Fifteen months to the day since I wrote this post summarizing the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Conference, Exodus President Alan Chambers has written his own acknowledgment of how badly he and his organization screwed up.
First things first, I was personally lax in investigating thoroughly the pre-conference intelligence that was coming in from Timothy Kincaid, David Roberts and Warren Throckmorton, to name a few. My initial belief was that their major concern was over Caleb Lee Brundidges association with Richard Cohen. Again, no excuses, I was negligent in digging deeper and heeding their warnings.
As I have stated in less trafficked public settings, I am disappointed that some of my reasons for not heeding warnings was due to who was issuing them. I believe that probably works both ways, but in this case my error was grave.
Alan will get no disagreement from me here, particularly concerning the truly disgusting background of Scott Lively. There was more than enough information on his activities to turn most people’s stomachs and yet Alan was silent. It did occur to us that the messenger could be part of the problem, though inexcusably so. Certain Exodus executives have been particularly dismissive and hostile to what they call “militant gay activists,” and especially to XGW.
I cannot undo my initial lack of, then delayed, response or the harm that it caused, but I have learned from that terrible mistake and tried to make amends by condemning the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009 and by standing with a cross-spectrum group of people to see that the measure is, itself, killed. Exodus and I will continue to do that with regard to the Uganda measure or any other similar law or proposed law in other nations. We will also seek to condemn that which is condemnable more swiftly; not to do so finds us breech in our responsibility as an organization people look to for biblical wisdom.
During the past fifteen months, Exodus has released some rather weak statements concerning Uganda and their connection to the whole mess. Then, last March, they issued a much more definitive statement. We acknowledged the good and called out the bad (mainly the unconscionable delay). We also gave them this bit of advice:
No one can go back and undo the past, but we sincerely hope that Exodus leadership can take lessons from this. Be very careful when becoming involved with potential hot-spots abroad — know who you are dealing with and the effect your message can have, especially when no healthy counterbalance exists. And act fast to admit mistakes and minimize the damage you might have done, whether intentional or not.
While only time will tell if they have learned their lesson about getting involved in potentially violent situations abroad, Exodus’ recent statement in response to comment by Bradlee Dean of You Can Run International was certainly swift.
Using whatever insight I may have gained in dealing with Alan, I believe this statement is an honest and candid one. I can’t say for sure if Exodus will always act according to the lessons learned, but I believe Alan means what he has written. And the policy statement is a good thing, particularly as desperate people on the extreme right use recriminalization (and worse) to express their last gasps of anti-gay bigotry.
That said, there is another voice still silent in all this — Don Schmierer. Even before Exodus, Schmierer had the obligation of finding out what he was participating in. If this was indeed a private mission, then the buck really does stop with him as well. Beyond irresponsible, one could even call Schmierer’s lack of comment since the conference cowardly. Any group that considers calling on him to speak or using his materials should consider this first.
So Alan, while any apology will need to be directed to those Ugandan’s affected, I thank you for this statement. Don, what do you have to say?
Note: The above does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other writers at XGW.
More on Uganda from XGW.