Doug Phillips Resigns, Martyrs Self

by Joe Sands cross posted from his blog Incongruous Circumspection.
Yes. You heard me right. Doug Phillips, the man behind Vision Forum, “engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman,” and thanks God for his mercy and love, asking for all of us to pray for him and his family.

Statement of Resignation

With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities.

There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries.  I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.

There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.

This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.

Doug Phillips

I will write more on this soon, but, suffice it to say that, while I am orbitally elated at the news, I am also livid beyond words. I’m sitting here, smoking out of my ears.

In the entire 4-paragraph resignation post, Phillips doesn’t show ANY MEASURE of concern for the woman he may have harmed. Nor does he ask people to pray for her.

Nope. He doesn’t give a shit. He’s more interested in the MEN that are going to be running his gig. AND that he’s going to still be a “foot soldier” for his god.

I can’t begin to convey the heat of my wrath right now. Phillips has overplayed his male chauvinistic, woman  hating hand.

Comments open below

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I am a 30 something husband of one and father of 6 dynamic and loud children. My wife and I are still madly in love – at least in my view. My world is exciting, tense, and full of life. I love to write and hope to one day, do it full time. – Incongruous Circumspection

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  • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

    Another man who told others how to live but could live it himself.

    I would be gleeful about this, ok I am a little, but he does leave a wake of hurt people behind him.

  • Madame

    I may be mean, but I wish his wife would boot him out and get out of the cult.

    Those leaders have spent years, sometimes decades, pontificating and making everyone around them feel like they are never good enough. Yet, when they are caught committing sins that are worse than those of their followers, what do they do? They write long letters full of big words and false contrition that sound more like another sermon intended to make others feel less good. As a “foot soldier” he’ll just go on hurting people.

  • Fledgeling Feminist

    What gets me is that they preach “emotional purity” to young people and teach that you cheat your future spouse if you don’t “guard your heart.” But his affair is only emotional. Nothing to see here, folks.

  • Jennifer

    He admitted his actions were hypocritical to everything he taught and very much a big deal, never using the word “only”.

  • Fledgeling Feminist

    Sorry, I wasn’t very clear. Removed the quotes, but I think the point is still valid. Straining out gnats (teens crushing on each other) and swallowing camels (grown married men having affairs).

  • Jennifer

    I know, just saying he admitted hypocrisy. This time he’s stepped in it deep.

  • Sarah Pressler

    I went to church with them. Have worshipped in his house. Have felt the sting of his judgmental glances. Have watched him stand at the pulpit and all but give a flat out confession about his personal struggle with his own sexual sins. I know, personally, so many families who were damaged – utterly torn APART – by his “ministry” AND the “elders” who offer him accountability right now.

    I called this years ago – when I left the “community.”

    I knew it was a matter of time.

    He’s a false leader.

    The whole thing is such a sham.

    I’m sorry his family is having to go through this but those who have been with this community since it’s inception, and who didn’t drink the koolaid, have seen this coming for a LONG time.

    I don’t think he’s done sinning. I think he got caught. And this is him grasping at straws to keep up the facade.

    This is such a joke.

  • Edie Moore McGee

    Any time one of these guys falls, it confirms in my heart that God has a sense of humor.

  • Jennifer

    I’m so glad you left and always pictured his deceptively genial face as darkening with judgemental looks at others; ugh. But Idk how much of a facade this would be since he’s sinking into the shadows.

  • Nefercat

    “In the entire 4-paragraph resignation post, Phillips doesn’t show ANY MEASURE of concern for the woman he may have harmed. Nor does he ask people to pray for her.”

    I suspect if you asked him, his family, or his church, the response would be something to the effect that she tempted him, led him astray, blah, blah, blah, but that out of the goodness of his heart he will let her decide when to ask him, his family, and his church for their forgiveness for the harm she caused them.

  • Nea

    I can’t click “like” to that, but I certainly agree that’s exactly how it’s going to play out.

    What I worry about are the people who have lost their idol and will want to punish the person responsible for it in their mind. And it’s not him. It’s never the guy who’s responsible…

  • Jennifer

    Well they’ll just have to take it out on him, bc the woman’s nameless.

  • Nea

    Not within the actual Vision Forum leadership, I’ll bet. I wonder how much of the sound and fury of Phillips is a cover for her quieter firing and shunning.

  • Jennifer

    Ugh, I doubt she’ll stick around. Hopefully not, anyway. But if it is a quiet shunning, she’s a first.

  • Saraquill

    Wow, so much humblebragging in that thing.

  • Jennifer

    Ok, I can’t stand the man, am thrilled that he’s stepped down and not THAT surprised, but I don’t see anything wrong with him not mentioning the woman. Please, she knew what she was doing just as he did, and he took full blame here, even admitting for the first time in his pedestal-high position that he thought too much of himself!! So, sorry, I can’t feel angry about him focusing on his own sins instead of her or hers.

  • AlisonCummins

    You have no idea if she “knew what she was doing.” Maybe she was a teenager who was being counselled by him and she reported his creepy-come-on tactics to her dad who was about to make it public. (I’m not saying that’s what it was, I’m saying you don’t know.)

  • Jennifer

    Often times, teen girls DO know what they’re doing, and if he’d been lassoed by someone he considered a subordinate in age and position, I doubt he’d be so lengthy in explanation and apology. I’m simply going by the evidence here, and it says, “This was my fault, I did wrong.” There’s not even a whiff of vilification towards the woman, so I’m just not getting angry that he didn’t ask for prayers for her, especially not on the large assumption she was in victim status for a one-sided hurt.

  • Nea

    teen girls DO know what they’re doing

    That’s a sweeping statement without citation that verges on victim blaming. suggesting that he was deliberately “lassoed” even moreso.

  • Jennifer

    I never said deliberately, and you’re making an assumption too by even calling her a victim. As a female myself and a lifelong observer of my fellow ones, I don’t need citation to note that teen girls often know what they’re doing. Which, by the way, was preceded by the word “oftentimes”, not sweeping all girls into the same category or cicumstance.

  • Fledgeling Feminist

    I want to pipe in with one clarification, if I can. (and maybe we all agree here)

    if….IF…the person in question in Phillips’ case is an underage teen…there is no way she can truly “know what she is doing.” If she is underage, it’s statutory rape. IF she is underage, she is a victim. Automatically.
    Otherwise we get into crap like this: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/rapist-teacher-released-30-days-prison-article-1.1468022

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    A grown man having sex with an underage girl, regardless of the consent of the girl, is a crime under our nations laws. Why should pastors get a pass on breaking the law? What Jack Schaap did is a perfect example, he preyed on a young vulnerable girl who’d already been sexually abused and then cried foul when he was convicted of his crime. I only wish the judge had giving him more time. Grown men taking advantage of young girls must stop in the church or the church is no better than the world.

  • Jennifer

    If the man had an emotional affair with a mere girl, I’ll chase him out of state with a ten-pound hardwood Bible upside the head. In the meantime, there’s no indication of such.

  • Nea

    How does this statement relate to your previous statement that “most teen girls DO know what they’re doing?”

  • Jennifer

    I said, often times, teen girls DO know what they’re doing; there was no “most” or “all”, and regardless of how cunning a teen was, I’d still take more aggression towards the older person.

  • Madame

    Teens may know what they are doing, but you can’t compare any amount of teen cunning to an adult’s experience and knowledge. It only makes sense for the adult to bear the brunt of the responsibility. Only a messed-up teen would want to have a romantic relationship with a married man old enough to be her father.

  • Jennifer

    I totally agree, if she’s underaged.

  • Nea

    If she’s a teen, it’s a crime and therefore she is a crime victim. Period. That’s how the law works and a full-grown man — especially one who is so very fond of rules like Phillips was — is expected to obey the law.

    And how does this relate to your statement below that if he had an emotional affair with a teen you’d chase him out of the state, presumably regardless of her motivations?

  • Jennifer

    Because he’s still a grown man, and this was said particularly in the view that she’d be one of their more ignorant and vulnerable teens.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

    Jennifer, while her age is not currently known, I would tell you that “teens girls DO know what they are doing” is most likely not the case here. Females in his world are raised to be emotionally immature and always obey men, and to find their validation in men. Even an adult, if she is from his world, would see him as an authority and power figure, and he would not have approached this woman as an equal.

  • Madame

    I agree with Retha. In this case, even if the woman is a grown adult, she is under his authority as her spiritual leader in his world.

    I also don’t see how we can make a distinction between underage tee and of age teen in this case. A teen is a teen and no married man in a position of authority should respond to any advance of hers. Come on, he’s the man, the leader, the initiator, the authority, the “know it all”. The only thing he can do is assume all responsibility for what happened here (as he seems to be doing and want the whole world to know). I hope he is also bearing the responsibility in private, where it’s going to mean most to the woman.

  • Jennifer

    Actually, that too is not entirely accurate of every family. If you look at the Botkin girls, as empty-eyed as they look, I’ve seen plenty of signs of conscious calculation.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

    About his stepping down, it was pointed out on homeschoolers anonymous that he stepped down from the not-for-profit Vision Forum Ministries, and thus cancelled some speaking engagements. But he still leads the profitible business side of Vision Forum. http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/doug-phillips-resigns-from-vision-forum-cancels-speaking-events-due-to-inappropriate-relationship/

  • Jennifer

    Ohh, so you guys are the ones Stacy Mcdonald mentioned in her sad post about people feeling glee towards someone who fell; lol, you even use the words “gleeful” and “idol”, which Stacy used when she chastised anyone treating Phillips like an idol for seeing him as such. I recognized instantly, of course, that this was what she was referring to as soon as I was blown away by the news here, and my friend Corrie ALWAYS said you can tell when something’s going on with the Mcdonald’s or in their world by their posts, and wow, THIS is a whammy. I’m almost laughing at the whole strange, wild thing, the ironies, surprises and unfairnesses as well as justices, from plain and simple shock. But not really glee; the proper response here should be chagrin that this is going on, even if it’s tinged with justification. Be happy he’s no longer steering the ship, by all means, but not dancing around your room at the thought of his huge folly (which, again, he’s almost stunningly candid about). And please: divorce isn’t something to take lightly, and its occurence at an emotional affair would be pretty darn harsh after all their years and kids together; yeah, I know he’s a jerk, but for pete’s sake she’s not a victim, I’ve never seen that woman be anything but gleeful and smiling in that weird place. Marriage failing is rarely ever positive.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I see nowhere in the original post the words “gleeful” and “idol”. What I do see is someone who’s been hurt badly by the words/actions of Doug Phillips. He’s left a long trail of hurting people.

  • Jennifer

    I was referring to the comments, Suzanne, not the post. But we really can’t know if that woman’s been hurt badly; numerous women in such positions know exactly what they’re doing. I’m amazed he let a woman get that close, they’re usually ignored or rebuffed.

  • Fledgeling Feminist

    I suppose its possible that he went to an airport bar and hit on successful independent businesswomen. But very unlikely. Women outside that world would be more free to call hmm in his bullshit. His church, office, and ministry probably supply a constant stream of women and girls conditioned to respond to male authority and well aware that they would be treated like jezebels if they call any negative attention to him. Remember, Jack Schaap raped a 16 year old and called it “adultery.”

  • http://brucegerencser.net/ Bruce Gerencser

    You raise a point I have raised many times. These men, if it is really about the sex, have all kinds of options, from masturbation, hiring a prostitute, going to a massage parlor, to having an affair with a consenting adult they have no connection to.

    Instead they prey on underage girls and women who they are in a place of authority over. This is why I don’t think the biggest issue is the sex. It is all about power and control. They do because they can. And it never dawns on them that they could be caught.

    Jack Schaap, his brother-in-law David Hyles, and his father-in-law Jack Hyles, used their place of authority in a church that demanded submission to their authority, to abuse teens and adult women. It is way too easy to blame the victims. Those of us who were in the IFB church movement know the tremendous power and control IFB pastors exert over the church. Granted, most IFB pastors don’t sexually abuse people, but those who do seem to do it with impunity. (and we see this in Evangelicalism too)

    I am glad that through the internet, blogs, and public forums, these acts, which were once kept secret, can now be exposed. The predation can not be undone, but we can do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    Here in Ohio, a person who is in a place of authority can not legally have a sexual relationship with someone they have authority over. We tend to ignore the law when a pastor or religious leader has sex with an adult person he was counseling or helping, but it is still against the law. I wish the state would be more aggressive in their prosecution of clergy who abuse their place of authority. (and I say the same for ANY person in a place of authority, religious or not) The law rightly understands that people are often vulnerable when they go to a member of the clergy. Even when there is transference or the person comes on to the person of authority, the person of authority MUST act professionally and ethically. They are to blame, period.

  • Jennifer

    Fledgeling, you are jumping a HUGE gap when you even bring up a case of rape. This was not rape, certainly not a Bathsheba vs. king situation according to any evidence we’ve seen, and the fact that Phillips took full blame tells me he was pinned big time, whether by someone outside their family or his own wife and maybe partly his own conscience; remember that he could have downplayed this whole affair, such as claiming it wasn’t as bad as rumors might have said or that it was a private affair between him and his wife and sniffily dismissed it as “nobody’s business”, or even airily glossed it over by some type of, “My bride and I have been going through a difficult time and ask for your prayers, this is all I can say on the matter.” Instead, I find him down, beyond anything I would have imagined, and by his own words. It’s the first time he’s confessed, completely, to abusing trust, hurting family and friends (which may have included that woman, one of the ones he could also have hurt “privately”) and admitted to downright hypocritical action contrary to the type that he teaches. I thought I’d see him one day brought down by others maybe (and likely marching off with his head still high). Instead, he’s wounded by a sword he held himself and showing his wounds, something I do indeed take satisfaction in seeing, vindication extreme. But I also have to admit what I’m seeing, and that’s a pretty blunt mea culpa, with not even the words “led astray” involved. I offer no excuse for the man in any wrongdoing now or past, and rejoice that he’s not the captain of the still wayward ship anymore, but I also acknowledge this is a clearly utter admittance of guilt and one I never expected.

  • Fledgeling Feminist

    I used Jack Schaap as an illustration because he committed statutory rape. The girl he abused was, from what I heard, in love with him. But she was 16, and could not give legal consent to a sexual relationship with an adult. She was also a victim of prior sexual abuse and had come to him as her pastor for counseling. So, even though it didn’t look like “rape” as we often picture it (violent attack by a stranger), it was rape when you consider the vast age difference and his position as an authority and counselor. Many church officials tried to call it “adultery,” which would have made her an equal participant, and possibly even his seducer.

    I don’t know who the woman is in Phillips’ case. I don’t know how old she is or if she was under his authority in his church, family, or ministry. You could be right, and I could be wrong, But I think there is a pattern in the cases of patriarchal men caught in sex scandals, and as it comes out, we will see if he has repeated it.

  • Jennifer

    Well, this was a love scandal in any case. In the case of that *expletive* Schaap, it was an abuse case.

  • Edie Moore McGee

    It’s possible to appreciate the irony of Phillips getting his comeuppance and, at the same time, understand that his actions hurt many people … including his wife, of course, and children. No doubt the woman herself was hurt, too, and it’s entirely feasible she was someone in a vulnerable position to begin with, either by age or by need. I know in the Sovereign Grace mess that’s playing out here in Maryland, the victims were either young or vulnerable in some other way. I don’t think anyone here was happy about the trail of hurt people in Phillips’ wake.

  • Jennifer

    “It’s possible to appreciate the irony of Phillips getting his comeuppance and, at the same time, understand that his actions hurt many people … including his wife, of course, and children.”
    Exactly, and it’d be very nice to see female children and wife not treating him any longer as “prophet, priest and king”. I mean seriously, it’s very possible to forgive and even see your partner the same way eventually, but how on earth could you still seem him as some asinine prophet, priest and king?? I pray this will be a wake-up call to more than Phillips.

  • Nea

    the proper response here should be chagrin that this is going on

    I’ll decide what are the proper responses for me to have, thanks.

    I also think his wife is the one to determine the proper response for her to have. Of course she’s going to look gleeful and smiling; that’s what she’s told to do. Was she really feeling glee and smiling from pleasure? Only she knows.

  • Jennifer

    Who the devil said she’s smiling and gleeful? Why would his wife be behaving that way? I highly doubt she is (and if she is, I’ll puke). As for the rest of us, I was speaking as a Christian, thinking it’s not advisable to laugh at a family’s misfortune.

  • Nea

    You did: I’ve never seen that woman be anything but gleeful and smiling in that weird place It’s written right above my reply.

  • Jennifer

    I’ve already clarified this, two reples below this one.

  • Nea

    It doesn’t actually clarify anything. I can sort of see where you got the impression that I thought Phillips’ wife was happy *now* but that’s not what I was saying. You implied that because Phillips’ wife looked “gleeful and smiling” before all this she must have actually *been* gleeful and happy, and my point is that her outward appearance at that time does not necessarily reflect her inward emotions. This blog and Love Joy Feminism spend a lot of time discussing how women and children are expected to ALWAYS look and act happy and contented regardless of their actual emotional state.

    For all we know, as there’s nothing but Phillips’ letter and speculation to go on, she may have known about this for ages and been trying to keep a good face on it.

  • Jennifer

    Yes, but the impression I’ve gotten from numerous places has been that she’s happy with this lifestyle and her own little “king”. I don’t sympathize with her life.

  • Jenn in CA

    just read this today on FB and it applies to you NeaDods and most of the other commenters here: If you show and smugness or triumph at another’s fall, you have a dark heart and need to repent. Boy does that fit you!! Jennifer here is the only one speaking truth and facts without making up comment after comment filled with assumption, hate and speculation. Wow,just wow.

  • Madame

    I don’t think we are the ones Stacy means. There is a slightly older post on this same subject somewhere else on Patheos.

    An emotional affair is not to be taken lightly. It’s betrayal and enough to destroy the trust in the relationship.

  • arkansaspatriot

    What woman?

  • Jennifer

    You speak of idols here, Suzanne. This is from James Mcdonald’s blog:

    “A man who was viewed in much of the homeschooling world as a pillar of honor, and who championed positions that many of us hold dear, has confessed to a grievous sin. Not only has this undoubtedly crushed his dear wife and children, but countless families across the globe have been hurt.”
    He later says not to put people on a pedestal they have no desire to reside on. First of all, I find that just a BIT of a misnomer for someone like Phillips. Second of all, that extremely exaggerated paragraph of his popularity seems like an almost contradictory line to the overall message: don’t be hard on Phillips. Yet you say he probably hurt countless families across the GLOBE? If so many people HAD loved him, I don’t think mentioning that he’s practically caused worldwide hurt really fits your message of having mercy on him; it almost seems like a reminder of how much damage he’s done.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    We speak of cult leaders here, and Doug Phillips is as cult leader as they get. I have little pity for him, it’s more a feeling of satisfaction that another hypocrite that tells others what to do and doesn’t do those things himself has bitten the dust in a very public way.

    Vision Forum is a cult in the classic definition that it’s a religious group that has beliefs that are dangerously extreme. Doug has led VF for years as well as served as HSLDA’s legal council. Two extreme organizations hostile to the outside world.

    I do feel sorry for the women/woman he has slept with. No matter if they were active participants, seduced, seducers, dazzled by his fame or pressured into non-consensual sex. They could have been even brutally raped at gun point and all the ‘True Christians’ will still be judgmental and blame them for the sins of Doug Phillips. They will be vilified, harassed and treated lower than dirt. It happens time and time again when pastors fall, the other half of the affair takes all the blame while the pastor is forgiven. Stoning the woman yet again. I seem to remember Jesus getting onto the religious leaders of his days for that very thing.

    Also, I feel sorry for his family, but not as sorry as I do for the women. I hope his wife realizes that if he’s done it once he has the potential to do it again and again and again.

  • Edie Moore McGee

    Whoa, wait! He said in the letter he didn’t know her in the Biblical sense. So why are we throwing rape around regarding this particular case? (That’s not to say it hasn’t happened in other cases.).

    As far as the McDonald et al comments go, they seem to have forgotten he’s a big boy … A self-promoter … A member of the bar … A religious leader (even if only for a cult. People will talk. Object lesson: practice what you preach. He didn’t. The reactions out in cyberspace and real space … He owns them.

    His poor wife and kids and the unnamed female shouldn’t have to, but I’ve seen nothing but kindness here, at least for his wife and kids.

  • Jennifer

    Yes, going to rape is a huge leap. I do find satisfaction in seeing some form of justice and will not assume at the time that the woman is being treated badly; I just find it rather ironic that Mcdonald both wildly exaggerates Phillips’ fan base and backhandedly, whether deliberately or not, makes a guilting description.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    A broken wrist, a bunch of sprained joints and muscle relaxers have been clouding my judgment. I didn’t meant to imply Doug Phillips raped anyone but I have seen people get very defensive and lynch-mob mentality in churches where the pastor had an affair or even raped someone.

    My point is that we have to stop forgiving the pastor and automatically excoriating the the woman in these kinds of churches

  • Jennifer

    I totally agree.

  • arkansaspatriot

    A pedestal they do not desire to reside on” Really. I think Doug Phillips loves the pedestal. In fact his living depends on it.