Recent events involving youth leader Dawson McAllister, Clear Channel Communications and Exodus International have been spotlighted in numerous blogs and publications over the past few days. While Exodus is no stranger to controversy, we are usually reluctant to make public statements critical of other organizations or leaders, particularly those for whom we have high personal regard. But the very public nature of this situation leaves us no choice but to clarify our feelings and position on the matter.
On Sunday April 11, a 22 year old gay blogger named Greg Kimball called into McAllister’s syndicated radio talk show Dawson McAllister Live, posing as a 16 year old seeking advice about his homosexuality. The show’s representative referred him to Exodus, which was listed on McAllister’s website as a partner. (Other partners on the site include Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ.) Kimball, apparently outraged that a youth-oriented radio show would refer people to Exodus, went public with his discovery, resulting in a number of communications to Clear Channel demanding they take action.
Clear Channel subsequently informed Dawson that he
would need to remove Exodus’ name from his referral list. Citing its
non-discriminatory policy, the
company defended what many would view as censorship, stating that because
of their commitment to diversity, they expect that “listeners who call (Dawson
McAllister Live) be treated in a manner consistent with our corporate
commitments to diversity.” Left with a choice between losing favor with Clear
Channel by maintaining a relationship with Exodus, or maintaining media
visibility by severing our ties, he chose the latter. On Thursday April 15 he
informed us personally that, while he loves and supports Exodus, our name was
now deleted from his partner’s list, and he will no longer refer to us. That
decision has been well publicized, requiring a response.
Our esteem for Dawson is not in question here. His achievements are remarkable – <<over 1 million copies of his books and manuals sold; a 15 year broadcasting career; a radio show boasting over 140 stations – and I’ve made no secret of his impact on me. In 1991 we met in Lakeland, Florida. I was 19 at the time, and it was through his personal referral that I found Exodus International. Dawson McAllister was the catalyst for my journey, which eventually led me to direct the organization he’s now unwilling to officially associate with. (Could the irony be any more bitter?)
But respect notwithstanding, it’s troubling to see any Christian-led organization allow itself to be guided by the demands of pro-gay advocates. While Exodus is the group being marginalized in this case, it's the freedom to express a traditional viewpoint of sexuality that's really at stake, raising the obvious question: Who's Next? Should all on-air ministries who teach that homosexuality falls short of God’s will expect a knock on the door, demanding they either water it down or close shop? And if that knock comes, is the truth about human sexuality really a negotiable item? Is the definition of marriage and family so small a matter to Christian leaders that they’ll avoid inconvenient truth (or inconvenient relationships) to keep their audience? If so, we wonder what other Biblical truths are up for negotiation when on-air visibility is at stake.
We appreciate the need one group may have to distance itself from another. We’ve made that painful decision ourselves, when we’ve realized that differences in belief or approach were so great that we had no choice but to severe ties with those we could longer in good faith support. So if an associate no longer shares our position on homosexuality, we respect his need to break ties with us. Likewise, if someone shares our viewpoint but objects to the way we implement it, we hope they’ll discuss their concerns with us so we can consider them and, if no agreement can be reached, we wish them the best as they move on.
But according to both Dawson and his CEO (who also spoke with me by phone) this severance had nothing to do with disagreement. The CEO, in fact, assured me they still love Exodus and believe in what we are doing, which bothers me all the more. When organizational relations end due to irreconcilable differences of belief or practice, that makes sense. But when someone publicly dumps you then privately whispers “We still believe in what you’re doing”, isn’t some kind of double-mindedness at play? Both of them also stressed to me their desire to stay on Clear Channel, which is understandable. But at what cost? When a Christian leader is forced to choose between truth and market numbers, should market numbers really be the deciding factor?
Yes, according to Dawson’s CEO, who told
me that only 1% of their callers over the past 15 months had phoned in with
this issue. "Should we forsake the 99 percent
for the 1 percent?" he asked. Had he remembered the parable of the lost
sheep, in which a good shepherd left the 99 for the 1, he might have answered
his own question.
And there’s the rub. If Dawson McAllister was a secular, non-Christian leader, his priorities would make sense. But if he serves the One who warned “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you”, and follows in the steps of the Apostle who said, “If I seek the favor of men, I should not be a servant of Jesus Christ”, then his response to pressure from gay activists and Clear Channel is distressing. We earnestly hope it will be the exception, not the rule, when similar pressure is exerted on other visible leaders.
As for us, we’ll continue our commitment to Biblically based truth regarding homosexuality, and to that 1% that is, to us, precious. And on a personal note, I’ll admit that yes, I am sad, yet I am determined. I'm not giving up or in. You can count on me, 1%. I'm for you, and both I and my colleagues at Exodus will continue to tell you the truth about God's never-ending grace and mercy.
To Contact Clear Channel:
When you call or write (OR BOTH), do not simply accept referrals to Premiere Radio--register your concern BOTH places.Click here to register your concerns with Dawson, as well.
I was very excited to see Wendy Gritter do a guest post on XGW and
believe that it marks an important shift in Exodus' evolution.
There is way too much in that thread to respond to, but I
will simply say, I invited Wendy to share her heart at the Exodus Leadership
Conference in January knowing that she was going to bring new life and ideas to
the table for consideration. I was one
of the ones nodding positively as she spoke. I know there were many others with the same response.
I agree wholeheartedly that clarifications need to be made
on confusing terminology that at times has been used incompletely or
misused. The 'change’ factor is one that
has confused many. In one of my talks at
Love Won Out I have begun saying, "When we use words like 'change' the
burden is on us to clearly state what that means in our lives. Some have used the word 'change' hoping that
it meant something it doesn't."
I echo Wendy's apology to those that have been
unintentionally, but at times recklessly, misled by poorly defined labels and
words used to describe the process out of homosexuality. It is no secret that I dislike the label ‘ex-gay’. For so many people I know, it doesn’t apply—though
they struggle with same-sex attraction they never identified as ‘gay’. Is it applicable to some? Yes. But, it isn’t a label I choose to use for myself or for Exodus
International. For that matter, I don’t think it should be a label that anyone
uses primarily to describe themselves. We are all so much more than our sexual expressions.
There are a lot of challenging things written in the XGW
thread (post and comments) on Wendy that I am thinking and praying about. What is said by gay activists is not lost on
me. I do care how people are impacted by
my words, actions and ministry. Ironically, I know the Lord uses every voice, suggestion, encouragement
and criticism to shape me.
It is a New Day at Exodus International and despite our irreconcilable
differences with some, I pray that we find new opportunities to dialogue with
others, learn and grow in Christ’s image.
Thanks, Wendy, and all of you who contributed to the discussion at ExGayWatch.
If you haven't already, at least read the last three paragraphs from Tim Stafford's article in Christianity Today. We couldn't really ask for a more honest accolade of the work God is doing through Exodus. (An Older, Wiser Ex-Gay Movement: The 30-year-old ministry now offers realistic hope for homosexuals, Oct 07)
Which sums up much of ex-gay ministry today. No hype. Limited faith in techniques. No gay bashing. No detectable triumphalism, religious or political. Just serious discipleship. This may be the only group in America that realizes all the way to the bottom that when you decide to follow Jesus, you don't always get to do what you want to do.*
The ex-gay movement runs against the cultural tide. Given adverse public opinion, the ambivalent support of conservative churches, and the common assertion that ex-gays condemn themselves to a life of frustration, you would think the movement would shrivel. Yet Exodus affiliates have doubled in number over the last 18 years. Many of its leaders have been in the public eye for 20 to 30 years. They show every sign of stability.
They live by radical ideas about sexuality—that we are not, as our culture would have it, defined by our desires, heterosexual or homosexual. Rather, we are defined by our Creator and Savior. Our attractions, always disordered to some extent, must be submitted to Christ, who alone can redeem us. For those who feel strong same-sex attractions, that task is especially difficult. But it is the same basic struggle every Christian must face.
* Emphasis added.
Entire Article: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/6.48.html
A few years back my friend Mike Bussee and a friend of his were attacked in Los Angeles. They were victims of a senseless act of violence simply because they were gay. Mike's friend died as a result of that attack. I know he grieves the loss of his friend every day and has many times encouraged me to speak out against such violence as well as milder forms of violence that we call bullying.
I was a victim of bullying in middle school. Sixth grade for me was so horrific that I once told my wife that I wouldn't go back to that year for millions of dollars. Tragically, kids who are "different" are targeted every day by bullies from the playground to the locker room and I want to be someone that helps to end that form of abuse.
At Exodus we do seek to educate those who are ignorant about homosexuality. That education isn't short on biblical truth about the issue, but neither is it short on the biblical truth surrounding treating your neighbor as you'd like to be treated. Exodus Youth is taking these truths to the schools and churches and to anyone willing to listen.
It is because of our extreme opposition to bullying and violence and our desire to see it stopped that we approved this statement today. It will appear on the positions page of the Exodus website starting tomorrow.
Exodus Position Statement on Bullying
“Exodus International affirms that gay-identified individuals and those who struggle with same-sex attraction are persons for whom Jesus Christ died and loves equally. Therefore, we strongly oppose bullying, name calling and acts of aggression against any individual or group of individuals for any reason. These actions have no place in our society and we must, instead, affirm behavior that validates the personal worth and dignity God bestows upon every human being.
“In addition, every individual deserves equal protection and every offender should receive equal punishment. We call upon other organizations concerned with preserving the essential equality of all individuals to exhibit impartiality in their policies, rather than singling out some for special treatment.”
Mike, thanks for your patience and encouragement to get this done. I am sorry for what you have been through, my friend.
Picture this, me sitting in my office yesterday morning at 7:30am when all of a sudden my wife, Leslie, calls to not only inform me that President Bush has done what the AP reported he would do (nominate Harriet Miers), but also listed that his nominee has volunteered for 'Exodus Ministries'. Leslie and I laughed and she said, "Get ready for the phone to start ringing off the hook."
Leslie was right. Every major and minor, local and national, media outlet known to man called us. Not to mention many of our friends on Capital Hill, other pro-family groups and our own constituents at Exodus International.
It was an enormous encouragement to know that so many people knew of Exodus International and that their first thought was of us. Whether their respective opinion of Exodus International is positive or negative, at least people knew of our existence. In fact we even got honorable mention in the noon time White House Briefing.
One friend on Capital Hill said, "At least we now know the press’ lack of reporting on the “ex-gay” community is willful resistance and not just lack of knowledge whatsoever."
So, if you are still sitting on the edge of your seat wondering if future Justice Harriet Miers did actually volunteer for Exodus International...she did not. You can read our statement here. Though, we would welcome her involvement.
Ruling made in case of gender identity
STEUBENVILLE - A Jefferson County common pleas court judge has ordered a male child must remain a male, despite the desire of the mother to diagnose her son as having gender identity disorder. A Jefferson County woman and her ex-husband, who lives in Colliers, are involved in a custody battle for their 9-year-old son. At the heart of the custody case was the boy's desire to wear women's clothing, at least when he is with his mother.
The boy's mother had taken the child to a couple doctors, who diagnosed him with gender identity disorder. Then, the boy's father took him to different doctors, who did not diagnose him with the disorder.
GID is a disorder in which a male or female exhibits characteristics of, insists they are and enjoys the activities of the opposite sex. To be diagnosed with GID, a person must exhibit four of five main criteria listed by the Harry Benjamin Study, the benchmark of GID studies.
Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. issued his ruling on the case Friday ruling in favor of the father. In the judge's order, he stated the mother embraced the idea of GID long before she took her son to the first doctor.
Bruzzese states in the order that when her son was 4 she told him "he could grow up and be a girl" and has been taking the son to transgender support groups. The order states the mother's boyfriend is an apparent male, who used to be a female, that she met at one of these support groups.
"(The) mother has not only been supportive of (name deleted)'s female identity, but has actually charged headlong into it with the apparent objective of making it come true," Bruzzese's order states.
During hearings on the case, testimony was presented the mother enrolled her son as a transgender at a Niles school. The mother said she was enrolling her son as a transgender partly on the advice of two doctors. The doctors suggested the boy undergo a real-life experience, during which he would dress and live as a girl for an extended period of time.
However, both doctors said a real-life experience should be done in the community the child lives in, based on the guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic Statistical Manual 4, which is a manual of mental and emotional conditions that lists criteria for diagnosing conditions.
The court stopped the enrollment when the father found out. This is also when the court ordered the boy to be dressed as a boy and referred to as such.
In July, the mother took the boy to Geauga Lake in a bikini, despite the court order. The mother also violated the court order by referring to her son as "she" and "transgender."
The parents have a shared parenting plan, where they are both the residential parent during different days of the week. Before the ruling, the mother was the majority residential parent.
Bruzzese ruled the mother will have the couples' two children from Sunday evening through Tuesday evening and the father will have the children the remaining five days. The judge also ordered the child not be permitted to wear girl clothes or go by a girl's name.
Bruzzese said the boy cannot attend transgender support groups. He warned the mother that, given her prior history of disobeying court orders, any small infraction of the orders may result her receiving only supervised visitation.
Bruzzese also said both parents should undergo psychological evaluations and the child shall receive counseling.
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Last week I continued my work with the Marriage Amendment Project in Washington, DC. The MAP is a diverse coalition of leaders from around the nation dedicated to preserving marriage as it was intended: one man and one woman for one lifetime. For more information on the MAP: Protect Marriage and For Marriage
While in DC, Leslie and I had the incredible opportunity to attend a number of events commemorating The National Day of Prayer, including a small gathering at the White House where President Bush spoke about prayer and its importance.
Below are some fun photos with new and old friends including: Lt. Colonel Oliver North, Vonette Bright (Co-Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ), Dennis and Melinda Jernigan and one of President Bush praying.