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Exodus steps up

Timothy Kincaid

January 13th, 2012

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In December ads were run in the Daily Express in Trinidad and Tobago which suggested that they were placed by Exodus International. These ads seemed designed to encourage continued criminalization for homosexuality based on the assertion that gay people could become heterosexual.

Knowing the level of hostility towards gay people in the Caribbean and fearing another Uganda, I contacted Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, about these ads and about the attitudes in the Caribbean Islands. I found Alan to be attentive, concerned, and anxious to distance Exodus from both the message and the implications of the ads.

Here is the letter sent to the editor of the newspaper:

Dear Mr. Lyder,

My name is Alan Chambers and I am the president of Exodus International. Our ministry is the founding organization of the worldwide network of ministries that now works together autonomously through the Exodus Global Alliance, a ministry where I serve as a board member.

I am writing today out of concern over a newspaper ad from December 11, 2011 titled, What You Should Know About Homosexuality, that referenced Exodus International and Exodus Global Alliance in a way that might lead someone to believe we placed the ad and/or agree with its content. I understand that the ad was placed by The Hospital Christian Fellowship. I have written to Dr. Judith Henry of that organization to ask her not to place such an ad with reference to Exodus International in the future.

My request of you and your paper would be that a retraction be printed stating that the ad in question was not placed by Exodus International or Exodus Global Alliance.

I appreciate your prompt attention in this matter and look forward to your immediate reply.

Sincerely,

Alan Chambers
President
Exodus International

And here is the letter that Alan sent to the organization that placed the ad:

January 12, 2012

Dr. Judith Henry
Hospital Christian Fellowship
Via Email: [redacted]

Dear Dr. Henry,

My name is Alan Chambers and I am the president of Exodus International. Our ministry is the founding organization of the worldwide network of ministries that now works together autonomously through the Exodus Global Alliance, a ministry where I serve as a board member.

I am writing today out of concern over a newspaper ad from December 11, 2011 titled, What You Should Know About Homosexuality, that referenced Exodus International and Exodus Global Alliance in a way that might lead someone to believe we placed the ad and/or agree with its content. I understand that your organization placed the ad. I wanted to reach out to you today to let you know that I will be writing to The Trinidad Express to ask them to print a notice that the ad in question was not written by or placed by Exodus International and that we did not give permission for the use of our name for that piece.

While I believe we share the same biblical worldview with regard to sexual expression, I do not believe we share the same philosophy on how to do public outreach or an identical message for those impacted by homosexuality. The mission and ministry of Exodus International is one focused on discipleship for those pursuing Christ amidst their same-sex attractions, support and encouragement for families impacted by same-sex attraction, restoration of marriages impacted by same-sex attraction and equipping the church to serve as an authentic community to all of the above as well as to those with whom they may disagree. We are not an organization that focuses on medical issues and we are increasingly careful with helping those we serve understand what change truly means in the context of living a human life where God gives us the ability to overcome amidst ongoing struggle.

I would be happy to talk further about all of the above, but must ask that you refrain from including Exodus International in future ads. As a board member of Exodus Global Alliance, I will share my encouragement with my fellow board members that they ask for the same from you regarding that organization. I know you did not mean any ill will or seek to put us in a compromising situation, but that was the result, nonetheless.

I appreciate your prompt attention in this matter. And, again, would be happy to speak with you further about my concerns and give further clarity to the mission of Exodus International.

Sincerely,

Alan Chambers
President
Exodus International

I commend Alan and Exodus for responsible behavior in this matter. And I further see this as an indication of growth and maturity in the organization and in a new perspective and purpose.

Comments

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Jimi
January 13th, 2012 | LINK

I have never considered my life to be “impacted” by homosexuality. The rhetoric is still ridiculous.

David Roberts
January 13th, 2012 | LINK

While I believe we share the same biblical worldview with regard to sexual expression, I do not believe we share the same philosophy on how to do public outreach or an identical message for those impacted by homosexuality

Just once I wish he would say categorically that they don’t agree with the content, i.e. they believe it is factually wrong.  Again, he’s done this sort of thing before, I’m not sure how this is a big deal.  I’m glad he did it, but didn’t you have to ask him to?

I know you are the eternal optimist on this, Timothy, just don’t fall down the same hole I did.  We wrote that story barely a month ago about how broke they are and to expect a re-branding effort.  Does that not give you at least some reason for pause?

F Young
January 13th, 2012 | LINK

“The mission and ministry of Exodus International is one focused on discipleship for those pursuing Christ amidst their same-sex attractions, support and encouragement for families impacted by same-sex attraction, restoration of marriages impacted by same-sex attraction and equipping the church to serve as an authentic community to all of the above as well as to those with whom they may disagree.”

So the support and encouragement is for the families of gays, but what gays get is “focused on discripleship.” Does that mean celibacy?

And the restoration of marriages impacted by same-sex attraction means restoring their opposite-sex marriages, not support for the same-sex marriages?

Muscat
January 13th, 2012 | LINK

@David Roberts – I’m not sure if this is a case of trying to catch more flies with honey than vinegar, or just using flowery language to cover over that they agree with the “facts” presented but don’t think they should be used in this manner of public forum (at least attached to the Exodus name), or maybe some blend of both. But even if it’s only because they think it’s bad publicity, I’m glad Exodus doesn’t want to be seen as supporting criminalization of homosexuality and is willing to take active steps to distance themselves from such a viewpoint.

@F Young – We are still talking about Exodus here. Do you even have to ask?

Blake
January 13th, 2012 | LINK

Well done & well-said!

@David Roberts: I agree with Muscat; I’m glad exodus is trying to distance themselves from this sort of rhetoric. Of course, if they get too “nice” they might find themselves replaced by someone who is meaner, but there seems to be a growing awareness in the evangelical community that their outreach toward gays and lesbians has been a failure in terms of both converts & general public perception. Specifically I’m thinking of some of Bryan Wright’s statements around the time of the last SBC convention in July where he seemed to be at least acknowledging the failures of SB policies and placing some distance between his organization and some of the more hateful rhetoric.

Its not perfect but its Progress!

Rob Tisinai
January 13th, 2012 | LINK

Great work, Tim.

CAISO
January 14th, 2012 | LINK

Thanks, BTB, for engaging Exodus about this ad and sharing the response. We and other colleagues in the Caribbean are urging gay groups in the US, instead of boycotts and blogging that makes young gay people here think the Caribbean will never get better, to put effort into stemming US export of homophobia at the point of origin. This is a welcome example of taking that leadership.

The fact that the ad was placed by our local organization Hospital Christian Fellowship, though, doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t paid for with US funds. HCF, a small group of heterosexual lay Christian women who are doctors and lawyers mainly, targets both abortion and homosexuality. They have repeatedly imported Exodus affiliate His Way Out Ministries to Trinidad & Tobago to counter what in their own words is a growing acceptance of homosexuality. HWOM has aimed its message at young people (they tried to hold meetings in two high schools), appearing with politicians to legitimate themselves, and teaching local churches to change their approach to homosexuality from condemnation to a reparative one.

HWOM is also active in Guyana, where they claim to have a local base, and Jamaica where they appeared on television, at a broken sexualities conference and met with the head of state.

See our coverage of the first HWOM visit to Trinidad & Tobago: http://wp.me/pzQlW-IK

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