Vision Forum, Christmas, and a Marketing Scheme

I am subscribed to “vision forum” on google, which means I get an email each day with every new internet article or blog post containing the words “vision forum.” Lately, essentially every new article or post has been something on all of Vision Forum’s Christmas sales. Fundamentalist and evangelical blogs across the segment of homeschooling influenced by patriarchy are lighting up in excitement and in preparation for giving their children a very Vision Forum Christmas.

There’s just one problem with this. Doug Phillips, who founded Vision Forum and continues to run it today, does not believe in Christmas. He says it is a pagan holiday and he and his family let it go by like any other day. Apparently, for Phillips, money means more than principle. I mean think about it, he could use the Christmas season as an opportunity to advertise the holiday’s pagan roots and urge Vision Forum followers not to participate. He could refuse to offer sales or to give any sign of the holidays on his website. Isn’t this what principle would dictate? But no. Because to Doug Phillips, money appears to matter more than principle.

If you want to see what I mean, go to Vision Forum‘s main page. Oh yes, it calls the sales a “December Kick-Off Special,” but really, who do they think they’re fooling? They’ve marked everything down by at least 20% and some items down by 50% and offered free shipping on orders over $25.

I have to be honest. This is making me sick. I’d like to think that Doug Phillips, along with Bill Gothard, Michael Pearl, etc., are at least sincere. But when I see something like this, I have to wonder.

This also confirms something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Vision Forum, with its snazzy pictures and overpriced merchandise, seems like the ideal marketing scheme. Vision Forum may sell a message, but it also sells products, and LOTS of them. I can’t even begin to tally the amount of money my parents have spent on Vision Forum products over the years, especially at Christmas, but we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars.

I’ve also heard that Bill Gothard’s training institutes and workshops cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and that even participating in Gothard’s character training homeschool curriculum program costs hundreds of dollars per family per semester.

Michael Pearl has been offering a “business in a box” opportunity where supporters can buy No Greater Joy products at 40% the retail price and then set up a family business selling the materials to others. The catch, of course, is that you have to start in the program with an initial investment of at least $2,500.

What is going on here? Are these people about serving God, or about making money? If they’re really about serving God, why not make a genuine ministry of it, taking in donations and then offering conferences, literature, and products for free, or at least for a reduced rate or actual market cost? I mean, didn’t Jesus throw the money changers out of the temple?

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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