Exodus Youth is an expanding arm of Exodus International that has a $250,000 annual budget used specifically to target teenagers. Scott Davis directs the program and recruits new members by holding heavily promoted conferences that use Christian rock music and colorful stage sets designed to appeal to youth. Ironically, while the group criticizes the sexualizing of our culture, its website freely uses pictures of attractive young models to lure kids into its program. Their advertising could easily be mistaken for Benetton or Abercrombie & Fitch. While this is slick marketing, it is ethically and morally questionable.
Exodus Youth is known for its trendy image and fashionable products. For example, it offers a cool interactive CD Rom entitled, “The Map: The Journey to Freedom.” The CD plays dance club techno while offering a graphically invigorating presentation of how one can “leave homosexuality.” Indeed, all of their materials could easily be confused with that of an alternative rock band are a gay rave party.
Exodus also has created a curriculum for schools and has brochures that can be handed out on campuses. Additionally, there is a video, “Truth & Tolerance” where young people are told, “the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, it is holiness.” This unfortunate message leads impressionable youth to believe they have to make the false choice of loving God or being gay. Exodus Youth reinforces such harmful messages at “Groundswell” its yearly conference.
While Exodus is ostensibly targeting GLBT youth, its larger goal is targeting heterosexual student leaders and equipping them with ways to counter programs that promote tolerance of GLBT youth on high school and college campuses. To accomplish its goals, Exodus Youth started a new website entitled “Alies, Too.” It is highly deceptive and falsely marketed as a benign program that works to promote tolerance and diversity.
“This project was created to provide a chance for Christian students to show that, in the diversity of opinion, people with differing–and even opposing–viewpoints can still work together to build a community of tolerance and respect.”
What the site does not say, is that it links directly to Exodus International, whose leaders repeatedly refer to gay people as “perverse” and “sexually broken.” Exodus also lobbies to pass restrictive laws that would discriminate against GLBT Americans. However, one would never know this by perusing this site. Far from promoting diversity, Allies Too promotes divisiveness and views GLBT people as second-class citizens.
In its efforts to train heterosexual students to oppose GLBT equality on campuses, Exodus joined with Ignite Student Outreach to host summer camps. At these retreats, students learn how to effectively oppose GLBT students who want protection from harassment and acceptance from their peers.
Exodus Youth is an insidious attempt to make life more difficult for GLBT students. It is designed to teach children that homosexuality is wrong and that gay students can and should change. Sadly, Exodus International says it does not condone violence and harassment against students, but it actively lobbies against hate crime legislation and opposes all programs that teach youth to accept their GLBT peers. Exodus Youth has never missed an opportunity to carve out safe spaces in schools for bullies.