Doug Phillips is responding to some of the questions many people have been asking, but without really saying much of anything:
Clarification on Resignation
by Douglas Phillips, Esq., November 14, 2013
I would like to express my gratitude for the great kindness so many have shown to my family in the wake of my stepping down as president of Vision Forum Ministries. My family has been greatly encouraged by many loving notes we have received. With that in mind, I want to be so very clear about the rightness of this transition, and I want to clear up some matters which have been brought to my attention. My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years. The local church, not the Internet, is the proper forum for overseeing the details of a man’s repentance, but I just want to be clear for the sake of peace within the Body of Christ, that the tragic events we are experiencing, including the closing of Vision Forum Ministries are my fault, and that I am sincere that I should not be in leadership, but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance. Please pray for the Phillips family, the Board, and the men who have made up the staff of Vision Forum Ministries.
I want to be clear on my own part that I am NOT Doug Phillips’ enemy. I want God’s best for him and his family, which is why I am here. Sometimes tough love is necessary, and that is the kind of love I have toward Doug right now.
I also want to be clear that I am in no way rejoicing over this. What has happened has not only sent ripples throughout the “community,” and has affected the larger Christian homeschooling communities, but leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who are looking in from the outside as well. While I believe that Doug Phillips is reaping what he has sown, it brings me no joy whatsoever. I would much rather that he would have repented years ago when his sins and the consequences would have been smaller. But, they still continue to grow. And I still see no true repentance on Doug Phillips’ part.
Doug Phillips states his resignation is sincere and necessary. Of course it was necessary, but how can you have an insincere resignation? Did he really think through his words here? Did he mean that his repentance was sincere, but he was so focused on the devastation of his resignation that he said “resignation” accidentally? Or does he expect us to think better of him because he states that his resignation was sincere? Yes, the board “sincerely” forced Doug Phillips to step down!
I do agree with Doug that we should not be speculating on the specifics of what has happened. I sincerely believe that this woman should be the one to come forward and tell her story. It is no one’s business to postulate certain things about her that are not true. Speaking from experience, I know that the best thing I ever did was to come out and tell my side of the story here, admitting to my part and my sins, as well as telling the facts of the story. I hope this young woman will do the same. It will free her from the guilt and shame that she is unnecessarily bringing upon herself right now. I know that she will be amazed by the support and help that many, many others are willing to show her, that she will know the freedom of not having to live in “hiding,” and that she will be able to begin healing.
This “clarification” from Doug Phillips simply confirms that I still see no true repentance and that this is a slick political move that sets him up for a season of “repentance” before he makes a big comeback in a year or two. When Doug Phillips rights the wrongs he has committed against dozens and dozens of people, as well as this other woman, his wife and family, then I will begin listening to his words of repentance.
November 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm
you notice in his “repentance” that he doesn’t ask for prayer for this young lady that’s involved? Putting out a letter and resigning because “you got caught” is not repentance. He’s unfortunately reaping what he is sowing and suffering the consequences of his sin(s) plural! There’s much much more to come in the future about the details of this!
November 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm
NoTurnipTruck, yes, that is a very good point. He just doesn’t say much about her at all. I am sure there is a very strong emotional attachment still there and it is a very confusing time.
November 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm
I don’t understand. How can he post if he is no longer at VFM ? Why is the site still up (although some things are missing and/or changed) if they are *done* ? I would think that a single page message that VFM is closed would suffice.
November 14, 2013 at 5:04 pm
Ummm…and he is still using that annoying esq. behind his name. Sad!
November 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm
This article fails to take into account his own statements in the clarification of resignation. “but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance.” Phillipps resignation was a necessary prerequisite to walking a path of proven repentance. By his own words he is under no delusion that the resignation is equivalent to proven repentance. My heart goes out especially to his wife and children and the other woman and in prayers that healing will occur and that time proven repentance will be accomplished and healing of all. Don’t forget David committed adultery and murder. This is not excusable but he is called “the man of God” in Neh 11:24. I think many people do not understand what Christianity is about. It is not about our performance, It is about God’s performance in Christ. Show me a perfect Christian and I’ll show you there is no necessity for Christ (Gal 2:21)! The worst thing about this is that it is on the internet when that was not necessary, It should have been kept to as small as circles as is possible, i.e. those who were affected in some way by it. Outside of that (since the law was not broken) it is no one’s business and all it does is run Christ’s name through the mud.
November 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm
Being that Doug was a very public figure and that he used the Internet to distribute his message and materials, the Internet, it seems, is an acceptably small circle. Also, it was Doug himself who very publicly resigned and then “clarified” that resignation.
And please, stop with the comparisons of Doug to David. Yes, there are similarities but there is one big, glaring difference… when confronted with his sin, David was broken and repented. Doug seems to know what repentance is… he wrote an article about it ( http://www.visionforumministries.org/issues/news_and_reports/true_repentance.aspx ), but he does not seem to have repented himself. Let’s look at that article, shall we?
In the opening paragraph he mentions a “father seeking to lead his family”, a “young woman aspiring to a happy marriage”, a “son hoping to chart a victorious course in life”, and a “wife who desires to honor God as a mother”. Hmmm, seems quite telling given the circumstances… but I digress.
Next paragraph, “Those who remain unrepentant should not expect the blessing of the Lord.” OK, I can agree with that.
The third paragraph (quoted below for your reading convenience) is where things start to stray… not for me but for Doug. You see, Doug knows the difference between true repentance false repentance.
But repentance must be sincere. It must spring from “godly sorrow.” Too often “repentance” is the experience of offering a half-hearted and self-serving apology to God and man, mixed with large amounts of blame-shifting, pride, and a desire to be done with the whole matter so you don’t ever have to deal with it again. It is the “I have said I am sorry on my terms and in my way, and there is nothing more I need to do, so if that is not good enough for you, then you are the one in sin” attitude.
So what does Doug do? He offers a half-hearted and self-serving apology to God and man, mixed with large amounts of blame-shifting, pride, and a desire to be done with the whole matter so he doesn’t ever have to deal with it again.
The rest of the article talks about what repentance looks like… it includes brokenness, the forsaking of sin, truth telling, acceptance of responsibility, restitution, and peace. Are those traits seen in Doug’s statements – maybe, to some extent. Are those traits seen in Doug’s actions? No. So far we know that he was force out as an Elder and as President of VFM. We’ve seen no indication of concern for the well being of the young lady that was involved. We’ve seen statements about how he may have resigned from VFM but he’s the owner of VF and he’s still in charge over there… and still selling this:
I wonder if one of those 20 audio messages has strategies for rebuilding a family ripped apart by infidelity and the lying and deception that goes with it. Or may how to recover from the shame of being young lady on the other half of the relationship. Somehow, I don’t think they do.
No, if Doug were broken, had accepted responsibility, and wanted to make things right, those items would have gone away BEFORE he resigned and LONG BEFORE this blog posting. Of course, they’ll disappear in a couple of day… they always do!
November 15, 2013 at 11:48 pm
Perfect response! Thank you. So true. I used to nanny for Doug’s brother Brad and (now divorced) wife Angel. Learned some of the inner workings of Phillips family drama. My family has also been close friends with the couple who mentored Doug and Brad into the ideologies of patriarchal doctrines. What a hypocritical mess. Utterly blasphemes the Word of God and destroys all credibility! My husband grew up with The children of Robert Gifford, Doug’s revered pastor mentor. It is all a facade of righteousness… God is dishonored by such pride and self-righteousness, and yet Christians are afraid to stand up and confront the lies with the truths of His Word. My heart goes out to Doug’s children. They need people in their lives to show them what it is to be like Christ and offer the hope of the gospel.
December 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm
I am one of Pastor Giffords daughters and I feel strongly that I need to respond to the comment above. My dad taught and led Doug to Christ at a young age but in NO way agrees with the path he has chosen. He does not agree with the patriarch movement in any way!!! He is not dominionst, and has prayed for Doug over the years. Doug’s path is his own path!! My father loves The Lord with all his heart and has been the most wonderful example to me of a Godly man. My father has never blasphemed the Word of God which he hold dear to his heart. His heart is shattered and broken over Doug and the way he has gone. Let it be known these are not the teachings that pastor Gifford have taught!!!! I don’t know who your husband is but I can tell you that my dad is not self righteous. He continues to preach the Word of God! And we pray for Doug and his precious family. Our hearts are deeply saddened and broken over this tragedy.
December 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm
GMV, welcome! Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts with us and for clearing up some things. It is always best to hear it straight from those who know the truth. It sounds like you have a very balanced perspective indeed. And I, personally, am very glad to hear that Pastor Gifford loves Doug but does not agree with what he has done and taught. Thank you!
December 15, 2013 at 9:40 pm
I did not see this comment (JourneyGirl’s) until today and I must also say something about Pastor Gifford. He has been my pastor for 28 years and I will say here, as I said on another post on this blog, that he is one of the dearest Christian men I have ever met. JourneyGirl, I don’t know who your husband is, but if he is telling you that Pastor Gifford taught DP patriarchy, dominionism, the family-integrated-church, and that all Christians must homeschool their children, etc. he is absolutely wrong. Pastor always points his congregation to Christ (nearly every sermon has an explicit gospel message) and has often preached that salvation is simply repentance and faith in Christ plus zero. DP has twisted and perverted and just plain ignored what he learned from Pastor Gifford and Pastor Gifford often counseled him during the last twenty years to turn from the path he was on and to return to his first love, Jesus Christ.
It is true that our church does not allow women to preach from the pulpit, but women are often encouraged to share what God is doing in their lives during prayer and testimony times (approx. one service a month). We are also encouraged to ask questions during Sunday School (yes, we have a Sunday School!). Our church is very diverse – we have families who homeschool, send their children to Christian school, and also those who send their children to public school. I know one family that left our church because Pastor refused to say that all Christians should homeschool their children. Many of the women in the church work outside the home as well. I know that Pastor’s granddaughter (a member of our church) drove a public school bus and also worked in a day care center, other granddaughters have gone to college, and two of his daughters-in-law work in offices. Pastor has never preached that women must not ever work outside the home.
Pastor also preaches strongly to the men of our church that they are to love their wives as Christ loved the church – to lay their lives down for them and to love sacrificially. He preaches that women are counterbalances to their husbands and that husbands need to listen to their wives’ counsel and he models this kind of love to his precious wife, to whom he has been married for 50 years. He is a very kind, humble, precious man who always puts the honor of Christ above all else. There are many other things I could say that refute your assertion that Pastor Gifford is the source of DP’s wrong theology and teachings, but this should be sufficient to make that perfectly clear. Please stop spreading falsehoods about this dear servant of the Lord.
December 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm
Tinuviel, thank you so much for sharing that. I can confirm all that as well.
While Pastor Gifford did indeed play a foundational role in Doug’s formative years, Doug took all the truth that he learned from Pastor Gifford and twisted it to his own vantage and viewpoint. Pastor Gifford often confronted Doug for both his beliefs and his practices, but Doug refused all counsel from Pastor Gifford after leaving his church many years ago. Doug has chosen his own path in life, and it veered far away from what his “spiritual father” taught him, as well as far away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
December 16, 2013 at 12:17 am
From page 2 of the 2003 Vision Forum Catalog, the theme of which is Discipleship and Dominion:
Unfortunately for Robert Gifford, Doug Phillips has credited him many times publicly for being one the greatest influencers in his life. I’m sure he’s cringing now over that.
I’m seeing evidence that plenty of men are now running for cover, distancing themselves from Doug Phillips. I would too if I were in such a position. I suspect many men are wishing they’d distanced themselves much sooner.
I don’t say any this to slight Robert Gifford whom I don’t know personally, nor do I know much of anything about him. It could very well be that Douglas W. Phillips, Esq. the liar has been lying for many years about Robert Gifford’s alleged expansive influence in his life. I hope for Pastor Gifford’s sake that is the the case.
December 16, 2013 at 8:31 am
TW, from my understanding, Pastor Gifford not only was never a Dominionist, as Doug Phillips states in his catalog above, but he warned Doug Phillips against dominionism and brought this subject up on a regular basis throughout the years, telling Doug how unbiblical dominionism is. Doug refused his counsel.
As far as Pastor Gifford’s expansive influence in Doug’s life, that is certainly true. But Doug took that strong foundation in truth and twisted it for his own agenda, which Pastor Gifford never approved of, and turned it into something FAR different from what Pastor Gifford taught him all those years.
December 16, 2013 at 9:12 am
Jen, yes this is very true! And, TW as far as Pastor Gifford wishing he had distanced himself from Doug he never had to. It was Doug who distanced himself. He knew that the things that he was teaching that my dad strongly disagreed with and had warned him against. So, is my dad cringing? No! But is his heart broken, Yes! It is broken over Doug. And we continue to lift him up in prayer each day. If it wasn’t for the grace of our Loving Lord there go we. We pray for his family and all that are involved in this horrible mess that really has brought shame to our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
November 16, 2013 at 12:31 am
Exposing a prominent spiritual leader’s abuse of a member of his ministry hardly drags Christ’s name through the mud. Instead it says we Christians do not intend to let him continue to abuse anyone. That can only bring glory to God and to his Church. And where else is the woman going to hear that she is not to be condemned but rather that many are ready to support her? Obviously no one in that church is willing to speak up and protect her. That church failed her so this is what happens.
November 14, 2013 at 6:00 pm
“Ummm…and he is still using that annoying esq. behind his name. Sad!”
That’s the first thing I noticed too! It speaks volumes, and it makes it hard to believe there is any sincerity to this newly offered “repentance” originating from a humble heart.
Doug Phillips is a history buff and is probably aware of the English aristocratic origins of the title of nobility “Esquire.” It sends a message loud and clear: I am superior to you, the common folk. Pay homage to me. Oh, and don’t anyone forget I’m an attorney and will sue you if you say anything bad about me. Doug Phillips does in fact fancy himself as of a superior class. The prancing about in 18th century aristocratic costumes and posting pictures of his manly dress up exploits on his blog only reinforces the message of the superiority that he wreaks of.
I have never seen an attorney bandy about Esq. the way Doug Phillips does. It’s pompous, prideful and pretentious. Judges are commonly referred to in court as “Your honor,” but not because it’s required. One can just as easily show respect for the office by saying, “Yes, judge” or “Yes sir” (or mam). Certainly one would never see “Esq.” or “His Honor” on a judge’s business card, letterhead or blogpost.
Doug Phillips has been called out many times before over his use of “Esq.”, and that’s been when he wasn’t embroiled in a scandal. But even now with the cloud of this scandal hanging over him he’s still sending this pompous message. To use Esq. in the context of his Statement Of Resignation, and now a second time in his Clarification On Repentance, is as stupid a thing to do as I can think of.
November 14, 2013 at 9:49 pm
That ‘Esq.’ could be an automated byline. I noticed that he signed off as simply ‘Doug Phillips’.
November 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm
@biblicalcovenantalist: “Phillipps resignation was a necessary prerequisite to walking a path of proven repentance. By his own words he is under no delusion that the resignation is equivalent to proven repentance.”
You assume too much and you assume wrong. Doug Phillips would have never ever resigned voluntarily nine months ago from the church he founded, and this week from the ministry that he founded, regardless of the sin. He was forced out in both cases. In all likelihood it was all handled much like a “plea bargain” is when someone is criminally charged: plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence. Doug’s public “confession” and resignation would have been a condition of that plea deal. Whether or not the winding down of VFM was something Doug knew was coming or not is subject to speculation, but my guess is he did know of it. Otherwise the odds of a nasty lawsuit would be almost 100%.
When a board of directors fires its president they need to do so in a way that minimizes the risks of litigation, even more so when we’re speaking of firing a president who is an attorney. Scott Brown and his fellow board members are no ignoramuses and they must have some very serious dirt on Doug to have acted as boldly as they have and not be worried about getting sued.
Not getting sued by the president a board fires necessitates allowing the president to save face. Therefore, boards seldom fire their presidents. They ask them to resign, i.e. tender their resignation. If anyone asks either the board or the former president they’ll say he resigned. But the fact is a forced resignation is the same as being fired.
The lavish home that he lives in is owned by VFM. It’s just a matter of time before it’s sold. It doesn’t appear to be listed yet though, so maybe Doug is negotiating terms to buy it himself. No doubt he can easily afford to pay cash for it.
November 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm
@biblicalcovenantalist, see also Jen’s comment for a confirmation of what I’ve stated here. Jen is a former BCA member and understands “the community” dynamics intimately.
November 15, 2013 at 10:15 am
I agree with Jen: “I sincerely believe that this woman should be the one to come forward and tell her story. It is no one’s business to postulate certain things about her that are not true.” I pray she does, and I am praying for her~
November 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm
Safe to say though that she should sue everyone she can for the clergy sexual abuse. She’s going to need the money for therapy. Normally not a proponent of lawsuits but in this case, it’s appropriate.
November 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm
She may not be able to. Doug, being the lawyer that he is, is big into sending everything into arbitration… check out the Terms of Service on BlueBehemoth.com, you’ll see there that by downloading from them you give up all rights to sue VF for anything. It he’s willing to put it into the TOS of a website, I pretty sure he would also be making employees sign similar documents as a condition of employment. And I would guess that something similar would be included whatever covenental agreement that church members had to sign (asuming that BCA had one). I understand the biblical edict to avoid lawsuits among believers but…
November 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm
Those things, hopefully won’t prevent her, whoever she is, from seeking healing. There is power in telling your story, and healing to be found in the body of Christ. She is not alone and she will be supported. Her journey to wholeness after this may be long, rocky and scary…but if I’ve learned anything I’ve learned that my God is excellent at removing stones from my path and teaching me to run with patience the path appointed for me…prayers for her, and for Mr. Phillips…💔
November 15, 2013 at 6:58 pm
I appreciate seeing this comment about the BlueBehemoth.com Terms Of Sale. It got me thinking about some very important legal issues in this Doug Phillips sex scandal, and why we probably haven’t heard from Doug Phillips’ victim.
The legal language in the Blue Behemoth (owned by wholly owned subsidiary of Vision Forum Inc) TOS includes, “you expressly waive your right to file a lawsuit in any civil court”. Such language is referred to as an ADR, or Alternative Dispute Resolution agreement. Such terms do serve to reduce lawsuits, but only because most people are unaware that they can be easily challenged and defeated as “adhesion contracts”.
Segue now to Doug Phillips’ sexual victim (or victims): if she was an employee, she would have had to have been employed directly by Doug and Beall Phillips. Based on what Jen has said on her blog before, female domestic hired help, like the nannies and maids, couldn’t have been contract employees of Vision Forum Inc or Vision Forum Ministries because, as the Bible clearly states: “Wives and daughters can’t work outside the home unless they’re goyim contracted through a temp agency.” (1 Douglas 2:7)
It’s unlikely that Doug would have had any formal written employment contract in place with the domestic labor. Any financial compensation would have been cash/under the table. No SSNs requested or required, no W-2 or 1099, no tax withholding, no citizenship or work permit verifications, no workman’s comp. For an attorney Doug plays very fast and loose with the law. Some of Doug’s domestics were probably paid (gardeners, maids, etc), but a few of the nannies may not have been paid. It was considered a great honor to live in poverty while working for no compensation for the six-figure income Douglas Winston Phillips, Esq. family (The 13th Amendment abolished involuntary servitude; but voluntary servitude for cult leaders is still legal).
Multiple agencies of government take any claims by former employees of employer fraud (such as being underpaid for the work done, or not paid at all) very seriously. He potentially faces investigations by IRS, SSA, INS, Texas DOR, Texas Workman’s Comp, and a few others. This puts fast and loose Doug on the horns of a dilemma: if the hired help that he sexually abused ignores the terms of the ADR sues him for sexual abuse, sexual harassment in the workplace, etc., does Doug legally challenge the lawsuit by whipping out the signed ADR, thereby handing over to the court a vital piece of evidence that only helps to further establish that the employer/employee status, opening himself up to employer fraud claims, and the certain government investigations that go along with it, or does he let the lawsuit proceed to avoid being put even further under the government microscope? Irrespective, claims of sexual abuse are criminal anyway and criminal acts aren’t within the purview of out of court resolution by mediation.
If Doug Phillips’ sexual predations commenced while the young lady was under the age of consent (17 in Texas), Doug is in especially hot water because Texas has no statute of limitations for such crimes.
Another consideration is that Douglas Phillips probably included Non-Disclosure Agreement language in the ADR contract, the violation of which would entitle Doug to sue for damages. This could be the most important factor in why we haven’t heard from Doug’s sexual victim(s). They’re under the impression that they can’t publicly tell their story because they signed a contract stipulating to keep confidential anything that happens in the workplace. I’ve heard more than one story of how Doug legally threatens people, but then agrees not to sue them if they sign an NDA. As I understand it this is what he did to Joe Taylor. However, Doug’s employment NDA (if there even are any signed NDAs), are no more legally binding, at least in this case, than the ADR language is in Blue Behemoth TOS.
However, what Doug can do, and what I believe he likely has done, is to give a large cash sum to the sexual abuse victim in exchange for buying her silence. That silence would be legally secured with a Settlement contract that included Non-Disclosure language. She would then be legally bound to say nothing to anyone. If she did go public Doug could sue her for breach of contract, and the Settlement contract probably has a monetary figure stated for what she would have to fork over for violating the contract.
The longer Doug’s victim remains silent the more probable it is that she was paid off. It also makes sense that, if there was a payoff, it subsequently leaked to the VFM Board Of Directors. The board members would have been smart enough to immediately commence a thorough financial audit because, generally speaking, where there’s one payoff there are usually more, not to mention a lot of other financial frauds. It would take something of at least that magnitude, as a bare minimum, to compel the board to dissolve VFM. Ministry boards never dissolve a ministry just over an affair, especial a ministry that brings in as much revenue as VFM has done.
We may never hear the real story from the young lady herself. However, her contractual agreement to not speak does not preclude her immediate family members, close friends, or anyone else she’s told prior to her having signed an NDA, from telling her story. It’s all fair game, and those other persons are free to come forward and share. They should only do so, however, with the young lady’s approval and not disclose anything she doesn’t want disclosed. If they’re worried about potential legal retaliation from Doug Phillips, they probably shouldn’t be.
Though Doug has threatened to sue many people before, to my knowledge he’s never actually gone to trial with anyone. Furthermore, I just can’t see his doing something like that, especially now. A lawsuit would only further substantiate his unrepentance and he’d suffer just that much more public scandal for it. A lawsuit of that nature would be very big news in all the secular and Christian media. Doug could never recover from it. Furthermore, a law suit would mean being forced under Discovery to bring out all his dirty laundry. There is no way he’d ever go there.
But if even after this explanation someone remains fearful about potential legal threats for coming forward, stories can easily be told in confidence and anonymously.
November 16, 2013 at 12:22 am
Thank you for the background! It makes perfect sense that he (or they) paid her off. And honestly that would be less stressful for her. I just want her to get some good help and see that she’s not responsible. He has a problem, probably a personality disorder, and he sucked her in and abused her. I really hope she’s trolling the Internet and discovers how much support she has and how many of us are praying for her and hoping she seeks help for the spiritual and sexual abuse. He had the power in that relationship and failed to abide by professional ethics.
November 16, 2013 at 4:39 pm
Arbitration? Contact me…I have Just. The. Person.
December 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm
[…] father” Pastor Robert Gifford. In response we received word from Pastor Gifford, via one of his daughters and one of his church members, that Pastor Gifford is in no way pleased to be portrayed by Doug […]