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.