On June 26, 2006 I initially left voice messages for Alan Chambers of Exodus International and another national ex-gay leader about inappropriate incidents that affected youth at an Exodus member ministry. I will not go into the details at this time, but I shared three specific situations that happened within the previous year. The shocking details of the third situation compelled me to contact Alan and this other national leader. In my initial messages I said that I would rather discuss this privately, but if they did not wish to talk, then I would initiate a public discussion.
E-mails went back and forth including one in which the program director of the Exodus member ministry acknowledged the situation did occur, and since being alerted about it by Alan, shared some of the steps he took to address it. After multiple phone conversations with Alan’s assistant and more e-mails, Alan finally agreed to speak with me on the phone. The other national leader declined to speak with me out of concern for possible legal liability issues.
On July 31st during a conference call with Alan and Exodus Youth Director, Scott Davis, I outlined in detail the situations that had been recounted to me by recent participants in the Exodus member ministry. Alan expressed his concern and assured me that Exodus cares about the safety and welfare of youth. He also informed me that Exodus was going to issue new guidelines for programs that work with youth.
We talked about some of the considerations when working with youth including ensuring that adult and youth participants do not attend sessions together or have any contact. I added that just like every major organization that works with youth, each Exodus youth worker should have a background check.
Alan said that the new requirements for Exodus member ministries will go into effect in at the beginning of 2007 and will be done in a public way. I pressed Alan to consider putting them into effect sooner, but he said that he had to meet with the board about it all first.
I agreed to send Alan a list of web links to other organizations who had very clear guidelines for working with youth including the Boys Scouts of America. I also agreed that I would not blog about the incidents or share the details publicly. I then waited for January 2007 to see these new guidelines.
On January 3rd I contacted Alan’s assistant for a follow-up conversation about the guidelines. She e-mailed me back the next day,
After going over the schedule and speaking with Alan it looks like January will not work for the two of you to speak. If you can contact me back in February, I can see what can be scheduled at that time.
I called back on January 5th and told her that I only needed an answer about the guidelines and when they guidelines would go into effect. I expressed the concern that both Alan and I shared during our July 31st phone conversation and asked if she could get back to me by January 9th with some answer.
I since followed up with Alan and his assistant through an e-mail containing the draft of this blog entry. I have gotten no further response and as far as I know, and I have seen no evidence of new guidelines being published.
I publish this blog entry in hopes that Alan complete what he said he would do. I do not wish to go into the details of the situations that occurred at the Exodus member ministry; I imagine the ministry would prefer that as well. Even so, perhaps a public discussion is the only way to move things forward.