Many of you know about an ex-gay conference that took place this past weekend in Uganda. (You can read several articles about this over at Box Turtle Bulletin) US-based promoters and providers of ex-gay treatments have increasingly sought ways to export their ideologies internationally with varying degrees of success and failure. This most recent mission trip to Uganda, a country that punishes gays with life long prison sentences, reaches new heights of irresponsibility.
Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin, Mike Airhart and Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out, and, David Roberts of Ex-Gay Watch have issued a joint statement to the Exodus board about their role in participating and supporting this endeavor (actively and passively).
Perhaps some folks at Exodus will simply react to this open letter by saying,
“The gay bloggers have attacked us, so we must be doing something right.”
Sadly this has been the default setting by many Exodus leaders for a long time. Ex-gay survivors, gay activists, and distressed citizens have raised serious concerns about the practices and teachings prevalent in various ex-gay ministries and programs. These have either been ignored or dismissed as attacks.
Those of us who were consumers of these practices and teachings know firsthand what happens in these programs–the good and the bad–and perhaps naively have expected that those practitioners who care more about people than politics will take to heart and into serious consideration our experiences and especially the harm we have experienced by those who say they meant to bring blessings into our lives.
A few have listened and have moved past a defensive stance. Others may be listening but remain silent about what they are hearing. One would think that after all of the mess that has gone on at Exodus programs like Love in Action and fallout, that even for practical reasons and in order to avoid liability, these folks will humble themselves enough to listen.
Perhaps they are too invested in all this to see it clearly and choose to stick their fingers in their ears and pretend that the enemy is attacking them. Otherwise they may hear something that will cause them to question. The result may be that they will ultimately lose their places of power and privilege in a church that demands their leaders be anti-gay in order to have a seat at the table. Steve Biko, the famous South African anti-aparthied leader said,
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.“
Here is the open leader to the board members of Exodus International
Open letter to the Exodus International Board of Directors:
We, the undersigned organizations, have monitored the ex-gay industry for more than a decade. To our great horror, prominent members of the ex-gay organization Exodus International participated last week in a conference in Uganda that promoted shocking abuses of basic human rights. This included draconian measures against gay and lesbian people such as forced ex-gay therapy, life imprisonment for people convicted of homosexuality and the formation of an organization designed to “wipe out” gay practices in Uganda. The conference also featured Scott Lively, a holocaust revisionist who at the event also blamed the 1994 Rwandan genocide on gay people.
The facts incontrovertibly show that Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, was aware of the list of speakers and abhorrent content prior to the conference. Exodus board member Don Schmierer, who spoke in Uganda, made no objections to the radical and dangerous platform offered. Instead, these mortal threats to the lives of gay and lesbian people were met with a deafening silence. Exodus, in effect, gave this insidious conference its tacit approval.
Today, we take the unprecedented step of joining together to demand that Exodus International’s Board of Directors take immediate action to hold accountable those who used the Exodus brand to promote an atmosphere conducive to serious human rights abuses. The accountability must begin with reasonable and responsible action by Board Chair Bob Ragan, including:
- Dismissing Exodus President Alan Chambers for his knowing role in using Exodus to promote human rights abuses
- Removing Board member Don Schmierer for speaking at a hate conference that promotes physical harm and psychological torture against GLBT people
- Boldly articulating Exodus’ policy against human rights abuses including forced therapy
- Promising to end future participation in all conferences that call on the persecution and criminalization of gay and lesbian people
We do not take this call to action lightly. These steps are necessary and commensurate with the massive breach of ethics and trust by the Exodus leadership. Clearly, Exodus has lost credibility and its claim to “love” gay people in the aftermath of Uganda seems duplicitous and insincere. As long as Chambers and Schmierer remain at Exodus, the organization is hopelessly compromised and even complicit in grave human rights abuses. It is time for the Exodus Board, led by Bob Ragan, to assert its moral authority by appointing new leadership and taking the organization in a more humane and principled direction.
Box Turtle Bulletin
Truth Wins Out
Truth Wins Out
Click here to read about the documentation outlining the case against Exodus leaders.