Graham Walker, President of Patrick Henry College, Announces Resignation

Photo from Patrick Henry College. Image links to source.
Photo from Patrick Henry College. Image links to source.

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

According to an email sent out today to Patrick Henry College (PHC) alumni by Daniel Noa, President of the PHC Alumni Association, Dr. Graham Walker announced his resignation today during an all-campus meeting. According to Noa’s email,

I have been officially informed that as of 4:30 PM (EDT) today, Dr. Graham Walker has resigned his duties as President of Patrick Henry College. A search committee will be formed under the direction of the Board of Trustees to find a long term replacement.

Noa notes that “there has been tremendous friction between the alumni community and Dr. Walker during the independent review process,” a reference to the alumni board established to review PHC’s handling of campus sexual assault allegations. Concerning Walker’s resignation, Noa also states that he sees it “as a positive change” and “a great step toward a bigger and more successful future for Patrick Henry College.”

You can view the PHC Alumni Association’s email in its entirety as a PDF here.

Peter Bradrick, Former Executive Assistant to Doug Phillips, Speaks Out on Being “Formally Disowned” and “Declared to be a Destroyer”

Peter Bradrick and Doug Phillips.
Peter Bradrick and Doug Phillips.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on November 30, 2013.

For those of you who aren’t entirely up to speed, Peter Bradrick is a Vision Forum intern turned executive assistant to Doug Phillips. He doesn’t work for Vision Forum any longer, but even after he left as an employee he was involved in their “Hazardous Journeys” trips, and was pretty much BFFs with Doug. He’s married to the daughter of Scott Brown (not the politician, the one who’s head of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches, an organization that Doug was on the board of until his scandal broke).

Anyway, everybody close to Doug and Vision Forum—Peter included—have been tight-lipped about Doug’s affair and the closing of Vision Forum Ministries. Tight-lipped until now, that is. As late as the end of Thanksgiving night, 11/28, Peter’s Facebook was locked down and all but a few random posts from months ago were private. That changed day after Thanksgiving when Peter made the following posts public on Facebook. I’ll post them chronologically below.

Tuesday, 26 November, 2013 (Facebook | Screenshot | PDF)

Dear friends, after a long and weary season of business failure and more recently significant shock and disappointment regarding a very tender matter close to me, I am planning on going off Facebook and other public platforms for a season. This is motivated solely because I want to focus on my private life. However, I know this will be misinterpreted by many, particularly since there has been a troubling silence regarding a recent difficult public situation. Before I go “offline” there are things that I need to share. In the coming days and weeks I will be sharing my heart with my friends regarding some difficult things that need to be said. After which, I hope to transition to a season of life focused on a new direction in business, focused on personal spiritual growth, and focused on my precious wife and children.

Tuesday, 26 November, 2013 (Facebook | Screenshot | PDF)

I apologize to many of you who have reached out and contacted me in the past days and weeks, and to whom I have not responded. I ask for mercy and understanding knowing many of you will realize this is a VERY difficult time for me and my family. I am attempting to exercise discretion, and to faithfully exercise my limited duties in this recent situation. In line with that, I have been leery of talking to many of you to whom I owe calls, emails, texts and FB messages back to, because I am committed to not “feed the gossip mill”, or pass on dainty morsels. And just not talking has been one way I have attempted to walk a very difficult line in a very messy situation.

Greater knowledge brings with it greater responsibility, particularly for those who have had close relationships with those involved. I’ve attempted to only communicate with people that have reason to know at this point. Please be patient with me. I promise I still love and care for each of you, and hope that you will understand.

Wednesday, 27 November, 2013 (Facebook | Screenshot | PDF)

The past decade of my life has been defined by my close relationship with my mentor and former spiritual father. Those who know me recognize my longstanding, fierce commitment to his family, his work, and his legacy. As soon as I caught wind of what was going on, I became very involved in working towards fulfilling the duties of friendship and brotherhood – to confront a man who has been like a father to me for a third of my life and plead with him to truthfully confess, and to genuinely take responsibility for longstanding betrayal of everything we had fought together for with the hope of ultimate restoration.

Friends… truth and justice are mercy. Covering sin is not mercy. (Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”) This was the message of the men that joined me to go in person to plead with him. Men he’s called “bosom brothers”, son’s in the Lord, close friends, and a mentor of his. What for us was a tender, emotional, mission of mercy and plea for true repentance was met with something, and by someone I never could have imagined. Instead of being received as the “wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6), I was formally disowned and declared to be a “destroyer” to my face.

There is no way to describe the soul crushing blow I was dealt that day and it’s overall impact on my life. It’s was like experiencing the scene from Braveheart… where William Wallace finds out he’s been betrayed by Robert the Bruce, over and over again. Walking away from that meeting, I couldn’t speak for hours I was so stunned. I am still physically, emotionally and spiritually broken and asking God to give me wisdom. I know many people are so very hurt and confused regarding what has transpired and my prayer for myself, my family, and everyone involved is that we look to Christ alone with hearts of love, mercy, and repentance seeking to root out the sin in our own lives. Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Particularly worth noting is the comment left by Joe Morecraft, himself a well-known figure in the Reformed part of the patriarchy world. The comment reinforces the idea that Doug Phillips still is not repentant and those in his circles are well aware of that reality.

morecraft

And finally:

Friday, 29 November, 2013 (Facebook | Screenshot | PDF)

“For one thousand years, this principle has guided Western civilization. Simply stated, that principle is this: the groom dies for the bride, the strong suffer for the weak, and the highest expression of love is to give one’s life for another. The men aboard the Titanic recognized their duty because they had been raised in a culture that implicitly embraced such notions. Only by returning to these foundations can we ever hope to live in a society in which men will make the self-conscious decision to die so that women and children may live. This is the true legacy of the Titanic.” Douglas Phillips

When those who champion “women and children first” hide behind smooth words instead of “suffering for the weak”… When the strong take advantage of the weak, and then turn them out like so much garbage… When the strong seize the lifeboats and leave the weak drowning in the icy water… it leaves no choice for men of God other than to rise up and oppose them when they discover the truth. Woe to those that do not.

Either Peter is positioning himself to take over and pick up the pieces, or this post looks like he’s completely had it and is fed up with being diplomatic about Doug Phillips. Even the third post where he talks about being “disowned” reads like something that had some thought put into it. This post looks like when I get royally fed up and go on a Facebook tirade.

Also of note is this comment by close Phillips associate Bob Renaud:

renaud

Again, this time from someone much closer to Phillips than Morecraft is, another comment from someone who believes that Doug Phillips is still in active sin and unrepentance.

The real question is why go public now? Has something changed such that people are breaking their silence as a result? Or did Peter Bradrick just finally hit his breaking point as he realized he spent the last decade idolizing this man only to discover that everything he thought he knew was based on a lie?

Here’s hoping that this gets him to realize that Doug Phillips’ patriarchal vision is a pack of lies and he and his family are able to move on to a normal life in the real world outside of the crazy of fundamentalist homeschooling.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop when the Vision Forum Ministries board starts trying to untangle the finances between the non-profit and Doug’s personally-owned for-profit Vision Forum, Inc. side of things. I keep hearing suspicions that the finances are seriously sketch.

Doug Phillips “Clarifies” His Resignation Statement

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 12.34.40 PM

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on November 14, 2013.

The following was posted today on Vision Forum Ministries’ web site:

Clarification on Resignation

by Douglas Phillips, Esq., November 14, 2013

I would like to express my gratitude for the great kindness so many have shown to my family in the wake of my stepping down as president of Vision Forum Ministries. My family has been greatly encouraged by many loving notes we have received. With that in mind, I want to be so very clear about the rightness of this transition, and I want to clear up some matters which have been brought to my attention. My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years. The local church, not the Internet, is the proper forum for overseeing the details of a man’s repentance, but I just want to be clear for the sake of peace within the Body of Christ, that the tragic events we are experiencing, including the closing of Vision Forum Ministries are my fault, and that I am sincere that I should not be in leadership, but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance. Please pray for the Phillips family, the Board, and the men who have made up the staff of Vision Forum Ministries.

Doug Phillips

(HA note: we have archived a PDF of the above statement here.)

Also, Spiritual Sounding Board has more information on what we know about what happened. Apparently this was ongoing for 10 years, the woman, well, I hesitate to use the word “woman,” “girl” is more accurate, worked closely with the Phillips family and Doug initiated a relationship. It’s not clear whether she was underage when this began but she was young.

If you know the identity of this girl, please do not post it anywhere on the Internet.

She deserves her privacy, she’s absolutely the victim in all of this. There are not enough words in the universe that could convince me that a relationship between Doug Phillips and a stay-at-home daughter who had been indoctrinated into Vision Forum’s ideology all her life is one where she is capable of giving consent.

I’m not talking about the legal age of consent or whether Phillips committed a crime that could be proven in a court of law. No matter what the laws on the books may say, the girls who grow up in that world have the emotional and mental maturity of a child even into their twenties. Their parents deliberately keep them as sheltered children because that way they’re able to control them into being stay-at-home daughters who follow and obey their father’s and other male authority figures’ every word. Girls in that world can appear mature and capable to outside observers because they’ve been taught to run an entire household from the time they were small children. But it’s a world that squashes all sense of autonomous self and produces sheltered, emotionally immature woman-children.

Doug Phillips, one of the most powerful men in fundamentalist quiverfull homeschooling, a lawyer/pastor/leader, took advantage of a girl who had been taught all her life to submit to her father and to male leadership. This was not a relationship between two consenting equals.

The power imbalance is staggeringly huge.

Don’t blame her, don’t go around trying to discover her identity, and if you know who it is, by all means keep it off of the Internet. Allow her the chance to disappear and rebuild her life away from the oppression and abuse.

If you’re looking for someone to blame, blame Doug Phillips and blame the system that does this to women. That system needs to be destroyed.

Vision Forum Ministries to Cease Operations

closing

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Twelve days after Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum Ministries due to “a lengthy, inappropriate relationship,” the board of the non-profit has stated the organization will be closing.

In a statement dated today, November 11, the Vision Forum Ministries board explains,

In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry. While we believe as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry to the Christian family, we are grieved to find it necessary to make this decision. We believe this to be the best option for the healing of all involved and the only course of action under the circumstances.

You can view the statement on their website here; we have archived a PDF of the statement here.

According to Julie Anne Smith at Spiritual Sounding Board, this comes “nine months after Phillips stepped down from his pastoral role as ‘teaching elder’ at Boerne Christian Assembly.”

Vision Forum, Inc., the for-profit counterpart to Vision Forum Ministries, has made no similar statement. Their blog post today is an offer to view a World War II film directed by Geoffrey Botkin. As of November 6, Doug Phillips said he “retain[s] ownership of Vision Forum, Inc.” Phillips also said he will continue “serving as a foot soldier.”

While the non-profit Vision Forum Ministries will “discontinue operations,” it is important to note the board “believe[s] as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry.” Indeed, while Phillips has ceased speaking and teaching engagements, the for-profit side of his ministry continues to sell his speeches and his teachings.

The Stones You Cast, The Tables You Built

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

*****

Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who never left the path be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and no longer wander.”

*****

It’s a tale as old as time.

A Christian leader falls from grace. For the first time ever, people feel free to talk openly about disagreements they had all along but were too afraid to voice. But the freedom is short-lived. The Eighth Chapter of the Gospel of John is dropped like a noose around their necks. That one verse about casting stones, that verse of grace and freedom, it is twisted into the heaviest gag order by the very Pharisees it was meant to condemn.

We saw this last week when Doug Phillips resigned due to an affair. It took but a few hours before John 8 started dropping like the bass in a dubstep song. “We’re all sinners!” “You’re not better than him!” “Forgive and forget!”

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone!”

It’s funny — how quickly invitations to grace become commands to obey. How platitudes pretend to say one thing but really mean something else. That what these phrases are meant to imply is not reflection and forgiveness but that, for some reason, “all have fallen short” means “STFU already.”

It’s funny, too, that this verse — of all verses — has become an order to shut up. This, a verse where a bunch of men were literally about to throw stones at a woman’s face until it broke like a pumpkin and her brains splattered on the ground. The verse whereby Jesus condemns the religious power structures and the hypocritical religious leaders. The moment where he stands up for a powerless individual about to be brutally bludgeoned to death by the insular self-righteousness of the People Who Knew It All and Had Everything Together.

I do not think we fully appreciate the situation.

I do not think we appreciate that this woman was probably all too aware of her own-shortcomings, was terrified and shaking because this group of men, this group of People Who Know the Right Way, was more than happy — giddy, even — to condemn her. They were probably shaking their heads to make a public scene, saying “If only she didn’t leave her father’s umbrella of protection…” Yet deep down, they could not wait to dig a hole in the ground, bury her in it up to her neck, and throw sharp rocks at her head until her blood soaked into the sand.

But that day Jesus stood against Privilege. That day he stood for the woman, for the one who broke the Almighty Law, for the one who needed a safe place.

Yet you, you who spit John 8 in our faces, you demand silence.

You demand a quick and sudden forgiveness. You want to put Doug Phillips in the place of the woman. Doug Phillips, the one who was standing there all along calling the woman a Feminist and a Liberal and a Female Blogger, the one who built an industry and an empire around Casting the First Stone. And you want us to imagine the woman was the Pharisee. That the woman, nursing her wounds from being dragged to Jesus by her hair, has no right to speak. That, unless she remains silent, you will drag her right back before Jesus and repeat the Pharisees’ lines.

Perhaps you don’t get the irony here, but if there is a metaphor here, it is that we who are calling Phillips out are the ones who have spent our lives being dragged by our hair before Jesus. Being dragged by you. We don’t have stones to throw because you’ve held them our entire life.

We never said we were without sin because, oh don’t you worry, you made sure we knew that.

We aren’t perfect. Oh god we aren’t perfect. We know that because you beat it into our skin and you burned it in our ears and you raped it into our souls.

Our imperfections surround us like scattered pieces of a Tinkertoy set. They stretch on for miles and they are all we learned to see.

But today we realize we are more than what we are not. We realize that when you say, “Don’t cast the first stone,” you mean, “Get back in line.” Sorry, but you can go find new soldiers. We will not cast stones — we will learn to forgive — but we will do it on our own time and we will make our own paths.

And sure, we are angry. We are angry because legalism and hypocrisy hurts. Our anger is ok. If we do not feel, we can never truly forgive.

We have a right to be angry.

We have a right to weep and to cry and to mourn because of pain.

We have a right to rejoice when oppressors fall.

And we have a right to call your bullshit. We will never grow and we will never learn to love better unless we learn to say, “That is wrong and that hurts and please, please stop.”

If you think speaking truth to power is casting stones, you need go back to the drawing board.

So don’t tell us we have stones in our hands when you carry sacks of stones on your back, when you trained us to lift them for you and carry them into the future and throw them into the faces of the people you taught us were the enemies. You drew the lines in the sand. You trained us to see threats instead of people, to see sinners instead of brothers, to see lust instead of sisters.

We all have logs in our eyes. But we don’t build industries around our logs like you do.

If we threaten your bottom line, if we call your idols into question, if we melt your golden calves and dance like David in their shimmering puddles while we reclaim our lost youth, it’s on you whether you will listen or pick up stones. And if all you want to do is put your fingers in your eyes and scream “Lalala! Don’t cast stones! I can’t hear you!” so be it.

But don’t play stupid.

You cast the stones. You cast so many stones they formed a fortress from which you made an empire. You took those stones and constructed tables and placed those tables in your homeschooling temples.

And we will keep overturning those tables.

We will keep overturning the tables made from the stones you cast.

How Doug Phillips Wreaked Havoc on My Family

visionforum

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on November 5, 2013.

My parents homeschooled me K-12, and during those years they fell under the influence of several Christian leaders who spread toxic dogma and find their following within the Christian homeschool movement. My parents never followed Gothard, but they did follow both Michael Pearl and Doug Phillips. I’ve talked a lot about how their devotion to Michael Pearl taught them to think that if they raised me “right” they could ensure that I stayed on the straight and narrow, copying my parents in my beliefs and in my lifestyle. But I think it’s worth fleshing out what my parents adherence to Vision Forum did to my life, because, well, let me put it this way:

Without Doug Phillips, I would have been spared an incredible amount of pain, grief, and yes, broken family relationships.

One of the signature teachings of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum is the idea that unmarried adult daughters are bound by God to obey their fathers. Yes, obey. I need to be extremely clear here: My parents did not believe this before they came under the influence of Doug Phillips. While Phillips is not the only person teaching this, he is, completely and totally, where my parents got this belief. I actually do not think my parents would have latched onto this idea had Doug Phillips never mounted a pulpit. One reason for this is that Michael Pearl himself has spoken out in recent years against the patriarchal ideas put out by Vision Forum. Had my parents not already bought the Vision Forum line regarding adult daughters, they certainly wouldn’t have gotten those ideas from the Pearls.

I considered not going to college. Oh, I came from an upper middle class home, college was always the expectation, and I’ve written before about why my parents did not follow Doug Phillips’ argument that parents should not send their daughters away to college. But I personally very strongly considered these arguments against college. I was enthralled by Vision Forum, which seemed to offer everything I’d been taught to want all tied up in a neat little package. I spoke with some friends, including some who tried to talk me out of going to college and did not go themselves based on very similar ideas. If things had been slightly different, Doug Phillips’ rise to prominence would have robbed me of a college education. And you know what?

There are women for whom this is exactly what happened.

I remember the first time I disagreed with my father on a theological point. I was an adult and was attending college away from home, but my parents still held me to be under my father’s authority—as had I. I also remember when my father ordered me to break off my relationship with Sean and cease any and all contact with him. Again, I was an adult at the time and was attending college away from home, but my parents still held me to be under my father’s authority—and here I bucked. I refused to place my mind and my heart in my father’s hands, for safekeeping until he would hand them over to a man of his choosing.

Do you know what happened? A tidal wave of Vision Forum materials entered our home.

Oh yes, we’d already had plenty, but more began arriving day by day. I have a very distinct memory of running errands with my mom while she played a CD informing me that as an unmarried daughter, I was commanded by God to obey my father whether I understood, agreed, or wanted to. Tears were streaming down my mother’s cheeks as we drove from store to store running errands, and at each store she would order me to stay in the car and keep listening. She had a captive audience and she knew it. I have a very distinct memory of my mother, tears running down her cheeks once again, ordering me to take any theological question to my father, and to accept and believe what he told me.

This period of my life was the most painful I have ever experienced, and you know what? The most toxic of the beliefs driving this excruciatingly painful period of my life came into our home and into our family by way of Doug Phillips.

If my parents had accepted that I was an adult and that while they might not like my beliefs or choices, I was no longer duty bound to obey them, this period would have been much smoother. Yes, it would have still been tough. They had expected to produce a clone of their beliefs and lifestyle and that didn’t work out. But they wouldn’t have thought they had the right to try to make me obey my father. They wouldn’t have interpreted my actions as those of a willful daughter rebelling against her father’s rightful and god-given authority over her. My father wouldn’t have felt the need to formally put me “out from under his authority” for disobedience to his commands and my mother wouldn’t have spent the next six months convincing him that he had no biblical mandate for doing that.

My family was utterly rent to shreds during that period, and all because I deigned to think that I, as an adult, ought to be able to make up my own mind and make my own choices. I know he is not to blame for all of it, but I lay much of what happened during that time at the feet of Doug Phillips. That man and his ministry have caused me and my family an incredible amount of pain, and you know what? It wasn’t just us. Doug Phillips and the organizations he founded have wreaked this same havoc over family after family after family.

The rot that emanates from this man and his teachings goes deep in the Christian homeschool movement.

And that is why I care.

It turns out that even as Doug Phillips was preaching a doctrine of male authority over women in general and adult daughters more particular, he was out there making a lie of his entire premise. Because see, this entire thing is based on the idea that women are the weaker vessel, vulnerable and in need of godly male protection. But if Doug Phillips, Godly Male Protector Extraordinaire, can’t even remain faithful to the wife he is supposed to be protecting and shepherding, what does that say? And do you know what pictures are disappearing off of the Vision Forum sites? Those of the young adult daughters of Phillips’ colleagues and friends. If it turns out that Phillips conducted his affair with one of those young woman, what does that say of the reliability of the system he spent his life building, the system he convinced so many Christian homeschooling parents was the godly solution to a dangerous world?

Let me finish by quoting Lana of Wide Open Ground:

It’s not the affair that irks me. Whatever there. We all get messy. It’s that he said I couldn’t be trusted to go to college. And he said I couldn’t be trusted to be pure before marriage if went on dates or to college or whatever. . . .

This is what Mr. Philips needs to do.

He needs say look folks, I get it now. I’m messed up human like the rest of us, men aren’t better than women, and assuredly men in Christian leadership aren’t better than a lay woman. In fact, most of you are probably doing better than me.

And then he needs to get out of his daughters’ way.

Yeah, that right there. He needs to say it.

To My Sister and the Vision Forum Victim No One’s Talking About

Doug Phillips and his family.

Jenny Wells blogs at Jewellspring. She is a teacher and a writer. She educated her own three children full-time and others’ children some of the time for 17 years until 2012, she stopped and placed her three children into public school. The following was originally published on her blog on November 4, 2013 and is reprinted with her permission.

For ten years, I homeschooled my three children full-time.

And during that decade, I came across all kinds of families, systems, philosophies, and curriculum. I went to the conventions, read the books, did my research. And during that decade, I learned who the big-wigs were, the poster families, the ones “we” the homeschooling community most wanted to emulate. I wanted it at certain points, too…the family-centric lifestyle. The clean-cut gender lines. Perfectly behaved and courted children, mainly for my sake. But in my heart of hearts, I knew I could never be like “them”. I just received their shiny catalogs in the mail and wondered how they pulled it off.

I knew we couldn’t be like them; I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be, but the temptation was there. Why? Because a faith and lifestyle that gives answers feels so much safer than a life of mystery and questions and any mother gets afraid, whether they can admit it or not.

Give me a formula to keep my children “safe” and I’ll follow it.

My views and life have changed so much since the days of being handed books like, “Beautiful Girlhood“. So when Doug Phillips (the patriarch pictured above) resigned last week because of an “inappropriate relationship”, my first reaction was, “A-HA! No one is immune, not even you Mr. Father of Many in Shiny Catalogs.”

But here’s the real reason for my post.

This story has stuck with me and I wake up thinking about it. I read his apology found everywhere (just Google it) and spent some time online last night trying to research the story. I am now even more grieved.

No one. No one, not one supporter or stick-it-to-him writer wrote about her.

Her.

Who was the girl he was involved with?

I don’t need a name. But I need an identity, an acknowledgement. Because I know her heart is broken.

She hides in obscurity.

Doug Phillips apologizes as I have heard so many apologize before, as virtuously as he can sound, but not to her.

He goes home to restore with his wife and family. But I would guess the chances are more likely that she has none. How will she be restored? How will she recover?

I am so sick and tired of these stories being about Him. The man of power.

If you have never experienced it, you can’t know what is like to be given attention from someone of power in a system that encourages it. Oh, but I do. It’s heady, confusing, and so very scary, to be given the attention of a man in a position of power, especially in a system like Vision Forum and many, many circles I came across in my home-schooling and church-attending days where men have been given the greater authority from God.

Dear Sister, whoever you are, I don’t care if you started it. I don’t care if you were his peer or a young woman. I don’t even care all that much that his family was hurt. They still have each other and families have survived worse. But you have to go away. You can have no contact with a man you felt deeply connected to. You have to stay in obscurity. You don’t get to heal with the man who broke your heart. And no one is talking about you and this pain that I imagine is greater than you can imagine surviving. I’m so sorry.

And I care.

If you know of anyone else writing about the real victim, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks.

He Does Not Represent God to Me: The Resignation of Doug Phillips, by Kristi-Joy Matovich

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HA note: Kristi-Joy Matovich is a writer by trade, a theologian by training, a philosopher by interest, and a musician by family inheritance. She will graduate from Moody Bible Institute in 2014 with a B.A. in Philosophic Theology. She blogs at Constellation Hope. The following was originally published on her blog on October 31, 2013.

*****

I struggled with whether to comment on this event. However, it brings me hope, and it will to certain others, so I’m posting about a horrible situation for Doug Phillips’ wife and children. I apologize to them in advance, and pray that God will heal them somehow.

*****

Vision Forum is responsible for quite a few things in my life.

One is a fantastic three-man slingshot which my siblings and I have put to very good use over the years. Others include a revolutionary war-styled play rifle, a circular cipher, a book called “Endurance” about Sir Ernest Shackleton, and a “wrist rocket.”

My first in-person encounter with the founder and president of this organization, Doug Phillips, was around age 12 or 13 at a homeschool convention where he was one of the main speakers. I don’t remember the topics I heard him speak on, but he doesn’t have that many — modesty, male leadership, femininity, family structure, boys being men, and men being MEN.

With the purchases and the speeches came one very large item that they didn’t ask payment for: GUILT. And lots of it. You see, I was supposed to be buying the pink frilly dressed dolls and doing nothing but learning to cook and sew and being a lovely little lady. As it happened, I was learning to cook and sew, but I preferred watching my dad fix our cars and talking politics and arguing theology with my guy friends IRL and on forums. And playing with the play rifle and slingshot and reading about adventures at the South Pole.

But that pink, wilting femininity?

That was what God made women to be. And I wasn’t it.

Two years ago I attended a homeschool convention with my family. I went on the condition that I did not have to go to any sessions by Doug Phillips. He somehow came to represent all that had told me I was being sinful for not being that kind of girl, for being ambitious toward other things: college, music, and later theology, philosophy, and writing. A guilt I have yet to eradicate as I wrestle with post-college options.

I could not stand being in the room as he spoke.

All that to say, when I found out that Doug Phillips resigned from Vision Forum, and from the speaking circuit, I can only say that I let out a sigh of relief. He is resigning for a very nebulously defined “affair,” which I can only imagine has done great harm to many people directly. For them I am very sorry. Many others have commented about Phillips’ actual announcement and its continuance of a pattern which has been traced by some for a long time. That has many, likely negative, implications.

But for me personally, this is a hopeful moment. It is the removal of someone from my extended sphere of influence. It gives me an opportunity to express my difficulty with someone who has long been held up as a god in the homeschooling community. It gives me hope that perhaps things can change for the better.

It especially reminds me that this particular man does not represent God to me — and I never have to think that he does.

I hope that this event provides a catalyst for some serious rethinking of the ultra-conservative homeschool culture.

May it rock the homeschool world for the better.

Doug Phillips Resigns from Vision Forum, Cancels Speaking Events, Due to “Inappropriate” Relationship

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Yesterday, Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum Ministries*** and discontinued future speaking engagements.

Doug Phillips is a former attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Assocation (HSLDA). As an HSLDA attorney, he was the architect behind what is probably HSLDA’s most significant legal event: rallying opposition to H.R. 6. Phillips was “the person who received the phone call from the office of Congressman Dick Armey alerting the Home School Legal Defense Association of a threat posed by bill H.R.6.” He then “launched a national e-mail alert and physically gathered a brigade of valiant home educators to descend upon the Capitol en masse.” (Phillips’s and HSLDA’s handling of H.R. 6 sharply divided the homeschooling community.)

After serving as an attorney and Director of the National Center for Home Education at HSLDA for six years, Phillips founded Vision Forum in 1998. He also founded a number of other groups and projects, including the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches and the Beautiful Girlhood Collection catalog. He is an advocate of homeschooling, the family-integrated church movement, as well as Quiverfull and Patriarchy ideologies.

Phillips is an extraordinarily popular speaker in the Christian homeschool movement. He has been a featured or keynote speaker at homeschool conventions across the United States. Just in the last two years he has spoken at: 2012 FPEA Florida Homeschool Convention (2012, FL), 2012 CHEF of Missouri 28th Annual Convention (CHEF-MO) (2012, MO), Christian Family Schools (CFS) 28th Annual Expo Homeschool Convention (2012, CA), 1st Annual 2012 Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention in Spartanburg (2012, SC), 2013 29th Annual Home School Book Fair (2013, TX), 2013 Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference (2013, WA), 2013 CHEF of Missouri 29th Annual Convention (CHEF-MO) (2013, MO), and 30th Annual CHEA Homeschool Convention (2013, CA).

Phillips was one of the main speakers at the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit, where Phillips spoke alongside Kevin Swanson, Voddie Baucham, Brian Ray, and Chris Klicka and declared that, “We understand that the core problem with Child Protective Services is its existence” and called for “eliminating it altogether.” It was also at this conference that Phillips declared that, “It is on your watch, it is on my watch that the sodomites are redefining marriage in our land,” and that “We will lose this movement and this work of God, men, if we do not govern our households. And that means lovingly shepherding our wives.” Which to him meant keeping one’s wife from “the female sin of the internet” — namely, blogging.

But in a statement released yesterday by Vision Forum, Doug Phillips resigned as president of his organization and discontinued future speaking events not because of “the sodomites” or because he did not “govern [his] household.” He resigned not because of female blogging. Rather, he resigned because he himself “engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman.” This relationship was apparently not physical but was instead some form of — “emotional fornication”? He is not clear: “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.”

Phillips is therefore no longer the president of Vision Forum Ministries for the time being, choosing instead to focus on “nurturing [his] wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life.”

The full text of Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum follows. You can read it on their website here or view an archived version of it on HA here.

Statement of Resignation

by Douglas Phillips, Esq., October 30, 2013

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

Update, November 1: As Kathryn Brightbill has pointed out, “What is not clear is whether Phillips’ resignation is solely from Vision Forum Ministries, the non-profit arm of Vision Forum, or if it is from the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc. as well” (emphasis added). In fact, “Business is usual at the for-profit VisionForum.com site, with no indication of Phillips’ resignation.”

*** Update, November 6: While Phillips resigned from the non-profit Vision Forum Ministries because he “engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman,” he announced today that he “retains ownership” of the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc., which sells all of his books, teachings, and products and will continue to do so. Here is the text of his blog post today on the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc.:

Last week, I announced my resignation from the presidency of Vision Forum Ministries, a 501(c)3 organization. I retain ownership of Vision Forum, Inc., a distinct and private company, but consistent with my desires to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, I will not be giving speeches or running conferences at this time of my life under the banner of VFI or VFM. In addition, Doug’s Blog will become the Vision Forum Blog and will be focused on publishing reports and articles by others, along with news and information from Vision Forum, Inc.

View an archived version of today’s announcement here.