Scott Brown and Jason Dohm Offer Advice On the Doug Phillips Debacle

In the last three days Scott Brown and his fellow church Elder Jason Dohm have, between them, posted three noteworthy articles. Their articles seem inspired by the Doug Phillips sex scandal that resulted in his resignation and the closure of Vision Forum Ministries. No doubt there is much more than a mere adulterous affair that forced the closure of Vision Forum Ministries, but that story will have to wait for another day. Scott Brown and Jason Dohm are Elders at both Hope Baptist Church and Sovereign Redeemer Community Church. Both churches are in or close to Wake Forest, N.C.

Distancing oneself from Doug Phillips is all the craze these days. Multiple blog articles, Facebook posts, and even a sermon or two have been hastily thrown up by Vision Forum board members, employees, interns, and various assorted associates of Doug Phillips. The humorous part for me is they hardly ever mention the name “Doug Phillips”. It’s as though there is now an unwritten rule, Let not that name be mentioned. In this way they can circumvent the “no gossip” rule that is so widespread in Vision Forum Land, or so they at least rationalize. Since we all know who they’re talking about anyway, I’d much prefer they just stop pretending. Moreover, too many of those public postings smack of CYA and are no more genuine than was Doug Phillips’ True Repentance article that he posted in August 2013. In retrospect we can plainly see that article was an utter sham and a ploy to save his own bacon. It goes to show that even the most biblically valid article, written in the most eloquent prose, can be authored by a silver-tongued wolf in sheep’s clothing. We should never assume that good sermons only come from good men.

ScottBrown-DougPhllips

Doug Phillips and Scott Brown

Scott Brown features prominently in the Doug Phillips sex scandal. He is the Director for the Vision Forum Ministries Board of Directors and, no doubt, has good reason to distance himself from The Doug. Scott Brown is also the Director for the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. The NCFIC was handed over to Scott Brown by Doug Phillips.

Brown and Dohm’s articles are quite good. I especially appreciate Jason Dohm’s article, not only for his brevity and his insights, but for the fact that he’s one of the few that has actually used the forbidden name “Doug Phillips” (Scott Brown has yet to do that). Jason Dohm’s article is so good that I contacted him and asked permission to repost it here, in it’s entirety, thereby giving it far greater exposure than he has now. To put it in the politest possible terms (on my part) he declined my request.

Jason Dohm

Jason Dohm

Jason Dohm doesn’t permit comments on his blog, and perhaps that’s why he doesn’t want his article being reposted in it’s entirety here. Doing so might facilitate some discussion that he may not want to address. It might also necessitate his interacting with commenters here, something he may wish to avoid. Be that as it may I’ll only selectively quote from Brown and Dohm’s articles and link to them where they may be read in their entirety. Needless to say, any discussion is welcome here, as are Scott Brown and Jason Dohm themselves, should they wish to make an appearance to answer questions. Feel free to ask them questions regardless of whether or not they reply. I’m confident they’re reading. In fact Jason made an appearance here earlier today.

Regardless of their motivation in writing their articles, they are good articles, and worthy of our consideration and discussion. We should all take these matters to heart.

First from Jason Dohm:

Has Doug Phillips repented? No one knows.

Even if all the signs were positive – granting that purely for the sake of argument – no one would really know for quite some time. Though Proverbs 28:13 doesn’t explicitly use the word “repentance,” it contains the best definition of true repentance that I know: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Did you catch that? Confession ≠ Repentance. Confession is a subset of repentance. The other active ingredient is the forsaking of the sin, and knowing whether or not that has really happened takes significant time. Part 1, confession, is super-easy for a skilled communicator – and Doug is a very skilled communicator…

Has Doug Phillips repented? Don’t count on it.

If we have learned anything from these revelations, it is that Doug is a very skillful deceiver and manipulator. He is good at it, and he has had a lot of practice. Knowing that, it would be foolish for any of us to put ourselves in a position to be deceived or manipulated by him now…

Which kind of shepherd has Doug been? For years now, Doug has been an Ezekiel 34 shepherd, exploiting and devouring for self-satisfaction. He was entrusted with sheep to be a blessing to them, and instead he has been a curse. Is this not beyond dispute? And has not the Chief Shepherd removed him?…

Has Doug really repented? Time will tell, as the saying goes. And as it relates to Christian leadership, that can’t mean a week, a month, a year, or a decade. When it becomes known that a shepherd has cultivated a life of deception and manipulation for many years, such a man may not have enough years to reestablish himself as qualified for leadership.

Should Doug be forgiven? Absolutely. Anyone who has been forgiven much by the King must stand ready to forgive his fellow servants (Matthew 18:21-35).

Should he be trusted? Not on your life. At least not now. At least not soon.

Next, Scott Brown:

Disciplining an Elder – Alexander Strauch Weighs In

One of the most difficult things a church ever does is to discipline an elder. It is difficult enough to bring biblical discipline to church members, but it is even more difficult when elders are the ones in need of correction. There are so many conflicts and questions that are raised when an elder is caught in sin. When this happens, the church is in a very vulnerable situation. They are immediately subject to partiality, divisions, and even biting and devouring one another. Alexander Strauch has given me permission to post this from his book, Biblical Eldership. The quotation below is from chapter nine, following this citation is a link to the whole chapter.

Disciplining an Elder

How should an elder be treated if an accusation of sin is found to be true? Verse 20 provides the answer: “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all.” Some expositors think that verse 20 begins a new subject regarding the treatment of sinners in general, but this view is incorrect. Such a break in thought would be too abrupt and unexpected. Furthermore, it is clear that verses 19-25 deal with the topic of elders, particularly the sin of elders.

The clause, “those who continue in sin,” translates a present active participle (tous hamartanontas). The New American Standard Bible rendering stresses the persistent nature of the sinning. There is disagreement among commentators, however, as to what is implied by this present tense participle.

Some commentators believe that only those elders who stubbornly persist in sin after private warnings are to be publicly rebuked and that repentant elders need not be rebuked publicly. This interpretation, however, misconstrues the point of the passage…

The elder’s disposition toward his sin is not the issue here. The issue is: an elder’s sin demands public exposure…

First Timothy 5:20 provides additional biblical instruction on church discipline, specifically the matter of a church leader’s sin. Of course, if an elder refuses to repent, he would be disfellowshiped from the congregation according to Matthew 18.  Paul’s instructions go on to add that an elder who has been proven to be guilty of sin by witnesses is to be rebuked before the church. The imperative verb “rebuke” translates the Greek word elencho, which is a rich term conveying the ideas of “exposing,” “proving guilt,” “correcting,” and “reproving.” In this context, “rebuke” includes the ideas of public exposure, correction, and reproof…

Nine Ways Church Elders are to be Held Accountable

Each year we see new stories of Christian leaders who get entangled in scandalous sin. Our experience tells us that this has happened before and will happen again. Often we ask, “Who was holding this man accountable?” And, “If I can’t trust this seemingly godly man, who can I trust?” It is very common and very appropriate to also ask, “How are we supposed to hold leaders accountable?” If they are local church elders, the Bible speaks directly to the question…

Following are nine ways that 1 Timothy 5:19-21 shows how church elders are to be held accountable.

1. Personal responsibility

Paul makes it clear that church members have a very specific role. Every church member has the divinely appointed right and responsibility to bring a charge against a church elder when it is necessary. It is remarkable that woven into the very relational and sociological fabric of the local church is the assumption that at no time should elders be above the evaluation of the people they serve. Every person in the pew has this responsibility…

2. A stricter judgment

It is immediately evident from 1 Timothy 5:20 that the Lord has designed His church to have a very specific set of rules for dealing with church elders when they sin. These procedural commands are obviously focused on elders, not the wider church. Eldership carries with it greater risks for a greater number of people, and therefore they are subjected to a “stricter judgment,” (James 3:1)…

3. Multiple witnesses 

Holding church elders accountable requires two or three witnesses, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” Notice how the Lord has commanded that there be a careful process that includes the following elements. First there must be a personal witness. Then in order to bring an accusation, that person is obligated to bring a minimum of one other witness. This language implies a vigilant examination and verification process.

This procedure is designed to protect the elder from trivial, false or evil accusations. It also protects him from accusations based on rumors, gossip or internet slander. It is part of the territory: Church elders are often targets of criticism since they are all imperfect in their life and doctrine, and the best of men can be picked apart…

4. Partiality avoided

Paul makes it clear that there must not be any partiality, “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.” Partiality has many faces. Sometimes it expresses itself when there is a very gifted elder and because of his charisma, persuasiveness and position, people actually hold him to a lower standard when they should be holding him to a higher one…

5. Accountability for what happened

Paul is advocating accountability for the sin, in the phrase, “Those who are sinning rebuke…’… In the case of sins of a financial or moral nature, for instance, the very act of getting caught almost always brings these sins to an immediate stop.

For example, if an elder is caught embezzling funds from his church, the ability to embezzle is taken away the moment he is found out. He is therefore no longer continuing in his sin. Does this mean that he should not be rebuked? Or if a man is caught in adultery, he usually stops. Does this mean there is no need to rebuke him?…

What if the man says he repents: does he then escape the rebuke? This passage gives no indication that repentance suspends rebuke. In fact, there is no mention of repentance in the text. Paul’s instructions are very clear. The purpose of this rebuke is not to produce repentance in the elder—important as that may be—but to cause all “to fear.” The issue here is not excommunication (whether that happens or not). The issue is the public exposure and reproof of one who holds a high office. No one gets a pass in Christ’s churches when it comes to sin, especially not its elders. While true repentance is a critical matter in the elder’s relationship with the Lord and His church, it is important to remember – the explicitly stated purpose of the rebuke is not repentance, but the causing of fear…

6. A rebuke 

…The rebuke is designed to expose and bring the sin to light. The word that Paul uses here speaks of exposing, convicting, disapproving or punishing.”The rebuke should be delivered according to wisdom. It should be measured according to the severity of the sin and the disposition of the offender. There could be a simple public rebuke, or temporary removal, or even excommunication depending on the many factors involved. The punishment should be delivered according to wisdom…

7. A public rebuke 

The rebuke is to be delivered before the whole congregation, “…in the presence of all.” There is the tendency in many situations like this to try to protect people from hearing. Sometimes, in an attempt to express sympathy or to act out of a sense of misplaced kindness, there is a private meeting for the church members only, or a subset of the church. It is difficult to see how these approaches are appropriate applications of the scriptural language…

8. The courage to cause fear 

In today’s church environment, church elders and members often prefer a positive, upbeat church life; free from guilt, repentance or fear. In contrast to this, Paul’s stated purpose of the rebuke is so that “the rest also may fear.” Paul uses very strong language to communicate this. The word he uses to communicate the desired result indicates “alarm” and “fright.” Paul desires that there be a fear of sin in the congregation…

9. Trembling at the seriousness of the matter

The requirement to rebuke must be regarded with utmost seriousness. The gravity of handling the matter properly is identified by an unusually sober warning, “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.”…

Is your church afraid to expose sin? Is there partiality? Are you personally reluctant to play your role for an elder trapped in sin? If so, the consequences can be terribly harmful for the purity of the church and the elder entrapped in sin. It easily blemishes the public reputation of the church as “pillar and ground of the truth.” It can muffle the proclamation that God saves and sanctifies sinners. In the presence of God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels, it hides an important expression of the redemptive power of the gospel itself.

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Doug Phillips’ Boerne Christian Assembly: More Lies and CYA

On January 1, 2014 the remaining Elder, and the new Provisional Elder of Boerne Christian Assembly, the church founded by Doug Phillips, posted the following on their web site:

A Statement by the Elders of Boerne Christian Assembly about Former Elder Doug Phillips. Doug Phillips served as an Elder for Boerne Christian Assembly until January, 2013, when he resigned from his office. This resignation from the office of Elder was submitted prior to his confession to church leadership in February, 2013 of an inappropriate relationship with a woman (referenced in his Statement of Resignation from the office of President, on the Vision Forum Ministries website) and associated deception. In the months following, efforts were undertaken toward the goals of restoration and repentance between the parties involved and their respective families . As under-shepherds of a flock of Jesus Christ we take seriously the responsibility to confront those overtaken in a fault, in meekness, in pursuit of the purity of the body, healing for those wounded by the effects of sin, and restoration of those caught in fault, after display of repentance. Doug Phillips confessed these sins, professed repentance of these sins before his local church body, and has been publicly rebuked by the Elders of his church for those same sins. As shepherds and Elders of the flock of Jesus Christ at Boerne Christian Assembly we have sought to provide admonition, personal accountability, and to work toward sound Biblical thinking, repentance, and restoration with all those involved. Healing is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is our desire, as much as is possible, to promote unity within the body of Christ through Biblical counsel, instruction, and oversight, with Biblical pastoral care. The notoriety of this situation, due in part to the national exposure of Doug Phillips’s ministry, brings with it additional challenges and duties. The consequences of sin are great. We long for God’s blessing, preservation of His flock, and continued healing to be ministered by the Word and the Spirit of God unto to all.

Bob Sarratt, Elder
Jeff Horn, Provisional Elder

This is a blatant attempt by Bob Sarratt to cover his backside. Jeff Horn makes himself equally complicit. Note the response below by former Personal Assistant to Doug Phillips, Bob Renaud:

Bob Renaud January 1, 2014 Did you see the pathetic statement by the BCA elders? http://www.boernechristianassembly.org/…/statement-by…. This is terrible. I personally told Bob Sarratt he was negligent for not dealing with this issue for eight months and keeping it quiet. He never informed the VFM board of the infidelitiey. This is terrible that just now they are issuing a statement and trying to claim they did their biblical duty. It wasn’t until we exposed what was going of that they got serious. The statement is full of Bill Clinton like language. Just like Doug’s statement. It’s sad that these men are not heeding the counsel of wiser and more mature men that have been trying to come along side them. God have mercy.

I know that Bob Renaud is speaking the truth on this. Bob Sarratt was well aware of Doug Phillips’ infidelities, and he had known for a long time. Things came to a head in January 2013 when Doug and “Cassandra” were caught in Cassandra’s family home, in the act, by two of Cassandra’s family members. Given the nature of those shocking circumstances it’s difficult to comprehend how Doug is even alive today. At the very least one would have expected those family members to have beaten Doug Phillips to within an inch of his life. But remember we’re talking a cult here, and just like David Koresh was allowed to bed any woman of his choice, Doug Phillips was given an extraordinary level of leeway.

Bob Renaud was as well connected to Doug Phillips, and for about as many years, as was Peter Bradrick, who said of his mentor and “spiritual father”:

Peter Bradrick November 27, 2013 The past decade of my life has been defined by my close relationship with my mentor and former spiritual father. Those who know me recognize my longstanding, fierce commitment to his family, his work, and his legacy. As soon as I caught wind of what was going on, I became very involved in working towards fulfilling the duties of friendship and brotherhood – to confront a man who has been like a father to me for a third of my life and plead with him to truthfully confess, and to genuinely take responsibility for longstanding betrayal of everything we had fought together for with the hope of ultimate restoration.

Friends… truth and justice are mercy. Covering sin is not mercy. (Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”) This was the message of the men that joined me to go in person to plead with him. Men he’s called “bosom brothers”, son’s in the Lord, close friends, and a mentor of his. What for us was a tender, emotional, mission of mercy and plea for true repentance was met with something, and by someone I never could have imagined. Instead of being received as the “wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6), I was formally disowned and declared to be a “destroyer” to my face.

There is no way to describe the soul crushing blow I was dealt that day and it’s overall impact on my life. It’s was like experiencing the scene from Braveheart… where William Wallace finds out he’s been betrayed by Robert the Bruce, over and over again. Walking away from that meeting, I couldn’t speak for hours I was so stunned. I am still physically, emotionally and spiritually broken and asking God to give me wisdom. I know many people are so very hurt and confused regarding what has transpired and my prayer for myself, my family, and everyone involved is that we look to Christ alone with hearts of love, mercy, and repentance seeking to root out the sin in our own lives. Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

You’re not alone, Peter. Doug Phillips has betrayed dozens of people, and most of them in far more dastardly and devastating ways than you. You and Bob Renaud drank the Kool-Aid, but I don’t say that to slam you (I was a member of a cult once myself). I have prayed many times for you both, and so many others, that God would heal and restore you. I also pray for those few families that remain in BCA. May God deliver them.

Even though Doug Phillips is no longer an official Elder at BCA, he has as much influence and control there as he ever did, and certainly far more than Bob Sarratt. Doug Phillips is the puppet master and Bob Sarratt remains his puppet. It’s important to understand who Bob Sarratt is. Bob Sarratt was hand-picked to be an “elder” not because he in any way meets the biblical qualifications of the office per Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3. Indeed, according to scripture Bob Sarratt is disqualified, just as Doug Phillips is disqualified. Bob Sarratt is disqualified because he is not “apt to teach” (1 Tim 3:2). Doug Phillips is disqualified because he is not the husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:2). He also fails the tests of: “above reproach, faithful to his wife, self-controlled, respectable, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”

Doug Phillips served as the sole elder of BCA for at least five years, even though he was frequently heard to say, “We believe in a plurality of elders.” When asked then why was he the only elder, Doug would reply, “When I find a man that agrees with me 100%, he can be an elder.” If ever there were a yes-man Bob Sarratt is him. Even long before Bob Sarratt became an elder, and during the entire time that he was a deacon, he started each Sunday service by going up to the pulpit and announcing, “We believe in a plurality of elders.” Needless to say this was all theatrics. Even Doug Phillips stepping down as an elder in January 2013 proved to be nothing but theatrics, and clearly it was not motivated by any genuine repentance. In fact his cover story was that he was stepping down to spend more time with his family.

It’s equally important to understand the “no gossip” rule at BCA and Vision Forum, as well as how far reaching the influence of Doug Phillips’ “no gossip” rule has extended. Doug Phillips has railed against so-called gossipers for years, and gossip is whatever Doug Phillips defines it to be. As Doug Phillips has often said, “He who defines the terms wins”, and the way Doug defines gossip is by equating gossip with a violation of the 9th Commandment. This is quite typical of how Doug Phillips twists and distorts sacred scripture for his personal agenda. To Doug Phillips gossip is anything that anyone says about him, or about his friends, that he doesn’t like. It makes no difference to him whether the things said about him are true and already public information. Say something about Doug Phillips that he likes, even if it’s just complete lies and fabrications (and there have been plenty of his sycophants who have done so to feed his massive ego), but that’s not gossip. But say anything true about Doug that he doesn’t like and it’s not just merely gossip, it’s “wicked gossip” or the “horrific sin of gossip.”

In the religious sociological cult world that is Boerne Christian Assembly there are few sins that are as grave as the sin of gossip. Marital infidelity is comparatively minor and can easily be covered up for months and years on end, and I’m not just speaking of only Doug’s infidelity. In 2004 a 17 year old BCA girl got pregnant*. She was forced to confess and repent before the entire church by Elder Doug Phillips and Deacon Bob Sarratt. However, the identity of the man who impregnated the girl was kept a secret and limited to the knowledge of a few key men. Infidelity has been repeatedly swept under the BCA carpet, as is also clearly evidenced by the fact that Jennifer Billings Grady remains an active member at Boerne Christian Assembly.

Yet the so-called sin of gossip is termed “horrific” by Doug Phillips. This is one of the most oft-used mind-control tools Doug Phillips has pulled out of his toolbox, and he’s used it to tremendous effect. Doug Phillips injects massive doses of  guilt and shame to prevent anyone from confronting him and holding him accountable, or even so much as reading anyone’s blog where they might find “gossip” about him. What few BCA members and Vision forum employees and interns that have read our articles and posted comments here have inevitably condemned it as, “I see your fruit on this site and it is wicked gossip.”

The fruit of Doug’s “no gossip” rule has created many more non-thinking people than just within the walls of BCA and Vision Forum. That mind-control influence has been spread to thousands of home school families too, and that mind-control prevents thousands from so much as looking at a blog of this nature lest their utopian home school dreamworld be contaminated. They will remain in a state of blissful ignorance for months, and perhaps even years, to come, remarkably like the remaining BCA members.

Bob Sarratt and Jeff Horn claim that “we take seriously the responsibility to confront those overtaken in a fault”. How exactly did they do so? By permitting Doug Phillips to continue with his public speaking engagements at conferences on biblical family values, godly living, etc.? Did they do so when they permitted him, without any objections, to continue selling recorded sermons that he had preached at BCA on the Vision Forum web site and Blue Behemoth, which he continues selling to this very day? Did they do so by concealing from the Vision Forum Ministries board of directors the fact that Doug had been cheating on his wife for 12 years?

Bob Sarratt and Jeff Horn are liars and deceivers. They learned from the best. That is a statement of fact. It is not gossip.

_________________

*Editor’s Note: After further investigation, I’ve revised the article to remove a reference that stated that the girl was impregnated by another BCA member. The assumption by a number of BCA members had been that the father must have been another BCA member because of the secrecy with which the matter of the father had been treated. If the father had not been a BCA member, common sense would have dictated that the BCA Elders would have simply said so. They didn’t need to identify the father by name, but they certainly needed to provide some assurances to the members that the father wasn’t one of their own. Evidently that didn’t happen, and there were only a few who knew anything at all. It should have been common knowledge, not a secret.

This is an excellent example of how the “no gossip” rule can easily backfire. Secrecy fosters speculation; disclosure prevents it. For years there has been speculation that even Doug Phillips himself might have been the father of this “love child”. Doug was very foolish to have not put that speculation to rest long ago. The solution to gossip isn’t to brow beat church members into silence. The solution is reasonable disclosure on a need-to-know basis by church leadership, coupled with true biblical instruction. There was a genuine need to know in this case. BCA members didn’t need all the details, but they certainly needed to know more than they were told.

Post Script:

Please don’t throw out your Doug Phillips and Vision Forum CDs, DVDs and books. Jen and I are doing a research project and hope to write a book. Please send those materials to Jen. You can email her for a mailing address.

Doug Phillips: Affair or Criminal Clergy Sexual Abuse?

Scary-Doug-PhillipsThroughout November the internet exploded with the news of Doug Phillips’ recent public resignation from Vision Forum Ministries. Even though it’s been a little more than a month, various comments to my articles, as well as blog stats, clearly show that many are just now finding out. Many more will continue finding out in weeks to come.

Quite a few people initially equated Doug Phillips’ Statement Of Resignation with “repentance.” However, as I explained in a previous article, it was no such thing. Doug Phillips was duplicitous and evasive in just about everything he said in his public statements. However, he did at least tell the truth about one thing. He got the title right. It was a “Statement Of Resignation”, and nothing more.

Too many of the blog and newspaper headlines were along the lines of, Doug Phillips Extramarital Affair Forces Resignation From Vision Forum Ministries. I too made the mistake initially of using the term “extra-marital affair” to describe this scandal. However, I quickly came to see that, although it was indeed extra-marital and, therefore adultery against his wife, “affair” is an inappropriate term to use in this context. Worse yet it excuses what is, in reality, criminal conduct.

Herein I will use the term “adultery” to define Doug Phillips’ betrayal against his wife, and “clergy sexual abuse” to define his criminal actions against the young lady who, for purposes of this article and future articles, I will call “Cassandra.” Doug Phillips would object to my application of the terms “adultery” and “sex” in much the same way that Bill Clinton objected to those terms. As lawyers they use “adultery” in the strict legal sense of only constituting sexual intercourse, and if it’s not sexual intercourse it’s not even “sex.” For Doug Phillips’ it was just “an inappropriate relationship.” Such parsing leaves a lot of wiggle room, although I won’t get any more graphic than that (this is a G-rated blog).

Doug Phillips also interprets “biblically knowing each other” as sexual intercourse, and only sexual intercourse. In his way of thinking he can perpetrate any physical act, with any woman not his wife, short of actual sexual intercourse, and it’s not adultery against his wife. In his mind he hasn’t cheated on his wife and he’s not an adulterer. This gives him the escape clause he needs from being subject to the same terrible judgment that he’s pounded the pulpit with for years: “The Bible requires that all adulterers be stoned to death.” Regardless of his rationalizing, Doug Phillips is an adulterer and worse. However, I don’t believe he should be stoned to death. Doug Phillips should be grateful that our criminal justice system is rooted in English Common Law and not Sharia.

Here’s the problem with the term “affair”: It defines a relationship based upon free will and informed consent. Such a relationship is one in which both parties are fully willing to participate — where there is no coercion, manipulation, or control, and where there is a reasonable expectation that any promises made can be realistically fulfilled. Both parties are in full control of their mental faculties and emotions, and remain free moral agents. They are free at all times to say, “No” without fear of retaliatory consequences; or if after they have said “Yes” they are free to later say, “I made a mistake. This isn’t right. It’s gone too far. I want out.” Lastly, and most importantly here, an “affair” can only happen where the two parties have relatively equal “power” in the relationship. None of these things occurred in the Doug Phillips/Cassandra case because, as I’ve explained in my previous article, Boerne Christian Assembly is a religious sociological cult and Doug Phillips is the cult leader.

Doug Phillips characterizes his relationship with Cassandra as an “inappropriate relationship”, but this strains all credulity. Let’s just call it what the Bible calls it: adultery against his wife. Doug Phillips clearly demonstrates his lack of remorse (and therefore lack of repentance) when he trivializes the gravity of his offenses in Clinton-esque we didn’t go all the way terms. Even Doug Phillips’ strongest supporters didn’t buy it for long.

Cassandra was in the Phillips home every day for at least 12 years, and probably longer. It started at the time she was a young teenager, all with her parents’ consent and encouragement. She and her family were members of Doug Phillips’ religious sociological cult, masquerading as a church, Boerne Christian Assembly. Cassandra quickly became highly valued by Doug Phillips, who said of her, “In fact, we consider her to be a member of the family, and her parents to be the dearest of friends.”

Cassandra began serving part-time in the Phillips’ home when she was 15, and was there full-time from the age of 17. Even though Cassandra came from a very poor family, Doug Phillips didn’t pay her. No one, other than Doug and Cassandra, know exactly when the sex began but, at best, Cassandra was barely at the age of legal consent (17 in Texas). Some have argued that it likely started when she was under the age of consent. For Doug Phillips’ sake he’d better not have done anything at all “inappropriate” if she was under the age of consent. Texas has no statute of limitations in certain cases of sexual acts with a minor under the age of legal consent. He also better not have paid her off the buy her silence, for that too would have onerous legal consequences. But even if the sex started at 17 this wouldn’t necessarily leave Doug Phillips clear of the possibility of criminal prosecution, both in Texas and under federal statute.

Because of her age, as well as the BCA cult training, which conditioned BCA girls to “submit” to fathers and elders (i.e. passive obeisance), she would have been extremely vulnerable to Doug Phillips’ advances. The daily contact, coupled with Doug Phillips’ charm, would have softened her up.

BCA may have been a reasonably healthy and normal church when it was first started by Doug Phillips and three other church elders. There was genuine pastoral accountability and a divergence of opinions among the elders. But as those other elders started leaving to start their own churches closer to their own home towns, ultimately leaving only Doug Phillips to rule the roost, it left a vacuum of accountability and diversity of doctrine. The power soon went to his head and Doug Phillips was left unchecked to rule as an autocrat. The authoritarian Hyper-Patriarchy doctrines he continuously taught of unquestioning loyalty and submission of wives and daughters to husbands and fathers, and each of them in turn in complete subservience to their church elders (of which Doug Phillips was the only one for most of BCA’s history) served as a powerful form of mind control, as evidenced in most all religious sociological cults.

At BCA the mind control was reinforced by the terrifying prospect of excommunication, and the inevitable shunning of the entire family for one member’s excommunication. Those who have never been in a cult, or who have never studied the sociological structure and psychology of cults, find it difficult to comprehend how otherwise intelligent people can give up control over their lives, their freedom of will, and even their freedom of thought, to a charismatic leader; but the fact is it happens all the time. Most assuredly it happened to Cassandra, as well as to her parents. They all were swept up in the excitement of following a home school rock star.

Doug Phillips’ cult leader powers of persuasion add another strong argument against Cassandra having entered into a sexual relationship with Doug Phillips of her own free will, anymore than did the multiple women that David Koresh bedded. The sociological structure of Doug Phillips’ power-cult, along with his idol status among his followers (especially among the women), made it inevitable that he could, if he wanted to, bed almost any of his followers, including teens, and married women.

There are numerous reports of women flirting with Doug Phillips, both in BCA and elsewhere. This would be consistent with the behavior of “groupies” who follow rock stars. Indeed, prior to his fall Doug Phillips had a rock star status among his followers, and he had his groupies. Is a man responsible for a woman flirting with him? If he encourages it, yes, especially if he holds a position of authority over her. A man in a position of authority, and particularly pastoral authority, should do everything in his power to dissuade flirtation, not encourage it. From all reports Doug Phillips encouraged the flirtation. He, thereby, invited temptation, both to himself and to the women that he exchanged flirtations with. No doubt the cumulative effect of all that flirtation was that it went to his already inflated fat ego. In his pride Doug Phillips encouraged, rather than discouraged, his own adulation. The inevitable result was his self-destruction:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

It’s likely that Cassandra did flirt with Doug Phillips, and for that she is probably now blaming herself. She does bear responsibility for her part in this but, in my view, her part is almost inconsequential to the sin that resulted. Doug Phillips was the moral leader and had the responsibility to rebuff any flirtations that were directed at him; but that not only didn’t happen, Doug Phillips has been seen many times in public encouraging the flirtations of his adoring female fans. As this illustration shows, the religious leader always has the weight of responsibility for preventing marital infidelity because he holds the role of leader, plus he has the advantage of experience, knowledge, authority and power, and the victim generally holds little if any of those things:

Clergy Sexual Abuse 4 Major Imbalances

These relational imbalances are the reason why various licensed professions, such as Psychiatrists, Counselors, Therapists, Doctors, and Nurses are held to strict professional standards of conduct which govern their relationships with clients and co-workers. In all cases sexual relationships with clients and patients are prohibited. The same applies in the military where superior ranking officers and enlisted personnel aren’t permitted to “fraternize” with subordinate ranking personnel. Numerous professions have such restrictions, including clergymen. One problem, however, is that too many clergymen don’t think such standards should or do apply to them. This is especially true of those in “independent non-denominational” churches where they often have little to no accountability. However, in many states there are laws governing the conduct of clergymen with their church members. Texas is one of those states:

PENAL CODE
TITLE 5. OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON

CHAPTER 22. ASSAULTIVE OFFENSES

Sec. 22.011. SEXUAL ASSAULT. (a) A person commits an offense if the person:

(b) A sexual assault under Subsection (a)(1) is without the consent of the other person if:

(10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser;

(f) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree, except that an offense under this section is a felony of the first degree if the victim was a person whom the actor was prohibited from marrying or purporting to marry or with whom the actor was prohibited from living under the appearance of being married under Section 25.01.

Sexual abuse by a clergyman has sometimes been prosecuted as a federal crime, as was Pastor Jack Schaap who received a 12 year sentence for engaging in sex with an underage girl. Schaap was initially investigated in his home state of Indiana but was cleared when it was found that the girl was of the age of consent (16 in Indiana) when the sex started. The FBI later picked up the case when it was determined that Schaap had traveled with the girl to at least two other states where they engaged in sex. Those states’ age of consent was higher. Furthermore, the federal age of consent is 18.

Doug Phillips treated Cassandra as “a member of the family” and she routinely traveled with him all over the country, and out of the country, often without Beall. With all the out of state travel it could easily change the question of age of legal consent considerably. However, this issue of legal age of consent is still separate and apart from the matter of criminal sexual abuse by a clergyman, and it’s entirely possible that Doug Phillips may be guilty of both.

In the Phillips sociological cult structure Cassandra would have been conditioned to act exactly as she did. In other words, if she did flirt with Doug Phillips, it was only after she had witnessed other young ladies doing the same, and his favorable responses to them. Her flirtations toward him also would not have happened until after he had directed signals of his interest at her first. He wanted her attention and, in her teenage ignorance, she gave it to him. Once he got it he rewarded her with special favors and privileges, including further access to him. Since she knew that he carefully guarded his access to himself, she would have felt highly favored to get to spend time in his exalted presence. That access was in itself a huge reward. Once it turned physical this would have been interpreted as an even greater reward. This is all part of what cult experts and psychologists call “grooming.” Cassandra’s attraction to Doug served to cloud his already self-aggrandizing judgment as he sought to rationalize what turned into years of cheating on his wife.

Sociopaths, with their lack of conscience, can readily do that. For a sociopath it’s not about having to deal with a guilty conscience because they, quite literally, have no conscience. But sociopaths are keenly aware of the importance of conforming to social norms within their particular sub-culture. So in Doug Phillips’ case it was just a matter of not getting caught. Add narcissism and a lawyer’s craftiness to the mix and you have a toxic recipe. That narcissism ultimately led to Doug’s downfall. He started to get sloppy. Most adulterers work hard to conceal their cheating, but a narcissist who has so long gotten away with his transgressions will tend to get more brazen about it.

In February 2012* Doug wasn’t even trying to conceal his “inappropriate relationship” with Cassandra. He was parading her around the San Antonio Independent Film Festival (Feb 23-25) as they walked as lovers, hand in hand. Eye witnesses were stunned and assumed Doug Phillips had just completely lost his mind.

In January 2013 Doug was literally caught with his pants down, in his home, by one or more Phillips family members. To the best of our knowledge it was Beall and or Josh who caught them.

Prior to this point the relationship had been an open secret. As long as Doug kept it in the closet no one at BCA or Vision Forum would hold him accountable. But for Doug to openly flaunt his adultery put everything in jeopardy, including many people’s jobs. Something had to be done. Doug was finally confronted in an “emergency BCA meeting” in February where he allegedly confessed and repented and stepped down as Elder of BCA. Doug promised the relationship would end. It didn’t. It just went back into the closet.

By September 2013 Scott Brown and the Vision Forum board members were informed of Doug’s cheating, either directly or indirectly. Pastor Joe Morecraft and Peter Bradrick flew to San Antonio in the later part of October to confront Doug Phillips for his sin. As Peter Bradrick articulated on his Facebook, things didn’t go well. However, they did go exactly as anyone should expect when confronting a sociopathic narcissist. The Notice Of Resignation followed shortly thereafter.

This entire saga makes for a textbook case of clergy sexual abuse. It is, therefore, not an “extra-marital affair.” Tragically, cases like this one are not rare. Instances of clergy sexual abuse are rampant. They must be exposed and the perpetrators must be prevented from ever again being welcomed into positions of power and trust where they can prey on the vulnerable. This especially applies to Doug Phillips who is guilty of many more betrayals than just this one case of clergy sexual abuse.

Numerous have been the comments requesting prayer for Doug Phillips and his family. Strangely absent are prayer requests for Cassandra and her family. No doubt they’re just following the example of Doug Phillips who, likewise, makes no requests for prayers for Cassandra and her family. It’s as though they don’t even exist and Doug Phillips isn’t guilty of betraying any family other than his own. I can only conclude this is because they view Cassandra as an adulteress, and likely a temptress who bears responsibility for the downfall of a great Christian leader. Clearly they don’t view her as a victim, but they really need to. If it was one of their daughters who had been caught up in such a cult I can guarantee they’d be blaming no one but the cult leader for it.

Some have asked, “What sort of a future could Cassandra see with Doug Phillips? She stuck with him throughout her later teens and the whole of her 20’s – the full span of time when all the other BCA girls are the most eager to marry. Why did she sacrifice all those years for a man who, by all appearances, couldn’t offer her marriage? The fact of the matter is he did offer her marriage, and she believed him.

EngagementRingSome bloggers, such as Doug Wilson, have alleged that Cassandra was some sort of “Foxy Bubbles” seductress. Far from her being the tempting seductress, it was Doug Phillips who seduced Cassandra with charm and promises. His promises included marriage and children, and his promises were sealed with what can only be viewed as an engagement ring. As confirmed by this image from 2010, Cassandra has been wearing an engagement ring for a minimum of four years.

The implications of this need to be understood in the context of the cultish culture of Boerne Christian Assembly. Many BCA girls are given “purity rings” by their fathers, which they wear on their ring finger until it is replaced with an engagement ring given to them by a fiancé. Purity rings are always simple plain bands of silver, and occasionally gold. Never would they resemble an expensive engagement ring with a large multi-caret diamond, such as the one seen here. No one in BCA could have failed to see such an expensive engagement ring on Cassandra’s ring finger. No one would have believed that it was a promise ring, especially since her father was too poor to afford it. It should have been obvious that Doug Phillips had plans for Cassandra of a permanent nature. But when you’re a cult member you just don’t question such things, and that even includes the cult leader’s wife. Whether it makes any sense to us or not, the fact of the matter is that Cassandra has believed for years that Doug Phillips would make good on his promises to marry her.

There’s one major impediment to fulfilling that promise – his marriage to Beall. Doug is deep into Patriarchy, and there are those who call themselves Patriarchs who are also into polygamy, but it’s unlikely Doug will go that far. Divorce would settle Doug’s problem but Doug doesn’t have any biblical grounds for divorcing Beall. Beall, however, certainly has biblical and legal grounds for divorcing Doug. Unfortunately Beall shares Doug’s beliefs that divorce is never permissible.

This prohibition of divorce in all cases only makes sense in light of Theonomy. But even most theonomists disagree with Doug’s extreme position on divorce. Theonomists generally hold to the more conventional view that divorce is permissible only in cases of adultery and abandonment. As an extreme Theonomist Doug Phillips would have all adulterers put to death. Thus, if your wife cheats on you, you stone her to death, leaving yourself free to remarry, without the inconvenience of having to divorce, or the stigma associated with being a “divorcee.” This also leaves you free to continue being a pastor or elder (many churches ban divorcees from being pastors and elders).

Why would Doug Phillips make promise after promise, year after year, of marriage and children to another woman when, by his own doctrinal standards, he could have no lawful means of getting out of his current marriage? His only out is if Beall were to die.

Several people, knowing Doug’s extreme views on divorce and remarriage, have emailed Jen and I expressing their deep concerns for Beall’s safety. It would be hard to miss the implications of where Doug Phillips’ extremist views might ultimately lead, and for those who have been following my articles you already know my take on Doug Phillips’ mental condition. Those already familiar with such personality disorders know what a narcissistic sociopath is capable of.

Compounding our concerns is the fact that Doug Phillips has had to confront such desperate times, and may soon be confronting even more desperate times. The old adage, “Desperate times call for desperate measures” seems ready made for an already mentally imbalanced man.

The worst possible scenario for Beall is if Doug’s exit strategy includes moving the family to some obscure place, in some obscure country (like Kenya with Brad, or maybe Peru), out of the public eye, where Doug is no longer subject to scrutiny, and Beall is cut off from all outside communication.

Pray for Beall Phillips and for the Phillips’ children. May God preserve them and protect them from all harm. And don’t forget to keep Cassandra, and her family, in your prayers, as well.

__________________

*Author’s Note: I had previously stated this occurred in 2013. After checking again with my sources I realized that my chronology was inaccurate. The circumstances remain unchanged, but the chronology of events was out of order. I apologize for any confusion. If anything this creates an even more problematic situation. What this means is that key Vision Forum people had first hand knowledge that the “inappropriate relationship” had been going on for even far longer than we even realized and, apparently, little or nothing was done to confront it.

Doug Phillips: Portrait of a Religious Sociological Cult Leader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Families,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All memes used by permission of Doug Phillips Memes

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Yet Another Doug Phillips Sex Scandal

A Unique Case of Clergy Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment

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

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

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

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

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

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

To quote from Bob and Cathy Johnson’s narrative:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Post Script

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

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

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