Doug Phillips: Villainy Behind the Mask of Virtue?


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.



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.

* * *

Doug Phillips’ Raising The Allosaur

A Review of Vision Forum Film Flim Flam

Raising the Allosaur

Raising the Allosaur

Doug Phillips has ambitions to create a Christian film industry to compete with and supplant the evils that Hollywood spews on the public. To that end he has launched the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF). In just three years the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival has become Vision Forum’s largest program. Doug Phillips has even produced his own film, The League of Grateful Sons. More films are planned, with the goal of Doug Phillips becoming one of the top Christian film producers in the world.

Along the way, however, Phillips’ first production mysteriously disappeared. At the time it launched, it graced the cover of Vision Forum’s catalog. It was the most profitable Vision Forum product of the year. Then it disappeared without explanation, just as, all of the production costs having been recovered, it should have remained a steady source of income, with margins approaching 80%. What is this first Doug Phillips production, and why would he abandon it just when most profitable?

The mysterious disappearing Vision forum production was a 2002 documentary video entitled, Raising the Allosaur: The True Story of a Rare Dinosaur and the Home Schoolers Who Found It . The reason it disappeared from Vision Forum’s website and catalog is that it’s not a “true story” but rather a highly exaggerated account of some home school kids and their parents who tagged along, as part of nothing more than a tour group, on someone else’s dinosaur dig.

When I first watched this documentary something about it just didn’t smell right. I’m no paleontologist, but even from what little I’ve learned from reading National Geographic and visiting a few dinosaur and archeological museums I knew there was something seriously untrue about Doug Phillips’ true story. Even with what little I know about paleontology I know enough to know that no group of untrained parents and their kids (home schoolers or not) could possibly go out in the field, and the very first time out, and in the course of just a few days in the field, “make the biggest dinosaur discovery of the year.”

Indeed, after doing just a very little digging of my own I didn’t have to dig too deep to unearth a real stinkeroo of a story. Doug Phillips himself figured out awhile back that he’d been caught in his lies, which is why he no longer sells Raising the Allosaur. This review will expose some of those lies.

Here’s what the back of the video jacket of Raising the Allosaur says:

Q: 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?

A: They make the biggest dinosaur discovery of the year. There, buried in the rock, they excavate three amazing creatures: a many-plated Stegosaur; a 120-foot Brachiosaur. Most importantly, they raise from the ground what appears to be the most complete Allosaur (similar to a T. Rex) ever found in the history of paleontology, including the monster’s giant skull complete with rows and rows of once-razor sharp teeth…

This Q and A reflects exactly what this documentary attempts to portray–that home schoolers were directly responsible for discovering and excavating some very significant and very rare dinosaur bones. “They [the home schoolers] make the biggest dinosaur discovery of the year.” Left completely out of the story are those who were actually responsible for the finds–skilled professional paleontologists with many years of field and laboratory experience.

Taking all the credit, and grossly misrepresenting the facts (i.e. telling a pack of lies) for “the biggest dinosaur discovery of the year” is Doug Phillips and his team of home school families, who also shares some of the credit with Pete DeRosa and his two sons. Yet “Mr. Honor” Doug Phillips fails to give credit where credit is due. He doesn’t mention any of the men who were responsible for discovering and excavating the Allosaur.

For this investigative review I interviewed Joe Taylor, founder of the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum. Mr. Taylor is a professing Christian (Primitive Baptist), a creationist, and paleontologist. Joe has over 25 years of field and laboratory experience as a paleontologist. Joe’s Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum is the largest creationist fossil museum in the world. Joe is highly respected by many paleontologists around the world, as well as by numerous creationists, including Ken Hamm and Carl Baugh.

I asked Joe to share his story. The big challenge was that there’s just so much to cover that it was hard to condense it. Here’s Joe’s Reader’s Digest version of what really happened with Raising the Allosaur, and why Doug Phillips was forced to pull a highly profitable video from Vision Forum’s catalog:

On the cover of Vision Forum’s video Raising The Allosaur Doug Phillips claims that his group of home school kids found and raised from the ground the Allosaur. But that is not true. The home school kids and their parents did not raise even one bone from the ground. And they certainly did not also excavate a stegosaur and a 120-ft. long sauropod all in four days. It is nonsense. I told Peter that what he thought was a Stegosaur was just another sauropod. Dana had also found it in 2000, long before any of us were there. Doug boasts that a Dr. Bruce Belamy “found” the Allosaur skull. That is a lie. It was actually found by Mt. Blanco team member Jordan Hall three days after Belamy left.

By late 2002 Doug Phillips had made the DeRosa boys famous through his web page and through aggressive promotion of them as prodigies and professionals since the ages of five and seven. This got the DeRosas speaking engagements on the East coast and else where. At a meeting of home schoolers in New York State, the DeRosas claimed that Mark discovered the Allosaur and that Peter was the one who determined that they had an Allosaur. They were lying. They did not find the Allosaur at all. It was I who identified it as an Allosaur in May 2001. At the same time, Pete DeRosas told the meeting that their boys were so great that NASA had come out to make a film of “their” work. Another complete lie.

Doug gave my credentials to the DeRosa boys and exaggerated that. I personally know dozens of genuine paleontologists all over the world. The DeRosas do not.Yet, Phillips told the world that the teen age DeRosa boys were seasoned, highly trained professionals, with a dozen years experience each with hundreds of digs to their credit. I have personally done dozens and dozens of fossil digs over the last 25 years. It’s virtually impossible for even an active digger like myself to have done hundreds even in a lifetime. But Doug gave those credits to the DeRosas who were only 17 and 18 at the time and who in reality had only been to two dinosaur digs, both of which were my digs and they participated as my trainees.

There was another film made about raising that Allosaur titled The Truth About Raising The Allosaur. It included all of the actual footage and stills of the real excavation from start to finish. It shows that Dana Forbes, the property owner of the land where the Allosaur was discovered, actually found and even excavated on the Allosaur with a college paleontology student a year and a half before Doug Phillips and his home schoolers were ever on Dana’s ranch. It shows that the DeRosa boys were merely my trainees and that this was only the second dinosaur dig they had ever been to.

The other was at another of my digs for Carl Baugh. Doug pretends the DeRosas are knowledgeable paleontologists. He claims that this Allosaur is the largest. The truth is that they knew better. The other film shows the DeRosa boys and I standing under a cast of the world’s largest Allosaur, Saurophaganax, in Boise, Oklahoma. The man who restored it is a friend of mine and verified its size. It is 11 inches longer than the one we excavated.

The Truth About Raising The Allosaur was never released because Doug Phillips demanded it not be as part of a mediation settlement between the DeRosas and me. Doug was supposed to have come to the mediation, but sent his lawyer instead. That mediation left me in financial ruin.

Doug Phillips is a Pharisee. He puts on a good show in the flesh. The things he says sound fair and good. But my personal experience with him is that he is a very unethical man who will destroy someone who holds him accountable.

He pulled the very successful video Raising The Allosaur off the market because he had gotten a lot of heat from all of us who knew it was a big lie. But it was pulled at the same time that he issued a statement that he was parting ways with the DeRosas because of “ethical” problems. The “ethical” problems were never disclosed. I believe that the real reason was because the DeRosas were unhappy with and critical of Doug. I don’t think Doug will be telling on the DeRosas because he doesn’t want them telling on him.

Shame on all of them for taking the Lord’s name in vain. They are preaching Christ for filthy lucre’s sake. Doug Phillips succeeded in turning more than a dozen of my friends against me and against each other in order to cover his lies and fraud in getting the Allosaur away from its rightful owners. I am glad to say though that through a lot of hard work the friendships that Doug Phillips succeeded in wrecking have all been restored. I have publicly marked Doug Phillips as a divider of the brethren.

What Doug has done to me has ruined my business and wasted the better part of the last four years of my life. It has been the most grievous situation I have ever endured.

People ought to demand their money back for a film that is listed as a documentary but is just a lie.

Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor’s accusations against Doug Phillips are very strong. But they deserve to be taken seriously. No businessman in his right mind would give up the kind of profits possible from a video product, the production expenses of which having already been fully recovered. If it were possible for Phillips to edit the Raising the Allosaur video to eliminate a few problem areas, he would no doubt do so. The fact that he has not, instead quietly pretending as if the Raising the Allosaur video had never existed, speaks volumes that the content was so far from reality that no amount of editing could fix it.

As Doug Phillips continues to pursue his ambitions of personal domination of a new Christian film industry, spearheaded through his Vision Forum and San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, he would do well to recall that the Ten Commandments of Christian Filmmaking which he established specifically for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, includes a Ninth Commandment:

“Truth is essential to Christian films… Film is an especially powerful medium for communication and should be handled with integrity.”

Keeping the Ten Commandments is a far wiser approach to starting a new Christian film industry than creating entirely new film genres and categories in conflict with those commandments. As it stands, however, Raising the Allosaur deserves at least honorable mention in what appears to be Doug Phillips’ innovative new film category known as “Fictional Documentary.”


Update: see “Doug Phillips: Villainy Behind the Mask of Virtue?; More Than Two Years After News Release Many Allegations Still Go Unanswered