Exodus Co-Founder: “It was a terrible mistake for Exodus to get involved in politics”

A multi-part video interview series with Michael Bussee, co-founder of Exodus International turned critic.

Daniel Gonzales

February 7th, 2011

Exodus turns 35 this year and Focus On The Family has a brief but glowing article that totally glosses over all the tragedies Exodus, it’s leaders, and followers have experienced during that time.

In today’s video Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee explains how Exodus has changed over time — in his view Exodus’ foray into anti-gay political activism has been it’s biggest mistake.

[full transcript after the jump]

I’m Michael Bussee, I’m one of the original co-founders of Exodus International. I left the program in 1979 and have since reconciled my spirituality and my sexuality and now I’m a vocal critic of reparative therapy programs and of Exodus International.

[music begins]

[title: “It was a terrible mistake for Exodus to get involved in politics”]

How has Exodus changed since I left?  It’s gotten much much worse… Much worse.

They like to say they’ve gotten better and that they’ve learned a lot over the years but I actually think they’ve gotten much worse.

When I was involved with Exodus we made a very determined effort to stay politically neutral, we absolutly refused to get involved in any kind of political controversy or to take political sides. Early on in our ministry we were approached by Anita Bryant when she was trying to get gay teachers out of the schools in Florida. And she and her husband Bob Brown contacted us and asked us if we’d go on the road with her and share our testimonies in support of getting rid of gay teachers — we said no.  And we were approached by Senator John Briggs here in California [during] a similar effort and said no. Lou Sheldon was interested in using our testimonies to support his agenda and we said no.

We never made it official policy but it was always our practice to stay completely politically neutral.

I don’t know when Exodus decided to change course on that but it was a terrible terrible mistake for Exodus to get involved in politics… right wing Republican politics… as though Jesus was a right wing Republican or something.  It’s lead them into terrible alliances and now in Uganda to possible deadly consequences.  Exodus should have stayed out of politics and always remained just a ministry.

[closing credits]


February 8th, 2011

Michael, love ya brother, but Exodus’ biggest mistake was its founding and perpetuation.

Their second biggest mistake, once you accept their founding, was allowing themselves to be, or seeking out to be, used by anti-gay religious individuals/groups and THEN anti-gay political individuals/groups.

When I was a victim of these people they weren’t all that political but they were VERY much involved in marketing to and teaming up with anti-gay churches and organizations.


February 8th, 2011

Mr Bussee has my sympathy and he has to live with himself but Exodus was contemptible from the get-go. Its very reason for being was fear disguised by a lie. To now criticize what it has become seems self-serving at best. This was always a political/religious movement. Are we to be happy that his faith is somehow aligned with his sexuality? I don’t give a damn about his faith. That’s his concern. I don’t want to have to hear about it. The group he helped to found and actively promoted till he didn’t has harmed the lives of every gay person in the US and it now has international ambitions. If my remarks seem cruel this is what happens when one promotes one’s own shame into an industry.

The terrible mistake for Exodus to have happened at all. Many of us had painful and destructive comings out. We didn’t all turn our own hurt on our fellows.

J. Peron

February 8th, 2011

A correction: Anita’s husband, at the time, was Bob Green, not Bob Brown.

As for why Exodus went political: the answer is not hard to find. That’s where the money is.

The reality is that most fundamentalists don’t want to “minister” to gay people at all. They want them out of sight completely. But they do want theological/political gay bashing and are quite willing to fund that, where they aren’t so anxious to fund a “ministry.” By joining the Religious Right in their anti-gay campaigns Exodus no doubt got access to funding like they never had before.

Their dilemma is that to accept those funds they have to alienate the very people they say they want to minister to.

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