Policy statement: Exodus International opposes criminalization of homosexuality

Today, Exodus International issued a policy statement regarding the criminalization of homosexuality.

Criminalization of Homosexuality

Exodus International opposes the criminalization of homosexual behavior as conducted by consensual adults in private. We strongly oppose the imprisonment, mistreatment, or death of homosexual men and women on the basis of their perceived or known sexual orientation. These actions breed cultural violence and institutionalized shame, neither of which reflect God’s redemptive heart.

In the blog post, Alan Chambers also expressed regret for the delayed response to information he received about the Ugandan ex-gay conference as well as the potential fall out.

That said, and without a wordy explanation or excuse, this public post is way overdue and I sincerely hope it clears up any speculation about how I really feel about gay and lesbian people, Ugandan or otherwise, the criminalization of homosexuality, Exodus’s connection to the now infamous Ugandan conference where Exodus board member, Don Schmierer spoke, and most importantly the grace of God.

First things first, I was personally lax in investigating thoroughly the pre-conference intelligence that was coming in from Timothy Kincaid, David Roberts and Warren Throckmorton, to name a few.  My initial belief was that their major concern was over Caleb Lee Brundidge’s association with Richard Cohen.  Again, no excuses, I was negligent in digging deeper and heeding their warnings.  While I did share my concerns with Don Schmierer prior to the event, he was on the ground in Uganda and I saw this as an issue that didn’t warrant him canceling his appearance there—after all, in my mind, Don was simply sharing his normal talk on parenting.  I do realize that his mere presence there, even as a private citizen, did give the appearance that Exodus was endorsing the conference and eventually the horrific political position that was fueled by that event.

I appreciate this acknowledgement. Alan is correct that some of the initial concern related to the involvement of Brundidge but as he says here, it was much deeper. The events in Uganda, played out over the last 16 months, have required U.S. Christians to rethink their stance toward homosexuals. As Alan’s remarks indicate, it is now necessary to articulate one’s position on criminalization. The Uganda situation unearthed a division among social conservatives about the law and homosexuality. Just yesterday, one of the voices of the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, again said that he favors a return to laws penalizing homosexual conduct.  The Ugandan initiative has touched many American evangelicals in a way that few issues have, forcing many ministries and leaders to choose sides. While I personally had little doubt that the policy of Exodus was to oppose criminalization, today’s announcement makes that clear. I applaud them.

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  • Timothy Kincaid

    Alan,

    I very much appreciate the statement. I think it is clear, unequivocal, and appropriate.

    And, I too, appreciate the acknowledgment. (But your characterization of my initial concerns being over Brundidge seems peculiar. I provided two paragraphs and three bullet points on Lively and didn’t mention Brundidge by name in my initial contact. If you prefer, I can paste that section of the email to refresh your recollection.)

  • Michael Bussee

    As much as it puzzles me that it took God over a year to convince Exodus to do this, I also very much appreciate the statement..

  • Eddy

    as conducted by consensual adults in private.

    on the basis of their perceived or known sexual orientation

    These two phrases assisted Exodus in avoiding the treacherous landmines that are attached to the proposed Ugandan bill. While I agree that a year was a long, long time, I appreciate that they took the time to make a statement that would satisfy the demands of our current (and future) events and not entangle them in peripherals.

    Well done! (I personally could not envision avoiding the landmines and was strongly opposed to the issuance of a policy statement.)

  • Michael Bussee

    “I should add that Alan wasn’t getting high pressure from critics (that I am aware of.) He did this because he prayed about it and felt like it had to be done.” — Randy Thomas on the Exodus blog — 6/8/10.

    Funny. I prayed about it 15 months ago and God told me Exodus should do it way back then. Wonder why He spoke to me (a self-avowed homosexual) and then took so long to walk to Exodus about it? I guess He really does work in mysterious ways.

    :)

  • Michael Bussee

    Months ago, Don Schmierer of Exodus posted: “What is true, however, and worth all the news media coverage possible, is the tragic nature of and heartbreaking potential this bill holds.”

    He then declined an invitation by ABC News to do just that. Maybe he’ll do it now?

    http://blog.exodusinternational.org/2009/12/03/rachel-maddow-uganda-me-guest-post-by-don-schmierer/

  • http://www.exodusinternational.org Alan Chambers

    Timothy,

    I recall Warren being the one that seemed initially concerned with Brundidge’s affiliation with Cohen.

    Alan

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Alan,

    Thanks for the clarification. I recalled being mostly shocked by Lively.

    Brundidge seems like a sincere guy who is perhaps a bit, well, unconventional. Lively is just evil.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    I will own my initial surprise over Exodus going anywhere with a Cohenite but it did not take long to dig into Lively’s theories.

  • Michael Bussee

    Glad this is finally coming out. So much of this could have been “warded off at the pass” if Alan had stopped to listen – really listen — and do some investigating. Don says he was “duped”, “tricked” and “sucked in” — thinking he would be the only one at the conference, not knowing Lively would be there, not knowing what he stood for, not “knowing what was on the ground”, etc.

    If Exodus is going to play on a world stage, if they really want to share the “love and hope of Christ”, they are going to have to be MUCH more careful! Listen to friends and crtics alike, do some homework, search the internet, figure out a way to prevent this sort of thing from happening and how respond more quickly and less defensively when it does.

    I would suggest spending some money on a good public relations specialist to give sound advice on such matters — not only for Exodus’ image, but for the safety and dignity of people in other countries. Please, please — Alan — take these words to heart:

    “If you go to countries where there’s already a great deal of suspicion and maybe animosity towards homosexuals, and begin to tell people there, ‘Well, actually these people are child abusers, they’re coming for their children, that they’re the scourge that is being deposited on you by the secular West,’ you’re gonna get a backlash.” Naughton says it’s like “showing up in rooms filled with gasoline, and throwing lighted matches around and saying, ‘Well, I never intended fire . — Jim Naughton

    “When it comes to homosexuality, Uganda already has several riot inciters so the role of the Americans was to add a perception of credibility and urgency. What would really be helpful is for the three to say directly to the Ugandan people: we were wrong in what we told you. Gays didn’t cause the holocaust, they aren’t ill people who will respond to a forced cure and they aren’t the cause of all your problems.” Warren Throckmorton, 1/4/10

    I am glad you finally did it, but It should not matter WHO is warning you. The bridge was out — and you kept on driving anyway — placing the lives of REAL people at REAL risk. Never again, Alan. Promise.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    “I should add that Alan wasn’t getting high pressure from critics (that I am aware of.) He did this because he prayed about it and felt like it had to be done.” — Randy Thomas on the Exodus blog — 6/8/10.

    That’s just Randy being Randy, tacky as it is. It never even occurred to me that Alan did this out of pressure from another group. If that were the case, he would have done it long ago.

    I am glad Alan said what he did, late or no. He deserves credit for that, and for the policy statement.

    Now back to work.

  • Michael Bussee

    I lost my temper today and I apologize. This issue is a passionate one for me and has consumed me for more than a year now. I thank Alan and Exodus for finally doing the right thing. Perhaps I can move on now. Perhaps we all can.

  • Lynn David

    Alan Chambers ~ I recall Warren being the one that seemed initially concerned with Brundidge’s affiliation with Cohen.

    .

    Warren ~ I will own my initial surprise over Exodus going anywhere with a Cohenite but it did not take long to dig into Lively’s theories.

    That is quite probable. As I remember it, some of us had to turn Warren on to the iniquities of Scott Lively. I think it was David Blakeslee first and then I who provided some comments on Lively in that first thread about the Kampala conference. I remember being surprised (actually a bit happily surprised) that Warren didn’t know about Lively.

    .

    It’s just a little too bad that Uganda and her gay citizens had to be the proving ground for this statement by Exodus. It seems that Lawrence v. Texas would have been the trigger for such a statement. But it was then that Randy Thomas wrote in Exodus news:

    After much reflection and more research it does appear that if the Supreme court overturns this case it could be a watershed event in redefining the family. Therefore, in the realm of public dialog, the possibility of overturning the laws deserves opposition from those of us who want to defend our beliefs as they pertain to Biblical models of relationships. Of course it is up to the reader on how to make their views known.

    And in support of that position Thomas provided a link to an FRC article about their brief supporting criminalization. The FRC claimed:

    The law has historically respected and protected the marital union and has distinguished it from acts outside that union, such as fornication, adultery and sodomy. To extend homosexual sodomy the same protections given to the marital union would undermine the definition of marriage and could lead to homosexual marriage.

    .

    In order to recognize a non-textual Constitutional right to sodomy, the Court must find sodomy to be deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition. In fact, laws banning sodomy are deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition.

    .

    Protecting marriage, upholding morality, and seeking to ensure public health is more than enough for Texas to prove it has a “rational basis” behind its law. Homosexual sodomy is the number one vehicle for the transmission in America of the HIV virus, and given all the ramifications HIV/AIDS has on public health, Texas is surely justified is seeking to curtail its continued progression.

    What has changed in the intervening seven years? Certainly not the Christian religion.

  • Eddy

    We strongly oppose the imprisonment, mistreatment, or death of homosexual men and women on the basis of their perceived or known sexual orientation.

    Uh oh! Seems like we left ‘fines’ off the list. (The penalty in the US based case of Lawrence v Texas was not imprisonment, mistreatment or death; it was a $200 fine.)

    I’m personally more disturbed that a ‘noise complaint’ warrants police officers to enter a home–anyone’s home–without the express permission of the property owner but that’s just me.

  • Lynn David

    Eddy…. Uh oh! Seems like we left ‘fines’ off the list. (The penalty in the US based case of Lawrence v Texas was not imprisonment, mistreatment or death; it was a $200 fine.)

    Well, when Alan Chambers wrote:

    Exodus International opposes the criminalization of homosexual behavior as conducted by consensual adults in private.

    That would have taken care of any fine. Whether for a felony or misdemeanor a fine could only be assessed if the act of homogenic sex was criminalized.

  • Lynn David

    This is Randy Thomas’ answer to me concerning my similar post on the Exodus blog:

    When I first mentioned this in the Spotlights last year, I wrote that I was concerned about Christians picking up this battle without remembering the human side of those they oppose. The concern was that the war of words would get in the way of presenting the gospel and respecting individuals dignity. After much reflection and more research it does appear that if the Supreme court overturns this case it could be a watershed event in redefining the family. Therefore, in the realm of public dialog, the possibility of overturning the laws deserves opposition from those of us who want to defend our beliefs as they pertain to Biblical models of relationships. Of course it is up to the reader on how to make their views known.

    The above is full context of the quote from 4/1/2003. The bolded part is what was left out of Lynn’s quote in the above comment.

    I quite frequently state that there are some things I have said in the past (along public policy lines), that I wished I had not. The conjecture about the case above is one of them. My opinion on Lawrence v. Texas changed a long time ago. I am glad the court struck it down. I apologize for not following up when my opinion did indeed change.

    I will remove the article or combine it into an updated blog-post… Probably the latter. Thanks for the reminder… I had forgotten about that. Reading the quote from the FRC link upsets me too. Rest assured, that is no where near where I am at today or even five or six of the past seven years.

    But I do uphold what I said about everyone deserving dignity and respect.

    I left off the first part of his paragraph as it simply did not appear to have any bearing on his final conclusion to support the Texas law.

  • Lynn David

    And this is the link to that post.

  • Eddy

    LynnDavid–

    You’re right. That ‘base is covered’ by the fact that they were in a private and consensual adult setting.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    I will remove the article or combine it into an updated blog-post… Probably the latter.

    I hope Randy chooses to leave the article for archival and historical perspective and instead updates it to reflect his current position.

    Even when my perspectives shift on an issue, I prefer that my history be there to remind me that as certain as I may be today on some notion, time has a way of revising both my opinion and my recollection that I ever held it.


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