Exodus’s “Dialogue” Turns Ugly
Alan Chambers meets heartfelt sentiment with snark and sarcasm.
July 1st, 2007
Peterson Toscano and Christine Bakke, two of the organizers of the Ex-Gay Survivors Conference repeatedly invited several Exodus leaders to use the opportunity for their all being in town at the same time to begin a dialogue between ex-gay ministries and the survivors of those ministries. Despite tremendous pressure, a very few Exodus-affiliated ministry leaders were brave enough to engage in that private and confidential dialog.
I’m not privy to those conversations. But I’m pretty sure no minds were changed and no arguments were won. But I’m also happy to see that there are those who dedicate themselves to ministering God’s Word, and who trust in Him while reaching out to those with whom they disagree. I personally saw a few people wearing Exodus conference wristbands at the Survivor’s conference. They were respectful and respected.
In the early 1990’s I was a participant in an Exodus Member Ministry and was negatively affected by Darlene Bogle’s decision to go back into homosexuality. To have a leader who had written a book, led a ministry and spoken at conferences make such a decision was challenging for me in those early days. I was disappointed and mad. But, I also understood as an adult that we all make mistakes and that just because Darlene went back didn’t mean that I couldn’t make it. I appreciate the apology she made, but I don’t think she was apologizing to people like me.
Chambers’s statement goes on like this. He thinks Michael Bussee, one of the original co-founders of Exodus should “move on” and (apparently) just go away.
This is a very surprising response to be coming from Alan, but he has been under some pressure lately. He took a lot of flack for his brave stance in a recent LA Times article. When Chambers delivered his opening remarks to the Exodus conference, he promised that he wasn’t going to back down from that position.
And on top of that flack, maybe the Ex-Gay survivor’s conference was just too much for him. Alan is more accustomed to dealing with protesters who, frankly, know very little about the ex-gay movement. But this time Exodus was met not with protesters but with ordinary people who know very well what the ex-gay movement has meant in their own lives. This clearly put the Exodus leadership in a situation they hadn’t seen before, and they handled it poorly.
Exodus vice-president Randy Thomas is quoted as saying, “We are always in ongoing communication with people who disagree with us, people with similar testimonies… We definitely will be in communication with them.” But the response so far has been to treat this “communication” as yet another battle in the culture war.
There may be many reasons for Alan to lash out the way he did, but there really aren’t any excuses. When one person apologizes to another, a third person doesn’t act like a jerk in reaction. Alan met heartfelt sentiment with snark and sarcasm. This behavior is beneath him. I find this response to be particularly disappointing because I know that Alan is a much better man than this. I’m sure this won’t be the last chance for dialogue, and maybe next time Alan will be more free to respond according to his better nature.
Update: Darlene Bogle Responds