Boerne Christian Assembly Excommunicates Doug Phillips: A Response

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.

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Dear Doug,

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.

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Dear Beall,

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Doug Phillips: Peace Maker or Truth Silencer?

02-07-13-saicff-beallOne year ago, the theme of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival seemed to be “Defending the Defenseless.”  This festival came only days on the heels of Doug Phillips being found in a compromising position with “Cassandra” and the subsequent sudden departure of her family from the beloved church they had attended for nearly thirteen years.  Putting women and children first, and defending the defenseless, seemed to be the farthest thing from Doug Phillips’ mind as he stood front and center on the stage and continued to hide his deep, dark secrets from his adoring fans. At that time, no one knew he had quietly stepped down as elder, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family.  The reality is that he probably turned on the charm in order to save his marriage after having been caught.  He waited until after the film festival to “confess” his sins to Bob Sarratt, the only other elder at BCA, a “yes man” who was very good at keeping Doug’s sins secret for the next nine months.

saicff postponedWhen Vision Forum Ministries announced online last October that the 9th annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival was first postponed, and then cancelled, it sparked waves of confusion and frustration for the filmmakers and their families who had worked so diligently to meet the film submission deadline which was only days away.  Rather than emailing those on the SAICFF list and telling them of the postponement and cancellation, and with absolutely no explanation of why Vision Forum Ministries’ most popular annual event was being suddenly dropped at the last moment, the grapevine soon became the de facto form of communication within this small, but tightly knit, troop of independent Christian film makers.  One by one, they contacted each other in utter disbelief: “How could this happen?  We just spent the last year of our lives working on making another film, and now what?”

Ten days later, when Doug Phillips announced his resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, it began to make some sense.  But did it really?  Or did it actually cause more questions and more confusion?  After all, according to World Magazine’s April 5, 2014 cover story article about Doug Phillips, the five men who confronted Doug Phillips on his doorstep did so the day before he resigned, which was October 30, 2013.  If that is true, why did Vision Forum cancel the film festival ten days prior to Doug being confronted?  I’m guessing there’s a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye, including why Scott Brown knew, at the latest, by September 9, 2013, and still allowed Doug Phillips to continue on with his duties as normal.

At this exact same time, a pastor in Illinois, Philip Telfer, was moving his family down to the San Antonio area to become the new pastor at Living Water Fellowship, which is Little Bear Wheeler’s church in the “community” here.  Although Pastor Telfer had gone to a couple of the film festivals put on by Vision Forum and submitted a couple films himself, he had no interest in patriarchy whatsoever.  Coming from an inner-city youth ministry in Chicago, patriarchy was a totally foreign concept to Pastor Telfer. Like so many other filmmakers and individuals who were just there to observe, they attended Vision Forum’s San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival simply because it was the only game in town for Christian films.

Not desiring all that work and talent to be wasted and discouraged, Pastor Telfer naively thought that it shouldn’t be too difficult to put together a new film festival for everyone who was already expecting one, so he went to Little Bear with his idea of simply providing an avenue for a film festival.  In his mind, he just needed to find a venue, pick a date relatively close to the original date, and organize it.  Little Bear thought he was nuts!  He had no idea of the politics behind Doug Phillips’ resignation and that he would now be painting a large target on his back for stepping on such sacred ground.  Not to be daunted, however, Pastor Telfer set out to provide a safe place for Christian filmmakers to gather and continue their annual film festival traditions.

CWFFWhen I first heard of this initiative, I was a bit dubious.  What were his real motives?  Is this just another ministry rising up to promote more patriarchy?  Is this man trying to make a name for himself on someone else’s coattails?  The only thing I knew about him was that one of our mutual friends was in ministry together with Pastor Telfer, in a ministry called Media Talk 101.  That was encouraging enough to me to check it out since I knew my friend, a humble man who dearly loves the Lord, was definitely not into patriarchy, although he is a godly family man.  I considered attending the new Christian Worldview Film Festival, held March 11-15, 2014, but I wasn’t really interested in just being a spy.  That didn’t seem like a good idea, so I thought about it for a long time.

I have been going to school for quite a while now to become a certified health coach and my area of emphasis is in learning how to help people who are going through traumatic events, or who have not healed from the stress and trauma and pain of past events in life.  Not only have I experienced much trauma and pain from the excommunication and all the aftermath from that, especially with my children, but I have also experienced a tremendous amount of agonizing and heartbreaking ordeals and upheavals in the last decade or so.  God has taught me many ways to not only handle the stress and emotion and pain that accompany these difficulties in life, but also how to bring about the level of healing that actually makes me stronger and a much better person because of attending the University of Hard Knocks.

With Doug Phillips’ resignation came a mass of chaos, confusion, pain, and deep wounds within the “community,” both local and nationwide.  Even many of those who thought they had finally put their differences with Doug Phillips in the past and had moved forward in life suddenly found themselves looking hurt in the mirror one more time.  And it was very confusing.  As TW Eston and I continued to write articles here after Doug’s resignation, the comments, both here and elsewhere, were filled with, first, denial, then anger accompanied by deep hurt.  In any grieving process, these two are the first stages of how we respond emotionally in any situation where we have loss.  Bargaining and depression are the next stages before finally coming to terms with accepting the loss.  For some, going through these five stages of grieving happens very rapidly, but for others, it takes a very long period of time, while there are many who never reach the last stage of acceptance, allowing one to move forward in life.  When we “bury” our feelings and emotions from a hurtful experience in life, we find ourselves stuck somewhere in this grieving process, unable to truly move forward freely in life.  Others remain in the anger stage forever.

Telling my story online seven years ago was a cathartic process for me, and for those who followed along, many saw me go through these stages right in this blog.  I am grateful that God brought me through the grieving process to the healing point of acceptance so that I could move forward in my own life, partly because I was able to respond to this whole recent debacle without personally involving myself the way I did the first time around.  This allowed me to be much more objective.  It also allowed me to be able to empathize with those who just had the rug pulled out from underneath them.  I have read the comments and followed the conversations here and there, both online and in real life, with greater insight and compassion.

Healing from emotional pain is one of the life’s most transforming events ever.  It is more powerful than the initial trauma.  So, as I considered whether or not I should attend this year’s new Christian film festival, I realized that what I most wanted to do was to help bring healing to a hurting community.  How could I do that?  I decided to sign up as a volunteer and see what happened.  Although I could have used a fake name to get in the door, I knew that if I was going to bring healing to this hurting community that I needed to be just me, so I signed up online with my real name.  When the volunteer coordinator called me to talk to me about volunteering, I was surprised to find that she also attended BCA, but I was just going to go with the flow here, since my only goal was to bring healing to a hurting community. After we talked, she decided to have me “manage” the registration desk for the majority of the film festival.  That meant that my face would be the first one everyone saw when they entered the front door.  I knew I could use this opportunity for good!

With less than two days to go before the film festival began, I got the phone call.  I’ve heard this so many times before.  I either get a letter, an email, or a phone call, but they all say pretty much the same thing:  “Don’t ever darken the doors here again.”  I was fully prepared for the fact that this may be just another door slammed in my face, but when Philip Telfer called me to tell me that someone had emailed him, concerned about what might happen if I showed up at the film festival, I was pleasantly surprised when, instead, he asked me to have dinner with him and his wife that evening.  I knew they were super busy getting ready for the film festival, so I was honored that he would give me his time and give me the opportunity to speak for myself.  I found both Pastor Telfer and his wife to be wonderful people, and we easily fell into much laughter and a delightful conversation together!  It turned out that we both had the same goals in this film festival:  to bring healing to a hurting community.

HEROI am happy to report that the first annual Christian Worldview Film Festival was drama-free.  There was no idol who everyone was clamoring to see, but rather a servant-leader who was not only available whenever he was needed, but also just milled about and interacted with everyone in attendance.  If there was a mafia dressed in black, packing pieces, I did not see them.  What I did see were hundreds of happy people, excited to see old friends again, enjoying all the workshops, films, and special events that filled the week!  And I enjoyed being there to greet every single person each day.  As I saw those I had not seen in 8-10 years, I attempted to go out of my way to give each one of them a hug.  My goal was to hug every person I knew from my days in the “community.”  But what I found instead was that most of those who I had not seen in a long time were the first to want to give me a hug instead!  There was even one family that currently attends BCA who wanted to hug me.  Although I was not wearing a name tag, apparently, there were some who recognized my picture from online and came up to speak to me.  One lady, upon confirming who I was, gave me a big hug and just said, “Thank you!” with tears in her eyes. One small step for healing, one giant leap for the “community.”

I really did have a wonderful time there.  There were a few conversations about Doug Phillips and Vision Forum, but for the most part, these people were here to focus on moving forward, not looking backward.  I went to a few films.  I really enjoyed a couple, like Hero and Creed of Gold.  There were a few I didn’t care for as well, but for me, that was not the main point.  I also attended a lecture by Rich Christiano because I heard he was controversial.  I wanted to hear that for myself. It was sad to see that certain young filmmakers did not show up, simply because it was not organized by Vision Forum.

Imagine the irony, then, of coming off the high of the first step toward healing, the first step toward making peace in this hurting “community,” of finding out in World’s article that Doug Phillips sent a letter, through his attorney, of course, threatening to sue three of the men who showed up on his doorstep that fateful day in October, 2013.  This letter was mailed March 13, 2014, right smack in the middle of the Christian Worldview Film Festival.  While many of us were working to bringing healing to a hurting community, Doug Phillips, obviously hurting himself that he was not the star of the show this year, was busy stirring up strife instead. The letter to Bob Renaud and Peter Bradrick (Doug Phillips’ former personal assistants) and Jordan Muela (former intern/VF employee) stated, in part: “the three of you have conspired together, and with others, in an attempt to destroy Doug Phillips, his family and Vision Forum Inc.”

internsThis immediately brings to mind several questions.  If there were five men standing on Doug Phillips’ doorstep on that red letter day in October, why were only these three threatened with a lawsuit?  Why not Dr. Joe Morecraft, who immediately preached a sermon about Doug Phillips’ fall, although he did not name him by name; and Mark Weaver, Doug’s close college friend?  I would posit that it has everything to do with the tiny little word found at the end of the sentence quoted above — “Inc.”  It seems readily apparent to me that while Doug Phillips rightfully acknowledged his responsibility to step down from ministry (albeit months and years too late, and only under duress), that he had every intention of keeping the business side of Vision Forum going strong, while he took a breather for a year or so from public speaking, and then he would pick up the reins once again, ready to lead the charge of his Vision Forum Ministries brigade, onward to victory over the evils of the real world.

Apparently, Doug Phillips believes that these three young men, whom he personally trained, not only in the patriarchal way of life but also in how to use any means possible to attain the desired results, were somehow responsible for destroying his business.  Pragmatism ruled the day in this business/ministry of Vision Forum, while love, respect, relationship, and all ethics were thrown to the wind.  So what did these three young men do to merit the threat of Doug Phillips suing them?  They broke the “No Gossip” rule.  Never mind that the “No Gossip” rule is not to be found anywhere in Scripture.  Never mind that there is no law that contains this supposed “No Gossip” rule.  Never mind that one current BCA member recently stood up and said that this “No Gossip” rule does not exist, even in the face of hundreds of others who state otherwise.  The “No Gossip” rule was originally put into place to keep people from speaking about what was happening between Doug Phillips and Joe Taylor, and it grew in intensity and reach ever since.  The “No Gossip” rule has kept hundreds of hurting people, and families, from sharing their pain and hurts with anyone, for fear of retribution for breaking the “No Gossip” rule, even long after they left BCA or the “community.”

So what was this great sin that Bob Renaud, Peter Bradrick, and Jordan Muela committed?  What was this juicy gossip that they shared, that would merit the level of a defamation lawsuit?  Although Peter Bradrick’s Facebook page has since been closed, Peter shared his pain of being disowned by a man he considered to be both a father and a mentor to him.  Bob Renaud shared a few other details, showing that he and Peter had worked together to confront a man they both deeply loved.  Jordan Muela wrote a heartfelt Facebook article, “How Silence Enables Abuse.”  Although he did not name Doug Phillips (if I remember correctly), everyone in the community knew who he was speaking about.  (He has since hid his Facebook page, so I do not have access to the article now.)

ndarnlIn addition to these three young men speaking out, there were a few others who have spoken publicly as well.  Apparently, Doug Phillips does not consider the others to be a threat, but one that has spoken out in favor of everyone keeping silent is Nathaniel Darnell.  His most recent article about how to respond to the allegations of the nature being made against Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard caused quite a stir when he suggested that the young women should go to their elders if they were sexually abused.  I guess he forgot that that’s exactly what got them into that situation to begin with.

Although no one I personally know from BCA and the community has publicly apologized to me, nor even really said anything about my situation, there have been a handful who have privately apologized. On a personal note, I will say that as I read each of the articles and comments above, as well as those by Nolan Manteufel and Ryan Short, that I have shed many tears.  For me, they were healing tears, because at least I was not the lone person out here warning those I love that danger lurks nearby.  Finally someone else was seeing it as well.  It is truly tragic that it had to come at such a heavy price.  Nathan Barnes, another former VF intern/employee, posted this status on Facebook recently:

The laws of friendship require a discovery of that which endangers one another. You would count him unworthy the name of a friend, who knowing a thief or an incendiary to lurk in your family, with a design to kill, or rob, or burn your house, would conceal it from you, and not acquaint you with it on his own accord. There is no such thief, murderer, incendiary, as sin: it more endangers us, and those concernments that are more precious than goods, or house, or life; and that most endangers us, by which the Lord’s anger is already kindled against us. Silence or concealment in this case is treachery. He is the most faithful friend, and worthy of most esteem and affection, that deals most plainly with us, in reference to the discovery of our sin. He that is reserved in this case is but a false friend, a mere pretender to love, whereas, indeed, he hates his brother in his heart.  Clarkson, David (1865). The Practical Works of David Clarkson Retrieved from http://books.google.com

gobobSo why are all these statements made by Bob Renaud, Peter Bradrick, and Jordan Muela libelous to the point of warranting a lawsuit? Apparently, I Cor. 6 is magically erased from Doug Phillips’ Bible, but beyond the “sin” of violating the “No Gossip” rule, Doug Phillips seems to think that these three men conspired together to destroy the business half of Vision Forum.  By Doug’s own actions, he destroyed Vision Forum ministries, which closed on November 11, 2013, although he has threatened to make legal claims against the remaining Vision Forum Ministries board as well.  At first, he made it known that Doug still owned the business side of Vision Forum, but by November 27, 2013, we announced on this blog that Vision Forum, Inc., the business, would be closing permanently by December 31, 2013.  Unless Doug Phillips was actually following our lead, we correctly reported this event.  Most likely, we were not the first to know that Vision Forum, Inc. would be closing their doors, so this decision was probably made several days earlier than November 27, 2013.  Look at the comments made by Peter Bradrick and Bob Renaud again. The only comment made publicly before we announced that Vision Forum, Inc. was closing was made by Bob Renaud on October 22, 2013: “Your sins will find you out so it’s best to follow Lanny’s advice: ‘Tell it early. Tell it all. Tell it yourself.’” (This comment causes me to question World Magazine’s timeline for the front door confrontation, unless Bob was just sending a message out ahead of time.)  But all those other comments and articles were posted after Doug Phillips had already decided to close his business.

The only person who destroyed Vision Forum, both the ministry and the business, was Doug Phillips himself.  The only person who destroyed Doug Phillips’ reputation was Doug Phillips himself.  While the words of his former interns and close associates deeply hurt him, they were the wounds of friends who loved him enough to publicly rebuke a sinning leader, in the hopes of restoring him to his senses, and to a right relationship with God.  As Doug Phillips once stated in church, when a man falls for a woman, all common sense goes right out the window.  How prophetically true, in his case.

On August 7, 2013, Doug Phillips wrote a brilliant article about “True Repentance.”  What happened that prompted this article we’re not sure at this point, but now seems like a good time to remind Doug of some key points that he made: “Those who remain unrepentant should not expect the blessing of the Lord. Unrepentance is not only an impediment to the very object of our life—true unity with God—but it leads to the judgment of the Lord. It is the single greatest roadblock to family vision.”  Doug goes on to list six elements of godly sorrow that produce true repentance: brokenness, forsaking sin, truth telling, acceptance of responsibility, restitution, and peace.

From day one, we have been saying that Doug Phillips did not show any evidence of true repentance in his public statements.  I know him well enough to read between the crafty wording clever disguised as godly sorrow.  If Doug’s recent threats of legal action against his close friends and his former board members are any indication of where his heart is right now, these acts of retribution rather than restitution openly belie his words of resignation that are still publicly displayed for all to see.  Although I had held out a tiny spark of hope that Doug Phillips would truly repent, in the manner he himself prescribes, his blame shifting, his arrogance, his refusal to accept responsibility for tearing down his own house and ministry, and his insistence that others pay him restitution instead, all point to his stirring up even more strife rather than being the one who brings peace and healing to a hurting community.

In his latest article, TW Eston presciently stated:

Doug Phillips is hasty to resort to legal intimidation. He has legally threatened dozens of people. To my knowledge Doug Phillips has never actually taken anyone to trial. Rather, he only threatens to take them to court, but out of the goodness of his heart he agrees to settle with them out of court, provided they keep their mouths shut, i.e. they must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Are Non-Disclosure Agreements biblical? In certain cases an NDA may be appropriate, and they may not necessarily in all cases be expressly unbiblical. However, they should never be used if the underlying motive is to silence critics and cover up unrepentant sin. The purposes for which Doug Phillips has so frequently coerced the signing of NDA’s is only intended to silence those who would speak out against his egregious sins and hold him accountable for his duplicity and corruption. Doug Phillips’ habitual use of NDAs has allowed him to cover up a huge amount of sin, both his own sins and the sins of his accomplices.

But let us not be too hasty to judge Doug Phillips’ latest attempts to take his brothers to public court.  Perhaps he has found I Cor. 6 in his Bible after all, and has mentioned the possibility of Christian conciliation instead. On the surface, appealing to Peacemaker Ministries sounds promising, but what is Doug Phillips’ track record with these types of situations? The first instance of using Peacemaker Ministries, that I am aware of, was when Mark and I asked Doug Phillips to go to mediation with us, through the trained Peacemaker counselors at Faith PCA here locally.  The first thing we were required to do was to clean up all derogatory comments, whether they were ours or others, to refrain from saying that we were repentant, and to be silent.  Since I had diligently sought to fully forgive Doug Phillips, and all those involved, privately in my heart before telling my story publicly (a public leader’s sins need to be made known to the same degree that their teachings are), and I was already extremely cautious in using my words carefully, it was a difficult decision to abide by these rules during the conciliation process.  But for the greater good of bringing healing to the situation at hand, we did so willingly.

A couple months later, after an emotionally charged meeting between Doug Phillips and the elders at Faith PCA (two of whom were also the Christian conciliators for Peacemaker Ministries), we were informed that Doug Phillips refused any reconciliation with us. Doug Phillips told the elders that there is only one way for the Epsteins to be reconciled with me; they must come to me and repent fully without any equivocation of everything that we excommunicated them for, and they also have to repent for blogging about me. We were also invited by these Christian conciliators to never darken the door of their church again.  When asked about the situation privately, one of the Christian conciliator elders remarked, “We f***ed up.”  That was Doug Phillips’ first interaction with Peacemaker, that I am aware of.

PeacemakerEncouraged by even the thought of Christian conciliation, Joe Taylor thought he would attempt the same offer of mediation through Peacemaker. As you can see by TW Eston’s latest article on Joe Taylor, not only did Doug Phillips refuse Joe Taylor’s offer of using Christians to mediate, but he also took him to court.  Two strikes for Doug Phillips.

But what happens when Doug Phillips decides he wants to be the one to call for mediation through Peacemaker Ministries?  Rumor has it that Beall Phillips asked Peacemaker to mediate between Doug Phillips and Cassandra and her family before this all went public.  Knowing that Peacemaker always requires silence on both sides during and after conciliation, this would have been a perfect way to forever keep Doug Phillips’ adultery hidden, allowing the family to continue their opulent lifestyle and the public fame and glory that they so enjoyed.  However, Cassandra was wise enough to decline such an arrangement, and so was Peacemaker Ministries.  Having met with Doug Phillips before, they probably knew it would not be a prudent case to take on. Three strikes.

Doug Mac girlsAs I consider the possibility of Peacemaker having taken that particular case, I cringe at the tremendous amount of damage that would have mounted had Doug Phillips been allowed to continue on as if nothing had ever happened.  This is one of the reasons why using Peacemaker Ministries can be a very bad idea.  While I readily acknowledge that many people have been helped through this ministry, I wonder how many others have actually been allowed to cover their sin, or worse yet, continue in their sinful lifestyle, because of this requirement of forever remaining silent.

In my training as a professional health coach, I have found that unresolved emotional pain causes more health problems, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well, than any other aspect of health.  I remember when Mark, my first husband, required me to never speak about my adultery in the first couple years of our marriage, even though I had fully repented from it.  There were times during those fifteen years of silence when I wanted to be able to share with others how God brought me through that time in my life and what I learned and how I repented and moved forward in life (although Mark never found it in his heart to forgive me).  As the years went on, that enforced silence built up inside me and caused me deep turmoil.  When Doug Phillips took it upon himself to tell the church about my adultery, which had happened 15 years earlier and for which Doug Phillips himself agreed that he saw true repentance in me, and I was now free to talk about it, it was like a load of bricks was finally lifted off my back.  While Doug Phillips certainly had no business sharing a pastoral confidence which Mark had shared with him privately, it ended up being one of the most freeing things that ever happened to me, and I was now on the road to being healed emotionally.

Peter BradrickTo Peter Bradrick, Bob Renaud, and Jordan Muela:  Don’t fall for it!  You all know Doug Phillips well enough to know that his offer of going to Peacemaker Ministries is for one purpose only:  to shut you up.  Confidentiality rules the day in Peacemaker’s mediation process.  While a public trial can bring to light every single detail and expose all the dirt on every side, Peacemaker goes to the opposite extreme and covers up all sin.  Bob, with your legal training, you know that Doug Phillips does not have any legal grounds against you three.  Yes, the easy thing to do is to settle quietly behind the scenes and go on about your life.  But the right thing to do takes much more work, and only a man with great integrity will do the right thing.

This is not about making peace.  This is all about silencing the truth.  “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” is a principle that applies to many different aspects of life.  Everyone who sat under Doug Phillips’ teachings and ministry needs to know the truth now so that each person, each family, each BCA member, each VF employee and board member, can be set free, emotionally and spiritually, to begin healing that will lead to acceptance of what has happened, in order to move forward in life.  May we all we be stronger and wiser for having walked this journey, but may we learn to love and forgive as we begin our new paths in life.

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.

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.

………………

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.

Vision Forum Inc. to Permanently Close December 31

With the announcement on November 11, 2013 of the closing of Vision Forum Ministries numerous employees were terminated, leaving only a skeleton crew. Shorty thereafter a number of Vision Forum Inc employees were also terminated, signaling the imminent demise of VFI.

There were numerous signs even prior to the public announcement of Doug Phillips’ clergy sexual abuse (I won’t dignify it with the term “extra-marital affair” as many others have) that Vision Forum Inc, the for-profit business venture solely owned by Doug Phillips, was in serious financial trouble. Most telling of all was the absence in our mailboxes this year of the colorful Vision Forum catalog. The VF catalog has been the pride and joy of Doug Phillips for years, and it’s a significant element of his personal identity.

On the non-profit ministry side of the house, Vision Forum Ministries “postponed” the 2014 San Antonio Independent Film Festival, and the Christian Filmmakers Academy. The SAIFF was Vision Forum Ministries’ most perennially popular event ever.

saicff-large-postponed    cfa-small-postponed

Many other highly successful events, such as the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy, also weren’t rescheduled for this year or next year, and some stopped being rescheduled from several years ago, even though they’d been well attended and profitable. From reviewing the tax returns that are still publicly available (2009, 2010, 2011) one can easily determine that millions of dollars poured into Vision Forum Ministries. The last tax return available (2011) shows:

Total Revenue $3,345,150
 
Total Expenses $1,734,985

That left $1,610,165 surplus at year’s end. That kind of money could have funded any number of VFM conferences and events but, instead, we saw multiple cancellations and postponements. Where have all the donations disappeared to? It would appear that Doug Phillips may have been feathering his nest for over a year in anticipation of his downfall. Either that or he might perhaps have just been squandering it on himself. The numerous lavish foreign Phillips family trips would be indicative of that, and Doug  routinely also brought along his paramour on such trips, paid for out of Vision Forum Ministries donor funds..

Throughout this same period Doug Phillips and his family were living the life of Riley. Multiple lavish trips to exotic lands, the best of accommodations, always dressed to the nines, all paid for by Vision Forum Ministries tax-deductible donor funds, including the luxurious Ancient Greece Tour barely one month prior to Doug’s resignation. Noticeably absent as a speaker was Doug Phillips (though Doug and his family were there enjoying themselves). Rev. Joe Morecraft was informed after arriving that he would have to fill in for Doug on the tour for unexplained reasons. Eventually he determined what the real reason was. Dr. Morecraft’s discovery of the sex scandal was, from all reports, personally “catastrophic” to him.

The timing of the sex scandal couldn’t have been worse for Doug Phillips. If he could have just kept the lid on it through the Christmas season it might have made a huge difference to his bank account and it would have saved many jobs, at least for a few more months.

Although Doug Phillips forbids his family from practicing Christmas because, as we know, it’s a nasty Catholic holiday, he doesn’t mind capitalizing on it to plunder the rest of us who do celebrate Catholic holidays. Vision Forum Inc rakes in huge profits at this time of year, and upwards of 90% of VFI’s annual profits happen in the fourth quarter of the year. Starting this Black Friday it will be make it or break it for Vision Forum Inc. Or will it?

Actually it won’t make any difference for the future of Vision Forum Inc. Doug Phillips intends to permanently close VFI effective December 31, 2013. In all likelihood, most if not all of the liquid assets have already been secreted away and non-liquid assets will soon be sold off. When Doug Phillips or his legal representative do formally announce the dissolution of Vision Forum Inc it will likely come with a notice of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This will afford Doug Phillips the opportunity to legally stiff any of VFI’s creditors.

The Doug Phillips family will also have to find different living accommodations, perhaps more modest, or perhaps not, depending on how well Doug has plundered the ministry and business coffers. Vision Forum Ministries owns the lavish house, as well the furnishings in it, and the family automobiles, and a great many other things, allegedly including even clothing. In effect, Doug Phillips has used Vision Forum Ministries as his personal piggy bank for years, straining all credulity when it comes to filing an honest tax return.

The board of directors has given until the end of the year for Doug and his family to move out of the ministry-owned house. The VFM board of directors will repossess (and may have already repossessed) any and all assets that Doug purchased with VFM monies for his personal use. This includes everything from automobiles, home furnishings, and perhaps even clothing. Some may view this as retaliatory on the part of the board (and perhaps it is to some degree), but the fact of the matter is they have a legal obligation to do everything they can to remedy any tax fraud and fiduciary malfeasance that Doug Phillips may have perpetrated.

The VFM board will be liquidating all VFM assets, including the house, home furnishings, office equipment and furnishings, all remaining inventory, and the Vision Forum office building at 4719 Blanco Road, San Antonio, starting January 1, 2014.

Doug’s prospects of providing for his family in Texas seem bleak. Doug’s mother is in Virginia, as are Beall’s parents, so Virginia might make an appealing place to make their next abode. Beall’s father is also an attorney.

None of this debacle came upon Doug Phillips unexpectedly. He’s been in damage control mode throughout this year, and perhaps long before this year. He’s had ample time to plan his exit strategy. With all the cash and liquid assets that Doug Phillips has likely stripped from Vision Forum Ministries Ministries and Vision Forum Inc, the Doug Phillips family will, in all likelihood, be able to live quite comfortably for the foreseeable future. Certainly long enough for the dust to settle and, in a year or two, for Doug to execute his “restoration to ministry” plan.

However, it could very well be that, in his arrogance, Doug Phillips might have come to believe that he was invincible and, thus, he may not have planned for his eventual downfall. We also need to consider the possibility that Doug may be encouraged by his family to give them some extended time away from him. Very far away. Beall’s father is an attorney, after all, and the fathers of betrayed daughters do sometimes tend to get ugly. An extended time cooling his heels in Africa with missionary brother Brad Phillips would give the wife and kids some time for healing. It could also afford Doug the opportunity of evading any government agencies that might have already opened investigations against him.

Doug Phillips is probably eager to liquidate and get out of San Antonio, posthaste. Any who have unresolved business with Doug Phillips would be wise to act accordingly.

Doug Phillips and Blissful Ignorance

The recent revelation of Doug Phillips’ long-term sexual relationship with a young lady has served to inspire a great many of his loyal followers to respond along the lines of, “We don’t know enough about it to have an opinion. It could have happened to any one of us, so far from me to judge him. Let’s just pray for Doug Phillips and his family.” Noteworthy in each and every one of these comments so far has been the total disregard for the young lady that Doug Phillips had a multi-year physical relationship with, and even any suggestion that she and her family need our prayers too. They too were betrayed, but they aren’t so much as mentioned.

Certainly prayer is an honorable thing to do in many of life’s circumstances, so I in no way find fault with that alone. However, what I do find fault in are the numerous blog comments posted not just out of ignorance, but out of what too often is a call to willful ignorance. Perhaps the single best example of this glut of sudden willful ignorance comes from Stacy McDonald. This author of Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God (published by Vision Forum, Inc.), and a regularly featured conference speaker, expert on all things “Biblical Patriarchy” to Stay At Home Daughters, recently posted this comment on Doug Wilson’s blog:

Stacy McDonald
November 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

And where in the Bible does it say that a man who has an inappropriate relationship with a woman must quit his job? – A man who is simultaneously called to provide for his wife and children? It’s all well and good for everyone to speculate over what they think he “should” do, but the fact is we don’t KNOW all the facts. And I’m sure there are numerous and far-reaching complications – details we know nothing about, and aren’t called to know. The man repented. He stepped down from ministry. And since I’m not a part of his life, that’s all I really need to know.

Two statements especially stand out here because the one contradicts the other: “we don’t KNOW all the facts” and “The man repented.” The fact that Stacy McDonald doesn’t KNOW negates the likelihood that she could know with any confidence that Doug Phillips has repented. All that anyone knows for certain is that Doug Phillips issued a Statement Of Resignation in which he confesses to something that no one can quite figure out. More is held back and concealed than is revealed. But even if Doug were to now provide a full, complete and thorough confession that would still be a long ways off from repentance. Confession and repentance are two very separate and distinct things. This first involves statements of fact, the second involves attitudes of the heart confirmed by expressions of contrition and acts of restitution. “For godly sorrow produces repentance” (2 Cor 7:10).

All anyone knows with any certainty is that Doug Phillips confessed to some sort of nebulous “serious sin” that included “an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman”. If that wasn’t a pathetic enough confession, he adds the disclaimer, “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate”.

That’s a crafty lawyer’s confession, but it in no way qualifies as a biblical confession, much less a statement of repentance. It does, however, fully quality for what it is entitled, a “Statement Of Resignation.” It is exactly the sort of statement one would issue to a corporate board of directors and the company shareholders. But it is nothing more than that. If anything it’s quite a bit less than that, and not even as clear and convincing as what was offered up by Gen. David H. Petraeus and his own sex scandal, when in his statement of resignation he said, “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.” He called it what it was: an affair.

Doug Phillips has often spoken of “honor.” He should have taken his example from Gen. Pattraeus in resigning like a man and not making excuses for himself like, “we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense.” Doug Phillips rightly suffered the backlash of considerable public criticism, as well as speculation that ran the gamut of  “Just how far can you go without knowing someone in the Biblical sense?” to “Was there any sexual stuff at all, or did they just sort of maybe mouth-kiss and cuddle or something?” After having caused a mass of confusion and speculation, a week later Doug Phillips had to release a Clarification On Resignation. To his credit, Doug Phillips does at least accept responsibility, something he hadn’t done in his initial Statement Of Resignation. The second statement, however, was equally as vague and evasive in stating, “there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman”. He should have followed Gen. Petraeus’ example and just called it an affair. To refer to any of that as a “confession” is to pervert the very definition of the term. These statements aren’t genuine confessions at all. They are only what the titles purport them to be, statements of resignation.

Nevertheless, Stacy McDonald and other faithful followers of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum are eager to overlook these shams and presume that Doug Phillips must be repentant, merely on the basis that he claims to be repentant. James and Stacy McDonald have been close personal friends with the Doug Phillips family, sharing the podium with Doug at numerous home schooling events, etc. Yet, now all of a sudden Stacy McDonald, much like Sgt. Schultz, takes the “I see nothing; I know nothing” way out of the “far-reaching complications – details”. This is all very suspicious, and though Stacy McDonald intends to deflect everyone’s attention away from the Doug Phillips scandal, by her suspicious behavior she’s actually drawing more people’s attention to it. She’s not helping her friend Doug Phillips at all.

As a direct result of Stacy McDonald posting another one of her ludicrous comments at Doug Wilson’s blog, I posted the following reply:

@Alan D. Strange: “that unless we have intimate knowledge of these matters, and some here may have such, that we can say nothing more of these matters than that we ought to pray for the repentance/sanctification of all parties and the glory of Christ.”

While repeating the mantra of your peers, Alan, you are to be congratulated for at least doing something none of your peers here have done: you’ve acknowledged the possibility that there could be some people commenting here, and elsewhere, who do have intimate knowledge of Doug Phillips, his character, and the basis for his recent actions. There indeed are, and there are many more of us than you could imagine.

Among us are former business associates and partners whom Doug Phillips has defrauded by stealing our intellectual property and products, stealing our customer/donor email lists, former employees who left in utter disillusionment over the unethical practices they witnessed, former VF interns who witnessed first hand the astonishing hypocrisies and viciousness, former BCA members whom Doug has spiritually and emotionally abused, former victims of the philandering, and the many that Douglas W. Phillips has threatened to sue and intimidated into silence. Doug Phillips has accumulated many such victims for well over a decade.

Thank you Alan for at least thoughtfully considering the possibility that we do exist, which is far more than the non-thinking Stacy McDonald and others of her ilk have been willing to admit. To quote again from her comment above: “My point is we don’t know the back story – mostly because it’s none of our business.”

Her position is also a defense strategy, albeit an idiotic one: “I don’t know because I don’t want to know.” I can’t help but wonder where this woman got her education from. One thing is certain — she never took a class in logic. “I don’t know anything about it because it’s none of my business, and it’s nobody else’s business because, well, I say so. Don’t ask any questions about it so you too can remain blissfully ignorant like me. I’ve determined to bury my head in the sand and I’m instructing everyone (including men, which I’m not permitted to instruct since I’m into Patriarchy) to pay no attention to what you hear about my friend Doug Phillips. I routinely bash a lot of other people, but that’s okay because they’re bad people and it’s not gossip to publicly criticize bad people. But Doug Phillips is good because, well, I say so, and if you criticize Doug that makes you a hateful gossip who needs to repent of bitterness. I’m a really in-the-know person, and I normally have an opinion about everything, especially about people I don’t like; but that’s not hateful bitterness when I do it, because they’re bad people and deserve it. But Doug Phillips is a great guy and everyone else should like him too. But if you don’t like Doug, keep your big mouth shut and just pray for him. If I don’t know anything about this whole Doug Phillips kerfuffle, and I’m never going to know anything because it’s none of my business to know anything, that means no one else can know anything either. I’m not going to ask Doug or anyone else any hard and embarrassing questions because that would get really embarrassing for me and my husband James since we’ve been close friends with Doug and Beall all these years and we ignored all the warning signs because, well, that’s what good friends do — not say anything while their friends are sliding down the slippery slope of apostasy. So we’d better just sweep this all under the carpet. And since I don’t know anything, I can be 100% confident that Doug’s letter of resignation is sincere because, well, it’s Doug, and if Doug says so we can know it’s the truth.”

Stacy McDonald is a case study in Hegelian dialects, albeit a Three Stooges version of it, and some of the other comments here follow a similar pattern. Unlike Stacy McDonald and her ilk, there are many of us who actually do know Doug Phillips, and we know him very well. We know the back story with his so-called “repentance.” We know it’s a sham . We know he didn’t “confess” but was busted and forced to confess under considerable duress. We know that he’s already formulated his comeback plan, and we know the predictable outcome is that many thousands of gullible dupes will believe this silver tongued devil and resume sending him millions of dollars per annum, once he’s published his own Jim Bakker, “I Was Wrong” book and is “restored.” This Doug Wilson article that served to inspire the so many willfully-ignorant comments here, are proof that there can always be a bright future for religious hucksters and carnival barkers.

Thankfully a great many people aren’t following the bubble-headed example of Stacy McDonald. They’re angry because they feel betrayed by Doug Phillips and they’re not willing to just sweep this all under the carpet.