Doug Phillips: Villainy Behind the Mask of Virtue?Posted: January 5, 2007 Filed under: Allosaur, Doug Phillips, Vision Forum 11 Comments
More Than Two Years After News Release Many Allegations Still Go Unanswered
I just received another comment from Terry, who according to his own testimony, and as confirmed by Joe Taylor, is “a friend of Joe Taylor and Dana Forbes, and was a member of Joe’s dig team that actually did raise the allosaur.”
Included with Terry’s comment is a copy of a Press Release from November, 2004, which Terry says that he personally assisted in writing. Because of its length, and because of it’s applicability to the current controversy surrounding Doug Phillips’ fakeumentary, Raising the Allosaur, I’ve elected to post the News Release as its own article here.
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
November 5, 2004
Villainy Behind the Mask of Virtue: Vision Forum Unmasked
The man behind the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, a project of Vision Forum Ministries that is supposedly “taking dominion for Christ in film,” owes homeschoolers all across the country an apology for violating their trust.
Vision Forum’s first film, Raising the Allosaur, is Phillips’ main credential for being a film festival sponsor and judge, all the while grossly violating #8 & #9 of his own 10 commandments for entering a film in his festival. Respectively they state: “Don’t steal other people’s work” and “Truth is essential to Christian films.” Doug Phillips calls his film a documentary, but it is misleading and grossly misrepresents the truth and steals from the hard work of others. The promotions and the jacket on the film itself begin the lying in order to sensationalize Phillips claims. In order to exercise his so-called “dominion,” Phillips has unethically stepped on the heads of several other Christian creation ministries and individuals, employing threats of legal action, making accusations and through innuendo.
This debacle surrounds an allosaurus story that Wendy Rigby of KENS TV first reported on two years ago. The film Raising the Allosaur catapulted the financially troubled Vision Forum into the lucrative market of films and dinosaur digs, offering outings for those that can afford $999/person among the homeschool community. Rigby’s story put Phillips on the media map—a huge benefit to the struggling outfit—but unfortunately (through no fault of Ms. Rigby) was highly misleading.
Phillips’ Vision Forum was over a million dollars in the red, according to a Dunn & Bradstreet report when Phillips met the Peter DeRosa family, which Phillips features in his film. Doug Phillips’ involvement with the Allosaur has been immersed in duplicity, slanderous lies, murky dealings and divisiveness.
In short, the controversy surrounds the excavation of an allosaurus discovered in northwest Colorado by landowner, Dana Forbes. Forbes, who originally found the allosaur in October, 2000 and is featured in the beginning of Doug Phillips’ film, was not given credit for the discovery. The Forbes abandoned both their land, and their dream of blessing the creation community through tours and scientific studies on the land, because of the deceitful actions of Doug Phillips.
Vision Forum deceived and bullied many parties involved in order to profit from the exciting discovery. Chief among them is Joe Taylor, who owns perhaps the largest creation fossil museum in the world, which is located in Crosbyton, Texas. Taylor, the lead site manager for the allosaur excavation, is not featured in Phillips’ film at all. Most of the allosaur featured in Phillips film was removed, plaster cast and sent to Taylor’s Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum in September of 2001.
Tom DeRosa, president of Creation Studies Institute and Mike Zovath, field representative for Answers In Genesis were part of the original dig. When the Vision Forum group came to the Forbes property in May of 2002 to film Raising the Allosaur over four partial days of digging, all that was left of the allosaur was the end of the tail, which had been plaster cast the year before to protect it from erosion.
By the time the Vision Forum group (composed primarily of homeschool families that paid $999.00 per person) had departed, the skull had not yet been found. This is why there is no footage of it being excavated in the film.
Based on notes which Taylor had made and shared of where the skull would likely be located if it had not eroded away, the Vision Forum group exposed a bit more bone. Dr. Bruce Bellamy, given credit in Phillips’ film for finding the skull, did in fact dig where he was told to and found the first articulated neck bone. But the Bellamy family has told witnesses that they tried to tell Phillips they didn’t find the skull as stated in the movie. At the time of this dig, Phillips and his tour group had no idea what it was that they had found. Others present concur.
Taylor’s professional excavation crew came in after Phillips’ tour group left and a member of Taylor’s crew, homeschooler Jordan Hall, digging in the company of other Mt. Blanco team members, Phillip Hall, Don Yaeger, Dave Babbit, Chantell Lines, the Forbes family and others, actually found the skull after several days of digging. Along with the rest of the bones, the skull was field-jacketed and taken to the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum. Subsequently legal demands and threats were made against Taylor to surrender the bones. Under threat of a lawsuit, and believing it wrong to sue a brother, Taylor reluctantly let them have it. The bones were taken to a makeshift “lab” owned by Doug Phillips.
Consequently, Taylor suffered devastating financial losses and has had to shut his museum down several times as well as sell his museum displays just to survive. Answers In Genesis Ministries and Creation Studies Institute have supported Taylor and tried to help him survive. Friends of Taylor agree that he suffered extreme financial and emotional hardships due to the self-serving actions of Doug Phillips. Phillips even used his Internet site to intimidate Taylor, calling him an enemy of homeschoolers and accusing him of persecuting the DeRosa paleo “prodigies” and being a greedy and jealous man. But these comments are contradicted by statements from many witnesses who were there.
The lies, misrepresentations and fraud surrounding the making of Raising the Allosaur instead raise serious questions about the character and integrity of Doug Phillips, who claims to be the “moral voice” of some 600,000 homeschoolers across the country. The Vision Forum website showcases Doug Phillips and his family as at the forefront of “taking dominion for Christ.” However, Doug Phillips appears to be far from the man he purports himself to be. Behind his mask of virtue hides a mean-spirited, dishonest man who uses his legal skills to bully those that dare to get in his way. Doug Phillips has always been right there with his legal team to protect these matters from coming to light, thus preserving their bad character as well as his lucrative “documentary.”
In a few days the faithful will gather at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival to hobnob with some of the most well-known Christian film makers around, and Doug Phillips will be basking in glory and hyping his fraudulent film. On the Raising the Allosaur film jacket, Phillips states “What happens when a group of home school boys and girls travel to the badlands of Colorado with their parents in search of adventure and the hope of finding ancient treasures buried in rock? They make the biggest dinosaur discovery of the year…They raise from the ground what appears to be the most complete Allosaur ever found in the history of paleontology, including the monster’s giant skull complete with rows and rows of once-razor sharp teeth.” However, one might better ask, “What happens when a supposed moral leader resorts to deception, fraud, threats and strong-arm tactics to deny others their rights and to produce a film that is full of half-truths and outright lies?”
Many in the Christian and homeschooling communities would like answers to this and a host of other questions surrounding this story. They would like to see this situation investigated and proper restitution given to the victims. It remains to be seen how much longer the Christian community will allow itself to continue to be duped by Doug Phillips, but it would only add insult to injury if Raising the Allosaur brought further fame and fortune to a man who seems devoid of conscience through the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.
* * *
We’re home schoolers and I’ve spent a lot of money ordering things from Vision Forum, including Raising The Allosaur. At least I did until my husband told me I couldn’t anymore. That was about a year ago. I obey my husband but I didn’t like hearing him telling me that at the time. I really thought Vision Forum was a good Christian organization, one of the best I’d ever seen. Doug Phillips teaches a lot of the principles that we’ve believed in. But my husband started getting worried about the direction things were headed with Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. He didn’t really have anything concrete to go on at the time, just a gut instinct. Now he does though.
I’m glad I listened to him (that’s what Doug would want, right? Submit to your husband?). But one thing my husband has been convinced of for a long time is that Doug Phillips was headed in the direction of being a cult leader. The story about Doug Phillips church and the awful way they treated the Epsteins scares me a lot, and it confirmed to my husband that Doug Phillips really is a cult leader.
Our family watched a History Channel program last night called Cults: Dangerous Devotion. History Channel often reruns their programs so it can probably be seen again soon (check local listings). After watching that program it convinced me that my husband was right about what he’s called “the cult of Phillips.” One of the signs of a cult is that the people show as much admiration and devotion and loyalty for the cult leader as they do for Jesus, sometimes even more. With the kinds of hostile and unethical reactions you’re receiving for exposing how corruptly Doug Phillips runs Vision Forum, and how egotistically he governs his own church, it only proves the point that Doug Phillips and his followers are caught up in a cult.
We talked about this as a family over breakfast this morning. I was impressed by the insight of my children (sorry to brag but my children often do impress me). My older children especially asked good questions. After watching the program on cults my children asked things like, “People often say much worse things about Jesus, and Jesus was perfect. Doug Phillips isn’t perfect. So why are these Doug Phillips defenders acting like he is perfect? Why do they defend him more than they would ever defend the perfect Jesus?” There’s only one answer for that. Doug Phillips has created a cult, and Doug Phillips is a cult leader.
We’ve read the web sites that attack Ministry Watchman and attack the Epsteins. My children have been very upset by it, especially because they’ve thought so well of Doug Phillips. They can’t understand, and I can’t understand it either, how Doug Phillips can permit this kind of viciousness to go on. We can’t understand why or even how he’s able to instill this kind of bad “character development” into his interns. It’s just scary. Cult-scary.
I don’t necessarily think that Ministry Watchman has got it all together either. You guys are far from perfect, but one thing I notice about you is that you’re at least willing to admit your mistakes. That’s one thing that tells me that you’re Christians. I don’t see any of that from Doug Phillips and his followers. Doug Phillips refuses to admit his sins and he uses his followers to make vicious and unethical attacks. I grow more concerned everyday that maybe he’s just a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“The Forbes abandoned both their land, and their dream of blessing the creation community through tours and scientific studies on the land, because of the deceitful actions of Doug Phillips.”
Exactly how did it happen that they abandoned their land?
“Tom DeRosa, president of Creation Studies Institute and Mike Zovath, field representative for Answers In Genesis were part of the original dig.
. . .
Answers In Genesis Ministries and Creation Studies Institute have supported Taylor and tried to help him survive.”
What is the relationship between Pete DeRosa and Tom DeRosa?
1. What were the contractual arrangements between the landowner, Mr. Taylor and Vision Forum. In other words, who had legal claim to the find and under what circumstances? Did Vision Forum have a written contract with anyone that the findings of its homeschooling families belonged to Vision Forum. If so, what was the consideration for that?
2. Didn’t the field notes make clear who found what?
3. Is it in accord with Christian Doctrine to let those who commit evil get away with it? In otherwords, when a Christian experiences baseless legal threats and the prospect of another Christian engaging in misrepresentations to customers, why would it be against doctrine to hire a lawyer right then to stand up to the person doing such things?
4. Was there ever any thought given to taking this matter to Phillip’s church–even if he was in total control?
There is no family relationship between Tom DeRosa and Pete DeRosa. However, Pete did work for Tom and Creation Studies Institute (CSI) for a time, especially with their Fossil Floats in Florida. Pete no longer works for CSI, so please don’t confuse them — or associate them. CSI, in my experience, is a very credible creation science organization.
As far as the Forbes go, though I don’t know all the details about their finances and doubt if they want to share them here, suffice it to say that they had hoped to use their land for creationist dinosaur digs of the sort Vision Forum attempted (when they supposedly discovered the allosaur)–only much less expensive. However, due to their own financial situation and the years-long mess created by the fraudulent “Raising the Allosaur” video, they were unable to do so and were forced to sell the property.
By the way, I’m afraid that Katie’s comment about a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is not only very insightful but sadly accurate.
“Pete no longer works for CSI, so please don’t confuse them — or associate them.”
I asked because they have the same last name, and was a bit confused, so thanks for the clarification.
JW asked: “4. Was there ever any thought given to taking this matter to Phillip’s church–even if he was in total control?”
To take it to step 3 of Matthew 18, JW, would be the same as to take it to step 1 of Matthew 18. To take it to the church would only mean to take it to Doug. Doug Phillips would not have allowed anything more than that. We (BCA) were praying against Joe Taylor (imprecatory prayer) and everyone involved at that time, although of course, we didn’t know the truth then. Doug put on his best martyr act for us and we were all sure that they were just trying to persecute Doug and the DeRosas.
Although this is the first time I have seen this press release, you will notice how many similarities there are in Doug’s behavior in this story and in my own story. That should help validate some of my accusations about Doug’s behavior for those who think it is my word against his. This is a pattern that has been repeated many times over, only most people are still too afraid of Doug to tell about what he’s done to them as well.
“suffice it to say that they had hoped to use their land for creationist dinosaur digs of the sort Vision Forum attempted (when they supposedly discovered the allosaur)–only much less expensive.”
On the dino digs that Doug Phillips arranged with the DeRosas he paid the DeRosas $150 a head for his tour groups. But Phillips turned around and was charging his home school groups $1000 a head, and that includes even what he was charging for the little kids too. Doug Phillips is an extremely greedy operator, and he’s got no qualms about ruining other people’s lives to get whatever he wants.
“Along with the rest of the bones, the skull was field-jacketed and taken to the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum. Subsequently legal demands and threats were made against Taylor to surrender the bones. Under threat of a lawsuit, and believing it wrong to sue a brother, Taylor reluctantly let them have it. The bones were taken to a makeshift “lab” owned by Doug Phillips.”
Why would Doug make a demand for bones that he and his group didn’t find and for bones found on property that he didn’t own? This makes no sense. Could someone tell me why Doug felt entitled to things that were not his? Wasn’t he a guest of the Forbes’? Why does it seem as if he has very bad manners? Why couldn’t he just enjoy the experience and walk away with the pleasure of doing something different? Why does this behavior come off as greedy? Is there a good explanation for the basis for his demands and threats?
It is like me being invited to stay as a guest in someone’s home and then demanding the furniture and making threats of legal action if they don’t give me what I want and mistakenly think is mine.
Did the Forbes or did Taylor know that Doug was under the impression he was there for more than just an experience and a few bones if VF people found them? If Doug didn’t find the skull or the tale and Belamy even told him the error of his thinking, why does he feel so entitled?
Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in my cautions concerning the “Phillipites,” as I sometimes call them. I am friends with some very dear people, who have seemed to accept the Vision Forum ploy, hook, line, and sinker. I do believe that, concerning family life, (mothers to stay home & raise their children, fathers to lead their homes, children to respect their parents, & to stay completely under their authority until marriage) Vision Forum has a few good things to glean. One thing that has alarmed me in my friends’ lives is that VF’s mistakes are given abundant grace, while other groups are scrutinized mercilessly. I would say that one of my biggest bones against Doug Phillips (and I don’t know where you stand on this, so please forgive any offense) is his rabid presentation of manhood and femininity. Of course, as Christians we are called to fulfill our roles as men and women, but VF hypes on the “manliness” and “girliness” to an extreme level. Created as male and female, it is obvious that God wants us to accept our varied duties as such. I don’t remember Christ commanding His followers to be “manly,” but meek. The Proverbs 31 woman is God’s example to us ladies as a woman who is firmly grounded, a hard worker, and a benefit to her husband, but I don’t find her ultra-girly. She doesn’t find her worth in prinking and preening, nor in eternally praising men in their masculine endeavors. We are meant to fulfill our different roles, but that is not the center of our existance. We have more important work than to glorify man’s wars and victories, and they have more important work than to be unceasingly buttering us up and down over how “feminine” we are. Let’s joyfully accept the way God made us, but then can we move on to some real work?
He has the “small man” syndrome…they are bullies that have to be in control…have seen this many times and involved in a cult at one time
[…] but then agrees not to sue them if they sign an NDA. As I understand it this is what he did to Joe Taylor. However, Doug’s employment NDA (if there even are any signed NDAs), are no more legally binding, […]