In Malcolm Gladwell bestselling book, “The Tipping Point”, he describes several key factors that, put together, create the phenomena of a shift in consciousness and/or society.
Exodus closing was not an insignificant event. It is/was a tipping point. For LGBT people, the Stonewall riots in 1969 were a tipping point. The major factor that created this was that the harassment and oppression had gone on for too long and it ignited anger and rage in the gay men, lesbians and drag queens. The riots that spilled over to several nights on the streets of Greenwich Village, New York have been seen by many as the birth of the gay rights movement. We are still feeling the impacts of that event over four decades later. President Obama’s declaration in 2012, that he supported same sex couples getting married was a tipping point. The graph below demonstrates the impacts of this.
Some have suggested that Exodus closing was solely a financial decision and that Alan and the Exodus leadership saw “the writing on the wall”. Whilst this may have been a contributing factor, to accept this simplistic assumption demonstrates a lack of understanding about the complexities involved and all that went on behind the scenes. A deeper look reveals several key factors that brought, what was inconceivable to many, into the world of reality. Let’s just remind ourselves again what actually happened.
The largest, most influential, longest running (37 years) ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy organisation said “sorry we were wrong” and overnight closed its doors.
From my observation all the factors below were key elements that contributed to the closure. We can learn lessons from these.
- The societal shift factor
Personally, I’ve never liked the term “culture wars” or used it; it’s an evangelical construct/concept. It began taking hold thanks to failed Republican presidential nominee and televangelist Pat Buchanan.
In 1992 at the Republican National Convention, he claimed: “There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself. The agenda][Bill] Clinton and [Hillary] Clinton would impose on America — abortion on demand……….homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat — that’s change, all right. But it is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs. And it is not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God’s country”.
Them’s fightin’ words Pat. Rally the troops!
The mythical, conspiracy theory, “The Gay Agenda” had now become a ‘Culture War”
Under some objective analysis it isn’t hard to see that American evangelism is pretty much fear based. Fear of hell; fear of the judgment of God on the nation, fear of being overcome, fear of losing your children and freedom, a fear of falling from grace, a fear of being outside the will of God. The list is endless. If you don’t believe me then just Google the comments by high profile evangelical leaders in the US after September 11 and hurricane Katrina. Fear drives people into action and is a powerful motivator for fundraising apparently.
It was only a culture war in the minds of conservative Christians because they felt threatened. Institutions only rise when they feel threatened. If there was any war going on it was a battle for equality. What was actually happening was a shift in society’s consciousness/understanding of sexuality and gender identity that was leading to equality. It’s been a progressive evolution (another dirty word for evangelicals) that has been going on for at least four decades. At one point Exodus moved from being a support network to the front lines of the “culture wars”. As Alan Chambers has admitted ….this was a BIG mistake.
Sometimes the Christians played real dirty as you will see on this Boxed Turtle article, In 2012, Charisma magazine resurrected an eight year old article of Alan’s possibly to discredit his and Exodus’s recent shifts. Alan responded, “I have no idea why Charisma decided to reach so deep, edit and republish an 8 year old article that I am embarrassed that I ever wrote. Our PR team has asked them to remove the article and not to repost it. “Shame on you Charisma, whatever your motive/agenda was it certainly wasn’t a holy/Christian/righteous one.
Read the 8 Factors that Created the Tipping Point separately. No.1 The Society Shift Factor No.2 The Gulf Factor No.3 The Internet Factor No.4 The Honesty Factor No.5 The Bridge Building Factor No.6 The Listening Factor No.7 The Evolving Faith Factor No.8 The Midlife Factor
Copyright © Anthony Venn-Brown