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Satyagraha: Firmness in Truth
The Cofounders of Exodus?
by Maggie Heineman September 19, 1999
On Mel White's Soulforce site, the Step2 file has a link labeled "scientific" to the Soulforce Sexual Orientation and Science page, which in turn, has a link to an essay, Accepting What Cannot be Changed, by Dr. David G. Myers, a professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland Michigan. Like countless others, Myers uses the Bussee/Cooper story to discredit reorientation ministries.
Professor David G. Myers: Exodus’ own co-founders, Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, fell in love and left the organization. "I counseled . . . hundreds of people . . . who tried to change their sexual orientation and none of them changed," recalls Bussee (quoted in Record, Spring, 1990). "The bottom line is, it doesn’t work."In the documentary "One Nation Under God" Bussee says that he and Cooper were among the co-founders. The word "among" should always be used. A whispering down the lane effect has caused people to believe that Bussee and Cooper are "the co-founders" or "Exodus' own co-founders."
Bob Davies: One time I asked Frank Worthen about Gary Cooper. He said, 'Gary who?' Frank should know -- he was at the first Exodus conference and has been involved every day since its inception. I questioned Michael Bussee about this a few years ago, and he said that Gary was a volunteer in the ministry at that time, and he picked up conference guests at the airport who were arriving for the conference. [see: The role of Michael Bussee or Gary Cooper in the Founding of Exodus.]It is important to be accurate about the roles of Bussee and Cooper. When those who know the history of Exodus, hear the Bussee/Cooper half-truth being used to discredit reorientation ministries, it reinforces a belief that those who dismiss exgay ministries have trouble with truth.
The establishment of the Exodus network in 1976 is analogous to the establishment of the PFLAG federation in 1981. Leaders, who had established independent support groups during the previous decade, came together to establish a nationwide organization.
Bussee, founder of the Exit ministry in Anaheim, took initiative in organizing the 1976 meeting. Cooper, who was on staff at Exit, likely helped with the telephoning which is mentioned by Bob Davis in his history of Exodus.
The Soulforce Sexual Orientation and Science page says that Dr. Myers' essay, Accepting What Cannot be Changed, appears in the 4th edition of Dr. Myer's textbook Exploring Psychology published in 1999 and a similar essay appears in the 5th edition of Dr. Myers Psychology published in 1998. Reviewing the listings at Amazon, I see the 4th edition of Exploring Psychology in 1998 and a 1999 text, Exploring Social Psychology. I don't see a textbook by Myers called Psychology
These are trivial discrepancies, only discovered because of my need to verify information before passing it along as fact. But who among us double checks everything? Like Gandhi, we have ambition to do more work than we can manage, and though we may have learned not to pass along urban legends and virus warnings, we all have been wrong on the facts. As Satyagrahis, we want to be corrected on errors small and large, and we act swiftly to correct them. As Satyagrahis, we do not question the motives of those who get their facts wrong.
The laudatory readers reviews at the Amazon site suggest to me that Dr. Myer's textbook, Exploring Psychology is widely used.
We will later discuss Mel White's Sexual Orientation and Science and Dr. Myer's Accepting What Cannot be Changed in the contet of our analysis of the fund raising letter from James Kennedy and Janet Folger.