Many people have noticed that there are two sides to Vision Forum: the ministry side, which is a 501c3; and the business side, which is where most of the money is made. This is a convenient way to have the best of both worlds: the tax advantages of being able to collect lots of free money without having to pay taxes; and the freedom to have the opportunity to make even more money by selling products at a profit. Neither one is wrong, and I am not against anyone making money legitimately. If Doug Phillips has earned money, then he should be entitled to it. But this type of tax structuring presents a few problems today.
Vision Forum Ministries is the ministry side of Vision Forum. This is the side that takes donations, puts on events, and through which Doug Phillips schedules all his speaking engagements. Vision Forum Ministries has six officers; Doug Phillips has always been the President, and until recently, Howard Phillips, Doug’s father, was the Vice President. I do not know if he has been replaced yet. That leaves two directors, Don Hart and Scott Brown, and the CFO (Josh Wean) and Secretary (Jim Zes).
Vision Forum, Inc. is the retail store of Vision Forum. This is the side where Doug Phillips has his blog and he sells all his products. The owner of Vision Forum, Inc. is Doug Phillips. As owner, there is nothing to step down from. The owner has 100% sole discretion as to what to do with the income earned from the business. Since this is a private business, I do not have any real numbers to work with, but after salaries and expenses are paid, it is certainly Doug Phillips’ decision as to what happens to the rest of that money. I see that they changed the name of Doug’s blog to “Vision Forum Blog” today, but don’t be fooled — Doug Phillips is still the sole owner of Vision Forum, Inc.
As President of Vision Forum Ministries, Doug Phillips took home $44,035 in 2011, the latest tax record on file. The Form 990 also states that he earned $24,254 in related income (speaker honorariums?) and that he worked about 30 hours a week on the ministry side. But that does not accurately represent Doug Phillips’ total income.
Some ministries have a “parsonage” for the minister and his family to live in, and Vision Forum Ministries is no exception. Vision Forum Ministries owns two buildings in San Antonio: the Vision Forum office/warehouse building and the Phillips’ family home. Doug Phillips and his family live in a very nice 6000 square foot home. To be fair, they have been very hospitable and opened their home for many church and ministry functions. I have many good memories there.
But that parsonage is a huge amount of Doug Phillips’ “income” from Vision Forum Ministries. It is considered part of his salary, and is a tax-free benefit. Since Doug Phillips maintains a large home office there as well, he may write off his office on his personal income taxes as well. I do not know who pays the utilities, but I do know that the ministry side owns this house. When a pastor leaves a church for any reason, it is usually stated in their contract how long they have to leave the parsonage, if provided, after they are no longer connected with the ministry. This is usually 30, 60, or 90 days.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating that Beall and the children be thrown out in the streets because of Doug Phillips’ decisions in life, but I also realize that the choices of one often impact the lives of their loved ones as well. I have certainly experienced that first hand and wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. What I am curious about, more than anything, is what will happen with this substantial part of Doug Phillips’ salary that directly comes from Vision Forum Ministries. How will this be reconciled?
In addition to this gorgeous home, we have his salary from Vision Forum, Inc., which could be substantial, and his royalties. Doug Phillips is not taking much of a cut in income here. Doug Phillips states that he will be “serving as a foot soldier” during this time. This means he will still be working in the business he owns.
I have recently found out that Doug Phillips resigned from his position of Elder at Boerne Christian Assembly early this year. This concerns me. Either there were two very serious allegations against Doug Phillips, one serious enough to impact the church at the beginning of the year, and another one that prompted his recent resignation; OR he resigned as Elder because of this “serious sin” with another woman about nine months before he resigned as President of his ministry. How genuine does that repentance sound now? And why is he not under church discipline? I can guarantee you that anyone else would be under church discipline for this type of behavior. (I personally think there are better ways to handle it, but what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, too.)
While I was checking out Vision Forum Ministry’s Form 990, I had a couple other questions that maybe someone can help me with. The first one regards the purchase of the radio program, Jonathan Park. Vision Forum Ministries bought Jonathan Park from Vision Forum, Inc. for $670,833.
“The organization acquired a program for the price of $670,833 called the J Park Program which is a fully developed radio broadcast that is now on 400 radio stations. Consistent with this organization’s mission, the J Park radio program promotes and teaches the study of science from a Christian perspective. Various products are sold in conjunction with this program that should make it self sustaining. This program was purchased from Vision Forum, Inc. and was purchased for a price established by a third party appraisal firm. The acquisition price of this program is listed as an asset on the balance sheet within, not of amortization.”
So, the ministry side paid $670,833 to the business side of Vision Forum. I’m scratching my head as to how this would benefit Vision Forum Ministries. They still sell all these products through Vision Forum, Inc., the business side, but the ministry side receives the money. Why are some products on the ministry side and other products are on the business side, yet all products are sold through the business side? What am I missing?
What I am not missing is that Vision Forum Ministries is the side that accepts donations. In 2011, Vision Forum Ministries received $2,606,157 in donations. That is not sales, that is just free money that homeschooling families freely gave to Doug Phillips. Let me repeat that. Two and a half million dollars. Of that $2,606,157, Vision Forum Ministries “paid” $670, 833 to Doug Phillips’ personal business to “buy” a product they already owned. Where did that money go? Directly to the owner of Vision Forum, Inc. So now, the donations of homeschooling families are being used to buy assets already owned by Vision Forum, so that Vision Forum can transfer money from the non-taxable side to the owner’s pockets. But maybe I am missing something here.
As I was reading through the questions and answers on Vision Forum Ministry’s Form 990, I had a couple other questions. On page 3, question 3 states: “Did the organization engage in direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office?” This is a huge requirement for keeping a 501c3 status. Vision Forum Ministries answered “No.” Technically, that is true. But how many people say to themselves, “Doug Phillips is not speaking on behalf of the ministry side of the house when he talks about politics; he is only speaking on behalf of his business side”? Or, when we think of Doug Phillips, do we think of Vision Forum, without trying to figure out which side of the house he is speaking from? In fact, when we read Doug’s Blog, it is a combination of Vision Forum’s ministry side, as he both advertises and reports on all the events connected to the ministry side of Vision Forum, as well as advertises and reports on all activities associated with the business side. On Doug’s Blog, they all run together. When we think of Doug Phillips, it all runs together in our minds as simply, “Vision Forum.”
So, let’s see if the average reader of Doug’s Blog would consider that Vision Forum Ministries does not engage in direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office. There are literally hundreds of entries that could be used as examples, but here and here are a couple that I found on a quick search of Doug’s Blog. What do you think? Would you agree that Vision Forum is not involved at all in politics?
Let us not forget that Doug Phillips’ father, Howard Phillips, Vision Forum Ministries’ Vice President, was a founding member of the Constitution Party, and that the Constitution Party itself was heavily involved in politics. That is a very close political connection, especially considering that Howard Phillips ran for President of the United States three times.
Although I was not excommunicated by Vision Forum Ministries, I cannot help but see the irony of my response to Doug Phillip’s blog article on voting, written on Vision Forum’s website, as the impetus for my excommunication. Politics are certainly strongly interwoven into all things Vision Forum.
One last little question, found on page 5, question 2 of Vision Forum Ministries Form 990: “Enter the number of employees reported on Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements …” Answer: 8 “If at least one is reported on line 2a, did the organization file all required federal employment tax returns?” Answer: “No.” Huh? They have eight employees but they did not file the required tax returns. And they told the IRS that. Somebody please help me out with that one!
November 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm
Wow, you are onto something here with the J Park Program “acquisition”. Pretty slimy if you ask me. This is getting ugly for him and his crew.
November 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm
Pretty slick way to put donations in your pocket, if you ask me.
November 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm
If true, he should be behind bars.
November 6, 2013 at 5:12 pm
All true. And this is just one year.
November 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm
Jen: can you go back previous years, and see if this is a consistent issue and has happened every year?
November 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm
Wow….. What a jerk.
I think that he resigned from BCA and then word got out and some big donor to VF Ministries said, “NO WAY! I’m not sending my $500k donation with Doug in charge.” And so they quickly removed him from the position to secure that donation.
He’ll “make reparations for his sin” and be back at Vision Forum Ministries before the end of 2014.
November 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm
Sarah, why did resign from BCA in February, or so, and then resign from Vision Forum in October? Is that true repentance?
November 6, 2013 at 5:53 pm
Nope, like I said originally, this “confession” was the tip of the iceberg – Doug is man of many secrets.
Nine months right… maybe…perhaps… a baby showed up at Vision Forum asking for child support?!?!
November 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm
Sarah, I must confess that was my first thought, but I am fairly certain that is not the case.
November 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm
@Sarah: are you connected to BCA or used to attend there? What do you know of DP?
November 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm
Sarah went to BCA for a while with me. She knows this whole thing inside out.
November 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm
Sarah: so glad to hear that there’s another person that’s not ashamed to tell their story and be vocal about what’s going on at BCA with DP
November 7, 2013 at 12:56 am
from our understanding, Doug told people that he was resigning (in February) to “spend time with his family”. I have NO idea what changed to force him to resign and step down in Oct but VF has been having financial issues for a while.
November 7, 2013 at 1:39 am
The length of time between resignations is a MAJOR concern to me. That is more telling than the “serious sin” to begin with.
November 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm
I noticed on the Vision Forum blog, Doug Phillips has posted a clarification about his ownership of Vision Forum, Inc. He admits he retains ownership. Which is fine I guess, if he rightfully owns the company. I’m not sure how profitable it will be going forward.
November 6, 2013 at 5:15 pm
Of course he owns the company! He’s not losing much by “resigning” from the ministry side.
Glad to see he is still responding to my articles!
November 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm
VF, the catalog company, has been losing money for years. These recent developments will probably be the death blow to VF including VFM.
November 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm
Got a miracle injection of around 670K due to that brilliant sale of one of it’s radio programs. I wonder if that dough went into management bonuses…Awesome ministry!
November 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm
yes they have. They can probably say goodbye to their “deep pocket” donors as well.
November 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm
Jen, I’m no accountant or CPA, but in my read of things the Vision Forum Ministries 2011 tax return is suspect. It raises too many questions that it doesn’t answer.
Knowing what you personally know about Doug’s arrangements, such as “the parsonage”, you’ve raised some good questions that really need to be looked into. A competent independent CPA or tax preparer might want to do a cursory review of the returns. It wouldn’t take long. I say “independent” because Doug’s own accounting firm is anything but independent. It’s too easy to find a fast and loose accounting firm that will be happy to game the system (for the right price) on behalf of his client. If the client ever gets audited by the IRS and later hammered with fines and penalties for gaming the system it’s no skin off the accountant’s nose. His story will be that all he’s done is prepare the returns based on the information provided by the client. The fact that the CFO (the guy who provides the numbers to the accounting firm) is being paid far more than the President/Founder is a major red flag in itself. As an attorney you can believe that Doug Phillips has educated himself on the best ways to game the system that are the least likely to come back and bite him.
I’d heard tell that Doug’s lavish residence was originally donated to Vision Forum Ministries for a tax writeoff. Doug then promptly moved in and because he held his home church meetings there (at least until he was able to get the church building in Bourne), he was able to get it taken off the property tax roles too. It’s also apparently declared for property tax purposes to be a pastor’s parsonage. One thing I didn’t see on the 990 is any declaration of the parsonage for federal tax purposes, and that surprised me. So maybe it’s declared on Boerne Christian Assembly’s tax return (if they file one), or maybe it’s just not being declared anywhere.
All of that might perhaps be legit, but at best it’s in the gray area. One big problem now though, as you’ve pointed out. Doug is no longer a pastor, or even the head of Vision Forum Ministries. If he doesn’t have a lease contract with the owner of the “parsonage” to live in the home, and if he’s not paying fair market value rent for the house (perhaps you could fill us in on what a house like that would rent for), then he’s bilking Bourne Christian Assembly and/or Vision Forum Ministries. Unless, that is, at some point he transferred ownership of the home to himself. If that ever happened it would be fraud. A title search of the home (you’d need the physical address to do that) would quickly sort that out.
As I say, more question are raised by the Vision Forum Ministries’ tax returns than are answered.
November 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm
The house is SWANKY! It’s super nice. Complete with an in-ground, indoor pool. It’d be hard to describe it – it’s just a very very nice, custom built home in a very expensive part of San Antonio. A house that size, in that area, would rent for upwards of $5-6k/month.
November 6, 2013 at 5:15 pm
Yes, Sarah, the mortgage payment would be about $4500, so rent would be more than that. Your numbers are spot on.
November 6, 2013 at 5:12 pm
Geoff, I’ve already done my homework. I am a professional tax preparer. 🙂 And I’ve already done all the title searches. Vision Forum Ministries owns the office/warehouse building and they own Doug Phillips’ home, which has a current appraisal of $681,900. It looks the going market rate would begin at $4500 a month.
November 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm
interestingly, everytime something comes up here or elsewhere, they change stuff on the website or blog. I not only see the company not doing well, but I also see some of the ones that are giving all of these “donations” dropping like flies. I can’t see Doug EVER being quiet though. Maybe he’s hoping that this will all blow over and people will “forget” about it? don’t think so.
I am also saddened to see people post their undying love, appreciation and support on his fb page. Sickening if you ask me! But oddly enough, the ones that I thought would be vocal about their support for Doug or saying something, have been oddly quiet…….like scary quiet. Which makes us wonder what is REALLY going on!?????
November 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm
NoTurnipTruck, there is certainly FAR more here going on than meets the eye. I hope seeing these numbers will help some of these “poor” homeschoolers reconsider if they want to give their money to someone who is lining their own pockets with their donations.
November 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm
Appreciation and support shouldn’t be there right now. But I would suggest we should maintain undying love, just as Christ does. I believe the biblical precept would be to mourn over one caught up in this sin, instead of rejoicing (1 Cor 5:2).
I’ve never had a previously bad experience with Vision Forum, so I can’t relate to the people here and won’t try. I am sorry for what some of you have gone through. But I would suggest, as hard is it might be to do, fight back any urge that may or may not eventually come to you to laugh at him in his day of calamity. (And I haven’t seen that on these posts by the way…so no accusation). I believe there is a great lesson in Obadiah about that. He brought all this scrutiny and criticism on himself by his actions, and he deserves anything negative that comes his way. I’m going to take the position of hoping the best for him and praying for his proven repentance and restoration. But I will likely always be wary of him trying to return to a public forum in any way….just as I would any minister who falls in this manner. I believe trust is irreparably broken.
November 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm
Larry, excellent, biblical advice. Thanks for the good reminder to stick to the high road.
November 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm
Regardless of whether Phillips repents, or not, the Scripture demands that he be openly rebuked before all. I Tim 5 says, “19Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”
My question is who is following through on this verse…current elders at his church, his VFM board, etc.? These sins were committed while he was the head of VFM and while he was an elder at BCA. Where is the “rebuke before all”?
November 6, 2013 at 5:28 pm
Anon (please choose a fake name or something!), I agree. This is a public leader and this is a public matter, so he does need to be publicly rebuked, especially since no one seems to think he is truly repentant.
November 9, 2013 at 1:33 pm
he has a church, church elders are responsible for what ever Biblical response is necessary..not our business.pray for him and the elders involved..so many of you can’t wait to jump in to convict, judge and crucify..stay off the gossip..glean into your own sin..not anyone else’s As for me i have plenty of me to deal with..
November 9, 2013 at 4:03 pm
Larry, while all that is very true, and very good advice, the truth of the matter is that Doug Phillips has hurt and abused many people and continues to do so. When he repents from that abusive lifestyle and makes amends where necessary, then we will know he is truly repentant. This is a public leader who abuses people privately, quite severely.
November 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm
while I agree with you Larry, you obviously have no idea how Doug works/worked. Doug was accountable to NO ONE! His elder was in name ONLY and Doug was the only one that made any decisions. It was that way at VF as well. Also he is NOT under church discipline.
November 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm
Larry is right, but indirectly he brings up a good point. While Doug operated unilaterally and out from under authority, it doesn’t excuse the people immediately around him that enabled him to abuse so many people. Bob Sarratt was a so-called co-elder with Doug for many years at BCA. Sarratt either looked the other way, rubber stamped, or participated directly and personally in the abuse of many families that are no longer at BCA while covering-up the sin of another adulterous lady that is a close friend of Doug’s that may still be at BCA. While all of the focus is on Doug, and a lot of it should be, let’s not forget these other men that enabled Doug to abuse people. I think Sarratt is still an elder at BCA and he needs to join Doug on the “former elder” list. Next for consideration is Michael Gobart and Josh Wean, both “yes” men that work at Vision Forum and enablers of many of Doug’s sins, i.e., didn’t hold him accountable like they should have done. Gobart has been involved in a lot of Doug’s tyrannical behavior at BCA and along with Sarratt, he has been involved in some of his own apart from Doug. Gobart, Wean, and Sarratt, especially Gobart and Sarratt who have both been at BCA with Doug, need to confess and repent also. People close to the situations at VF and BCA know that Wean, Sarratt, and Gobart were picked for their positions because they have a distorted and unbiblical view of “honor” that Doug could use to exploit them along with many others. I wonder how they all feel assuming they have woke-up and can smell the coffee now.
November 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm
She doesn’t get it. Not a single solitary bit. Do you know how close the McDonald’s are to Doug? Are they just acquaintances or are they part of his inner close circle?
From her fb:
2 hours ago
Personal “ministry” blogs or websites that exist for the sole purpose of tearing apart other ministries (or people) are pits of arrogant, sarcastic, hyper-spiritual snobbery. If you visit their pit, you’ll most likely leave a little more self-righteous, a little less able to love, and in need of a shower.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! Galatians 5:14–15
November 6, 2013 at 6:22 pm
Stacy McDonald is an idiot. Just flat. out. idiot. I’ve had limited interraction with Stacy b/c of a very arrogant, sarcastic and hyper-spiritual snobbery article she wrote for Homeschooling Today, of which I called her out for. And she responded like a spoiled brat AND drug Beall Phillips into the whole thing. She’s a twit.
I think she doesn’t have anything else to do with her life except hop right into the middle of whatever the men are doing and oooh and aaaahhh at them.
Can’t stand her.
The McDonalds and the Phillips are very close family friends.
Perhaps she’s the other woman. HAHAHAHAHA
November 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm
There are times for exposing wolves and there are times for loving people privately.
Yes, I know Stacy. She and James McDonald are very close to Doug Phillips.
November 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm
I see arrogance is a common theme here sigh! I can see why they are close friends. I have interacted with her & James at a homeschool conference when I was a vendor at one time. They turned me off from the get go……very piused, unapproachable, arrogant and stuck up.
November 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm
November 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm
This is all really intriguing. Did you know that on Doug Phillips church website they have posted letters about the ex- communication.
November 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm
My excommunication? Yes. Or some of the other excommunications?
November 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm
@noturniptruck: I used to attend BCA w/Jennifer. In fact, for all the years that we attended church there, Jennifer was the ONLY person who ever reached out to me, welcomed me into the church, and actually HELPED me raise the children, homeschool the kids, and keep me sane during very very difficult seasons of marriage. We don’t always see eye to eye on every little thing, but Jennifer is one of the most trustworthy, honest and sincerely genuine people I’ve ever known. She often takes a social beating because she’s willing to stand up and tell the truth – however ugly it is. I’ve not been that willing b/c I just have had the “shake the dust off my feet” attitude about it all. But I have seen this entire scenario play out – and have had MANY people confirm what a snake Doug Phillips really is.
What’s funny is how insanely connected we both are to so many outliers in Doug’s life. Good friends of mine have asked me, specifically, who Jennifer (Epstein) Fishburne b/c they know of her from the situation at the Arlington Book Festival and the whole scandal involving the dinosaur dig that Doug has taken credit for even though he had NOTHING to do with it.
The whole Vision Forum Ministry / Business is Doug’s way of funding is megalomaniacal lifestyle. It’s offensive, at best, to anyone with any sense of discernment.
November 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm
Thank you, Sarah, for your kind words. You’re a true friend!
November 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm
thanks for that Sarah. I cannot say how I am connected but I am as well. It has opened our eyes to the “wolves” around us and to be on guard.
You know Jen the other day we were discussing Stacy Macdonald. I couldn’t help but think of the player from the Dolphins who is being punished for his history of bullying. That’s what I see what Doug was doing to ya’ll…….I see it as many things, but bullying is a word that I would describe it by using spiritual weapons 😦 I am glad you have moved past it!
November 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm
Yep, Doug is a bully and I don’t cower to bullies. 🙂
November 7, 2013 at 10:45 pm
And another link.
The original web site doesn’t seem to work anymore which is why I linked to the Wayback Machine. It starts with a wonderful statement by the lovely Josh Wean, CFO, Vision Forum, Inc. Something tells me we’re going to be hearing Josh’s name come up again in the future.
November 7, 2013 at 11:34 pm
I’m sorry Brandon took his blog down. He was a good detective.
November 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm
@ TW Eston
Thanks for bringing this to my attention. The site is still up, just had a DNS problem. All fixed now. I plan on keeping that information up on the internet as long as it needs to be. There is much more to be written but having a big family kind of put a hold on the writing. In Doug’s resignation he states it has helped him uncover other sins, so here is hoping that he reaches out to Joe Taylor and tries to reconcile with him. I talked to Joe last week and he has not heard from Doug yet. I am not getting my hopes up though.
November 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm
Brandon! So good to hear from you! How many kids do you and Elizabeth have now?
Please keep us updated on Joe and tell him “Hello” from me. I, too, pray that Doug Phillips uses this time to right many wrongs.
November 8, 2013 at 8:18 pm
It starts with a wonderful statement by the lovely Josh Wean, CFO, Vision Forum, Inc. Something tells me we’re going to be hearing Josh’s name come up again in the future.
that would back up what I seeing on another board: I’ve read in a few places that there’s also a hush-hush financial investigation going on as well, which sounds plausible to me, but I have no idea whether or not it’s true or where people are getting their information.
I had a feeling this might be financial and shady.
November 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm
I’ve heard rumors about that, but nothing more at this point.
November 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm
“and the whole scandal involving the dinosaur dig that Doug has taken credit for even though he had NOTHING to do with it”
Are you talking about that fake documentary that Doug Phillips produced, directed, wrote, narrated, etc called Raising The Allosaur? I remember it too well. What a huge embarrassment that was to buy that fakumentary from Vision Forum and later find out the whole thing was a big fake! What a con artist Doug Phillips is! He took total credit for things he didn’t have anything to do with. He and his homeschool group were just along on that dinosaur dig as tourists, but he claims they were the ones who actually found the allosaur and excavated it. Yeah right. What a liar. Right after his video was exposed as a big lie he stopped selling it, after he’d made hundred of thousands of dollars off it.
I found a couple sites that talk about it.
Since Doug Phillips seems so in the mood to repent he should repent of defrauding Joe Taylor and ruining his business with his dirty lawyer tricks. From what I’ve heard he’s ruined a lot of other people’s lives too.
November 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm
That truly was one of the most despicable things Doug Phillips has done. Here are a couple more articles about it.
November 8, 2013 at 10:36 pm
[…] Heavy Burden of Doug Phillips’ Legalism Leads to His Resignation From Vision Forum and Doug Phillips’ Balance Sheet: Vision Forum Ministries vs. Vision Forum, Inc. and How Patriarchy Itself is the Slippery Slope that Led Doug Phillips to Serious Sin With Another […]
November 9, 2013 at 12:33 am
[…] just about every article written on Phillips since the resignation was announced. She’s also speculated on his future finances, questioned his politics, and insinuated his affair must have been with a nanny. To get an idea of […]
November 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm
Money, power and sex all cloaked in righteousness equals a cult, plain and simple. He has done more harm to true Christianity for many people than an atheist ever could. Christians should rejoice he has been exposed, then pray for his salvation.
November 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm
Don, he definitely needs our prayers.
November 11, 2013 at 12:36 am
“BlueBehemoth.com is your family’s source for a massive selection of trustworthy downloadable media! Enjoy movies, music, audibooks, sermons, and more.”
For those not familiar with BlueBehemoth, it’s owned by Vision Forum Inc. For some reason the web site has been unreachable for days. Perhaps it’s being DDOS’d? Doubtful. Is Vision Forum being dismantled piece by piece and assets being liquidated in anticipation of a major lawsuit?
November 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm
TW, I had totally forgotten about Blue Behemoth! I tried opening it today, but the server cannot be found. I wonder if it just never went anywhere?
Vision Forum? Lawsuit? You know Christians never sue one another!
November 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm
I had completely forgotten about this, too. I wonder if I can get some of my web savvy dev’s to research it… at least see where it went..
November 11, 2013 at 3:35 pm
Sarah, it was successfully crawled by the Wayback Machine as recently as Nov 6, 2013 — https://web.archive.org/web/20131106033853/http://bluebehemoth.com/ So at least as of that date it was still fully functional.
Perhaps a call to the Blue Behemoth licensed broker can help clear a few things up:
Neil M. Craig
11716 S. Player Dr.
Spokane, WA 99223
Here’s the WHOIS info:
Domain Name: BLUEBEHEMOTH.COM
Registrar URL: http://www.wildwestdomains.com
Updated Date: 2013-07-14 23:18:30
Creation Date: 2009-07-17 15:19:04
Registrar Expiration Date: 2014-07-17 15:19:04
Registrar: Wild West Domains, LLC
Reseller: New Venture Domains
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Registrant Name: Douglas Phillips
Registrant Organization: The Vision Forum, Inc.
Registrant Street: 4719 Blanco Rd
Registrant City: San Antonio
Registrant State/Province: Texas
Registrant Postal Code: 78212
Registrant Country: United States
Admin Name: Douglas Phillips
Admin Organization: The Vision Forum, Inc.
Admin Street: 4719 Blanco Rd
Admin City: San Antonio
Admin State/Province: Texas
Admin Postal Code: 78212
Admin Country: United States
Admin Phone: +1.2103405250
Admin Email: email@example.com
Tech Name: Hostmaster ONEANDONE
Tech Organization: 1&1 Internet Inc.
Tech Street: 701 Lee Rd.
Tech City: Chesterbrook
Tech State/Province: Pennsylvania
Tech Postal Code: 19087
Tech Country: United States
Tech Phone: +1.8774612631
Tech Fax: +1.6105601501
Tech Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Name Server: NS10.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS11.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS12.DNSMADEEASY.COM
Name Server: NS13.DNSMADEEASY.COM
November 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm
I love the Wayback Machine! 🙂
November 12, 2013 at 7:08 am
It is still down the last time I checked. You would think with being an ecommerce site that they would try to restore it as soon as possible. The domain name doesn’t expire until next year so that can’t be the cause. Maybe this is related to the rumored financial issues. Oh, maybe Doug just needs to hire Matt Chancey’s cracker jack web team, that will fix it!
November 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm
HAHAHA I’ve been wondering what the Chancey’s have to say about all this now! LOL
November 13, 2013 at 12:37 am
ohhhhhhhh………I have lots and lots and lots of adjectives for Matt Chancey……..lots…….many of them VERY fitting!
November 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm
Thank you for the work you are doing and the way you are going about it. I for one know the problems caused in a family when starting up this kind of a lifestyle. Praise Abba El, we took a step back a few years ago and rethought the direction our family was heading.
November 11, 2013 at 4:39 pm
Mike, I’m glad you were able to get out before you got in too deep. I hope many others will find their way out now.
November 11, 2013 at 7:19 pm
The Closing of Vision Forum Ministries
In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry. While we believe as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry to the Christian family, we are grieved to find it necessary to make this decision. We believe this to be the best option for the healing of all involved and the only course of action under the circumstances.
November 12, 2013 at 7:57 am
FYI, The url still contains Doug’s first name : http://www.visionforum.com/news/blogs/doug/default.aspx
November 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm
Not disagreeing with anything in the article, which raises some great questions. But just to clarify, do we KNOW that the resignation from the elder position at the church at the beginning of this year is related to the recent resignation from VF? I know it’s suspicious and quite likely that the two are connected, but I’m curious if that connection in fact has actually been made.
November 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm
David, no, we do not know either way. Here are the two scenarios, as I see it.
One, there are two different SERIOUS offenses.
Two, they are the same offense. Doug is forced to resign as elder in February (he would NEVER resign on his own accord), and promises to repent and make things right. Vision Forum board members are aware of this resignation over serious sin and they continue to work and minister with him. Nine months later, Doug is still continuing in serious sin, but something new, something super serious with serious legal implications comes to light, and Doug is now forced to resign as President from his own ministry that he began (again, he would NEVER step down willingly).
At this time, I do not know which scenario is correct, but both are very serious.
November 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm
I guess I’m more wondering is it possible that he simply resigned back in February because he wanted to: no sin, scandal, etc., but for whatever reason he moved on. I had a family member resign as an elder from a church not long ago and it was simply because the time commitment was too much and he wanted more time with his family. Do we know that the resignation from the church in February was related to a sin?
November 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm
David, at one time, Beall told me that Doug would NEVER resign from being elder and he would NEVER quit Vision Forum. They were intertwined and this was his whole life. I cannot imagine him stepping down just because he wanted more time with his family. If you knew how little time he devoted to the church to begin with, you would realize that wasn’t a factor.
If Doug stepped down just because he needed more time with his family, I can guarantee you he would not only have announced it publicly, but he would have made a BIG deal out of it and called all elders everywhere to take a break from ministry when they needed to. Whatever was happening in Doug’s life became the focus of his ministry as well.
November 13, 2013 at 12:38 am
No David & Jen,
Doug was forced to step down in Feb
November 13, 2013 at 1:05 am
Yes, I am sure he was. 🙂
November 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm
Makes sense, thanks!
November 16, 2013 at 9:02 am
I was just looking over the 2011 990 form myself and noticed that VFM also purchased “ENN” from VF for the price of $40,000. ENN… would that be the ‘Everyday News Network’? The program that consisted of kids, producing their own videos and sending them in? $40,000? Hmmm.
November 16, 2013 at 10:29 am
Maxwell, thanks for sharing that. ENN, it seems, has no commercial/monetary value. and yet it was *sold*. Hmmm!
Does anyone have any idea WHY Vision Forum sent out an email yesterday encouraging people to get this free catalog for boys ? https://www.jmcremps.com/ Apparently different people own/run it, but WHY would Doug promote this through VF email ??? WEIRD!
November 16, 2013 at 11:38 am
they are here in MN. I have spoken to the owner some. Don’t know why DP would encourage others to get this unless to cause a diversion from VF.
November 16, 2013 at 11:39 am
November 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm
Second email today from VF Inc … A FREE Catalog Your Boys Will Love….(full color encouragement to get the FREE catalog from a competitor J M Cremps) Meanwhile back at VF …35% Off All In-Stock Items – This Week Only! What is up here?
And ebay continues to fill up with people selling their VF items. … Just my 2 cents
November 29, 2013 at 2:30 pm
Thanks for all the work you are doing here. I’ve been giving some thought to the Jonathan Park sale (from VFM to VFI). This is a HUGE issue as it essentially involves transferring money donated by people intending to help the ministry, only to have their personal contributions funneled into Doug Phillips’ pocket.
I have a couple questions:
1. Is it at all possible that the Board of Directors DID NOT know that this “funds transfer” took place? Having run my own business, I can’t see how Board Members would not have to actually sign on for this literally.
2. If the Board Members did do this, what are the implications for them? Who should be calling them to account?
3. This seems to be just one of many issues, but it blows the whole thing wide open… If this is more than just Phillips. Surely there must be some documentation publicly available as to who signed. Will you be doing a post on this issue alone as it it worth addressing?
November 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm
I think you are confused. VFI sold JP to VFM, not the other way around. JP was sold for fair market value to VFM and VFI has paid royalties to VFM for every sale through VFI since the sale. I would encourage folks to stop speculating about financial improprieties unless you have something solid. Doug’s mistreatment of dozens of Christians should be the focus here; on this, there is no doubt and plenty of bodies alongside the road to substantiate it.
December 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm
Johnny, thanks for your comments. I’m wondering if you’re familiar with the IRS guidelines on “legitimate business purpose.” What possible legitimate business purpose could VFI have had in selling Jonathan Park to VFM on Dec 1, 2011? For my part I can’t see it. It looks like a blatant sham and the fact that VFI paid VFM royalties doesn’t of itself create a legitimate business purpose.
Could you comment on the royalty arrangement, how it gets paid, when it gets paid, how much, etc?
November 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm
Phillip, Jen and I have gone back and forth on this issue and haven’t come to an agreement. We simply don’t have enough information at this time to make a qualified determination. She believes there likely is fraud. I’m not quite so sure. What we do agree on is that it’s a major red flag that would not fail to escape the attention of the IRS, if and when VFM and VFI are audited. For tax purposes it does appear that Doug has run the two entities as though they were “pass through” entities. That’s legal to do in certain cases, provided it’s all properly been reported. It’s not legal in this sort of business structure.
Furthermore, the two entities must not only be legally separate on paper, they must functionally operate separately. Doug says, “Last week, I announced my resignation from the presidency of Vision Forum Ministries, a 501(c)3 organization. I retain ownership of Vision Forum, Inc., a distinct and private company…” He asserts the two are separate. Yet in many ways they don’t function separately at all. Take for example the fact that they share a common phone number, 866-440-0022. That’s a major no no. That in and of itself could be the basis for anyone suing either VFM, VFI, or both at the same time to “pierce the corporate veil.” If the veil is successfully pierced (and that’s a lot easier to accomplish than many people realize), and the Plaintiff were to win their case, if the assets of the organization weren’t sufficient to cover the monetary award, in a case of this nature the court would likely then attach the personal assets of the board members to cover the difference. Scott Brown appears at this juncture to have the “deep pockets” so he’d be the most likely target for collection.
The sale of Jonathan Park by VFM to VFI afforded VFM the opportunity to dispose of a great deal of year end excess cash, dump it in VFI’s coffers and… Who really knows where it went from there? Since VFI is a private corporation and isn’t legally required to make its tax returns public, as VFM must do, it leaves this a mystery to us. It does appear to be shady, but perhaps it’s all been properly accounted for. No one but Doug and the VFM and VFI accountants (Josh Wean and Richard Short) know for sure, and perhaps even the accountants don’t really know for sure either.
The sale of Jonathan Park by VFM to VFI would likely have occurred per the organization’s Bylaws. If the Bylaws authorize the sale of assets by a majority vote of the board, that could have taken place absent the knowledge of one or more board members. They might only have found out several months later.
Scott Brown, Howard Phillips and Jim Zess are shown in 2011 (the last year returns are publicly available) as having worked 0 hours/week for VFM. That’s not unusual. Many board members don’t know much of anything that takes place in the day to day operations of the organizations they’re responsible for. I’ve been a board member and I took my responsibilities far more seriously than that, even where I haven’t been paid for it. But many others don’t. However, Doug Phillips and Josh Wean are shown at 30 hours/week and Don Hart 10 hours/week. They each are immediately culpable in any financial fraud. Certainly Doug Phillips is culpable as board member (and chief perpetrator), Josh Wean as CFO is doubly accountable as no financial fraud could have likely taken place without his facilitating it, and Don Hart as the organization’s attorney is doubly accountable. The other board members are culpable in that they should have known, and because they later did find out. If upon finding out they didn’t immediately insist on doing something to correct any financial shenanigans then they too become complicit in any fraud.
None of this is to say that we know with any certainty that there has been fraud. But where there’s smoke…
November 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm
In your final statement in this paragraph, you go beyond speculation now to state something that isn’t true, when you said, ” For tax purposes it does appear that Doug has run the two entities as though they were “pass through” entities. That’s legal to do in certain cases, provided it’s all properly been reported. It’s not legal in this sort of business structure.”.
In particular, I am focusing on your statement, “… It’s not legal in this sort of business structure.” What you apparently don’t realize is that it is entirely LEGAL for a “for profit entity”, in this case, VFI to benefit a “nonprofit entity”, in this case, VFM. VFI was very careful to make sure this was done legally. Let’s take the example of the phone number you mentioned. It is perfectly legal for VFI to pay the entire cost for that phone number and allow VFM to benefit from it, i.e., use the same number. Furthermore, it is entirely legal for VFI to pay the entire cost of the phone number and then charge VFM a reasonable amount for its share of the usage.
I have noticed your qualifiers in some of your speculation, but until you have the facts, I would avoid mentioning something even with a qualifier, e.g., you don’t know about any financial wrongdoing, so stay away from even speculating on that while on the other hand, you do know that Doug committed adultery with a young lady under his pastoral care.
Finally, please remember that Doug is an attorney and he likely would not be as sloppy legally as you suggest. I am not saying there hasn’t been hanky-panky, we just don’t know so let’s wait until we do and lets avoid dogmatic statements about what is legal and what is not when we really don’t know what we are talking about.
November 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm
Johnny, I respect your opinions in this matter. However, I must respectfully disagree with your assessment. I especially disagree with this assertion: “Finally, please remember that Doug is an attorney and he likely would not be as sloppy legally as you suggest.” I’ve known Doug personally and well enough to know that he is, in point of fact, sloppy, and he plays fast and loose with the law Doug Phillips is unethical and duplicitous, and there’s no one more qualified to play fast and loose with the law than an unethical duplicitous attorney. That’s no assumption or presumption on my part.
One example of this is the fact that Doug and VFI haven’t paid anywhere near fair market value rent for the house and building. You say that VFI has paid rent. Even if that can be shown to be the case it would be no where near the legal requirement of fair market value.
The 2011 tax return shows:
Gross rents: $18,452
Less gross exp: 47,838
Rental inc. (or loss) -29,386
Gross rents: $17,671
Less gross exp: 38,036
Rental inc. (or loss) -20,365
Gross rents: $7,261
Less gross exp: 38,362
Rental inc. (or loss) -31,101
Not only has VFM consistently shown significant rental losses (a major red flag if not blatant fraud, especially under these circumstances), the loss in no way even reflects the legal requirement that the two properties be rented at or near fair market rental value. Jen has calculated the rental value on the house alone at $5,000/mo, based on other similar properties in the neighborhood. I have previously said the fair market value of the building, of which VFI occupies at least 80% of, to be at least $7,500/mo. I believe that figure to not only be very conservative but likely far less than the actual market value, which could easily be twice that. Even at these conservative estimates of a combined 12,500/month, VFM should be receiving some $150,000/year, not the paltry sum it’s been receiving for years.
I believe the reason why Doug has been scamming VFM out of rental income is obvious: it’s not easy to get money out of a 501c3 because of the legal prohibitions against “personal inurement.” Once the money goes in, such as from rental income, it stays in and can only be used for legitimate operating expenditures or, as in the case of the Jonathan Park sale to VFI, be used to make purchases (the JP purchase is another major red flag). The JP purchase was a very slick way of dumping excess cash out of VFM and putting back under Doug’s direct control.
These are just a couple of examples of what I am talking about. There are many more.
November 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm
While I certainly understand the caution against speculation there are a few things in this situation I believe warrent it. For one, what is LEGAL for a 501c3 to do with their money is not typically the measure used by religious non-profits to justify the way they use their money. The ETHICAL use of OPM (other people’s money) suggests they have open accountability and an easy to understand policy for spending it. Neither seem to be the case here, it is a shame we need to wait for an audit to give an account for spending/transferring/suspicious purchases and whatever else is unclear. Secondly, the cover up that still continues over the details of the sexual scandal is a huge indication of the extent these people will go to in order to cover thier tracks. With many individuals and companies that might have current financial dealing with VFI it would seem prudent to give them a heads up on what might be coming their way. I would wager that the donations made by faithful supporters would have fallen off sharply several months ago had the knowledge of this scandal
been reported to them in a timelier fashion. Actually, a good argument could be made that the financial component of this whole mess is more important that the sex scandal, as it directly affect thousands of people who spent their hard earned money supporting Doug’s empire.
Please don’t mistake me for suggesting that unjustified red flags be raised, but often where you find impropriety of one sort you find it in others.
November 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm
“often where you find impropriety of one sort you find it in others.” Exactly right. Can we realistically expect that a man who has cheated on his wife for years, all while preaching biblical values, will be the least bit honest in handling ministry finances? I think not.
Another example of this: Doug Phillips has for years used an American Express card issued in the name of Vision Forum Ministries. I’ve stated that, from all appearances, it would seem that Doug Phillips has used VFM as his personal piggybank. His rampant abuse of the VFM Amex card for his personal and family expenditures is a perfect example of that. Doug Phillips has squandered many, many thousands of ministry dollars on personal effects, gadgets and toys for himself and family members. Everything from the latest cameras to expensive clothing, formal wear and costumes. Anything that caught Doug’s eye he impulsively bought on the ministry’s Amex card. Doug’s fraudulent spending has been out of control for years.
November 30, 2013 at 8:49 am
I agree with everything you just posted, but I still don’t agree with calling something “illegal” that is “legal”. And, more specifically, while I agree word for word with your characterization of how Doug spent VFM monies above, that does not necessarily make any of it illegal.
December 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm
WHY, is the VF *ministries* site still open…with the DP authored articles still there ??? Why are there archived articles/sermons(?) on the BCA site that open to VFM if VFM is *closed* ?
December 17, 2013 at 3:54 pm
DTD, it is odd, isn’t it? If they’ve known since Sept. 9, you would think that would have given them even time to figure out how to close down the ministry, but it appears that it is not exactly “closed” yet.
January 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm
Here’s another issue. I was looking at some of my Vision Forum CD’s and DVD’s, and they all say “Vision Forum Ministries”, but I bought them from Vision Forum, Inc. Do you suppose VFI paid VFM fair market value for the rights to distribute conference recordings, etc. that are the property of the ministry? Or did VFI simply “share” the staff and products from the “ministry” in order to enrich the owner of VFI (DP)?