Last week, I commented on how the “ex-gay” group Exodus International had a sluggish year where, at times, it seemed as they had dropped off the radar. It turns out that Exodus had gone into hibernation since the summer to ask God for direction. According to a new letter written to Exodus supporters from Executive Director Alan Chambers:
As is the case every year about this time, my team and I are gearing up for a new year! We have been in meetings regularly since August praying and talking about how and where God is leading Exodus International in 2011 and beyond. Some years we roll out big new endeavors and introduce big ideas that God has given us. This year, however, God isn’t calling us to do anything new.
God’s call to do nothing sat well with me, considering Exodus was already losing relevance. Unfortunately, I continued reading and was was alarmed that Exodus’ top goal in 2011 is to recruit school children as young as eleven years old (Middle School age). The organization plans to lure these children by investing in high-tech gadgets and new media. According to the online letter:
…the greatest area of need in our culture is outreach to young people. We will be changing the name of Exodus Youth to Exodus Student Ministries in order to encompass middle school thru [sic] college age students.
We have listened to youth pastors, parents and especially students and we want to amplify our message in a way that they will best receive it: via web communication, YouTube, podcasts and short to the point booklets. We are also in the process of creating an App for iPhone users.
Given the organization’s appalling record with youth, this organization has no business in schools or around anyone under the age of 21. Their message is hateful, intolerant, scientifically bankrupt and may lead to teens harming themselves — including the potential for depression, drug abuse and even suicide.
Disconcertingly, many of Exodus’ “counselors” have virtually no professional training and the organization does not employ rigorous standards when they pair up vulnerable youth with adults. The results of Exodus’ lack of professionalism has, at times, been devastating.
The so-called “ex-gay” organization has forced youth, against their will, into its programs. The most notable example is Zach Stark, a 16-year-old Tennessee boy, who in 2005 was forced into Exodus’ “Refuge” boot camp, run by member ministry Love In Action. Zach Stark made international news when he posted his predicament on MySpace:
Somewhat recently, as many of you know, I told my parents I was gay… Well today, my mother, father, and I had a very long “talk” in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist christian program for gays. They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they “raised me wrong.” I’m a big screw up to them, who isn’t on the path God wants me to be on. So I’m sitting here in tears, joing the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs – and I can’t help it.
The uproar over the incident prompted Exodus into closing down the notorious Refuge program. Similarly, on October 6, 2010, Exodus shuttered its noxious Day of Truth program which mocked the Day of Silence, an annual event where students take a vow of silence in support of LGBT friends who are bullied.
Exodus took this extraordinary step following a high profile string of suicides, tacitly admitting that its program exacerbated homophobia and bullying in schools.
“Even though we have reached a fair number of students”, said Chambers, “We believe that due to the timing of the event, Day of Truth was always perceived in an adversarial manner, and became more about policy than people.
One of the more disturbing aspects of Exodus is the tendency to place youth in programs alongside sexual reprobates. On the March 15, 2007 the Montel Williams Show featured former Exodus client Lance Carroll who spoke out about his harrowing experience with Exodus:
“I went to one of your organizations,” said Carroll, who was speaking directly to Exodus’ Alan Chambers. “I was in a group with a convicted sexual offender.” (See video 1:10 mark)
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Lance Carroll is not alone. Exodus clearly has an ongoing predator problem that it must seriously address before it makes brainwashing youth its foremost priority in 2011.
Patrick McAlvey was also an Exodus client at the age of 19. He visited Exodus’ Lansing affiliate Corduroy Stone where he was counseled by Mike Jones. During counseling, McAlvey was asked about the size of his member and made to engage in erotic cuddling. He spoke out about the experience in a Truth Wins Out video:
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‘Ex-gay’ survivor Jaylen Braiden was taken advantage of by an Exodus team leader at Desert Stream Ministries [DSM]. This counselor later got in trouble for sexually abusing other minors. Exodus’ Alan Chambers has yet to come clean and publicly discuss the Desert Stream Ministries scandal.
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However, on March 8, 2010 Desert Stream founder Comiskey wrote a blog post entitled “Falling Mercies” where he says DSM had been, “cast out of our home church”, Vineyard Anaheim, as a result of “a darker strain of sin in our own ranks.” He goes onto reveal that this sin was, “a longstanding staff person from Desert Stream had sexually abused at least one teenager who had sought help from us.”
Aside from the very real prospect of youth being placed with unsavory characters who appear to be unmonitored and unfiltered, the message of Exodus is destructive. The organization tells youth that they are sexually broken, sinful, counterfeit, satanic or perverse.
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Spiritual warfare is a common part of Exodus’ rhetoric.
In a 2005 Exodus Newsletter Chambers said:
“One of the many evils this world has to offer is the sin of homosexuality. Satan, the enemy, is using people to further his agenda to destroy the Kingdom of God and as many souls as he can.”
At the “Family Impact Summit,” a right wing conference in Brandon, Florida held on Sept. 21, 2007, Chambers told the crowd of social conservatives:
“We have to stand up against an evil agenda. It is an evil agenda and it will take anyone captive that is willing, or that is standing idly by.”
To lure youths, Exodus resorts to outright lying about LGBT life. For example, Chambers says that that gay life is only for the young:
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Chambers also misleads by falsely claiming that gay life will disappoint.
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Given the recent uptick in gay suicides and understanding that hate leads to bullying in schools, it is grossly irresponsible for Exodus, given its reprehensible record — to target youth. Before parents hand their children over to this organization or get them an i-phone application, they should know the whole truth about this notorious organization.