Last Wednesday, Exodus executive director Alan Chambers issued a responsible and compassionate response to news about ex-gay ministry leader Michael Johnston’s efforts, deliberate or incidental, to infect gay men with HIV.
Sadly, by 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, Exodus spokesman Randy Thomas had largely unraveled and contradicted Chambers’ message.
In a “clarification” that was sent via e-mail to Exodus watchers and appended to the end of the online copy of Chambers’ original message, Thomas said:
Many have emailed wondering who Michael Johnston is. Please visit a compassionate and truthful article to learn more about Michael. Michael’s brief relationship in the early nineties with Exodus is best described in this article.
The article was by Peter LaBarbera, a political activist at Concerned Women for America. There was little compassion or truth in LaBarbera’s message, which throws stones at homosexuals while papering over Johnston’s dissemination of the AIDS virus.
While persistently putting numerous gay men at risk of AIDS, Johnston repeatedly chose to lie to the nation about his lifestyle, falsely accusing homosexuals (as a class) of promiscuity and dangerous behavior. But, in fact, it was Johnston and his tawdry selection of sex buddies who were living that lifestyle.
And then, perhaps eight months ago, Johnston had a choice: He could act responsibly and make amends toward who were put at risk, or he could go silent and evade his responsibilities. Johnston chose the latter course of action.
I have no doubt that Johnston’s troubled conscience is indeed giving him a sense of remorse for what he has done. But, months after these events transpired, there is still no indication that he plans to make amends to his sex buddies for the damage he has done.
And instead of compassionately holding Johnston accountable, as Chambers did, LaBarbera and Thomas have arguably aided and abetted Johnston’s irresponsibility in regard to AIDS, as well as Johnston’s tendency to blame others for his own unhealthy and unhappy lifestyle.
I continue to applaud Chambers’ gut reaction to the tragedy. Unfortunately, it appears that the display of accountability and compassion by the Exodus national office was only half-hearted.