I received a notification on my phone today that said there was a sharp increase in my readership here today. I haven’t posted anything here in a long time, so I was a bit perplexed. Then friends began notifying me of the new article up on Boerne Christian Assembly’s website and it all started to make sense.
Ten years ago, I was blissfully unaware of what was just about to take place. I had just finished my mandatory counseling with Beall Phillips and Reba Short on why I was such an ungodly wife (they had no specific examples, but just a general, broad accusation); I had written my private letter to Doug Phillips about why voting for his father’s third-party candidate was a losing proposition, and he had in turn not only preached against my letter point-by-point on Election Sunday, but had also threatened me with “You will pay for this!” But that retribution did not take effect for three more months, when I was excommunicated on January 30, 2005. There were no reasons given for my excommunication, except for broad-brushed generalizations that I was not a godly wife.
Confused and deeply hurt, Mark and I tried every possible way we knew to reconcile with Doug Phillips and BCA, but he finally threatened to sue us if we ever contacted him again. When I knew that my heart was right with God on this matter, and I found out that Doug Phillips had hurt other people without a just cause, I began to sense that this was a pattern of spiritual abuse and that my homeschool patriarchy friends needed to be warned about this wolf in sheep’s clothing, so nearly two years after we were excommunicated, I began this blog. (If you have not read my story in full, it is listed to the left of this article.)
After nine years, Doug Phillips was forced to (voluntarily) resign from his position as President of Vision Forum Ministries and he subsequently lost his business when the homeschool world was rocked with the revelation that Doug Phillips, the man who held himself out as the one to emulate in having the “perfect” godly family, was really a hypocrite to the highest degree, teaching one thing and living a lie, having an “inappropriate” relationship for many years with a young woman who happened to be my daughter’s best friend.
Doug Phillips’ resignation took place just over one year ago, and since that time, I have had many conversations with numerous people who have been either directly or indirectly involved in this whole saga of what was happening behind the scenes in the last fifteen years. I have finally found out the real reason I was excommunicated: my “sin” that was kept secret from the whole world, one that even I was not aware of. As I share this, I realize I have no “proof,” but every indication points to the “real” reason for my unjust excommunication.
Doug Phillips is used to being the “top dog” in his own circles. As the years went by, first hundreds, and then thousands, of homeschool families literally worshiped Doug and his teachings, following him around from one homeschool conference to another, and clamoring to attend his “patriarchy-homeschool-only” events. They were quite memorable and well-done trips and events, to be sure! Those who challenged Doug were the “outsiders,” those Jezebels and liberals and feminists and all those who never measured up in Doug’s eyes. But no one inside his circles ever stood up to him and challenged him — until I came along. However, I don’t think that being challenged by a woman, as insulting as that was to Doug, was the underlying reason for my excommunication, although Doug used it as his “justification.”
During the five years we were at BCA, my daughter was best friends with Lourdes. They were inseparable and shared all their secrets together. But as Lourdes turned 18 and “graduated” from high school, something began to change, ever so slightly. During these Vision Forum grand events that Doug Phillips and Vision Forum Ministries would put on, he needed help with his many kids, so he and Beall would bring along a nanny for the trip. One year, it was Natasha’s turn to be a nanny for the Faith and Freedom Tour, a highly coveted trip indeed! But then something happened. Out of the blue, and with no explanation given, Doug informed Natasha that he would be taking Lourdes instead of Natasha. My daughter was understandably devastated and confused. That did not make any sense to us ten years ago.
But that was the beginning of Doug Phillips’ more overt attention toward Lourdes, although he had made it abundantly clear what his intentions were long before she turned 18. So, if Doug had his eye on Lourdes, and Lourdes shared all her secrets with Natasha, what would happen if Natasha told her mother that Doug was acting inappropriately toward Lourdes? Would I be bullied into keeping quiet? Or would I speak out and tell the world what Doug Phillips was really doing behind the scenes? Whether Doug Phillips correctly guessed or not, he obviously chose to get me out of the way, and that meant getting my whole family out of the way so he could continue to pursue this young lady he had fallen in love with.
So, in reality, I was excommunicated so that Doug Phillips could get my family, and especially me, out of his way so he could pursue another woman other than his wife. I cannot help but think of the time in church when Doug said, “When a man falls in love, all reason goes out the window.” This was more than foolish young love, however.
Today, BCA’s new elders announced that BCA has excommunicated Doug Phillips because they feel he has not repented for his sins that he first confessed to BCA nearly two years, and for which he resigned one year ago. This story has now come full circle. As I try to process this event today, I have several thoughts and would like to share some words from my heart to several people involved here. Please allow me to post several open letters in this article.
Today you are reaping what you have sown. You have been instrumental in excommunicating many individuals and families, whether at BCA or through other NCFIC churches. You have ruined many businesses and careers because of your involvement. You have threatened many people with lawsuits, you have stolen what has belonged to others, you have brought much fear and terror to many families who trusted you and looked up to you. I won’t name names here, but you know the hundreds of people whose lives have been greatly harmed because of how you made yourself judge and jury in people’s personal lives, and you made yourself “God” in judging who was sinning and who was not.
You also set yourself up as the “model” godly family, inviting trusting homeschool families to emulate you and look up to you, while you lived a lie at home. You have treated your own children abominably and they probably don’t even realize it yet. You have “dealt treacherously” with the wife of your youth, and defrauded another young woman who looked up to you and trusted you.
You have not dealt with the pornography problem, you have cheated your customers, you have lied to get what you want including lying about being commissioned to begin this church which has just excommunicated you, you have not honored your parents and you have blatantly dishonored Beall’s parents. You have committed murder and adultery in your heart, many times. You have stolen and lied and coveted ideas and businesses and recognition that belonged to others. You teach the Ten Commandments but you do not live them.
I have no problems in listing the “sins” you have been excommunicated for, although BCA probably has their own list.
But I am not going to call you to change your ways. No, I am not. Patriarchy was wrongly built on a performance-based platform. Patriarchy’s platform was performance and perfection. “If you do this, it’s a sin.” “If you don’t do that, it’s a sin.” “If you behave in this way, God will be pleased.” “If you follow this rule or that rule, you will be blessed.” Perhaps your greatest sin, Doug, is in leading so many astray from the real truth of God’s Word, putting them in a bondage never designed for us.
Doug, that is not the God of the New Covenant. You have attempted to live your life by the letter of the Law rather than the spirit. Whenever we focus on outward rules and restrictions, we will certainly doom ourselves to doing the opposite of what we are trying to do. And the harder we try, the more we fail. And that is what is being demonstrated in your own life today. You have forced so many rules down the throats of hundreds of thousands of homeschool families, a burden God never intended us to bear. You could not bear that heavy burden either, so I will not call you to continue to try to carry this heavy burden of performance.
We have all sinned. No one here is perfect: not you, not me, not any of us homeschool families. It is not up to us to judge one another in our lack of perfection since performance and perfection was never God’s intent for us. Doug, this is a heart issue. God wants you to simply put your heart in His hands and allow Him to mold your stony heart into a softened heart of flesh. When God writes His Law of Love on our hearts and minds, then God’s love is that driving force in our lives. We no longer need to strive to obey Him or work hard to please Him. Instead, we simply respond to His love as His love so fills us to overflowing that we cannot help but love all those He puts in our lives.
And that is why I can honestly say, Doug, that I do love you. God has filled me to overflowing with His love and I deeply desire to see you experience this love that only God can fill you with. Doug, my prayer for you today is that you turn your hard heart to God and allow Him to soften it with His love.
Although you will never experience the depth of loss and shunning that I did, I want you to know that in this very ironic turn of events, you and I are now on the same team: those who are being shunned by the “community.” Like I told your husband, I am really not interested in what you did wrong or right, but I just want you to know that I care. I will not participate in the “shunning” that accompanies excommunication in this “community.” I will not return wrong for wrong.
I choose to believe that you did not willingly participate in my excommunication, Beall. I know that you truly believe that you must submit to your husband in all things, and in some sense that is admirable. But there are times when you need to realize that it is better not to be complicit in your husband’s abuse of others.
I will never forget the day we met in Costco. Only you know what I am talking about. Know that if I saw you again, it would be the same way.
Beall, I pray that God will give you the courage to do what is right, no matter what. This is not a performance-based “doing what is right,” but this is the natural result of the love of God permeating your very being.
I miss you, Beall.
Dear Joshua, Justice, Liberty, Jubilee, Faith, Honor, Providence, and Virginia,
What has happened today will not really sink in for a long time. You may not ever fully understand it. It may take years and years to process it. As I think back to how my own children’s lives were devastated by our excommunication, I can only say that I would never wish that upon any other child, and especially upon those whose lives we have been a part of.
For many years, I watched you grow up. Most of you were friends with my own kids. Natasha was like a second mom to Honor. It broke her heart to have him ripped away from her like that. I know it is very difficult to lose all your friends you have known your whole life. I hear that you are attending another church now. It is not the same, is it? I know how difficult it is to lose your whole way of life, and everyone you love, and try to start over.
Some of you will handle this better than others. Some of you will carry the scars of this for the rest of your life. I pray that as the years go by, and you struggle with all the questions that will come up, that you will find that only realizing how much God truly does love you is where you will find your healing.
I pray that none of you ever experience the depth of pain and suffering that my own children did in the excommunication. I pray that no one ever publicly turns their back on you or ignores you and pretends like you don’t exist because of something your father did. I pray that God will heal you from the things your father has done to you.
Perhaps you will see this letter to you many years from now, as I know you will not be allowed to read it now. When you finally read this, know that I have been praying for you all these years.
Dear Mark, Natasha, Joshua, and Alicia,
This is karma for us. What goes around, comes around. But there is a huge difference between taking revenge personally and allowing God to work in His own way and His own time. There are always consequences for our actions in life, and today is a perfect example of that.
No matter what happens to Doug Phillips, though, never let him rule your life. Forgiveness frees US from Doug Phillips having any power in our lives. Anger and bitterness only gives Doug authority and power. God’s Word is always proven true in how we are to treat our enemies, and Doug has treated us like an enemy: Let us resolve to love Doug Phillips, to pray for him, to forgive him, to bless him, and to do good to him. We will leave the rest up to God.
God loves each one of you and rescued us all from the pit of patriarchy and legalism.
Dear Lourdes, my dear friend,
What a blessing it has been for our families to renew our friendships once again! We have thought about you and anguished over our lost relationship throughout the years. Natasha has cried countless tears at the loss of her best friend.
But God has graciously brought us all back together again and I am loving the time I get to spend with you — long talks together, delicious homemade meals in your home, running errands together, and even working together! How ironic that we would end up working outside the home together!
It is even more ironic, and perhaps fitting, that God would use women and children to bring down Doug Phillips’ ship. His foundation was “Women and Children First,” based upon the Titanic, but in reality, Doug trampled on women and children, rather than protecting them. God’s ironies are far greater than anything we could have planned!
Speaking of God, Lourdes, I don’t think I have ever seen someone so filled with the love of God as I do in you! You have no unforgiveness in your heart, no anger, no bitterness toward Doug. It always amazes me that when you and I get together, the focus of our conversations are on moving forward in life, rather than continually hashing out the hurts of the past. While dealing with the past is necessary for healing, it is also vitally important to move on to the “acceptance” stage of life, and that is where we both live now.
The joy of the Lord is my strength! That joy is so evident in you, my dear friend! I look forward to many more years of sharing our lives together!
To the elders of BCA: Jeff Horn and David Fry,
While I have never met you, I’m sure you know who I am. I can’t help but see a striking difference between my own excommunication and that of Doug Phillips. While I do not know all the specifics, what I do know is significant. I know that Doug “confessed” to certain sins in February, 2013, and was then “forced” to resign in October, 2013, just over one year ago. I have also seen the change in eldership since that time as well.
Nearly two years has gone by since this first became known to the church. It appears, although I cannot verify this, that everything possible has been done to restore Doug to his church. Thank you for taking plenty of time in working through this situation when you could have easily jumped straight into the quick disciplinary action Doug was well-known for. He was shown the mercy through you that he himself never extended.
I also thank you for not taking the easy way and just believing that Doug Phillips was repentant. Doug may have fooled many with his smooth talk and charm, but those of us who know him well know very well that he is not the least bit repentant. In excommunicating him, you have not only shown that we share this view, but you have also effectually said that Doug has committed some serious wrongs. This was not done without much prayer and time, and that is obvious. Thank you.
I also realize that as elders, you have inherited a mess at BCA. Many people, including my family, have been greatly harmed and wounded at the hands of BCA, in some way. I pray that you will not try to simply sweep all these wrongs under the rug, but as these are all bound up with Doug Phillips, in some way, I sincerely hope that you will also be the catalyst to bring healing to a very hurting community. God has given you an incredible responsibility at this point in time. Please use it wisely.
Dear Past and Present BCA members, and members of the “community,”
Whether or not you ever signed your name on the dotted line of the “till death do us part” covenant, we are all still united. God is the One who brought us all together, and no matter what hurt or pain has separated us, our hearts are still connected, and always will be. God made us that way.
There is no place like BCA, no “community” like ours. It is one of a kind, never to be duplicated again. Whatever happens in the community in the future, whatever happens to BCA, let us all keep one another in our hearts and in our lives. You can tell your stories to your friends and family far and wide, but they will never “get” it, because it is such an unusual place.
There is a ton of hurt and pain in this community right now. We all need healing. We can blame Doug Phillips or you can blame me, or we can play the blame game all day long, but the truth is that we need one another, and we need God for healing. Not only do we need healing on an individual level, many of us, but we all need healing on a corporate level. We, the “community,” and we, the past and present members of BCA, are part of one united body. Why are we self-inflicting wounds? Why not bind up those broken hearts, why not reach out to those we have judged as being “not worthy,” why not come together in unity as Christ commissioned us to?
Do you remember the first year together, when we learned about “one anothering” in the Bible, when love and fellowship was contagiously high? Have we lost our first love?
There are many of you I have not met yet. You are still a part of my heart. I want you to know that I love you and am praying for each of you and for this “community.”
PS. I want to say a special word to Jennifer Grady. I don’t judge you. I’ve been in your shoes in so many ways. You have spunk and you’re gonna make it! I’ve heard that you have made some awesome changes in life lately! Great job! Always remember that God loves you just the way you are.
To my readers, especially those affected by patriarchy and/or the NCFIC,
Thank you. You all have helped me go through this difficult part of life in a way I would never have dreamed of!
It may be tempting right now to gloat about what is happening to Doug Phillips, but that was never my intention here. I came here solely to warn people about a wolf in sheep’s clothing because I didn’t want anyone to be hurt in the way my family was. While many readers heeded the warning the first year (I personally heard from over 1000 families who left patriarchy the first year I told my story here), unfortunately, there were many more who did not listen. It grieves me deeply to see how many people and how many families have been wounded by Doug Phillips, either personally or through his teachings. So let us not use this opportunity to rejoice at someone’s fall, but let us endeavor together to pray that God will soften his heart of stone, and let us pray for Beall and their children, and for Lourdes. My family still really needs prayer and healing. And BCA.
You are all my extended family. I thank God for each one of you. I pray that this whole ordeal will be a life-changing lesson not only for us individually, but as the larger community of Christian homeschoolers.
This has left a black eye, or worse, for Christian homeschoolers. Let’s let God put a steak on that black eye and bring healing to our whole body.