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Exodus International Ponders New Message To Save Itself from Bankruptcy

Jim Burroway

November 30th, 2011

That’s according to Ex-Gay Watch’s David Roberts, who learned of a “secret conference” held in New York in November to explore ways to keep Exodus International from going under. Exodus is saddled with enormous debt due to the purchase of their office building in 2007 at the peak of the real estate bubble, and like most non-profits, they are experiencing a sharp downturn in donations. According to Roberts, anonymous sources told him that the emphasis at this conference was on exploring ways to make Exodus more “donor accessible” — in other words, upgrades to Exodus’s fundraising programs and mechanisms. But discussions on possible turn-around plans weren’t limit to just money:

Chamber’s apparently wishes to “re-brand” Exodus into something more palatable to those with funds to give, and the general public alike.  According to our sources, Chambers said that “everything is on the table.”  That everything apparently includes the possibility of his resignation.  It was also clear from the meeting that this is their last resort, their “Hail Mary” so to speak — they’ve tried everything else.  Indeed, it seems certain that Chambers would have made pleas to anyone he knew with money before taking this drastic action.  And we’ve all seen the odd inconsistencies apparent in their public face.  Exodus is an organization fumbling for a solution.

Chambers mentioned how struck he was by the response to John Smid’s recent change in direction, particularly his apology.  He seems to think that doing something similar might be one way that Exodus could gain some positive attention.  Don’t forget, everything is on the table.  We have confirmed that Smid has been in contact with Chambers recently, and has plans for more discussions in the future. It has been our understanding that there is no love lost on Smid by Chambers, so any future corroboration would likely have a more practical basis.

Exodus has flirted with the idea of retooling its message before. The main message that Exodus promotes is that changing from homosexuality to heterosexuality (however loosely defined) is possible. But more recently, an underlying theme has emerged among those who are more embedded in the ex-gay movement that “the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, it’s holiness.” Chambers has been giving variations on that theme since at least 2007. He surprised supporters and critics alike in 2009 when he told the Los Angeles Times, “By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete.”

And yet this is a long way from the direction that John Smid has taken since stepping down as Executive Director of the Memphis-based residential ex-gay program Love In Action. Smid now says that he “never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual,”, and he also now says that same-sex relationships can be “a faithful gay relationship that is truly, in their experience,  a great blessing to their relationship with Christ.” He has also offered a generalized apology (although some former clients are skeptical that the apology alone is sufficient), all of which points to a dramatic transformation for him. It’s doubtful that Exodus would be able to pull off a similarly dramatic change and still keep its relationships with the network of Evangelical churches that it has built over the past several years.

Another possibility, instead, may be a stunt that was recently attempted by Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. They recently underwent a rebranding of their own, which included a very see-through thin “apology” and a new (and expensive) program they called “Coming Out Loved.” Cohen claimed his new initiative would be “the catalyst of true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all,” and that “IHF staff will assist anyone who is conflicted about their sexuality and other challenging issues that arise for many in the gay community.” But a quick review of their web site— still at “changeispossible.org” — shows that he is still peddling his own ex-gay messages, including his 2007 book Gay Children, Straight Parents which describes his twelve-step program, complete with hugging, to turn gay children straight. Any attempt by Exodus International to try to pull off that kind of a stunt will be seen through quite quickly.

Exodus will conduct its annual leadership conference in January. Roberts expects that if any changes will be announced, it will happen then, and adds:

“In the coming months when you hear of changes from Exodus, or some event that seems heartfelt and spontaneous, or whatever this re-branding may eventually consist of, remember what got the ball rolling — money.”

Comments

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Johnson
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

It’s all about making Money. Always has been.

Ben in Atlanta
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRx3gROXs0w

Richard Rush
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

So, apparently, the legendary power of prayer we’ve heard about all our lives is eclipsed by the power of money. Good to know. And this new knowledge seems particularly credible because we’re learning it from people who are among the most vociferous prayer-promoters on earth. If they are not successful in invoking the power of prayer, then who would be?

OR, maybe I’m all wrong, and it’s the people on our side who are successful in invoking the power of prayer. As I always say,
God hates FAGS (Fanatical Anti-Gay Syndrome).

OR, maybe our side just has more money (but I doubt it).

Terry T
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

And under they shall go!

Mark F.
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

They obviously didn’t pray enough—yeah that’s it, that’s the ticket!

Regan DuCasse
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

The one and only time I didn’t get attacked at TownHall, was after an article by the very anti gay Michael Brown about the piety of football player Tebow.

I only mentioned that God was NEVER in the Bible, Q’ran or Torah.
But essentially in the beautiful things around us, and our human ability to love, create, be curious and brave and compassionate.

Praying, or that form of religious expression, is hard to express among the NOISE of the more fervent and theatrical.
Seriously God doesn’t need a middleman, a bad salesman who has more power to libel God with bad deeds, than simply encourage good deeds because it’s the right thing to do, rather than a matter of pleasing an intangible.

One of my favorite lines from the musical “Les Miserables” :” to love another person is to see the face of God.”

It can be that simple.
That you are closest to God in the quiet observances of beauty, and appreciation of simple personal joys.
God will find us, in ways that are extremely private and between God and the individual.
The people in Exodus, and pretty much any other influential religion are men who have entitled themselves to God, and repackaged God into an abusive controlling parent who left God’s duties to the more spoiled child in the family.
No thanks.
Chambers and Michael Brown think they are doing God a big service, and the people they vilify a big favor. And no matter how badly they are screwing up, won’t stop.
That kind of arrogance turns me off no end.
They don’t even care about how much you can love God without them. They don’t seem to think it’s possible when it is.
If they hate THAT, well…tough.

JohnAGJ
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

The best solution for Exodus would be to issue a formal apology, lay-off all workers and liquidate all assets. Call it the Lord’s work if it helps.

(hey, I can dream!)

StraightGrandmother
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

Richard Rush, I LOVED your comment!!!

Jerry
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

Once those paychecks come rolling in, it’s hell to have to consider getting a real job to earn your keep.

Ezam
November 30th, 2011 | LINK

I can’t wait until they finally collapse. The sooner the ex-gay industry dies, the sooner we’ll be seen as equal in the eyes of everyone.

Lynn David
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Wonder what happened to Howard Ahmanson’s money. Did Schmierer flub that up?

StraightGrandmother
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Jerry= “Once those paychecks come rolling in, it’s hell to have to consider getting a real job to earn your keep”

StraightGrandmother = John Smid the former Director of Love In Action, A 21 year veteran of Exodus International, with 11 years on the board of directors is now the owner of a house cleaning business with his wife. I am NOT denigrating this as he says he and his wife have more business than they can handle but it is a far cry from his former high profile life. At least he is making an honest living. So yeah where do you go after the ex-gay $$$ runs out? The only ex-gays you ever really hear from are the ones who make their living off of it.

Let’s hope John Smid continues to stand behind his statement –
“I also want to reiterate here that the transformation for the vast majority of homosexuals will not include a change of sexual orientation. Actually I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.”
Let’s hope he does not back peddle on that, let’s hope he stays honest. Time will tell.

SharonB
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

I would be very surprised if they fold. FotF and other haters need that fig leaf to hide the nakedness of their hate!
“See, we love! We want to scourge gays back into the closet! It’s not like they don’t have a choice – after all, change is possible! Just ask [insert ex-gay puppet group here]!”

Timothy Kincaid
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Richard

So, apparently, the legendary power of prayer we’ve heard about all our lives is eclipsed by the power of money. Good to know. And this new knowledge seems particularly credible because we’re learning it from people who are among the most vociferous prayer-promoters on earth. If they are not successful in invoking the power of prayer, then who would be?

Good question.

But religious leaders would caution that God’s answer to prayers may be “no” and that one’s prayer must be within God’s will. Of course, that isn’t much encouragement to Exodus either.

Timothy Kincaid
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Straightgrandmother, Johnson, Jerry, etc.

Where did you get the idea that these sorts of ministries are lucrative? They generally do not pay well, consume immense amounts of time, and are about the most stressful work you can do.

Sure there are a tiny few that rake in the big bucks – generally televangelists or mega-church pastors. But not most.

In 2007, Exodus paid its “officers, directors, trustees, and key employees” a total of 109,824 plus 28,710 for benefits and 60,889 for housing allowance. I don’t know how many fit in that category but I’m sure it’s more than one person. And once you start dividing up that total, no one is getting rich off of Exodus.

Timothy Kincaid
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

It seems a bit unseemly to discuss someone’s salaries on the internet – but I hope they’ll forgive me this time. In 2010, Alan was paid 41K plus 49K in other compensation (mostly housing allowance) for a total compensation package of $90K. Randy was paid 56K.

Those are not bad salaries. Many many people live on far less. But they are certainly not living high in some razzle dazzle lifestyle.

We really need to get over the idea that ministers and ministries are “in it for the money”. It deceives us and reduces our ability to truly understand the motivations, intentions, and goals of Exodus and other organizations. It makes us less effective.

Jim Burroway
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

I echo Timothy’s observation. Look, I know from personal contact and observation these people are true beleivers. They believe strongly in what they are doing, and they would find a way to do it even if it didn’t earn them a red cent. (In fact, most people who work in ex-gay ministries don’t earn anything close to a living from it.)

To believe that they would all just go away if the money dries up completely underestimates their commitment to their cause. Even if Alan Chambers had to find a “real” job, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he remained deeply involved with the ex-gay movement in some capacity — just as I am committed to the work I do despite having to also do a “real” job to keep the mortagage paid and food on the table. Never underestimate their commitment to doing what they believe in, (just as no one should never underestimate my commitment to what I believe in).

StraightGrandmother
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Tim, I wasn’t thinking of ministers when I wrote, I know that most of them are not well paid, although some are I know some ministers and Priests who make more than these amounts. I was talking about the Ex-Gay Paid Professionals. I for one think $90,000 is very well paid, and for that matter a salary of $56,000 is well paid also. Now that may not seem high in California or New York but I consider it a high salary. Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown both make over $100,000 a year.

I feel the way Jerry does when he wrote
““Once those paychecks come rolling in, it’s hell to have to consider getting a real job to earn your keep””

I look forward to seeing them unemployed and finding a job more in line with what I perceive their worth to be. I guess what I am saying is, it is a shame they make any money at all, persecuting sexual minorities the way they do, much less a high salary of $90,000. I resent them and their salaries. But if you don’t want us to talk about it Tim I won’t.

Richard Rush
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Timothy,

But religious leaders would caution that God’s answer to prayers may be “no” and that one’s prayer must be within God’s will.

If I know their God, in addition to saying “no” sometimes, He’d mete out demerits to His fervent admirers for not having a better handle on what is within His will when they’re nagging Him for special favors. They really should know because, after all, they are the people who seemingly profess to know the mind of God.

Where did you get the idea that these sorts of ministries are lucrative?

Well, I imagine that Alan will suddenly view his current salary as lucrative compared to zero after Exodus goes defunct. And what are his prospects for future employment when the most glorious achievement he can cite in his resume is inventing the magic truth, “the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, it’s holiness?”

Ben In Oakland
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

I posted this over at XGW.

Wayne Besen wrote: “The dishonesty and deceit; the semantic games and double talk; the arrogance and allegiance to the political right; the forays overseas that spread hate in places like Uganda;”

When The Empress of Exgaynia shifted the goals from heterosexuality to holiness, the organization basically admitted to fraud; fraudulent heterosexuality and fraudulent holiness, and by implication, the likely fraudulence of any self-proclaimed holiness. what we normally call moral hypocrisy.

That should have been obvious to any intelligent person. And this may account for a drying up of funds. Just because you agree with the AntiGay agenda doesn’t mean you are also stupid, or willing to put your imprimatur on what is clearly a fraud.

I don’t understand the fundamentalist mindset in particular well enough, nor the more general mindset of people who positively eschew trying to be grounded in fact, experience, logic, and compassion, and hold this detachment up as a badge of honor. I have given up trying to figure out if they are 1) sincere but misguided 2) stupid enough to believe anything but smart enough to make money 3) completely amoral– or sociopathic, if that sounds less judgmental– SOBs, like arms dealers who live off death, but with worse haircuts 4) afflicted with megalomania composed of equal parts stupendous spiritual arrogance and massive moral myopia, expressed as an unshakeable belief in an otherwise wholly imaginary spiritual and moral superiority.

(Of course I cannot believe they have any chance of actually being, oh, I don’t know… right).

Of course, I’m not sure it actually matters. You can tell me you love me all you want, and for whatever reasons you want. but when you call me a threat to freedom, god, children, family, and goddam western civilization, I would have to be as deluded as you, for whatever reason, to believe it.

The product is dishonesty and deceit. Their methods are semantic games and double talk. Their spiritual arrogance seems, to my mind, particularly endemic to A Certain Class of Christian. Why would you expect their rebranding and salvation campaign to be run or imagined any differently? (I know you don’t).

And of course, it is about money. Organizations need money to run anything. If you exerecise your Edifice Complex and buy a big building you can’t really afford, but it makes you feel more manly and in control, you need to know you have adequate funding for at leats half the length of the mortgage. and you have to hope their isn’t an economic downturn, especially ones that prevents you from selling your biggest but-no-longer-very-valuable asset and source of your greatest debt. If they were being successful with their current brand, they would be able to sell it to both the marks and the religio-politcal organizations.

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