Exodus International has given Jeff Buchanan, its director of antigay church and student activist networks, the duties that were formerly held by longtime official Randy Thomas.
Thomas, a former Texas “ex-gay” ministry leader who has worked for the Exodus national office for more than nine years, announced yesterday that he is stepping down next month.
While Thomas was a high-school graduate with a big heart and maybe not-so-big analytical thinking skills, Buchanan is a hard-core ideologue — he has a master’s degree in theological studies from Jerry Falwell’s fundamentalist Liberty University, and he excels at giving churches rationales to turn against their gay-tolerant members and neighbors.
Unlike his colleagues who prevaricate and present conflicting messages to audiences in the vain hope of pleasing everyone, Buchanan maintains a solitary viewpoint: That libel in the service of an antigay God is a virtue. The dissemination of malicious antigay factual untruths is a fundamental part of Buchanan’s religious identity. In response to critics of Exodus’ libelous and scientifically unsound iPhone app, for example, Buchanan declared simply: “We exist and therefore, we will not always be liked.” Lacking any Biblical or factual basis for either the myth of reparative therapy or for Exodus’ antigay prejudices, Buchanan — like other Liberty University fundamentalists — simply assumes that the essence of Christian faith is meanness and judgmentalism.
In his work as Exodus church-network director, Buchanan has encouraged churches to incite confusion and conflict in member families that include someone in a longterm same-sex relationship. Buchanan has boasted that the Bible is on his side of any resulting schism, but his assertions have exposed both an ignorance of Biblical morality and a lack of Christian grace.
Buchanan defines ethics, not according to the Christian Beatitudes or robust moral philosophy, but rather according to the conventional wisdom of U.S. social conservatives. He then projects his populist definition of morality onto compassionate and better-educated people of faith, saying: “When morality is determined by popularity, depravity becomes normality and the death of that culture becomes an inevitability.” (Perhaps that is why Exodus is slowly dying?)
Given Buchanan’s fact- and spirit-challenged ideology, it is to be expected that his church network would offer so little for its annual membership fee: no professional clinical expertise, minimal grace or compassion, and merely a cherry-picking of godtalk phrases in lieu of rigorous and open-minded theological analysis.
The departure of Randy Thomas, and the consolidation of his duties by an on-staff ideologue, indicate that Exodus International remains firmly and stubbornly on course in search of a shrinking audience of hostile and spiritually underdeveloped individuals who sense a need to blame someone for the failure of God — or their revision of God — to change “ex-gays.”
As David Roberts of Ex-Gay Watch points out:
Buchanan will end up with [president Alan Chambers]’s job if Exodus survives that long. He’s a hardline spiritual gatekeeper and I’m sure he already thinks he would be better at it.