Alan Chambers on It Gets Better: Life Comes First

In a blog post today on the Exodus International site, Exodus President Alan Chambers walked back from earlier criticism of the “It Gets Better” campaign a bit. Chambers writes:

A few months ago I went on record criticizing the “It Gets Better” campaign that has gone viral with an anti-bullying message for LGBT teens.  My criticism was over the use of “Woody,” the fictional star from the box office smash Toy Story trilogy.  I reacted because I hate when iconic children’s heroes are used to further what I perceive to be adult causes.  With further reflection and thought, though, I have to admit that I was wrong to question their marketing strategy without expressing my full support for what is the heart of their campaign – encouraging LGBT teens to choose life.

I know I am going to get a barrage of emails, calls and letters about this from those who think that I am caving to pressure.  Truth be told I am pressured daily by both pro-gay and pro-Church groups (and everyone in between).  I don’t listen to all of the “advice” or “criticism” that is offered, but I do review most it.  And, I pray about it. It keeps me up at night as I weigh the impact my opinions and words have on others globally. I don’t want to ever be guilty of towing a “party” line, whether that party is political, social or religious, just because that’s what’s expected or because it garners a donation.  I want to live out my biblical beliefs in a way that draws people to Christ.  When it comes to kids killing themselves, I can’t justify criticizing a campaign that, at its deepest core, is most about saving the lives of LGBT kids.  I care MORE about a kid choosing life than whether or not he or she embraces a gay identity. Life comes first.  Living out our biblical convictions means fighting for the lives of young people at all cost.  Can any of us actually say we’d rather our teens, neighbors, friends or complete strangers kill themselves than be gay?  I certainly can’t.  Regardless of where someone falls on the debate over sexuality, I hope we can all agree to move the issue of bullying and suicide, especially where kids are concerned, to a non-polarized, non-politicized and non-divisive issue.

I appreciate Alan’s statement here. I think this needs to be made known to folks in the Anoka-Hennepin School District who are resisting bullying prevention programs.

Alan goes on to describe his experience as a child who was bullied. He has an experiential perspective that many social conservatives ignore. A middle school kid who is being harassed with anti-gay slurs and threatened with violence because of a perceived orientation doesn’t care about your religious beliefs. He just wants help to make it stop. In Anoka-Hennepin, for instance, the Parents Action League puts ideology before kids, in my opinion. Alan’s statement is something that I hope they see.

UPDATE: The Christian Post just published an article about Chamber’s statement prominently on their front page.

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  • Michael Bussee

    Glad to hear he has reconsidered his earlier objections. He was initially very resistent to Exodus even considering adopting an official anti-bullying policy– for fear that it might seem they were endorsing some sort of gay agenda.

    They finally did adopt one, after months of pressure.

    Perhaps he is finally moving away from his position that anti-bullying programs were only “tools to crush Christian evangelism”. Yes, Alan. Doing the right thing is worth the risk of appearing that you have “caved in to pressure”. Life does come first.

  • Michael Bussee

    In Anoka-Hennepin, for instance, the Parents Action League puts ideology before kids, in my opinion. Alan’s statement is something that I hope they see.

    He could always send it to them — or better yet, call them personally — and ask them to stop using Exodus’ message and materials to justify their position.

  • rich

    Hi Dr. Throckmorton,

    This isn’t related to the topic of this post.

    This article is currently on the front page of Crosswalk:

    I know many conservative evangelicals (including my parents) will read

    an article like this and take it for gospel truth. If you would take the time to respond on Crosswalk that might help at least limit the impact. I’m sure you have a very busy schedule, so if you don’t have time to respond, that’s ok.

    Thanks much.

  • Can any of us actually say we’d rather our teens, neighbors, friends or complete strangers kill themselves than be gay?

    Yes, of course, many people, especially parents, say this. 5%? 10%?

    When it comes to trans children, it’s more like 30% or 40%.

    It’s still a minority that don’t wait for their kids to kill themselves, but give them a hand. In the USA, anyway. Other places differ.

  • Mary

    Life first.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Well this is a breath of fresh air. Just curious which bullycide death he caved in on? Must have been Jamey Rodemeyer, perhaps he read the news articles where the bullies kept it up even after Jamey took his own life by continuing to bully his sister at a scoool danse, yelling out that they were glad he was dead. I bet that was the straw that broke the camels back. Well, better late than never. I would like to see his video contribution to the It Get’s Better Campaign. It is hard for me to work up any Kudos for AC, but I do give him credit for finally stepping up and doing the right thing.

    RIP Jamey, RIP. Lord these bullycide deaths break my heart, each and every one, they really really break my heart.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Watch this video of Jayme’s sister describing the continued bullying even aft the poor boy was dead.

  • I am pleased to see Alan moving in this direction .. (hopefully he will not back pedal from it as has often been the case in the past) ..


  • Michael Bussee

    From the Christian Post:

    He (Chambers) also stressed that Christians should be the first to defend and protect kids who are being bullied.

    I think so too. Which is why I pushed Exodus so hard to adopt some sort of official anti-bullying policy. Chambers resisted for months, thinking I was asking him to endorse anti-bullying programs in schools — programs that Chambers called “tools to crush Christian evangelism”.

    I have also urged him to break all ties with NARTH — whose “expert” (Berger) actually suggested that parents and teachers should not discourage the teasing of “gender variant” kids. NARTH eventually retracted the Berger article after much pressure, but as far as I know, Berger is still part of NARTH — and Exodus is still a close NARTH ally.

    With the body count of bullied LGBT kids mounting — and pressure from folks like Dr. Throckmortnon to take a stronger anti-bullying stand — my guess is that Chambers finally decided that LGBT kids lives were more important than his ideological opposition to homosexuality — and more important than his worries that he might be percieved as “caving in” to his critics.

  • Michael Bussee

    Exodus President Reluctantly Admits ‘It Gets Better’

    “This slowness is nothing new to Exodus. In March 2009, Exodus board member Don Schmierer participated in a conference that fanned the flames of homophobia in Uganda. An announcement of the Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill swiftly followed. Yet it was eight months before Alan Chambers weighed in to denounce the bill, a year before Exodus made an official statement and 15 months before Exodus issued a mea culpa taking some responsibility for Schmierer’s role in the conference.

    Always too little, too late. If you’re a Christian leader and it takes you a year to realize that executing homosexuals is an idea worth fighting against, or that the lives of kids are more important than your religious agenda, it’s probably time for a radical reassessment of your values.” ~ Dave Rattigan