UPDATE: This just in from Exodus’ Alan Chambers:
“Exodus International believes that every human life, regardless of sexual orientation, is of inestimable and equal worth to God and that defending this principle is foundational in offering a Christian response to any issue. As such, Exodus International has not supported and will not support any legislation that deprives others of life and dignity based on their sexual orientation or the expression of such within the confines of a consensual adult relationship. We stand with all who are defending this basic, biblical tenet and remain committed to sharing the compassion, hope and life-giving grace and truth of Jesus Christ. Finally, we stand with the LGBT community both in spirit, and when necessary, legally and physically, when violence rears it’s head in Ugnanda, Jamaica or anywhere else in the world. I am truly sorry for not having policies in place prior to now that would have averted another scandal of this nature, where Exodus is concerned, that impacts the dignity of people in these regions.”
In 2009, Exodus International board treasurer Don Schmierer traveled to Uganda to keynote a conference which served as the launching pad for that nation’s Christian Right campaign to make same-sex relationships punishable by death.
It took more than a year for Exodus to issue a weak retraction and a commitment to oppose the criminalization of homosexual persons.
Two years further on, an Exodus board member has violated that commitment.
In the island country of Jamaica, violence against sexual minorities is rampant and unpunished, according to the New York Times. Instead of punishing antigay violence, Jamaica imprisons the victims — gay Jamaicans — for up to 10 years at hard labor.
On May 29, Exodus board vice chairman Dennis Jernigan blogged about his work the previous week in Jamaica to defend that nation’s antigay laws and criticize President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron for their support of Jamaican LGBT human rights.
We reprint Jernigan’s May 29 complete blog post below, with the key text highlighted by us.
(P.S. We really wish that Jernigan would learn how to use the Enter key on his keyboard.)
Jamaica Update – May 2012
Posted by: DJ on May 29, 2012
Jamaica – May 2012 Only a week and a half after my shoulder surgery, Melinda and I found ourselves stepping off a plane in Kingston, Jamaica … and plunged into a political firestorm! Our host, Craig McNally, head of WIRED JAMAICA, the ministry that brought me in ( along with just about every other Christian leader we encountered) kept telling us that we were there ‘for such a time as this’ and that our presence was surely the hand of the Lord. More about that later. Our bags did not arrive … so we had to go shop for clothes as soon as we got away from the airport! Ever tried on clothes with a shoulder brace on? Not fun. Definitely painful! But we persevered! Here is a brief rundown of our week: SUNDAY Sunday, 7 AM – shared entire story at Open Bible Church and sang over hundreds who stood for ministry. Sunday, 9 AM – shared entire story at Fellowship Tabernacle and sang over hundreds who stood for ministry. As I was walking away from the building, a woman approached me with tears streaming down her face. “You healed my family! You healed my family! For the first time ever, my husband just told our sons that he loves them!” This moment alone was worth getting on the plane to Jamaica! Sunday, noon – waited at airport for luggage Sunday, 7 PM – shared story and led in worship and ministry. Exhausted! MONDAY Monday, 9 AM – shared testimony and sang a blessing over about 20 in a devotion time for a local advertising company Monday, 10:30 AM – interviewed by editorial staff of The Jamaica Observer, a national publication of Jamaica … this is when I first realized what I had been thrust into! In a boardroom with about 30 editorial staff members and reporters, I discovered that the Prime Minister of Jamaica was receiving pressure from our president and the prime minister of Great Britain to change the anti-sodomy laws of Jamaica … or risk losing financial support. That is when I knew why I was there. I shared my entire story and then fielded questions – for almost two hours! When asked about what I thought about President Obama’s recent remarks concerning homosexuality, I told them I love my president but I believe he is greatly deceived and risks undermining the very foundation of our nation … the family. Incidentally, the paper began publishing the interview the very next day on the first three pages … the headline being my quote concerning my belief that President Obama is deceived! I felt the grace of God in those interviews. I never felt fear at all … and feel I impacted an entire nation in the process. Had I known all of this was in the works I might not have gotten on that plane! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/results/?operator=search&keyword=dennis+jernigan http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/news/I-used-to-be-gay—Evangelist-tells-his-story http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/VIDEO–Obama-deceived-on-same-sex-marriage_11518025 After the interview, we went out to eat then home to prepare for the evening’s ministry time. That evening I shared in a fund-raising event for WIRED JAMAICA in which I led in worship briefly then sang over those in attendance. The people of Jamaica in every church I ministered knew my music and kept exclaiming, “Oh, you’re that guy!” So encouraging to see where the Lord has taken the music. After we got back to our apartment, one of my four incisions opened up and I bled throughout the night. Very discouraging. Exhausted! TUESDAY Tuesday we went to lunch and to the Bob Marley Museum. Very interesting but sad. We then went to Devon House for some amazing Jamaican ice cream! Went to the headquarters of TV Jamaica for a TV show called Religious Hard Talk. Everyone who heard I was going was very concerned that I would not be able to talk and that my words would be twisted against me. The pre-interview with the host was very confrontational … but the Lord intervened. When asked if I was ever tempted I turned the question in a way he had not anticipated. “Since when does someone’s temptation define them?” His response? “I’ve never thought of that?” His demeanor and countenance changed immediately … and the entire hour was a delight. I got to share my entire story and have Melinda share her insights on national TV in Jamaica! That interview will air either this week or the next! That evening, I led a two-hour session on worship and freedom at Covenant City Church while the rain poured down. It was so cool to be in an open-air tabernacle and be able to see and watch and smell the rain as I taught and worshiped! Exhausted and hurting … still bleeding. WEDNESDAY We finally had a free day! The McCook family invited us to spend the day with them. Being their national Labor Day holiday, they wanted us to experience Jamaica with them. We drove (on the wrong side of the road) to a local village where we were ushered into a thatch-roof hut with dirt floors … and the most amazing breakfast of parrot fish, hot sauce, festival bread, and more! WHAT A WAY TO BEGIN THE DAY! The ocean was spectacular and the fellowship was sweet. We felt right at home. We then drove two hours through the mountains – scary – Jamaican driving would fit right in with New York or LA or DFW! Arriving at the north coast, we found ourselves at beautiful Dunn’s River Falls. After donning our water shoes, we proceeded to follow our guide up the falls. Our guide had one eye and I had a bad shoulder. I should never have attempted … but I had to! Of course, 25 feet up the falls, I fell! My host, Mr. McCook, grabbed me by my arm (the surgery arm!) and kept me from plunging over the falls! Soaked and bleeding, I made my way to the First Aid station and got cleaned up and re-bandaged. My arm is fine and my scraped knee and ankle are healing nicely! After the trauma of the day, we made our way to Scottchie’s for an amazing meal of Jamaican cuisine. That evening we skipped dinner and packed and went to bed. Arose at 4:00 AM and headed back home without incident! I have skimmed over so many details but wanted you to have a glimpse of my glamorous life, lol! Melinda has gone above and beyond the call of duty as my wife and friend and confidant. I could not have endured the surgery, much less the trip, without her. She was an integral part of everything I did from leading worship to being interviewed alongside me. Thanks also to Mr. Craig McNally and WIRED JAMAICA for the sacrifice it was to bring me in. Their ministry to sexually broken people is a bright light in Jamaica. It has been my joy, honor, and pleasure to minister alongside him as well. Thanks to all who prayed. Continue to pray for my recovery. Physical therapy begins this week! Blessings, DJ
A May 22 article in the Jamaica Observer places Jernigan’s blog comments in context: During his visit to the island, Jernigan voiced strong support for the Rev. Peter Garth and the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, one of several organizations that seek to escalate Jamaica’s climate of censorship, defamation, violence, and imprisonment against sexual minorities. Garth is borrowing tactics learned from ex-gay and antigay activists in Uganda, branding Jamaica’s sexual minorities as schoolyard pedophiles in order to incite antigay mob violence, preserve Jamaica’s harsh prison sentences, and reinforce antigay bullying in schools.
Michael Bussee, an Exodus co-founder who is now an openly gay critic of the organization, voiced alarm at the Exodus board’s apparent repetition of its mistakes in Uganda.
“Will Exodus issue an apology for this? Will they ask that it be printed in the same paper? Will Exodus make it clear to the Jamaican Parliament that they do not support criminalization? How long will it take this time? Will they renounce Rev. Garth’s extreme anti-gay views?”
Bussee added: “If Exodus truly opposes criminalization, they should require that board members and affiliates not go to countries where homosexuality is a crime — or that if they do, they go to speak out against such laws, not in favor.”