Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Introduction

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Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight:  Introduction

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My perspective on his life is different —appreciation, gratitude, disagreement, sadness.  His life is a reminder that whether your name is Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, or Steve Jobs, in the end, your physical body becomes food for worms.  More importantly, your eternal soul faces the same Judge that every human must stand before.  This is just one reason why human idolatry is folly.  We must never worship men (future worm food), but only the Lord.

~Doug Phillips, on the occasion of Steve Jobs’ death

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Doug Phillips, Vision Forum Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.03.20 PM

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Doug Phillips grew his Vision Forum business and ministry upon the foundation of men leading the generational vision of the family, raising young girls into godly motherhood, boys into spiritual leaders of their families.  How could Doug Phillips speak and write of godly manhood/fatherhood, tell men to protect women and children first over the last decade, while at the same time harm women and children by his sexual exploits?  It has been unfathomable to so many who have watched this man and his ministry grow from its inception to now.

When Doug Phillips posted October 30th, 2013, that he was stepping down and the ensuing scandal was brought to light, there was a lot of interest in the story.  People of course were shocked that this pillar in the Homeschool Movement and his influence that extended even further into mainstream Christianity could have fallen so deeply into sin and disgrace.

Who knew what and when?  How could this have gone on for so long undetected?  Why hadn’t anyone done anything about it sooner?   Where were his church elders and why hadn’t they done anything earlier?  Who was helping him cover up this sin?  And, most importantly, why isn’t anyone speaking out now to shed more light into what happened?

As I’ve been reading commentary on various blogs and social media for the past few months, I’ve had some thoughts about this saga:

  • No one has been willing to publicly share what they know and identify themselves (except for minor details).
  • There are anonymous commenters on blogs and articles with bits of “factual” information.
  • There is a lot of back-fighting going on between people who have bits of information.
  • Different interpretations of events can confuse matters.
  • Some have been careless to disclose “insider” information to make a story and their motives are suspect.

Several weeks ago, I was sent an e-mail asking if I was interested in helping to “set the record straight” with regard to the Doug Phillips story.  I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant, because I didn’t know who the sources were, how close they were to the situation, what their intentions were, or even how to verify the sources, etc.  I wanted to know why they wanted to ask me to publish it and for what purpose.

After several back-and-forth e-mails, I eventually had a lengthy phone conversation with a person who compiled information to send to me to post.  But here was the problem.  This person was not a source – not a first-hand witness – but an intermediary.   This did not sit right with me.

Although, reading through the material, the information sounded much more legitimate than the stories I had read elsewhere, how could I with integrity and honesty post information from a third-party who had nothing directly to do with the Phillips scandal?  I couldn’t do it.  I told this person that I would need to speak directly with one of the key people involved.  This message was relayed to the primary source person.

So here is what has happened.  I have spent approximately 5 hours on the phone with 2 people in separate conversations regarding this information to be published.  I have gone through the document sent me point by point with the primary source person, typing my own notes to make sure I understand what happened correctly.  We have also exchanged e-mails.

But why did they reach out to me and ask it to be published on my blog?  What were their intentions?  While articles and speculations, alleged witnesses and testimonies have surfaced on various blog sites, some who have been close to the situation over an extended length of time have been dismayed at what has been portrayed as truth.  I was told that my blog was selected because I hadn’t posted farfetched stories and fabrications.  They saw that my goal was to only publish truth as best as possible.

Now, regarding this key person I spoke with:  I will not disclose any names, but I checked this person out pretty carefully.  One thing about Doug Phillips is he liked to be in the public spotlight and many of the people he worked with were also in the public spotlight with him. So, it’s quite easy to find key people online, hear their voices and compare those to the phone call voices for verification purposes.  I have done that.  I have also asked key questions in which I had answers from other sources to see if they could be answered correctly.  They were.

I am in the process of compiling the original notes with mine into new articles.  There may be 2-3 articles depending on the length.  To ensure accuracy, each article will be sent to the primary source, who will then send it out to others close to the situation for verification and approval before it will be published.

So here’s the deal: to the best of my ability, I have assessed to make sure that my source is indeed who he/she says he/she is and was close to the situation to have important details and know the inner workings of Doug Phillips.  I believe having one source this close to the situation is much more beneficial than making stories out of bits of information from various sources.  I think in doing so, we will get a better and more accurate picture of what has happened over a span of time.

Why is this important?  Some articles that have been published online have come about as a result of multiple sources.  What we’ve seen are stories and “facts” changing as more information has come available.  This is not a very reliable way of getting information and can lead to the necessity of cleaning up misinformation.

Another issue is very important that I touched on above.  Motivation is very integral in writing articles.  I’ve been very concerned that some online articles may be disingenuous because there seems to be an underlying motivation of revenge against Doug Phillips rather than reporting with integrity for truth.  Other source people involved with my source have been concerned about this as well.  People are hurt when there are exaggerations and untruths.  This should not be a mission to pull the rug out from under a ministry or person, but to expose the truth.

So, stay tuned.  Barring time constraints and back-and-forth e-mailing for verification among sources, I will try to get these posts up within the next two weeks.

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26 comments on “Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Introduction

  1. Great. At least we’ll have a more accurate and coherent version of what went on than all the fragments we’ve heard so far.

    You say your source checks out, you’ve confirmed his identity, and there’s a good probability of his info being accurate.

    Go with it, and let’s see if any of the mainstream coverage picks up on your stuff.

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  2. The pursuit of the truth! That’s what is necessary. I agree that revenge or other nefarious motivations undermine credibility. It’s important to remember that there were many decent people involved in Vision Forum, and lies or exaggeration may hurt innocent people. I’m looking forward to your upcoming articles. Thanks for your integrity.

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  3. JA, Your site was chosen because of your reputation! Imagine how your idiot former pastor would feel about that! Take your time and keep up your tremendously important work! Thank you! Ann

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  4. Thanks, Ann. This has been a very fruitful week behind the scenes with networking and getting people hooked up with help/support they need. All of that would not have happened if it weren’t for Chuck. Thanks, Chuck. sort of

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  5. JA, that your blog was selected speaks directly to your deep integrity, discernment and compassion. I’d say, “Keep up the good work” but we know you are already doing that.

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  6. I am glad this source found you JA. Thank you for being willing to handle this. Many of us want to know what has transpired but are not comfortable with the salacious way we have seen it handled elsewhere. We don’t want to read numerous installments of what amounts to a three-ring circus written by someone who can’t even be honest about who he is. It would be nice to get the truth without the dog and pony show so we can all have closure and begin to heal.

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  7. I look forward to this very much, JA. This is such an important story, & to have a source who can help us see the truth is no end of helpful.
    Bless you for taking this on!!

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  8. Julie Ann I know you know this but these manly men are tools, VF had to build a brand new tool shed to accommodate Phillip’s ego squad. Personally I think there is a financial angle, with these folks there is always a financial angel, always. That is my opinion.

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  9. Yea, I hear Tool is a common nickname for Phillips these days.

    I’ll have to check my notes, but I don’t remember much of our discussion on the financial aspect. I (ja speculating) wouldn’t doubt that there is a financial aspect, but that is not going to be the focus of the articles (unless my source decides otherwise).

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  10. I guess what makes me the angriest is how they treat other folks including other Christians making them lessor to their narrow, anti historic / reality / science/ etc. The guilt runs strong with young sky walker, they guilt and shame people. Julie if you want a rather troubling aspect to this look up DP’s brother missionary and a documentary his brother was involved in. It is very troubling.

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  11. I’ve seen that story, brian. It is pretty shocking.

    BTW, a side note – it’s interesting how much this article has generated blog hits. I want to be clear to new readers – – if you are looking for sensationalism, you aren’t going to find it here. Although much of Doug’s demeanor and character over the years was flamboyant (costumes, rhetoric, etc), his behavior is classic cult behavior. Doug Phillips doesn’t get any brownie points from me for being a “special” high-controlling cult leader. He’s just an average cult leader who used the same tactics every other cult leader used, but had more public visibility. He’s really not that original or impressive as a cult leader. ::::yawn::::

    Sadly, my above commentary does not minimize the damage done to many lives/families spiritually and emotionally.

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  12. Julie Anne, thank you. I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts on this.
    In this post you have given us a mini-lesson in the ethics of good journalism and checking your sources and their stories. 🙂

    I admire you a great deal.

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  13. Julie Anne, just like countless others I’d love to know what the truth is about this situation. But will publishing compromise the victim’s ability to take legal action? If so, please don’t share! I really hope that Doug has to pay for his evil actions.

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  14. I want to be clear about my above comment. Some people will be angry that I used the term cult. It is a strong and shocking word. But let’s take a look at some of the definition entries:

    “a quasi-religious organization using devious psychological techniques to gain and control adherents”

    Another one that applies: intense devotion and interest in a person by followers.

    (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cult?s=t)

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  15. Julie Anne,

    As someone who drank the VF/DP kool-aid for far too long, I am grateful we rejected those teachings a few years ago. However, I am hoping that the stories you are bringing forward will help bring some closure to what was probably the biggest waste of my (and my family’s) life. Thank you for your passion for truthfulness.

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  16. Your integrity and commitment to truth is refreshing! Praying for wisdom and direction as you write these articles!

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  17. Yes, maintain your integrity even if it takes extra time to follow the leads and see where they go. Truth matters. And if it’s true, it’s not defamatory.

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  18. Bystander:

    If my source believes it to be true and it turns out to be false, it still is not defamatory. And then there’s the malice part of the legal definition of defamation which must be met – – which means the plaintiffs have to prove intention of the heart. That’s extremely difficult. (I only know that because of my defamation lawsuit.)

    That said, I”m not too worried about a defamation lawsuit 🙂

    Thanks, Bystander, and everyone, for your support and trust. That means a great deal to me.

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  19. For those interested in the upcoming Phillips articles: I was nearly done with an article last night and then made a followup phone call with my primary source for verification and ended up deleting much of it. Sorry for the delay. I know people are really wanting to see this information, but I want to rely solely on this Source for information, not information I’ve received from second-hand sources, articles, blogs, commenters on blogs.

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  20. Julie Ann, congratulations for having the courage to take this on. I am very much looking forward reading this.

    As someone with 30+ years of experience in writing, investigating and reporting, I want to point out that it is very common for big stories to “unfold” over a period of time. It takes time for people to work up the courage to come forward. People may not see that they are part of the story until they see another part of it. Classic example: the Watergate story, as demonstrated by “All the President’s Men.”

    And sometime it just takes time to unravel all the strands. A good example of this is the mystery of the disappearing Malaysia Airlines jet. When I first heard about this, I thought we’d be hearing a body count by that night. Who would have dreamed that a week later we still don’t know where this plane is?

    Finally, my experience as a volunteer for sexual abuse/rape survivors also says that stories unfold over time, especially if children are involved.

    Changes in “facts” and publication of rumors don’t help in situations like these. But I am not surprised that the truth has been revealed in layers. I am just saddened by the fact that all these so-called “godly men” lied and schemed for so many years to cover this up and enable this abuse, and still don’t have the guts to come forward and set the record straight.

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  21. Take all the time you need, JA. Best to get it exactly the way you think it needs to be said. Things on the net have a habit of sticking around lol

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