I am at a Quaker high school retreat in Chicago this weekend, so my Internet time is very limited, but I wanted to add a few more details because people are rightly concerned for the welfare of young people in Exodus programs.
Although clearly inappropriate, the incidents that I related to Alan Chambers last July did not include criminal acts. The incidents revolved around interactions between adult and youth participants in an Exodus member ministry. Even though the incidents did not require contacting authorities at that time, the situations and the conditions that existed, (and as far as I know still exist), at the Exodus member ministry where these situations occurred, were such that minors were at risk for potential harm.
In our conversation, Alan also expressed concern along with his intention to create guidelines that would ensure the safety of youth under Exodus member ministries’ care.
At that time I told Alan that I believe it is inappropriate and harmful to do any sort of ex-gay therapy on youth and with youth, particularly against their will. Knowing that Exodus will continue to do so, it is necessary that they do everything in their power to protect these young people.
The non-violent work that I do involves attempting to connect with people to create a “win-win” situation if at all possible. Building relationships, shedding assumptions, believing the best in people are all part of my Christian testimony. Joe Brummer outlines some of these non-violent steps in his most recent post. I don’t hate Alan or Exodus. I have used much restraint in hopes of seeing real change.
Some of us who feel we have been wounded by the ex-gay ministries and the anti-gay church may have sometimes wish to do them harm and to think the worse, to malign them the way that we feel they malign the LGBT community. For me Jesus’ teachings is that I should seek to do good and speak out against injustice but not exact revenge.
Perhaps some people would love there to be a major Exodus scandal. I want to see one avoided.
Alan has the power to keep young people from being harmed under his watch. He shared that he will bring forth new guidelines that will protect youth. I believe these should minimally include:
- Complete separation of youth and adult participants at all Exodus member programs and Exodus sponsored events.
- Full background checks for all staff working with youth.
- No youth should be enrolled in a program against his or her will.
If nothing else it this just good business and lowers their liability, but much more importantly it shows a genuine love and respect for these young people.