the idea that unless one has “walked a mile” that someone doesn’t have anything valuable to add to the conversation.

        • Jen Says:

          Dana, first, that is not true. However, this is a very close-knit community and there are certain aspects that are difficult for outsiders to understand. But, people are people and even though we don’t understand all the details, we can all learn from one another and understand one another.

          Second, I thought maybe you were the Dana I knew from years ago when I first told my story. If so, I thought you were familiar with this from the inside. Maybe I have you confused with someone else with the same first and last name.

    • katharinetrauger Says:

      Although any female can encounter this type of mistreatment in or out of church, it is not always this way, and it is not caused by the church. Women are targets of society, and the Church is supposed to be the agent of change for that problem. And sometimes the Church fails, and maybe too often. But not always.
      I was completely devastated in our previous church, while teaching a women’s Bible study the women did not want to study. They blitzed the elders after every meeting and finally accused me of “cussing them out” which I did not do. In fact, quite to the contrary, some of them used the Lord’s Name inappropriately in class. The elders tried hard to be patient and desired to discuss it all with me. My husband refused to allow it and met with them, himself. Once they learned the truth, they were very apologetic to me, in a meeting before all the other women, and asked me to continue teaching the women, but to change books. I declined and they accepted my decision with grace.
      Although the attack of the women hurt me very badly, there was no attack from the men. In fact, I felt the men surrounded me and warded of the arrows of the women. It was how Godly men should handle such a mess, I thought. Several of the women even apologized to me, privately. And those who finished and heeded the book we were studying reaped Godly results, which seemed to make it all worth the pain.
      Just want to share this to encourage you to try again, to find a true Church of true Christ worship, where you will be safe.

  22. Debbie Says:

    Well now, dp is not “really” the problem. It is Belle. Isn’t that how it goes in these circles? Is it not the wife that is to blame? Is that not what he told other couples? Wonder if she’ll be pressured for years to repent of something that she knows not what to repent of.

  23. The Resignation of Doug Phillips | Why Not Train A Child? Says:

    […] The Heavy Burden of Doug Phillips’ Legalism Leads to His Resignation From Vision Forum and How Patriarchy Itself is the Slippery Slope that Led Doug Phillips to Serious Sin With Another Woman by Jen at Jen’s Gems […]

  24. Jonathan Willing (@willing) Says:

    I just recently stumbled on your blog after hearing news about what happened with Doug. I was quite young at the time our family went to BCA, so I don’t have a great recollection of the specific events that occurred, but going back and reading through your series of posts has shed quite a bit of light on what happened back then. Your forgiveness toward those who have caused you immense pain is quite admirable. I’m quite saddened by what your you and your family has gone through, but what a testimony that you’ve been able to pull through with God’s grace.

    It’s been quite a long time since I’ve met with anyone that was (or is) part of the whole BCA community, but I dearly hope this situation is the first push on the domino trail that will hopefully crash down to reveal to the community that true faith is found in letting our lives be focused on our Savior alone.

    • Jen Says:

      Jonathan, I remember you well. I am glad that your family left before you were in a position to get hurt. Now, I pray that God will use me to help bring healing to all those who have been hurt and to those who don’t know how to respond when their idol falls.

  25. NaomiT Says:

    I am feeling so very sorry for the poor woman in this affair. I don’t know any details, obviously. But I can only imagine. I know the kind of worship men like DP command. Women do have choices but in these circumstances, they are probably not as black and white as one might think. I am very, very concerned for this woman. Will she be safe?

    Thank you for posting your story and for choosing strength. You are heroic.

  26. Public notice: Douglas Phillips is not God’s wounded soldier, and we are not shooting our wounded | Biblical Personhood Says:

    […] He threatens Christians who had negative experiences with him with lawsuits if they talk about it, and… to make sure any and all stories involving Doug Phillips in any way other than idolizing him were decidedly dealt with”. He encouraged home schooling even for parents who really does not have the skills or resources for it, thus ruining the education of many children. He say mothers with tubal pregnancies – a pregnancy which cannot survive and has a good chance to kill the mother -should die rather than to have surgery to remove the non-viable foetus. Some people left the Christian faith because of negative experiences with “Christian” patriarchy.* […]

  27. Retha Says:

    “I heard many stories of men “dressed in black,” carrying pieces (or so I was told), who used mafia-like techniques” -Jen

    family-oriented ministry?

    • Jen Says:

      Retha, one of the reasons I told my story is that there is such a disparity between what it is taught publicly and what is done to protect that reputation.

  28. Virginia Knowles Says:

    I’m hoping to read all of these comments later, but wanted to give you a link to what I wrote on Saturday. I included the link for your post.

  29. Laura Says:

    I don’t participate as a full member of any church because of the verbal abuse I TOO have encountered. I appreciate Anabaptist style of churches however. I read stuff like and such. My husband’s family verbally abused me and they have their share of sexual sins they want covered up and are locally in their community know to be very religious. I continue to feel that it is only necessary for a person to follow the words that Christ spoke. Anything else is man-made and organized for financial gain. It is as you have said, “legalism”
    Despite hearing stories like this, I continue to believe the following regarding those women who are placed into the position of wife and mother:
    1. Women submission to husband is important and allows peace in the home.
    2. Men are the head of the home even if they are lost, prideful, drunken, depressed or sinful.
    3. It is man’s responsibility to provide. Women’s responsibility to love her husband and children.
    4. Home-education is best for family and children. Although I cannot condemn those who use public systems of education for various reasons disability, widow, broken home etc.
    5. Abortion to excuse the behavior of the person’s who contributed to the relationship is wrong. Abortion to save the life of the mother can have its drawbacks.
    6. Daughters are best under father, brother or other respected male for protection from bad relationship
    7. The bible is the first authority for our spiritual and daily life.

    These things can cause the issues like Doug Philips behavior that seeped into sin:
    1. Excessive focus on financial gain
    2. legalism as you mentioned
    3. Lack of concern for those who have liberal beliefs (you know those knitting groups)
    4. Excessive focus on the greatness of America’s founding fathers (they had their sin too)
    5. Lack of concern that sexual sin and other sins can last well into the age of being an elderly centurion. (I’ve worked in a nursing home and have seen sexual sin in the elderly)
    6. Pride
    7. Dependency on lawyers and not on God’s love and grace.

    • Jen Says:

      Laura, yes it is extremely important that we do not let the pendulum swing from one extreme to the other. Many things Doug Phillips taught were really good things. But that does not mean that abuse of power is OK.

      You have two very great lists showing the two extremes of Doug. Great job!

  30. Retha Faurie Says:

    Laura, you say the man is the head of the woman. Do you know what “head” meant when that was written, in the language that was written in?

  31. Retha Faurie Says:

    Why do we use the words “under” fathers/ brothers for protection? “Under” imply being lower and lesser people. We never speak of presidents being “under bodyguards for protection.” We talk of bodyguards serving them. I believe we all – male and female – need various forms of protection, but that don’t mean we are under those who protect us.

    God made the woman as an equal – that is the very meaning of “meet for him” – not a lower person.

  32. Rebecca W Says:

    Thx for this.

  33. Another Patriarchy Type Has Bitten The Dust. | Roll to Disbelieve Says:

    […] a woman who used to use his delusions on her family till she wised up. * Here’s a woman whose family got destroyed by Phillips’ teaching–and who, when she went public with her story, got totally lambasted by his buddies. * This is […]

  34. C Says:

    Hi Jen- nice to hear from you again; I read your story for the first time a few weeks ago & wondered what became of you. Obviously on the internet anyone can say anything or pretend to be anyone, on one side or another, but I’ve read several conflicting accounts of your story & I’d like to hear your side of the story– you mention adultery- did you commit adultery before conversion, or was there something ongoing during your excommunication? Also, are you still married or divorced now? None of your blogposts indicate marital problems after the church discipline, so I wasn’t sure what to think.


    • Jen Says:

      C, my adultery was very early on in my marriage and I had fully repented when I became a believer maybe 18 years before the excommunication.

      We divorced shortly after I told my story online. The marital problems never improved.

      Thank you for asking.

  35. Lauri Says:

    I am so sorry to hear all the stories of abuse that so many have experienced on this website. My family while never directly involved in the patriarchal movement, have suffered similar treatment from people who were. I would encourage people to look to God and not trust in men. My husband and I found a Presbyterian Church that rejects patriarchy. I would encourage you to find a church, there a lot out there, and find true healing in Christ. While I homeschool my kids my pastor does not and people are allowed through conscience to choose the method of schooling that suits them.

    My husband and I were previously in a church where many members were involved in this. My husband was an elder in our previous church and 90% of the problems he had to deal with were from this group. There were several children usually girls who rebelled against the control their parents had over them. My husband’s view was that the kids were being over controlled. Our session tried to deal with the family as a whole and the kids were not shunned, however we had a pastor that played both sides and was continuously undermining his session.

    We and many of our friends suffered abuse from our pastor and it is still hard for me to forgive, but God is a God of grace and forgiveness and I am thankful for my current church family.

  36. Sarah Beals Says:

    Years ago, we got the VF catalog in our mailbox and my husband took one look at it and said, “Any man who would plaster that many pictures of himself all over his catalog and who constantly puts “ESQ” behind his name is nuts. Don’t give them one dime of our money.” lol
    Years later, VF catalog contacted me about ordering my needlework designs (punched paper motto kits) wholesale for their catalog. We boxed up samples, and sent them out with the understanding that they’d return them or pay for their replacement if damaged or lost. When we never received the hand stitched samplers back, we inquired and they claimed they lost them. We sent them the bill for the agreed upon replacement value (in the purchase order) and they magically re-appeared. The interactions were rude, and all this from a “christian” company. I had never had one problem like this from a secular company at all. Very sad testimony.

  37. Sue FW Says:

    This saddens me so…my church is my other family. I homeschool and belong to an Evangelical church but have never encountered disrespect or condemnation (but our church does let women lead prayers, lead worship & be in leadership positions so that tells you something right there). I will say that I heard DP at a home school conference and thought he was a little “off” and it was intimidating & scary looking around at all the people nodding their heads in agreement. Our state homeschool conference has made the switch from being a place where you could get encouragement and instruction in how to homeschool into a “worldview” conference and some of the speakers are just plain nuts! One year some bat crazy speaker was talking about how he always stops and picks up road kill with his boys so they can skin it & about how we need to get guns into the hands of our young boys as soon as they can hold one! I was horrified and this from a Mom whose kids shoot competively in 4-H! I no longer attend but it scares me how many people attend and listen to these people.

    • Jen Says:

      Sue, that would be Little Bear, who used to be Doug’s best friend. And yes, he eats a lot of road kill!

      • Sue FW Says:

        Oh yeah…that’s right…now I remember. So hard for me to wrap my head around that lifestyle since I fortunately have never had to live it. My heart aches for the kids living it (especially the girls) who never feel they are good enough and are being taught salvation is through works….so sad. : (

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