Vision Forum

Cruz, Huckabee And Jindal Joining 'Liberty' Conference Promoting Christian Reconstruction And Biblical Patriarchy

As we’ve reported, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are scheduled to speak at a “religious liberties” conference in Iowa this weekend organized by pastor and homeschooling activist Kevin Swanson. It’s bad enough that presidential candidates would want to associate with Swanson, whose record of wildly anti-gay, anti-women statements we have exhaustively chronicled. But the candidates will also be rubbing shoulders with an array of activists representing the extreme Christian Reconstructionist and Christian Patriarchy fringes of the Religious Right.

Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal likely agreed to join the conference because of its ostensible “religious liberty” theme, which has increasingly become the Religious Right’s unifying battle cry. Speakers include David and Jason Benham, who have become popular martyr figures on the right-wing speaking circuit after we reported on their vicious anti-gay activism and they lost a planned HGTV reality show; Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon couple who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in what Aaron later described as a battle with Satan; and Sgt. Phillip Monk, whose tale of being persecuted by a lesbian superior in the Air Force has been roundly debunked.

Interestingly, one actual victim of anti-Christian persecution, Naghmeh Abedini, whose pastor husband is imprisoned in Iran, was scheduled to speak but has since been removed from a list of confirmed speakers.

Behind this “religious liberty” veneer, however, is a gathering of some of the most extreme segments of the Religious Right, including those whose idea of “religious freedom” is the freedom to impose their specific scriptural interpretations on others. Swanson’s colorful rhetoric on the role of women and the biblical punishments for gay people comes out of an affinity with two controversial movements that will be on full display at his event: Christian Patriarchy and Christian Reconstructionism.

A number of speakers at this weekend’s conference have been associated with Vision Forum, the now defunct ministry run by influential Christian Patriarchy leader Doug Phillips, who resigned in 2013 after admitting to having an affair. That movement is closely bound with Christian Reconstructionism, the idea that America must return to its supposed foundations in a certain interpretation of biblical law. John Eidsmoe, one of the leading lights of Christian Reconstructionism will be speaking at the conference, as will Joel McDurmon, who now runs the Reconstructionist group Vision America.

One theme at the conference will be “interposition,” the idea that government officials have the duty to defy laws and court rulings that they believe are unconstitutional or unbiblical (for many those are the same thing), an idea that has returned to prominence in the midst of the Kim Davis saga.

Here is a brief introduction to some of the activists who will be sharing the stage with Huckabee, Cruz and Jindal this weekend:

Kevin Swanson

Swanson, a Colorado-based homeschooling activist, pastor and radio host, rejects the term “Christian Patriarchy” but says he ascribes to the passage in Ephesians that guides the movement’s view of male headship and female submission in marriage. Swanson also takes hardline Christian Reconstructionist positions, such as his view that the death penalty for gay people is just. Just a sampling of Swanson’s views includes:

John Eidsmoe

Eidsmoe gained wider name recognition when Rep. Michele Bachmann named him as her mentor , but he has long been an influential leader in Christian Reconstructionism. Eidsmoe has run into controversy in the past for ties to white supremacist and neo-Confederate groups . He now works for the Foundation for Biblical Law, a group established by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Eidsmoe has:

Phil Kayser

Christian Reconstructionist Nebraska pastor Phil Kayser first attracted the national spotlight in 2011 when he endorsed Ron Paul for president and it came out that he had “authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law .” Kayser confirmed to a reporter that this was indeed his position. He will be addressing the “religious liberty” issue with a talk on “Martyrdom, Civil Disobedience, Protest, and Flight” and another on “Can a County Clerk Refuse to Sign a Marriage License? Interposition by the Lesser Magistrate.”

Joel McDurmon

As Kyle wrote last week, “Joel McDurmon, president of the Christian Reconstructionist organization American Vision, which espouses the Christian Reconstructionist view that ‘men must choose in their civil affairs to be governed by God’s law’ as explicitly set out in the Old Testament.”

McDurmon says that "God revealed that the homosexual act is a civil crime, and it just so happens that He revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty." He also said that a proposal in Uganda to impose the death penalty for homosexuality didn’t go far enough because it should also impose “Old Testament law” by making adultery a capital crime as well.

After we reported on his views last week, McDurmon released a statement clarifying that he does not support the death penalty for “homosexuality in general” but merely “the ‘act’ of sodomy.”

Scott Brown

North Carolina pastor Scott Brown is the director of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, a spinoff of Vision Forum. Articles on Brown’s website present an array of Christian Patriarchy views, including:

  • We “should counsel our Christian wives and daughters to rid their wardrobes of tight clothing and modern bathing suits” because there “ should be a sense of shame for distracting someone from purity” and having a “distracting appearance.”
  • Lamenting that “in the evangelical community, art and fashion have become exempt from biblical evaluation,” leading to reverence for Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, who operated under the “influence of homosexuality” and “some of our most revered artifacts of Greek sculpture” which “ were produced by homosexual, pagan artist.”
  • Husbands should be teaching their wives. The father is a key component of the delivery system for the news of the kingdom of God, and when you bypass him, you reject the biblical order for the church and the home.”

This is just skimming the surface. Also speaking at Swanson’s conference will be former Vision Forum activist Geoff Botkin; James Lansberry, who has been working to help conservative evangelicals bypass the Affordable Care Act; and Bill Jack, an occasional cohost on Swanson’s radio program who took the Cake Wars to a new low when he tried to get a baker to write “God hates gays” on a cake.

Along with Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal, a number of activists with a cozy relationship with the GOP have also been confirmed to attend, including Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley of the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute and Colorado Republican state senator Kevin Lundberg.

Religious Right Leader Sued For Sexual Battery, Treating Young Follower Like A 'Personal Sex Object'

Warning: this post includes sexually graphic language.

In a bombshell lawsuit that exposes the shocking ways women are treated in the Quiverfull movement — the patriarchal program popularized by the Duggar family and its TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting — attorneys representing Lourdes Torres have revealed details of the abuse she received from Doug Phillips of Vision Forum.

The lawsuit [PDF], which includes counts of sexual battery and assault, details the “inappropriate, unwanted, and immoral sexual acts committed by Douglas Phillips against Ms. Torres,” noting that Phillips “methodically groomed Ms. Torres” since she was 15 years old “so that she would eventually participate in illicit sexual rendezvous with him promising that she could one day marry him” and “repeatedly told Torres that this was possible because his wife, Beall Phillips, was going to die soon.”

Phillips, one of the most prominent leaders of the Quiverfull movement, last year admitted to having “a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman.” Phillips is extremely close to the Duggar family. In 2010, Torres was featured at the end of a video message at Phillips’ “Baby Conference” thanking Michelle Duggar, to whom Phillips had presented a “Mother of the Year” award.

Torres also briefly appears in a video posted by Phillips, “72 Hours in the Terminal,” where she is shown seated with Phillips’ family. She also has roles in the Vision Forum films “Alone But Not Alone” and “Return of the Daughters,” an anti-feminist documentary. In a 2003 blog post, Phillips wrote of attending Torres’ graduation, commending her parents for “bringing their daughter into mature Christian womanhood.”

The lawsuit contends that Phillips worked to “indoctrinate [Torres] with the patriarchal mindset” and “subtly began to manipulate Ms. Torres, so that he could use her for his sexual gratification. This calculated, planned, and methodical grooming process went on for many years.”

“Douglas Phillips used Ms. Torres—against her wishes and over her objections—as a personal sex object. Douglas Phillips repeatedly groped, rubbed, and touched Ms. Torres’s crotch, breasts, and other areas of her body; rubbed his penis on her; masturbated on her; forced her to watch him masturbate on her; and ejaculated upon her. This perverse and offensive conduct repeatedly took place over the course of several years,” the lawsuit reads.

While Ms. Torres would have felt compelled to submit to Douglas Phillips, the purity culture would have meant at the same time, her submission made her ‘damaged goods’ in her eyes, the eyes of her family, and her community—raising the cost for her to come forward to call him to account. She was, in fact, in a ‘no-win’ situation.”

...

Douglas Phillips entered Ms. Torres’s bedroom and without her consent began touching her breasts, stomach, back, neck, and waist. Phillips then began to masturbate and ejaculated on her. Ms. Torres asked Phillips to stop and broke down crying. Despite Ms. Torres’s repeated requests for Phillips to stop masturbating and ejaculating on her, Phillips proceeded to return and repeat this perverse and offensive conduct. Each night that Phillips returned, Ms. Torres requested that he stop. Defendant blatantly disregarded her requests but continued to masturbate and ejaculate on her each night.

Douglas Phillips, on the evenings he visited Ms. Torres, persuaded her that he was not doing anything wrong, that he intended to marry Ms. Torres, and that his wife would die shortly and enable him to marry Ms. Torres. He further repeatedly told Ms. Torres that he loved her, that he would take care of her, and that what they were doing was not wrong. He also stated that if it was wrong, it was completely her fault.

Torres’ lawyers write that even after Vision Forum’s board was informed of Phillips’ alleged actions, “the board of Vision Forum Ministries decided to keep Phillips in the company’s highest position of leadership. This move is consistent with the ideals and beliefs of the patriarchal movement: that women exist solely for the control and pleasure of the men.” The board only took action when it became “apparent that Phillips’s behavior toward Ms. Torres could no longer remain confidential.”

The lawsuit also goes into detail on the ways the Quiverfull movement manipulates and shames women, imposing “absolute control of women” while cutting them off from “access to outside intervention and support.” It alleges that Phillips’ wife sent Torres a threatening email in an attempt to silence her. 

Read excerpts of the lawsuit here [PDF], emphasis added:

There is a pervasive sense within Phillips’s tight circle of people that they are engaged in a cosmic war, and that they avoid contact with the government and other outside groups that might hold them accountable or ask questions. Phillips used his training as a lawyer to help foster an unregulated community that operated as a “total institution” where Ms. Torres would have limited access to outside support as she came to see her situation as abusive.



As one component of the “total institution,” Douglas Phillips’s community had its own church-court system. Disputes were brought before a board of all male elders in what resembled a legal proceeding without any of the rights of the accused in secular courts. For Ms. Torres, this system would force her to go up against Phillips—the most powerful man in the extended community—who is a trained attorney known for his skills at argument and intimidation. If Ms. Torres were to lose, she likely would be excommunicated from her church and all other churches that are legitimate in the eyes of her community. Seeking advice from others would have been labeled as gossip and treated as a very serious sin. One could be excommunicated for this, a practice that very much protects the men in power. Ms. Torres had watched others be abused under this one-sided dispute resolution process.

Douglas Phillips held a high position of trust in Ms. Torres’s life, personal family circles, social circles, and her religious circle. Phillips carefully, intentionally, and effectively closed off all access to outside intervention and support necessary for her to challenge him.

As described herein, Douglas Phillips used Ms. Torres—against her wishes and over her objections—as a personal sex object. Douglas Phillips repeatedly groped, rubbed, and touched Ms. Torres’s crotch, breasts, and other areas of her body; rubbed his penis on her; masturbated on her; forced her to watch him masturbate on her; and ejaculated upon her. This perverse and offensive conduct repeatedly took place over the course of several years.



Phillips was the dominant authority figure in Ms. Torres’s life and family. He made himself her spiritual father. He was her authority figure with regard to where she lived, where she worked, where and how she worshipped, her education, her interpersonal relationships, her time and schedule, and even acted as her counselor. In other words, Phillips was the pastor of her church, her boss, her landlord, and the controller of all aspects of her life—obedience to Phillips was as obedience to God in this total institution.



Phillips’s patriarchal movement teaches that men are, and should be, in the absolute control of women. Patriarchy considers women to primarily exist for the purposes of producing children, caring for the men, and rearing the children. Females in the patriarchal movement are discouraged from attaining higher education of any kind and are told that their sole purpose is to marry a man within the movement to meet the purposes described above. In other words, women within this movement are perceived to exist only for the end-goals communicated by the male leaders that perceive themselves as the “patriarchs” of this world.



While Ms. Torres would have felt compelled to submit to Douglas Phillips, the purity culture would have meant at the same time, her submission made her “damaged goods” in her eyes, the eyes of her family, and her community—raising the cost for her to come forward to call him to account. She was, in fact, in a “no-win” situation.



Voddie Baucham, a leader in the patriarchal and quiverful movement, explains the patriarchal men’s desire to be revered by younger women: “A lot of men are leaving their wives for younger women because they yearn for attention from younger women. And God gave them a daughter who can give them that.” The attitudes that produce these ideas are what leads to physical, mental, verbal, spiritual, and sexual abuse of both women and daughters within the patriarchal movement.



Females within the movement are manipulated by the male leaders. The males control and manipulate them into believing that the world revolves around the male “patriarchs.” Women, as scapegoats, are blamed for the inappropriate conduct of the men, thus preserving the men’s self-perceived collective self-image is preserved and concomitantly lowering the women’s self-esteem, so that women will fall into deeper submission under the men’s patriarchal authority. Women within this movement are instructed to do anything to please the male leaders.

As a result of the manipulation of this movement, Ms. Torres’s thinking was altered. As described herein, Douglas Phillips—standing in a position of influence and prominence within patriarchy—methodically groomed Ms. Torres so that she would eventually participate in illicit sexual rendezvous with him promising that she could one day marry him. This grooming began when Ms. Torres was a fifteen-year-old child. Due to the years of continued conditioning and indoctrination by Phillips and the patriarchal leaders, Ms. Torres was incapable of giving consent to Phillips’s sexual advances.

Phillips promised Ms. Torres that he would marry her and that she would be the person who would have the great privilege of being his wife. In Ms. Torres’s eyes he was the primary leader of this movement and the most powerful male figure in her universe. Phillips repeatedly told Torres that this was possible because his wife, Beall Phillips, was going to die soon.



As a non-profit entity, Vision Forum Ministries is controlled by a board of directors. Douglas Phillips was the President of the organization. Vision Forum Ministries’ board was made aware of Phillips’s illicit sexual behavior in early 2013. Despite the fact of having this knowledge, the board of Vision Forum Ministries decided to keep Phillips in the company’s highest position of leadership. This move is consistent with the ideals and beliefs of the patriarchal movement: that women exist solely for the control and pleasure of the men. When it was apparent that Phillips’s behavior toward Ms. Torres could no longer remain confidential, it was only then that the board of directors of Vision Forum Ministries decided to remove Phillips from leadership. At this point, Phillips issued carefully worded public statements about his sexual improprieties, and the Vision Forum ministries board began to strategize as to how it could bring Phillips to a place where he could make a “comeback” and regain the public leadership of the ministry.



Douglas Phillips entered Ms. Torres’s bedroom and without her consent began touching her breasts, stomach, back, neck, and waist. Phillips then began to masturbate and ejaculated on her. Ms. Torres asked Phillips to stop and broke down crying. Despite Ms. Torres’s repeated requests for Phillips to stop masturbating and ejaculating on her, Phillips proceeded to return and repeat this perverse and offensive conduct. Each night that Phillips returned, Ms. Torres requested that he stop. Defendant blatantly disregarded her requests but continued to masturbate and ejaculate on her each night.

Douglas Phillips, on the evenings he visited Ms. Torres, persuaded her that he was not doing anything wrong, that he intended to marry Ms. Torres, and that his wife would die shortly and enable him to marry Ms. Torres. He further repeatedly told Ms. Torres that he loved her, that he would take care of her, and that what they were doing was not wrong. He also stated that if it was wrong, it was completely her fault.



While Ms. Torres was helping Douglas Phillips with his business endeavors, he repeatedly used any time alone with her to gratify his sexual desires. He would place his hand under her shirt, rub her legs, stomach, and neck, kiss her face and body, rub his penis on her, masturbate in front of her and on her, and ejaculate on her—all while assuring Ms. Torres that she would soon be his wife, praising her for her chastity and loyalty.

Ms. Torres was unable to consent to the sexual contact and repeatedly asked Defendant Douglas Phillips to stop. However, Ms. Torres did not tell anyone about Defendant’s conduct because he manipulated her into believing that it would ruin his reputation, destroy his ministry, and get her in trouble with the church.



On October 3, 2013, Ms. Torres received an e-mail from Beall Phillips threatening her if she did not keep silent about what happened to her, i.e., her abuse:

During the last ten weeks, and ultimately for the last nine months, you have been lighting bombs all across the country. Right now, you may have a perception of peace, but what you don't know is that these bombs are about to explode in a manner that will change all of our lives forever. It will affect your life, your marriage prospects . . . your parents . . . and thousands of other people. It is far worse than you imagine. The VFM board has encouraged me to let you know about these and to work with you to give you an opportunity to stop impending destruction.



He intentionally used his position within the patriarchal movement to manipulate Ms. Torres to gratify his own sexual desires, and any time Ms. Torres resisted or requested that his advances stop, he would spend time talking to her about his plans for their future together—fully aware that based on his teachings, adopted and personalized by Ms. Torres, that a woman’s value and role in society depended on marriage. Ms. Torres did in fact rely on Defendant’s statements. She did not at all times refuse Defendant’s sexual advances, but submitted to them based on the fraudulent statements Defendant had made to her.



Phillips carefully, intentionally, and effectively closed off all access to outside intervention and support necessary for her to challenge him. He had been her mentor, counselor, pastor, elder, employer, and friend since she was fifteen-years-old. She had been at his home serving in his family several days a week between 2000–2007, at his urging she had forgone opportunities to attain higher education, and she had accepted his teachings that the woman’s role was to serve men in the home, and believed Phillips when he stated that she was “part of his family” and he would take care of her.



Ms. Torres has constant anxiety that Defendant Douglas Phillips will attempt to contact her again. Ms. Torres is prone to outbursts of anger, physical trembling, and crying when she contemplates the previous years of abuse, has trouble sleeping at night due to fear, often experiences a lack of appetite and nausea, and has actually been forced to leave home and many friends behind due to their connections to Defendant Douglas Phillips. She has sought professional counseling and is being counseled through her trauma.

Anti-Feminist, Anti-Gay Religious Right Leader Resigns Over Extramarital Affair

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum and Vision Forum Ministries resigned last week over an extramarital affair.

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.

Phillips is the son of late conservative activist Howard Phillips and a leading advocate of Christian Reconstructionism and the patriarchal, anti-birth control Quiverfull.

Kathryn Joyce in Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement calls Phillips “one of the most influential proponents of the conservative Christian patriarchy movement now flourishing among homeschoolers.”

Phillips has even criticized Sarah Palin for being too “pro-homosexual” and warned that female politicians are offending God by running for office instead staying at home. In 2012, Phillips reacted to President Obama’s announcement that he supports marriage equality by warning that God will punish America, possibly with terrorist attacks or economic trouble, for Obama’s “treasonous” action:

On the Presidential Endorsement of Same-Sex Marriage: "For two decades the frog has been in the pot while the temperature has been slowly turned up. It began with the Bush's toleration for homosexuality, was advanced in full by Clinton and has reached its logical zenith under Obama. So we should not be surprised by the official announcement that the President of the United States of America has finally declared to the world his opposition to the historical, common law and biblical meaning of marriage. President Obama may be remembered for many things, but few are as fundamental in its treason to his countrymen, to his oath of office and to the living God then his decision to use the presidency to redefine a definition of marriage that was established on Day Six of Creation and has been the benchmark of civilization for 7,000 years. Mark your calendars--May 9, 2012, the President of the United States of America finally crossed a line from which there is no return without repudiation and repentance. Terrorists are dangerous. The economy is a real and present danger. But there is simply nothing other then the holocaust of the unborn which imperils the safety of our country or places our people in jeopardy as does the leader of the Western World publicly raising his fist at the Heavens and declaring that the bedrock institution of society, ordained of God and meant to be protected by the state, is little more than a convention of convenience for the children of Sodom to transform the meaning of something which is precious to Jesus Christ and a living picture of His love for the Church, into a legally protected justification for perversion, and vehicle of hatred aimed directly at that love."

Marking the Titanic's Anniversary with Denunciations of Evolution and Feminism

While Truth in Action Ministries recently informed us that the “radical homosexual agenda” is the iceberg out to sink the ship that is America, it turns out that the plot is even thicker, as it appears that feminism and evolution are also culprits in the country’s devastation. Today on the group’s flagship radio program Truth that Transforms, Doug Phillips of Vision Forum appeared to discuss an event he organized in Branson, Missouri, “to celebrate [the] Christian Legacy of Titanic’s sinking.”

“Though more than 1,500 people died in this international tragedy, the Darwinian notion of the ‘survival of the fittest’ was rejected in favor of the age-old Christian doctrine that the ‘strong sacrifice for the weak,’” Phillips said in a statement.

As Julie Ingersoll in Religion Dispatches notes, “as is often the case with ‘providential history,’ the actual history is distorted to tell make specific theological points”:

By percentage, twice as many women in third class died as did women in first class; children in first class had nearly three times the survival rate of those in third. One would only use "raw numbers" if one was trying to make a point not supported by the numbers.

In biblical patriarchy, the refrain of "women and children first" hides an agenda whereby the women are "first" only insofar as they keep their place which is subordinate to men.

On Truth that Transforms, Phillips pointed to an 1898 shipwreck on the French ship La Bourgogne where hundreds of women and children died, blaming it on “a culture that embraced evolution” and “the French Revolution which had rejected biblical Christianity and embraced paganism.” He went on to argue that the theory of evolution ultimately leads to the growth of feminism, and the “result is babies are killed en masse, women are treated like chattel and men no longer take on their masculine role as defenders.” The host, former Concerned Women for America president Carmen Pate, later bemoaned that evolution and feminism have “infiltrated” almost all aspects of society:

Phillips: People that were on board the deck of the Titanic at that time were individuals that grew up in a culture which was distinctively Christian in its perspective of the role of men and women and there’s an interesting contrast because in the year 1898 a French vessel called La Bourgogne sunk and when it sunk the sailors and the officers literally threw women and children into the water, beat them over the head, and the men lived and the women died. It sent shockwaves throughout the entire world, people said, ‘how could such a thing happen?’ And in trying to understand why that happened, the commentary was, they grew up in a culture that embraced evolution, it was the struggle of the survival of the fittest, they grew up in the culture of the French Revolution which had rejected biblical Christianity and embraced paganism and the consequences were that men treat women horrifically.

Now we flash forward to the year 2012 and this year our president has finally taken us over the abyss and we have full-fledged commitment to women in the frontlines of combat in overseas battles, we need to understand that that’s the first time in the history of the West that any nation has formally endorsed such a thing and it represents a radical departure from the values that were on board the ship in 1912.



Phillips: Evolution says the struggle of the survival of the fittest, there are no differences between men and women, there is no charity, there is no deference, and in an evolutionary world feminism reaches its height and we see no distinctions. The result is babies are killed en masse, women are treated like chattel and men no longer take on their masculine role as defenders.



Pate: As you’ve pointed out, throughout society for thousands of years we have looked at the protection of the innocent as of utmost importance and yet as we’ve allowed evolution and feminism to infiltrate our education system, even our churches and certainly our entertainment, our the media, we have lost sight of what God’s word has said about the protection of the innocent.
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