July 25, 2014

Vision Forum Ministries to Close

douglas-phillips-vision-forum-i10

In an announcement on their website, Vision Forum Ministries, the nonprofit ministry headed by Doug Phillips, has announced that it has closed. Phillips recently admitted being unfaithful in his marriage and resigned his position of leadership at VF. Here’s the statement:

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.

In a clarification on his resignation, Phillips said:

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.

Phillips will not resign from the for profit arm of VF — Vision Forum Inc. About this, he said:

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.

Vision Forum Inc. describes its mission in these terms: “The mission of Vision Forum is to communicate a vision of victory to Christian families through edifying books, films, toys, curriculum, and other resources.” VF is one of the more well-known proponents of the patriarchy and “Quiverfull” movements. They have had a big impact on certain sectors of the Christian home school world.

While I have vigorously disagreed with the theology and approaches of this movement, it seems that those involved with VF are taking appropriate steps in this matter. I, for one, don’t care to know any details, and I simply want to express that it is never a matter of rejoicing when a person becomes captive to sins that affect not only himself but his family and others. When one has a wider circle of influence, it is even more devastating.

May grace and peace rule in this situation.

Comments

  1. I cannot be happy about this man’s choices or condition, but I am ecstatic that VF is closing. I consider this a true win for the true church.

    • Christiane says:

      when you look at the impact of a movement like Vision Forum on women, with their roles being so subservient to fathers and then husbands, you often overlook what such a movement does to the men who embrace it all . . .
      the impact of the male ego must be tremendous and unless there is some ‘outlet’ (plural wives, concubines, etc.), I suppose this patriarchy theology would be very difficult for any man to survive without getting into some kind of trouble . . .

      my research led me to the name of a Southern Baptist minister who inadvertantly made some seemingly inappropriate comments about the roles of father with their daughters that were shocking to those not in the Patriarchy movement, but were excused by those in it as ‘he mispoke’ and that he had no intention of implying anything to do with incestuous emotional attachment.

      but for some ‘weaker’ beings in the Patriarchy theological world, I suppose it is now accepted that because a LEADER fell rather hard from grace, that others might be ‘on the endangered list’ to get into difficulty

      point being: what kind of theology sets folks up for situations where they are MORE likely to give in to their egos or their need for domination over others and lead to occasions of sin ? I don’t think a theology that is Christian would do that. How did all this ‘mighty male’ thing get so troublesome to those it is supposed to ‘honor’ as chosen by God to ‘guide’ womenfolk? Something went very, very wrong, didn’t it?

      some thoughts

      • Christiane, I don’t know anything about Vision Forum, but what you’re describing is addressed over on Jeri Massi’s “Blog on the Way”. http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/

        Patriarchy, lack of accountability, and loyalty to the pastor/elders are some of the characteristics that can lead to abuses. Her book Schizophrenic Christianity is a harsh look at independent fundamental baptist (IFB) churches.

        • thanks for the link, TED

        • Ted! Thank you for the kind recommendation. I would like to offer a correction, though. I don’t think .Schizophrenic Christianity is a harsh look at independent fundamental baptist (IFB) churches. I think it offers an accurate analysis and clear explanation of the harshness and outright evil that has been done by these churches, particularly in the rampant sexual abuse of children and cover ups that protect sexual predators. I tried to let the case histories speak for me. And I relied heavily on references to psychologists. But I really tried to avoid being harsh in tone. However, in the end, you end up with a harsh truth, and from that, the reader draws a conclusion

          • Hi, Jeri. Your tone isn’t too harsh for that crowd. It’s a tough read, not for the faint-hearted, is what I meant. Also one of the most important books I’ve read in a while because I’m sorting through some garbage in the wake of a few friends or acquaintances that have got themselves caught up in child abuse.

            I just finished your recent book Bitter Root: Atheistic Practices Embedded in Christian Fundamentalism and now I see that there’s another, The Hoax of “Standards” that I’ll need to order. I’m glad you’re publishing.

          • When I say “tough read” it’s the subject matter. The book is very readable.

      • Isn’t this Patriarchy just a stronger version of the complementarian thinking?

  2. Since I’m not familiar with Rev Phillips or his ministry, what stands out to me is he is admitting his sin, humbling himself and stepping down. Does it stand out to anyone else how unusual this is in the world we live in? Can you imagine a politician admitting their sin and stepping down? They usually admit to a problem, express their reasons and keep moving. I remember how disappointed I was with Jimmy Swagger when he broke off from the Assembly of God church he was part of rather than submitting to their prescribed discipline; and because his ministry was so “important” and he was so “special.” If Rev Phillips follows through, he will set the right example for others to follow.

    • It seems to me he is doing the least he can do, not the most, as he is retaining control of the for-profit arm of the organization, that will continue its work, it just won’t have conferences. The influence of his movement is not broad, in that it doesn’t have millions of followers, though it is likely in the six figure range. However, the influence of the movement is deep, because it isn’t something that has an effect on a part of their lives. People structure the lives of themselves and their whole families around these teachings.

      Women in a patriarchy situation don’t have the options that the men do. They’re not sent to college, and their skills are all geared towards making them into good housewives. They are not independent. Phillips’ wife is reportedly reconciling and forgiving? Of course she is. What else can women in her situation do?

      Should those who oppose patriarchy and quiverfull rejoice in Phillips’ downfall, such as it is? Of course not. “Leaders” from all stripes fail, and their failure doesn’t discredit their ideology, but this failure does illustrate some of the problems that this ideology creates.

  3. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > I retain ownership of Vision Forum, Inc., a distinct an…

    And the crux is, he apologizes, but retains wealth and influence. Eh, whatever. I’d wish him well if I could bother to care; I just can’t.

    Every day I appreciate more and more the nuns and monks who devote themselves to service [minus the Lexus]. Dear sisters and friars – you rock!

    > I will not be giving speeches or running conferences at this ***time of my life*** ***under the banner of***

    A nice double pronged get-out-of-the-hook clause.

    I know that organizations like Vision Focus infuriate a small segment of Christians [non-participants who even know VF exists] and a small segment of ‘Leftists’ [who use them as punching bags][*1]… but it seems their actual influence or penetration in the over-culture is almost negligible.

    [*1] I know many of these, they are more up-to-date on wacky Christian sects, organizations, and strange cultural trends (so glad the WWJD bracelet thing has faded out) than IM’s Saturday Ramblings. Only IM’s Saturday Ramblings are entertaining and light hearted; Leftist Xtian Haters, probably like most haters, are soooooo droll and boring. The saddest effect of organizations like VF, and the inevitable ensuing scandals, is that they feed the pointless turd-throwing.

    • Adam, VFI is Phillips’ business, and I don’t think it necessarily follows that a person has to give up his income and supporting his family when he commits personal sin. Some might prefer that the business wasn’t still related to the doctrines he and his fellow patriarchalists teach, but so be it.

      I also think the influence of groups like VF is broader than you think. In Indiana where I live, there are homeschooling groups everywhere that are influenced by these people, by Ken Ham, and by others that we write about. Perhaps my focus on them grows out of this regional experience, but hey, we write about what we know about, correct?

      The growing number of sites discussing the abuse that has been perpetuated throughout the U.S. by fundamentalist Christian groups reinforces that this has, in fact, been a strong undercurrent in American Christianity.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Adam, VFI is Phillips’ business, and … that the business wasn’t still related to the doctrines he and his
        > fellow patriarchalists teach, but so be it.

        So be it, it is the law. Part of, what is in terms of goal the same organization, is tax sheltered, and the other is not. It will be that way, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t smell. Ideology as Industry is always a creepy thing. That structure certainly leaves those in charge with questionable motivations, a substantial bias against self-examination, and a real pressure not to change one’s mind or even admit doubts.

        Regardless of what the doctrine is that kind of structure itself creates an environment likely to breed scandal and intrigue.

        > I also think the influence of groups like VF is broader than you think.

        Possibly. It is probably quite profound within its circles.

        > In Indiana where I live, there are homeschooling groups everywhere that are influenced by these people,
        > by Ken Ham, and by others that we write about.

        We have numerous home-school groups here in western Michigan as well [I do not know what the numbers are, but you rarely meet them when out-and-about]. In my experience they are *extremely* insular, with little overlap with anything else. I remember when I was in Evangelicalism these groups seemed prominent and significant. From the outside looking in they appear tiny and to have essentially opted out of most of society.

        But I am in a relatively affluent urban and urbanizing area. It would be interesting to see a high resolution geo-mapping of Evangelicalism; generally they are state-wide numbers – not that informative.

        > Perhaps my focus on them grows out of this regional experience, but hey, we write about what
        > we know about, correct?

        Certainly.

        > The growing number of sites discussing the abuse that has been perpetuated throughout the U.S. by
        > fundamentalist Christian groups reinforces that this has, in fact, been a strong undercurrent in American
        > Christianity.

        Yes. At least a strong undercurrent in a branch of American Christianity. Machoism is a general current in American culture.

        I increasingly wonder if reporting mirrors reality. We love scandal and abuse, there is a great appetite for [for lack of a better term] idjit-porn [those we can be aghast at, and feel comfortably superior too]. [Aside: I'm not saying IM has this appetite, but it certainly exists generally].

        In a nation of 300M+ people – does anyone think there will not be abuse, or even monsters? Does finding an abuser or a scandal really mean anything? It does seem good that the VF guy is bowing out with minimal hoopla [however sincere that bowing out is] – the followers of that doctrine are unlikely to reconsider as a result [and they really should not be expected to as a result of one guy's action], those who despise the doctrine will be momentarily exuberant [which is equally unjustified, and tacky], and then everything will settle pretty much back as it was.

        For me this event just raises the ickyness of Ideology as Industry. Something I terribly disliked during my days in Evangelicals. `Here is the truth vital to civilization and all man kind! MasterCard and Visa accepted.`

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          For me this event just raises the ickyness of Ideology as Industry. Something I terribly disliked during my days in Evangelicals. `Here is the truth vital to civilization and all man kind! MasterCard and Visa accepted.`

          Do you have to hold the cans of an L Ron Hubbard E-Meter in the process?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          But I am in a relatively affluent urban and urbanizing area. It would be interesting to see a high resolution geo-mapping of Evangelicalism; generally they are state-wide numbers – not that informative.

          I’ve seen some geo-mapping attempts along those lines. The greatest density usually ends up within the borders of the Confederate States of America.

  4. I highly recommend Libby Anne’s series of posts on this over at Love, Joy, Feminism on Patheos.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Also, both Wartburg Watch and Spiritual Sounding Board have been following the situation.

  5. Poor woman. She now joins the ranks of the spiritually used and abused.
    Church wreckage as it were. Hopefully she can recover from this and escape from the Male Supremacy Compound

    Slightly off topic observation-
    Reading about the hyper-patriarchal Mennonite and Amish communities it certainly
    seems that these semi- cloistered communities have a lot of , not “sexual sins”, not “inappropriate relationships”,
    but sexual predation. No accountability. Narcissistic leaders. Victims that are scoffed at. No punishment for the perps.

    • + 1 (very much so).

      Mike, I don’t think it’s right to gloat, but equally, VF is misogynistic, hyper-patriarchal – and promotes a hugely revisionist view of slavery, abolitionism, the Confederacy, “property” rights and African American people.

      I can’t help but wish you’d been a little more hard-hitting in this post, though I also see your points. Still, the sooner VF’s retail business gets shuttered, the better – ditto for the *huge* influence it has in the xtian homeschooling movement.

  6. In his initial statement of resignation, Doug says: “While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” Now that he’s clearing things up, he admits, “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.” I’m having a whole lot of trouble not reading “know each other” into that last statement.

    • I can remember when people liked to accuse the Jesuits of casuistry.

      Funny how some of the people who tend to point fingers at the RCC (and high-church Protestantism) are the ones who are front and center when it comes to Doublespeak.

  7. I find it interesting in light of the conversation here that the following was ALSO posted on internetmonk today:

    “…love covers a multitude of sins.”

    These words were written to suffering followers of Jesus Christ, encouraging them to show deep love for one another. The author reminds them what love does — it covers sins. That is, it overlooks them, it regards them as of no account.
    LOVE IS GENEROUS WITH OTHERS AND RELEASES THEM FROM THE EXPECTATION OF SINLESS PERFECTION.
    If you love me, you will not hold my sins against me. You will accept me in spite of my weaknesses, failures, and offenses.
    As the complementary citation from 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love…keeps no record of being wronged.” I don’t keep a running tally of your sins. In considering your actions or words, I assume your best intentions. I place the value of remaining on good terms with you above holding you accountable for any grievances I might have against you. Insofar as it depends on me, I try to be at peace with you.
    So there are times we choose to ignore each other’s sins and shortcomings. We forget them. We overlook them. We don’t consider them worthy of damaging our relationship. We give each other grace, and space. Freedom to fail. The okay to be imperfect. We are committed to each other in a covenant of love. Sin cannot break that.

    • By and large, I think the conversation has been rather tame, though there is a definite rejection of the doctrines and practices Mr. Phillips espouses. If what I hear is even half true about what actually happened, I would say we’re being generous to a fault.

  8. First to be shuttered, Vision Forum Ministries. Now it’s announced that Doug Phillips’ for profit business is shutting down too by year’s end.

    Vision Forum Inc. to Permanently Close December 31