Exodus International doesn’t exit gracefully

Spoiler alert! Do you really think I’m going to rate this app? First of all, it isn’t available—at least not unless Apple buckles to the religious right as quickly as they buckled to the left. Secondly, if I rate it highly my liberal friends and Carol will be furious with me, Bill Maher might actually notice me on Real Time with a nasty wise crack (okay, that wouldn’t be so bad) and I’ll suddenly end up on the mailing list of every fringe nut job right winger with a cause and I already get enough spam and junk mail from the causes I do support.

But if I knock it, someone will spam the blog to religious right wingers everywhere, Sarah Palin will add me to her bad journalists list and most of my family will roll their eyes and think there I go again. They’re still mad at me for pointing out that the only verse in the Bible that remotely relates to abortion (“I knew you in the womb”) was actually God’s call to Jeremiah to be a prophet. In fact, people who want to use Jeremiah as a reference on abortion ignore the passage in chapter 20 where Jeremiah hopes people who piss God off will wish their parents had aborted them.1


Last week Apple approved the iPhone app Exodus International, an app to promote a ministry dedicated to curing young homosexuals and setting them on the straight and narrow path of religious guilt. Now trust me, having been raised a Baptist preacher’s kid (BPK), embracing religious guilt is preferable to just about anything—assuming you’re the one passing on the guilt and not the one feeling it.

It’s also a great tool for making damn sure kids turn out exactly the opposite of how you want them to turn out.

Apple received a petition with over a hundred thousand signatures to remove Exodus International from the App Store and apparently they caved in.

They would probably sell half a million more iPads and even more iPhones if they buckled to pressure from people who want to see Flash on their devices. Somehow they resisted that pressure, but not the pressure on this app.

I had intended to review Exodus International next week, but with all the furor I bumped AppAdvice to next week. Why miss an opportunity to make so much noise over something so trivial? And trivial it is, no matter how much spin we put on it. Is the app offensive? Yes. Likely to undermine thousands of young gay men and women?

On a scale of 1 to child pornography I have to rate Exodus International far below forced intervention, kidnapping and deprogramming, boot camp and packing kids off to military school.

And to those who got so outraged about the app, I have to ask: “Aren’t liberals the ones who think we have more important things to get upset about than same sex sex? Like massive poverty, the pending collapse of the oil economy, Republicans and the newly exposed evidence that nuclear power will never ever, under any circumstances, be safe? Except in heaven where we won’t need it?” So really, liberals, really?

And did it ever occur to you guys that you just gave the religious right more ammunition in their Culture War propaganda? Don’t you know that Rush, Glenn, Sarah et al will now be blogging, tweeting and flaming about liberals trying to restrict free speech rights?

I could understand people getting upset about an app that flames cell phone users condemning soldiers while they attend their funerals. The reaction to Exodus International seems more like the reaction of all those people who boycotted The Last Temptation of Christ. I have to wonder how many people actually downloaded the app to see what the fuss was about before they jumped on the bandwagon.

But I thought we could at least look under the hood of Exodus International to see what makes it so offensive, or even if it’s a good app. And the answer to the more important question is: it’s fairly pedestrian for an iPhone app and it looks like crap on the iPad.

Exodus International is little more than a standard information delivery app, with news links, a calendar of Exodus International meetings across the country (most of which are training sessions for clergy who actually believe they can cure gay kids, or meetings for their panicked ignorant families who don’t want their kids to burn in hell with Elton John, but—so far as I can tell—not interventions for gay teens), one talking heads video that pretty much preaches to the choir,2 and a resources link with blogs, tweets and FAQs.

As of this writing most of the news links protest Apple’s unChristian and unAmerican treatment of Exodus International.

The news links take forever to load. Metaphorically, of course, but it doesn’t feel metaphorical when you’re waiting. The Calendar lists meetings across the country, but there’s a good chance there won’t be one near you for a while. My favorite calendar entry was for the international Exodus International conference which attracted nine hundred people last year. Once I saw that figure I begin to suspect this group was far less insidious or influential than liberals fear.

Check this calendar entry out. Exodus International’s international Freedom conference could attract as many as nine hundred people. And every one is a potential threat to your gay child, seducing him or her back to straight sex.

In Exodus International’s defense—and I’m not being caustic or wisecracking—the first information link I clicked on in their resources section makes it clear that Jesus won’t tolerate bullying or harassing gays and lesbians. Under no circumstances. I think gay teens would be happy to know that Christians are getting on the case of bullies even if their other ideas are somewhat twisted.

Exodus International makes it clear that bullying or harassing homosexuals is not on Jesus’ agenda. I don’t think this is a wink-wink, nudge-nudge statement either. Even these guys know they won’t have much success curing kids who are crippled, traumatized or dead.

I’m not sure this message will be any more effective curing would-be bullies than their tried and true techniques to cure homosexuality will actually cure gay kids. My experience as a BPK makes me pretty certain that they will be a lot more effective creating crippling guilt. But Christian, Jewish and Liberal parents do a pretty good job of that too.

Interestingly enough, Apple makes users accept a notice informing them that they must be eighteen to view browsers, comic books or any app that might reveal a breast or labia. As offensive as I personally find the idea of guilt-tripping anyone into changing their behavior because I think Jesus likes my sexual preferences better, I don’t see why Apple can’t just make users agree to the disclaimer, “I am eighteen or older and perfectly capable of listening to bozos who want me to give up same sex sex.”

Jenny Manytoes rates Exodus International

Cats don’t care about same sex marriage or same sex sex. Especially our cats, who have been spayed and neutered (which is more important to Carol and I than curing kids of homosexuality). So she tossed her tail in the air and left it up to me.

As an app, I would have to say Exodus International is fairly mediocre, but I’ve seen far worse jobs of interface design and delivery. As a social tool, I have to rate it right along with everything else on this planet. You can look it up in the Hitchhiker’s Guide: “Mostly harmless.”

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

1Honest, I wouldn’t lie about this. Jeremiah 20 (ESV):

11 But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 O LORD of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.
13 Sing to the LORD; praise the LORD! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers.
14 Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed!
15 Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, “A son is born to you,” making him very glad.
16 Let that man be like the cities that the LORD overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon,
17 because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great.
18 Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? But you should never back

There you go. Of course, you should never take anyone’s word for it. You should read for yourself (the entire passage, not just one verse). Then you can feel free to twist it out of context as well as any of us.


1Footnote Textback
2Not the Talking Heads because gay kids who are fans of David Byrne are probably too far gone for redemption.back

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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