Although the stated reasons for my excommunication were quite vague and broad-brushed, with no evidence given whatsoever, I believe the main underlying reason why Doug Phillips excommunicated me really had to do with politics. Well, that was the outward circumstance for an inward attitude. Four years ago, as we prepared for the presidential election, Doug Phillips took a very strong stand on why Christians should vote for Michael Peroutka, a virtually unknown candidate for the Constitution Party, the party of Doug’s father, Howard Phillips. For weeks and weeks before the election, we heard political propaganda pounded into us from the pulpit and through the discussion time of the men after the weekly sermon.
Now, I have nothing personally against Peroutka, and he may have been a very fine candidate, but there were many reasons why I was not going to vote for him. And since we live in a free country, and since Jesus bought our spiritual freedom as well, I certainly thought I had the freedom to vote for any presidential candidate I thought best. Little did I know at the time that by reason of my being born female, I was not to be afforded the privilege of freely choosing whom I wanted to vote for.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect on everything, it seems that one way that Doug Phillips can promote his political agenda is to keep women from participating, not only by stating that it is a sin for women to be in politics, but also that God does not allow women to vote. In Doug’s world, women are not allowed a college education where they might be exposed to political issues. In Doug’s brand of hyper-patriarchy, women are not allowed to have an opinion or a belief that is not their husband’s as well. When it comes to politics, that is a subject that is verboten to women and should only interest men.
A quick review of the last election run-in with Doug Phillips
Although Doug Phillips does not normally allow comments on his blog (which should be a huge red flag already — no dissent allowed), on this one particular occasion, he did actually solicit his readers’ opinions to a voting scenario he laid out between candidates A and B. Having previously spoken with one of the Vision Forum employees about my concerns regarding Doug’s views on politics, this particular employee had encouraged me to write Doug and express my own thoughts on the matter. I did not feel at liberty to do so at the time, but when this blog article came out just a few days before the election, I immediately jumped at the chance to participate. Of immense interest to me was a voting debate hosted by Doug Phillips and posted at the same time. I chose to respond to both.
Could I have responded any better? Of course! First, emotions were running high on both sides. Second, this was my very first attempt at taking a side on any issue, so I was not versed at all in the skill of debate. Third, as I look back at where I was spiritually then, I wince when I read that I wrote things like “Shame on you” to my elder. Although I meant it lightheartedly, it was not appropriate to say, and I was wrong for saying that. But was I wrong for writing it in the first place? Was I wrong for having an opinion? Was I wrong for voicing my opinion? No.
But I wrote my response and sent it off with my husband’s full blessing to Doug’s private email address so that no one else need know about it. Why did my response that Friday generate such a riposte then in return on Sunday? When Doug arrived at church that Sunday, shortly after the service had already started, I asked to speak to him outside. Very reluctantly, he agreed. As I apologized for gossiping about him a couple weeks earlier, I asked if he would forgive me. Rather than doing so, he qualified his forgiveness by asking if I would also apologize for writing him the voting letter. I did not see that I had sinned in doing so, and said as much. Refusing to forgive me for gossiping then, Doug threatened me instead, “You’re going to pay for this!” I had no idea at the time that this was a threat of excommunication. As I found out later, though, my sin was not in writing and sending the email, but in being a woman. I was told that the letter would have been fine if Mark was the one who had written it, even though his name was included and it was sent with his full blessing.
Much to my surprise, Doug then went inside to preach, but it was not the next chapter in I Kings this week. No, he pulled out my letter and began to read from it. As he would read each point, he would preach against it, point by point. He did not say my name, but I found it quite comical to see him so incensed by my letter that he chose to preach against it two days before the election. That was my first indication that BCA was no longer a church, but a cult.
Doug Phillips’ “Biblical” Principles of the Ballot Box
Super Tuesday is almost upon us now and Doug Phillips has released a new CD called “Biblical Principles of the Ballot Box,” available for a donation of any amount. I have not listened to it, but I do wonder if it is that sermon where he preached against my letter, point by point. Whatever it is, I am quite confident that I know the basics of what it contains. There is one thing I have noticed about Doug Phillips over the years: his positions do not change at all, but they do grow more and more extreme. So, I will relay his position according to the last election four years ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more extremes as we continue building up to the elections this November.
Is Doug still upset about my voting letter? In his blog entry last Monday, January 28th, he talked about Christians who are “fearful” of voting according to the Bible. Look at some of the hyperbole he uses in that article:
At stake is far more than the presidency. We can “win” an election, and yet sell our spiritual birthright.
As I have gotten into the habit of highlighting unnecessary language in Doug’s writings, it has become clear that much of his “vision” is fear-driven propaganda. Let’s strip away the rhetoric and see what he is telling us. First, if we don’t vote for the “biblical” candidate, we are like Esau, selling our “spiritual” birthright. And that is more important than the election itself. Wow. I don’t remember Esau selling his birthright for a vote for the wrong presidential candidate. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. But it’s kind of scary to think that we might end up like Esau, especially when we think about what God said about him: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated.” Talk about a heavy burden. I thought this was the land of the free. I thought we were free to vote for any presidential candidate. When Jesus said He came to set us free, I wonder if He meant freedom except that He would lay upon us the burden of selling our spiritual birthright if we voted for the wrong candidate for president of the United States of America. That’s a pretty heavy fear tactic.
[W]hat matters the most is that the Church remains faithful to her Bridegroom by following the only infallible standard ever written for the selection of civil magistrates.
I suppose I would have to listen to the CDs to find what these verses are that detail exactly how we should vote in the upcoming elections. I agree that there are certainly principles we can find in Scripture, such as being careful of voting for those who promote murder through abortion, but most of the principles Doug is espousing here are certainly extra-biblical and have little-to-nothing to do with how we are really to vote. Perhaps this is the section where God does not allow women to vote either. However, if we look at Doug’s reasoning here, we will soon be quite fearful that we would be unfaithful to our Bridegroom if we vote for the wrong person. Now our vote is raised to the level of spiritual adultery. The fear level continues to grow.
Some believe that the Bible is silent on the question of what standards should govern the selection of a civil magistrate. But to reach this conclusion is to deny the sufficiency of Scripture, and to substitute autonomous human reason for biblical revelation.
Does the Bible tell us how to vote? Or are we given liberty in this area? Is this an area where God expects us to use wisdom or must we follow the dictates of Doug Phillips in our private voting booth? If I vote for a different candidate than Doug Phillips does, am I denying the sufficiency of Scripture? That sounds as bad as saying that every woman who works outside the home is blaspheming Scripture. That’s pretty serious stuff. Autonomous is a word Doug likes to use in conjunction with antinomianism, so this statement is effectually saying that if you don’t vote for the right “biblical” candidate, you don’t believe the Bible and you are an antinomian. More fear tactics.
Others are so fearful of certain outcomes, that there is little reasoning with them.
But nobody really likes to be called “fearful,” so let’s attack those who use logic and reason to sort through the issues and win them over with lots of honey instead!
They want to condemn their brethren by saying that a vote for X, is really a vote for Y.
Aha! This is taken straight from my letter to Doug! He does remember! In this case, I said that a vote for Peroutka was really a vote for Kerry, in that it took votes away from Bush. When an election is as close as the last presidential election was, if voters who would otherwise have voted for Bush ended up voting for someone who didn’t have a snowball’s-chance-in-hell of winning, that was one less vote for Bush for each person who voted for Peroutka. Simple math shows that taking votes away from Bush increases Kerry’s numbers proportionately. But is it really condemnation to point out the obvious? Or is it just more fear tactics to use a trigger word for Christians like “condemn”?
Their election fears seem sometimes to rise to a self-righteous hysteria, governed more by emotions than objective standards.
Self-righteous hysteria! I can’t say for sure, but if Doug is speaking of me here, my hysteria was rather calm in that I didn’t let anyone else know about it except for Mark and Doug. Of course, telling others that they are reaching the level of being hysterical is certainly going to win them over to your point of view. And then we have emotions versus objective standards. I listed objective standards all throughout my paper in opposition to Doug’s emotional stance for Peroutka. In fact, I don’t believe he liked it when I suggested that perhaps Peroutka supporters were so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good in this election. I had a very difficult time finding any objective standards in Doug’s position. This is just more fear mongering on Doug’s part.
The Bible has the answer to the ethical chaos of fear-driven voting, pragmatic voting, “ends-justifies-the-means” voting, and “lesser-of-two-evils” voting.
Fear, fear, fear.
It explores the blessing presented in Scripture to all who will enter the ballot box with supreme confidence that the Lord sovereignly reigns, that He is more pleased with our obedience than with our rationalistic, extra-biblical voting strategies, and that the greatest hope for America is not found in the outcome of any one election, but in the persevering witness of the Church as God’s representative in America, to uphold his non-negotiable standards and righteousness.
Perhaps Doug Phillips and I will vote for the same candidate this year, but it will be with two very different motivations. I am not driven by fear that I will lose my spiritual birthright if I vote for the wrong candidate. I do not think I will cease to believe in the Bible if I vote for the wrong guy. I won’t get hysterical or self righteous, but I might use a little logic and reasoning and seek to understand the issues.
I don’t think God has promised me any blessings for voting for “God’s” candidate. God is sovereign and He will put the person He wants as president in office, with or without my vote. But Doug does have one statement right here: “He is more pleased with our obedience than with our … extra-biblical voting strategies.” We haven’t looked at any verses in this short article on Doug’s extra-biblical voting strategies, but we will continue to look at his political ideas this year and we will find that they are, indeed, very extra-biblical. Jesus gave us freedom. We live in a free country. Please do not be under the bondage that you must follow Doug’s voting strategies or God will not be pleased with you. You are free to vote for whomever you choose this year.
But in the end, it probably doesn’t really matter what my opinion is on the matter because I am, after all, only a woman, and God doesn’t allow women to vote!
We went to a rally in Victoria, Texas today. We were told that the Constitution guarantees us certain freedoms. It was good to see people enjoying their freedom today.