‘Ex-gay ministry’ Exodus International apologizes, says it will close and stop hurting people

This just got interesting.

On Wednesday, Alan Chambers, president of “ex-gay ministry” Exodus International, published a long, frank apology. It reads, in part:

Friends and critics alike have said it’s not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated.

Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite — or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.

Well, OK. But what else should he be? All apologies. What else could he say? No one is ex-gay.

Welcome words and a welcome first step, but only words and only a first step.

As Warren Throckmorton wrote after reading that apology, “Alan Chambers is a guy in process.” But in process toward what?

Then this happened: “Breaking: Exodus International Is Shutting Down.” That’s from Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin, who is attending what will be the final Exodus International conference and live-blogged the announcement from the opening plenary session there. This is from Chambers’ official statement announcing the end of the organization:

For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.

… From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.

Chambers will be forming a new organization — “reduce fear” — whose aim is to “come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”

This is surprising and encouraging. And liberating — almost like a kind of, you know, Exodus.

(P.S.: Kudos to whoever edits the Exodus entry at Wikipedia — which already has the announcement and has been converted into the past tense.)



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  • Matri

    *looks about*

    *searches corners*

    *activates radar* Still no commercial jetpacks yet, or flying pigs.

    I’d like to feel positive about this announcement. But past events have demonstrated that whatever replaces this will undoubtedly be just as bad if not worse.

  • Lorehead

    Chambers will be forming a new organization — “reduce fear” — whose aim is to “come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”

  • James Probis

    And Blackwater changed their name to Xi.

    Let’s wait to see that “mutually transforming” isn’t just ex-gay by another name.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And now they’re Academi.

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

    I had that thought, too, but I’m pretty sure Matri meant “whatever replaces this” in the sense of whatever the fundamentalist Christians come up with to fill the void here, rather than what Chambers et al. do next.
    (What, you can’t think we could get by without a gay-conversion “therapy” organization, surely?)

  • FearlessSon

    This is awesome! Thank God (and I mean that sincerely) that they finally figured it out. Took them long enough, but I begrudge no one their enlightenment, however eventual.

  • Allen

    This man has hurt so many lives and impacted so many families negatively. Think of all the pain that he put people threw. The guilt and shame. What about the victims? With all that I don’t hate him. I believe he deserves a second chance but i also believe that he has caused great harm to a lot of people because Christianity is sick.What about the victims? he inflicts so much pain on other minds and get off with an apology ……

  • Cate

    To be fair, he’s not getting off with just an apology. He’s formed a new organisation with the aim of helping those he once harmed, and working towards changing the culture of the church. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next, but saying sorry and trying to make amends are the first steps towards redemption.

    From the website and the few quotes I’ve read, he’s acknowledged that a lot of people will never forgive them, and nor should they, because some injuries can’t be fixed.

  • James Probis

    I’ll believe the new organization is different when I see it.

    Right now all I’m seeing is a mealy mouthed “apology” that still talks about all the “wonderful” work Exodus did- attached to a huge “DONATE” button, and promises of a new organization. I’ve already seen plenty of rightwing anti-gays who think an apology and a rebranding allows them to keep selling the same poisonous bullshit.

    I *hope* this is real, but I’ll believe it when I see actual evidence.

  • stardreamer42

    Agreed. I commend the honesty of the man’s statement, but I will wait and see how well his actions accord with it before rendering an opinion.

  • Hexep

    A few pages ago, we had a similar sort of story about a guy who had been part of an ex-gay ministry and had recanted himself of it. It was my opinion at the time that, having signed his confession that he had done the wrong thing, the best thing for him to do now, to put a capstone on his story, would be to hang himself.

    After carefully reading the responses of others and deliberating on the greater morality of this, I concluded, in agreement with what had been said elsewhere, that – unlike many other heinous people – he had a meaningful contribution to provide in the realm of making restitution for his past misdeeds, and that he should toil at this before finally taking his just desserts in the the Grim Citadels of Naraka-gati.

    I think this man is in much the same situation.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That would be John Paulk, and he used to be chairman of Exodus International. Here’s the link Fred posted: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2013/04/24/55583

  • dpolicar

    Whom I have on occasion confused with Johan Paulik.

  • Hexep

    Aye, that’s the one.

  • Hth

    YMMV, I guess, but I find this mindset incredibly creepy. I guess it must be terrific to feel like you’ve been such a boon to everyone’s lives, but I wonder how many other people reading this, like me, have pain in their past that they’ve caused, and how many people read this and wonder if anything they do matters now, or if the world would be just as happy to see them dead.

    I’m not a Christian and I don’t have any particular doctrine about this stuff, but I do pray, and I hope that there’s such a thing as restorative justice, and that anyone can make the rest of their life a better option than suicide. Because if only some people can, then you end up moving through the world wondering which of the people around you really ought to live or die, and very likely wondering which camp you belong in. Or — I guess, am I unique in that? Maybe everyone else assumes they’re in the safe zone. Anyway, that just strikes me as a depressing and anxiety-ridden way of looking at the world, and if religious fundamentalism has taught me anything, it’s that depression and chronic anxiety don’t really produce the best possible humans.

  • dpolicar

    My own approach is to try not to fall for the sunk cost fallacy. The important question is, starting from where I am now, what’s the most useful thing I can do?

    Now, it may be that the most useful thing I can do is in fact suffer and die, thereby demonstrating to others that justice exists in the world.

    But that seems pretty unlikely.

  • Michael Pullmann

    You know, that’s still a rather horrible thing to say.

  • Lectorel

    I disagree with that attitude. I do not think that anyone who has realized they’ve done wrong should kill themselves. Because what good does that do? It only causes more pain.

    Blood cannot wash away blood, and justice is not meting out suffering for suffering. It’s the healing of wounds, and the restoration of what has been broken.

    I’ve fucked up in my life, and I’ve hurt people because my own pain blinded me. I’ve been hurt, too, by people hurting and lashing out. How much leeway do we all get before we need to die for that?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Don’t advocate suicide. Not ever.

    Here’s the deal, because I know you don’t give a shit about the specific people you’re telling to kill themselves, and they’re not reading it anyway. When you advocate suicide, people who are or were suicidal see what you say. And they feel it in the gut. And you could very well get them thinking, “I’m a bad person too, and suicide is a way out, an expiation, so I should do it.”

    You need to stop hurting people like this.

  • Hexep

    You have shamed me into working hard to making my writing clearer. This shame is double-fold because I work in editing, and expressing information in a clear and unambiguous way is, in fact, the job I am paid to do, and one in which I get great personal satisfaction in thinking I do it well..

    The thing I advocated in the other thread, that these people should kill themselves? Y’all talked me out of thinking that. That is no longer my policy. It certainly was, at a different time, and had this been two months ago your castigation would have been well-suited. But it was well-suited, and you convinced me.

    My policy now is that, given his particular situation, the moral thing is for him to tirelessly oppose his previous way of life and to make sure others don’t follow him in his old ways, and to use his personal experience to eradicate the phenomenon of ex-gay ministries from the world. I’m on the same page as you regarding this guy; I’m simply a dozen or a hundred behind on composition.

    Clearly, I need to spend more time with my Strunk and White.

    (But when he does shuffle off this mortal coil, the Grim Citadels await him nevertheless.)

    EDIT: If anyone feels the need to apologize for mis-reading me, please do not; the fault is mine for poor expression.

  • Guest

    The problem is not with your Strunk and White but with yourself, fella.

    Consider that if you now understand that ‘I think this guy should hang himself’ is wrong…

    …then maybe it’s not actually much of an improvement to chime into a new discussion with ‘A couple of months ago, I thought guys like this should hang themselves. But now I guess it’s okay if they live.’

    Suicide accomplishes nothing, and urging it for anyone is abhorrent. WHY EVEN BRING IT UP. WHY.

  • Hexep

    Because it’s the same group of people discussing a situation very similar to one that we previously had, and if I was to participate in this discussion at all, I feel that I should at least make reference to the last one. It adds the illusion that we are all individuals in different places in the world who remember things over time, rather than a program running on your computer.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’m glad you’ve changed your mind :). I’ll chalk up your saying it was “poor expression” to… poor expression, considering the rest of your comment.

  • Hexep

    The trick to me is that I think I’m a really awesome writer, so I go all about in high-falutin’ ways that are well beyond my actual means of expression.

  • Jessica_R

    This almost, but not quite, makes up for losing James Gandolfini. Goddammit why can’t the Grim Reaper cull a few from Faux News or something?

  • LL

    Damn, this.

    Or Donald Trump. Man, I’d love to not see his smirking orange face ever again.

  • thatotherjean

    Enlightenment was a long time coming, but I can’t be anything but glad that Alan Chambers finally found it. I hope his efforts at restitution do as much good as his original organization did harm, and last many times longer. He has a lot of work to do.

  • Daniel

    I take issue with the caption on the magazine cover.
    How many other organizations are there still operating to pray the gay away? This may be the most prominent, but is there any chance the others will buckle down to some really hardcore conversion to “prove” this shit is real? I don’t know- this sort of thing is not nearly as publicised in the UK as in the US, so any answers will be welcome.

  • Kristin Rawls

    I interviewed Alan Chambers last year. I do not consider him an LGBT ally or an authority qualified to lend helpful information to discussions about sexuality. I also note that he says his new project will be “welcoming,” but not “affirming.” Given his continued opposition to gay marriage and the fact that he has not relinquished the claim that LGBT sexuality is sinful, I do not think he can possibly create any space that is “safe” for LGBT people.

    I don’t see much that is new in his recent statement other than the decision to close the organization. I’m relieved this is happening, though I see it merely as the only possible good faith first step.

    I have not been personally harmed by the ex-gay movement. It was never something I felt drawn to, thank God, but I have many friends who have been harmed and abused within the movement. That said, I will say that I have not experienced Alan Chambers as a monster. Once he reached out to me at a difficult time — about something entirely unrelated to sexuality — and I have not forgotten it. He was the only Christian who bothered.

    More than anything, I think he should step out of the public eye and refrain from starting any new projects until he has finished “evolving” on LGBT issues. And I hope he will move to a place of full affirmation in which he can lend a helpful perspective — and do no more harm.

    Edit: I would really hate to see him drift into post-evangelical territory — and start trying to placate both conservative evangelicals and LGBT people simply by becoming cagier about what he really believes. I actually find it much easier to talk to people who don’t try to deceive me into thinking they’re affirming when, in reality, they refuse to take a public stand and may privately remain as anti-gay as ever. I don’t think there is any integrity in attempting to straddle any kind of line on these issues to “build bridges.” We don’t need bridges or endless dialogue in which we’re expected to “respect” bigoted points of view. We need meaningful amends. I do believe he is a person who wants to have integrity, and so I hope he will do better than post-evangelicals have on this.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    I was reading the apology last night and there were two things that struck me:

    1. It actually came across as sincere. This was confirmed when I saw the news that Exodus International was shutting down a few minutes later.

    2. It still missed the point in a key way. He admitted he’d had same-sex attractions. He also kept saying that he wasn’t going to change his Biblical worldview on homosexuality and marriage. As such it seemed pretty plain that the underlying self-loathing and “the Bible says” attitude he’d espoused in the past was going to be following him to wherever his future endeavors happen to go.

    I learned many years ago that if you leave a place thinking it means you can escape from your past your emotional baggage is the first thing you pack. It’s pretty obvious to me from the apology that Chambers already had the truck half full before he started.

  • Kristin Rawls

    Right, yes, and that is what I have appreciated about him: I get the sense from him that he is a sincere person who genuinely wants to do the right thing. I do not get that same sense from a lot of other people who have gone down this road. I know he can be better, so I want to challenge him to do that.

  • Lorehead

    In his own words:

    And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.

    He might not have jumped all the way over in one leap, but that’s a tremendous step forwards.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    He might not have jumped all the way over in one leap, but that’s a tremendous step forwards.

    I agree. My main point was that he kinda missed sticking the landing by a wide margin and left plenty of room to interpret his intended next steps as “not outright hostility, but still using the Bible as a club against gay people.” I’d say that all he learned was not to be so gosh-darn obvious about it, but the apology itself appears to be sincere so there’s hope.

  • Lorehead

    Isn’t it a real change that he now believes same-sex attraction is not the result of some kind of trauma, but a way of being human that God accepts? Granted, it’s possible that he’s still going to tell gay people to marry a woman and never act on their sexual desires, but we’ll see.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Yes, it’s a real change and a definite step in the right direction. My problem was when he shifted to what he was going to do next, which sounds a lot like, “I’m going to keep telling people that you can’t be a Christian and a homosexual, but I’m going to be less of an asshole about it.” Considering that ex-gay “treatments” are about as assholish as you can get, it remains to be seen if he’s actually going to take actions to help or if he’s going to continue hurting people.

  • James Probis

    And specifically, “mutually transformative” just reeks of the same kind of rebranding that gave us “intelligent design.”

    “You gay people can *transform*, and we’ll pretend it’s mutual.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Is it at all possible that for people who feel that there is an irreducible conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orietnation, that the “right” answer is not always “Then change/give up your religion”? That for some people, the answer is “Then find a way to live with that conflict”?

    It just seems like a lot of the time when someone says “I feel a conflict between my sexuality and my religion,” we respond with “We know what’s best for you: give up your religion. That is the only valid choice.”

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    I think you’re reading way too much into what I said there, Ross. But, whatever, if you think that it’s an irreducible part of Christianity to be self-loathing and use the Bible as a club, then by all mean, continue doing so.

  • dpolicar

    Possible? Sure, anything’s possible.

    But before assuming it’s true, I endorse asking why I feel there’s a conflict, and why I feel that conflict is irreducible.

    And if the only answer I can come up with is that I’ve been taught that living with such conflict is what God wants from me, then I endorse concluding I’ve been taught falsehoods.

    Might I be wrong? Might it be that for some people (perhaps even me), it really is true that God created us in such a way that we want things that are perfectly OK by our human moral standards but nevertheless contradict God’s will?

    Sure! I’m far from infallible; I might be wrong. The right answer might be “Then find a way to live with that conflict.”

    But as long as I remain a fallible mortal, the best I can do is go with what seems most likely, and that does not seem likely.

  • Ursula L

    I was thinking the same thing. He says he’s sorry,and that he’s not going to promote the idea of “ex-gay” anymore, and he’s shutting down the organization. But he didn’t seem clear at all on what alternative, besides “the church” that he has in mind. Or just how a church should be “welcoming.”

    It is an odd stopping-short.

    Although perhaps this meeting was not the right time and place to give a clear what’s-next. From what was blogged at BTB, the audience didn’t know what was coming. Some probably disagree with the decisions made. And having an organization that is important enough to you that you go to meetings announce it is shutting down has to be a shock.

  • Kristin Rawls

    I’m very curious how this happened — I’m almost certain he’d have had to get approval from a board of some kind. If he simply tried to close Exodus unilaterally, he would have been asked to resign and the organization would have continued. So this conversation had to be underway for quite some time — it’s interesting to me that so many are shocked.

  • Ursula L

    That is a good point.

    He does mention talking about where to take the organization with others, so I’m guessing that this was whatever board has the authority to make such changes or shut down the organization.

    But it is odd that this could be kept as a surprise announcement, that the discussion didn’t included ordinary members, or any sort of feedback. I’d expect articles in their newsletter, letters to the editor sent back and published in later newsletters, etc.

    This seems to have been a secretive process, and an authoritarian process.

  • Kristin Rawls

    Agreed. I mean, no matter what, I think it’s the right decision, but I do want to know more about the process that led to it.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    While it’s good to see Exodus closing its doors, I think it’s important to note that its legacy will live on, including through the existence of Restored Hope Network, a similar organization already formed by some former Exodus member ministries back when Exodus first announced they were moving away from their “change is possible” rhetoric.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Kinda like how that evil Regnerus study keeps getting quoted as absolute truth, even though it’s been solidly proven that it was flawed, it’s thoroughly contradicted elsewhere and the very person who did it renounced it.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that Regnerus renounced his study. I grant you he has admitted on at least one occasion that it’s doesn’t say what he (and others) tried to make it say.

    In the end, however, there is evidence that Regnerus is proving himself to be an anti-gay activist in the making.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    “Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.”

    There is much fail and win in this quote. On the one hand, Chambers seemingly still identifies LGBT folk as “sinners.” But, I love the “in the hands of an angry church” thing. He’s acknowledging that it is Christian institutions, rather than his deity, that so often sit in judgment of LGBT people. Perhaps he will eventually come to realize the resemblance scriptural study has to the Rorschach test. People are prone to see just want they want to see.

  • dpolicar

    Given the provenance of the quote, it would be difficult to have the latter without the former.

  • Guest

    Yes, this is absolutely right. But I wondered if this also had something to do with the fact that he realizes the gravity of what he’s done and sees himself as the sinner? I mean, in thinking about this, I cannot imagine how I would deal with the guilt of having *spearheaded* a movement that led a lot of people to commit suicide. I’m not saying I feel *sorry* for him over this, but if I were in his position and still in the church, I’d think having a conscience at all would mean having to center your understanding of yourself as a sinner — an abuser, even — who has done very serious harm. I don’t know… I may read more subtext into this than was intended, and if I’m right… I don’t like the idea of “sin” on a level playing field — i.e. that he still thinks LGBT sexuality is sinful at all, or that it could ever be *as bad as* what he’s done. But I guess I can’t imagine the magnitude of coming to terms with something like this. If he is feeling pain over the gravity of his actions, though… I guess I think that’s something that needs to happen. But he really needs to worry about his OWN sin — and not make pronouncements about gay marriage or anything else — for a while.

  • Kristin Rawls

    I hate the word “sin” but am speaking within his worldview here, I guess.

  • histrogeek

    This is a definite positive.

    There are certainly many reasons for LGBT people and their allies to suspect Chambers or remind people of the damage he has done in the past. And no one, Christian or not, whose life he damaged is obligated to forgive him now or in the near future. Even forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.
    But the announcement has a big implication beyond Chambers or Exodus. It’s yet one more alibi for homophobia taken down in a public way. It’s another sign that the wheel is turning in the right direction. So yeah to Chambers. You can get a cookie in a bit once we see your rebirth.

  • $43768042

    a small portion of faith in humanity is restored.

    god bless and keep you, mr. chambers.

    edited to reply to some of the other commenters.

    we live, sadly, in a flawed and imperfect world populated by flawed and imperfect people. no matter who you are, there is always going to be someone out there who thinks you are wrong. the focus shouldn’t be on whether chambers, or anyone else, believes that everything you do is right, but on whether they are willing to admit that you have a right right right to be who you are areand to live your life the way you see fit.

    as an example, a few years ago, an acquaintance from community theatre asked me to be part of an annual local christian event. within 15 minutes of my arrival at the first meeting i realized that, religiously-speaking, i had pretty much nothing in common with anyone else there. they were all baptists, as am i, but where i am a fairly heretical and extremely liberal member of an american baptist church, they were all either southern or independent.

    just before the first performance, though, one of the older men pulled me aside and told me that the rest of the cast had talked about it and they wanted me to know that they had decided that, despite my holding several sinful beliefs, they were happy to have worked with me and knew that god loved me and was at work in my life.

    i could have become angry and defended my beliefs, but it wouldn’t have accomplished anything except to turn away the well-intended kindness i was being offered. so i smiled and shook his hand and assured him that i was certain that everyone else was equally blessed. and, despite the fact that both of us firmly believed that the other was wrong, we parted as friends.

    as to the people who refuse to accept an apology from someone who has been responsible for so much pain and anguish, all i can say is that we should forgive as we have been forgiven and be gladdened that an enemy has become an ally.

  • dpolicar

    Many years ago, a coworker offered me her assistance if I ever needed help getting out of my homosexual lifestyle.

    I replied that no, I didn’t need any help in that area, but that if she needed help getting out of her religious lifestyle there were resources to whom I could direct her.

    Unsurprisingly, she insisted that her offer was entirely friendly and my offer was offensive and insulting.

  • $43768042

    i guess the question is what are you trying to accomplish and how do you best go about it.

    your answer to this person made me laugh, but it just reinforced her attitude about you an unrepentant sinner.

    was your moment of satisfaction worth the possibility of gaining a new heart and mind for your side in this argument?

  • dpolicar

    Satisfaction? No.

    Confirmation that her actions were offensive and insulting by her own standards? Yes.

  • $43768042

    fair enough answer, i guess.

  • Lori

    What, exactly, do you think dpolicar should have said? What response, exactly, do you think would have won the heart and mind of a woman who was so freaking rude she decided to butt her judgment into the personal business of a guy whose only connection to her was having the misfortune to work in the same place?

  • dpolicar

    Well, there was more of a connection than that, but I didn’t bother telling it because it didn’t seem relevant.

    Somewhat longer form: she was leaving to form her own startup, and had reached out to me as someone she thought would be a useful partner/employee, and I (knowing something about her beliefs) had replied that I was flattered, but that I suspected she might decide to rethink that offer once she’d learned about my boyfriend. She replied that yes, that changed things, and we went on from there.

    So it wasn’t entirely out of a clear blue sky, though I don’t think any of that actually makes her behavior any less rude.

  • $43768042

    i am honestly not sure. i’m not gay and i realize that, as a result,i have and will never have to deal with this attitude.
    but, until somebody takes some steps to be a peacemaker and to reach out with kindness and sincerity, attitudes are never going to change.
    it’s great that marriage equality is passing, but there are still going to be haters until someone figures out how to reach their hearts.

    i wish to god i had the answers.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH


    i am honestly not sure. i’m not gay and i realize that, as a result,i have and will never have to deal with this attitude.

    Is probably a good indicator that you are completely the wrong person for this:

    but, until somebody takes some steps to be a peacemaker and to reach out with kindness and sincerity, attitudes are never going to change.

    I am gay and as far as I’m concerned, the last thing I need is a non-LGBT person who doesn’t understand everything that’s going on and how it impacts me and those like me trying to resolve these issues based on hir lack of understanding.

  • $43768042

    then i apologize,
    it is apparent that, not having a dog in this race, it would be best for me to remove myself from the discussion.

    again, sir, sorry for any hard feelings and i wish you the best.

  • Hth

    FWIW, I’m gay, too, and I thought it was a perfectly nice comment. I have no problem with people saying A) that they recognize their limitations in approaching this situation, B) that they have no real solutions to offer, C) that they wish they knew how to foster peace around this issue. Shit, I feel the same way most of the time.

  • dpolicar

    I don’t think JarredH’s objection was to A, B, or C.

    Rather, I think the objection was to D) the implication that it is incumbent on people like JarredH to “take steps to be a peacemaker and to reach out with kindness and sincerity”.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Except that’s not what was done. Someone who admits they don’t understand what it’s like to be gay, let alone to experience the harm that groups like Exodus has done to gay people telling me what I “need” to do (forgive) and trying to call someone my ally on my behalf.

    For someone who has no real solutions, zie was quick to tell me — someone who has been dealing with these issues on a deeply personal level for years — what I “should” do. I take issue with that.

  • Hth

    Well, fair enough. You read a lot more “quickness” and a lot more “here’s what you should obviously be doing” into that than I did. It read to me like someone who was genuinely unhappy with how these dialogues usually go and was grappling with the belief that there must be a better way while being very quick to admit that no better way was obviously presenting itself. I guess I identify with that, so maybe I was the one projecting a tone on the OP that mirrored my own feelings — hard to say.

    I guess I’m pretty weary of the endless internet refrain of “don’t tell me to be the better person, I’m the oppressed! I shouldn’t have to be the better person!” It’s not untrue. Of course we *shouldn’t have to* be the better people; it’s unjust. I just don’t really get the point of that. Of course it’s unjust — we’re talking about INJUSTICE, here. And yet here we are, oppressed people appealing to those with privilege to change their ways, and it’s *unjust* and it’s *unfair* that that’s such effing hard work and that we have to do it at all, but we do, because *injustice.*

    I dunno, I just don’t like seeing obviously well-intentioned people being yelled at for throwing out pat answers, particularly when they went to all the trouble to *specifically say* they weren’t offering some quick, all-purpose answer, because there wasn’t one. There isn’t one. Insisting on our rights isn’t always the answer, appealing to people’s better natures isn’t always the answer, building relationships isn’t always the answer, going to court isn’t always the answer — *nothing* is always the answer, because this is hard and complicated. But encounters where everyone walks away thinking that the other person was an obvious asshole…are hardly ever the answer? I would think?

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    “Yelling at?” I voiced an objection. I find the fact that this is being reframed as me “yelling” problematic.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Anything somebody doesn’t want to hear is yelling, no matter how politely worded or how reasonable the tone, donchaknow.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    whoa like calm down there tiger lol no need to get all worked up over everything sheesh what are you psycho

    The above, ironically, is a berserk button for me. Only knowing that–most of the time–it’s intended to be keeps me from dropping everything and throwing a chair at the person saying it.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • EllieMurasaki

    Exactly. I generally break out the capslock and curse words. You want to police my tone? Here is some tone to police. Contrast it with my voice of sweet reasonableness before you started tone-policing me. You know?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I think I stole a page out of your book with that one. Nowadays I find that the only vulgarity I drop during a typical debate is liable to be some variation of “Fuck your tone argument.”

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    As for:

    You read a lot more “quickness” and a lot more “here’s what you should obviously be doing” into that than I did.

    The following is a direct quote from hir first comment that started this thread. I’ve added the bold emphasis.

    all i can say is that we should forgive as we have been forgiven and be gladdened that an enemy has become an ally.

    I’m sincerely not sure how else to read someone who actually writes the phrase “we should” if I’m not supposed to read that as hir telling me what I should do.

    As for quickness, again, very first comment zie made in the thread.

  • Lori

    This is a whole big discussion, but the short version is that it’s just not OK to expect the person being kicked to be the one to act as the peacemaker. If a person who is being harmed decides to respond in that way, it’s their choice, but no one has the right to expect it of them. Not even if you think it would be in some way better or more productive. There are just too many variables. Some people like dpolicar’s coworker/potential boss might respond well to a soft approach. Some of them are just bullies and will respond by doing more harm. Some are never going to change no matter what anyone says.

  • dpolicar

    Well, if you come up with any suggestions for how to better engage with the “haters” than the way I do so, I look forward to hearing about them. In the meantime, I’ll continue doing my best to balance my desire to change the attitudes of others with my various other desires.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    The problem is, you can’t change another person’s mind. End of story. Period. Only that person can change their own mind. Yes, you might say something that inspires them to rethink things and change their mind. But there’s no “magic formula” that will guarantee that in every case.

    Furthermore, the reality is that some people don’t want to change their mind. Full stop. End of story. Nothing you say will convince them to change their mind. These are the people who will look at every single well-reasoned argument that effectively eviscerates everything they assume to be true about a given topic and still insist on holding to their views.

    Then there are those people who will kind of sort of see your point and agree with you to a certain degree, but. These people are particularly frustrating because on the surface they seem to be reachable and movable. However, experience has led me to realize that this is an illusion in some cases.

    And quite frankly, I get tired of the notion that I’m the one that needs to reach out to them and teach them all the bloody time. If they’re so darn reasonable and really cared, they could always do a bit of seeking out things that challenge their point of view themselves.

  • dpolicar

    I agree with all of this.

  • Kristin Rawls

    Y’all, I think this guest is a troll.

  • LL

    It’s amusing that you assume the coworker’s mind was ever in play here. It clearly wasn’t. And I’m sincerely doubtful about the existence of a heart, as well.

    But she got her Homosexual Outreach gold star for that day, so she probably left feeling very righteous indeed, plus she got to savor the illusion of being offended. Very likely what she was going for all along.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    that an enemy has become an ally.

    Um, no. Alan Chambers is not my ally. As much as I appreciate his apology (and admit that it is actually much better than what I expected it to be, given his past mealy-mouthed attempts to “make peace” with LGBT people), just saying “Sorry I screwed up and did things that made your life miserable” isn’t good enough. I expect more (a fucking whole lot more) from my allies than that. I expect actual advocacy. I actually expect an ally to not just promise “not to get in the way of my fight for my rights,” I expect an ally to dig in in and start fighting for my rights.

    Also, I don’t have to forgive anyone. I certainly don’t have to pretend that we’re best buds even if I do forgive him.

  • $43768042

    no one expects you to like him.

    forgiveness isn’t about becoming friends with someone. it’s about taking a step towards ending a cycle. it is neither easy or natural, but i adamantly believe that it is what we, as humans, have to learn.

    as to his status as an ally, it’s cool to be sceptical, but he does say he wants to make amends. we should give him the chance to show us how strongly he means that and what he thinks are appropriate amends.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    You admitted elsewhere you are not gay. The fact that you admit that and are still trying to tell me how I should handle people like Alan Chambers? Totally inappropriate.

  • $43768042

    again, sir, i apologize.

  • teglet

    The really beautiful thing?

    Exodus International was right all along–God’s love can and does redeem the wicked, save the corrupt, and make right that which has been perverted.

    It’s poetry, it is.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    And the remaining anti-gay voices are already cheering this as an appropriate end for an organization they now consider heretical.

  • themunck

    *sighs and shakes his head* The king is dead, long live the king…

  • ReverendRef

    I read about this yesterday. In today’s NYT was an article about Ken Mehlman, former campaign manager for Dubya in 2004, who just came out as gay and pro-marriage equality.

    I’ve been following most of the comments about each which, IMO, break down to, “That’s nice, but I’ll believe it when I see it.”

    All of which reminded me of this story:

    Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized,

    There are certainly parallels between these stories. And there are certainly well-warranted skepticisms and cautions. But there should always be room for hope, especially within the progressive Christian group.

    Thank you for your willingness to change. Thank God for not giving up on you. Now let’s work to heal people instead of abuse them.

  • James Probis

    I don’t think forgiveness is something you can demand of people.

    Chambers can apologize, the rest of us can judge his “apology” and find it wanting. We can warily wait for the other shoe to drop when we find out this “reduce fear” organization is nothing but another anti-gay group trying to pretty up it’s image.

    Chambers’ apology isn’t going to bring David Kato back to life.

    If someone is going to make a change and do good, that is entirely up to them, not the people they have wronged. I just feel like demands of forgiveness are just another way to judge those of us who have been hurt by these people.

  • ReverendRef

    I didn’t say anything about demanding people forgive him. I said there were parallels to his story and the story of Saul/Paul. And I said that there was always room for hope. Notice, also, that God didn’t say anything about forgiveness to Ananias either.

    True, Chambers’ apology won’t bring David Kato back to life. But it’s also true that Saul’s conversion didn’t bring Stephen back to life. But in both stories (assuming Chambers begins working for full equality), the work they do/did really does become their penance.

    Forgiving someone is totally up to the person harmed, and I would never tell an abused person that they must forgive their abuser. Forgiveness is a process. And when you get to that point, based on healing you’ve made coupled with a change from the other party, then you may decide to grant forgiveness.

    As with the people who came into contact with Saul/Paul, I will be looking to see if Chambers’ (and Mehlman’s, for that matter) actions reflect his apology.

  • James Probis

    Fair enough, I just think there is valid reason for people to say they’ll believe it when they see it.

  • Charby

    I definitely agree with the notion that repentance is an action, not a state of mind. I also definitely feel that people who want to wait to see what he does in addition to what he says are more than morally justified in doing so.

  • histrogeek

    I agree. Victims are not under any obligation to forgive or even believe the sincerity of someone repentance. I think the uncertainty of forgiveness, if it is genuinely desired, is a key part of the equalizing repentance is supposed to give. By placing himself or herself under the authority of their victim and saying, like the Prodigal Son, “I sinned against you, I’m not fit to be called your brother or sister”, the former oppressor makes himself (or herself) vulnerable and admits that their victim is their moral superior (at least in any case that is relevant to their previous interaction). That can go some ways to healing both people.
    If on the other hand the former oppressor goes, “I’m sorry now forgive me”, he or she isn’t really relinquishing the early claim of authority, just exercising it in a different (hopefully less abusive) way. Sort of like the Prodigal Son returning and going, “Sorry about running through your money Dad. How about a party to celebrate my return?”
    Ultimately it could be helpful for victims to forgive their abusers and move past it, BUT that’s on the victims’ time and in the victims’ way, not on the abusers’ schedule.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Well, lots of us aren’t Christian. And one of the reasons I’m not Christian even philosophically is that I don’t believe in always forgiving my enemies; that I reserve the right to be skeptical; and that I think people have the right to protect themselves.

    This guy did incredible harm. He broke up families and taught people to hate themselves. He crusaded against love. One apology is not enough for me to even think about giving him another chance. He needs to do so much more. And even then, it’s not my call, because I’m straight and cis.

  • stardreamer42

    1. Never give up hope for anyone. Miracles happen.

    2. However, do not waste your own life waiting for someone else’s miracle. If it’s going to happen, it will happen without you as easily as with you.
    3. The proof is in the pudding. Let’s see what he actually does going forward.

  • Kristin Rawls

    Whoa… Is there any moderation here at all? Urging anyone to commit suicide is never okay. Wow. I’m kind of shocked to see that because I remember a typepad commenting community that was very cautious about triggers and things like that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Fred does not moderate. He very occasionally bans–very occasionally.

  • Kristin Rawls

    Got it. Is this the kind of thing the community would generally come down on?

  • EllieMurasaki

    It ought to be.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It’s very difficult to know when and where to come down in this community, because it is a magnet for trolls. Come down on someone, and you may just be feeding them, and the entire discussion derails into a huge long fight with just that ONE person.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    The community at typepad was what made the comment section at typepad what it was. Fred left it to the community to police itself, which is sort of the opposite of moderation.

    Basically, if you want something to stop here you’ll find that there’s some use raising a shout. But there’s a good chance you’ll have to do it. If you wait for other people to do it you may find everyone else did the same thing.

    For my part I’m a few days off my medication, out of free samples, was declined from getting help from the state, and buying it without help would be roughly equivalent to the cost of my rent which I cannot afford. End result: I’m too busy trying to find the will to live (and compulsively gluing together broken knick-knacks –don’t ask) to shout down someone urging suicide on another. You may find other people have similar problems holding them back.

    It’s not fair, but it’s the way things are. If you don’t want something to be here –and for what it’s worth I’m with you: that shouldn’t be here– you’re probably going to have to make a stand against it yourself. If you’re lucky others will back you up.

  • SisterCoyote

    Oh, ouch, Chris. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that. Good luck, dude. Many of us are rooting for you.

  • Guest

    Chris I don’t know if you check your paypal regularly so in case you don’t this is a reminder to go do it

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I did see that, and thank you. There are not words to express how grateful I am.

  • Kristin Rawls

    Got it, I understand this.

  • the shepard

    didn’t know much about these guys so i just googled them. wow!

    my question is this: what, if anything, can someone with such a strong history of hatred and persecution do to redeem himself? is redemption even possible in a case like this?

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Redemption is always possible. Forgiveness is another matter.

    If he starts doing the right thing now, as it appears he will, if he works to fix the damage he has done, if he works to undo the wrong he has wrought then redemption is definitely possible.

    But whether he’ll ever be forgiven is another matter entirely. The power to forgive lies entirely in the hands of those wronged (forced ‘forgiveness’ is no forgiveness at all) and it is certainly possible that there is nothing he can do to earn that.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Forgiveness can never be earned. It is a gift given freely by those who choose to forgive. If someone sets out to “earn” forgiveness, they’ve already failed.

  • the shepard

    if someone attempts to mak amends and seek redemption because they want to do what’s right rather than simply to be forgiven, does that make a difference?
    if he had just disbanded the cabal and started showing up places supporting full equality for the lbgt community would it be easier to forgive him?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That’s not my point. My point is that forgiveness is a gift and cannot be earned. It doesn’t matter what anyone does.

    He needs to do right because it’s the right thing. The thought of “earning” forgiveness needs to be taken out of the equation entirely.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Broadly I agree. But because some people only choose to forgive those whom they consider to have earned it I think that complicates matter.

    If one sets out to earn forgiveness they’re doing it wrong, yes, but that doesn’t mean that the concept of earning it never enters into things. There are many different standards by which people forgive. Some will do it immediately at the first apology, or even before, some will never do it, and some will only forgive those they consider worthy of forgiveness.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Of all things, it makes me think of the notion people have that if a man buys dinner, holds the door and scoots in chairs and so on and so forth, at some point, the woman is obligated to kiss him, sleep with him, etc.

    These sort of things… they’re not business transactions. There’s no point at which reciprocal action is obligated because someone made enough nice sounds that they somehow “deserve” whatever it is that they want. It doesn’t work that way.