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Paulk Disciplined for Gay Bar Visit

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  • James R Amaral
    Chairman Disciplined for Gay Bar Visit *** For Immediate Release *** Dated: October 3, 2000 SEATTLE--The Exodus North American board of directors voted today
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2000
      Chairman Disciplined for Gay Bar Visit

      *** For Immediate Release ***

      Dated: October 3, 2000

      SEATTLE--The Exodus North American board of directors voted today to remove John Paulk as board chairman--but to retain him as a board member on "probationary" status--after confirming media reports that he was photographed in a gay bar in Washington, DC, on the evening on September 19.

      "John told the board that he had 'no sinful intentions' in entering that bar," said Bob Davies, North American Director of Exodus International. "However, he did engage in behavior which has negatively impacted the credibility of Exodus. He was guilty of a serious lapse in judgment, and we feel that his behavior warrants some type of disciplinary action."

      Davies said in a September 21 statement regarding the incident: "John's actions represent a serious lapse in sound judgment. His decision to enter a gay establishment for any reason opens him up to all kinds of speculation and questions by both other Exodus leaders and also the gay community."

      Paulk's visit to Mr. P's, a popular bar in the heavily-gay Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, was documented with photos and news reports which spread worldwide via the Internet within 24 hours. Initially, Paulk told the media and other Exodus leaders that he had entered Mr. P's at random to use the bathroom. Later, he admitted that he had entered the bar knowing it was a gay establishment.

      "It's very unfortunate that initially John was so fearful that he hid the truth [about his reasons for entering the bar]," said Bob Davies. "He told me later that he was more ashamed of how he handled that than his initial decision to enter the bar."

      Initial public statements issued by Exodus and repeated by director Bob Davies to the media were based on John's false claim that he had unknowingly entered Mr. P's. "That statement was widely doubted by both other Exodus leaders and by the gay community," Davies said. "John's unwillingness to tell the truth from the beginning was most unfortunate, as it has further undermined his public credibility."

      Davies said that he and Paulk have discussed Paulk's possible motivations for entering the bar while on a business trip to Washington unrelated to his duties as Exodus chairman. "I personally, based on my years of experience with John, do not believe he was in that bar looking for sex with another man," Davies told Southern Voice, the gay online publication which intially broke the story (www.southernvoice.com). "But I believe he was enjoying a temporary escape from the responsibilities of the rest of his life. That was his pattern for years in the gay community."

      During their meeting today, the Exodus board developed a list of requirements that Paulk must fulfill on an ongoing basis in order to remain on the board. "These criteria are not being made public," Davies said. "But we are confident that they will ensure that John is given appropriate accountability and support as he moves through a period of restoration."

      Davies said that Paulk's probationary status will be reviewed every three months by the Exodus board. Paulk is eligible to remain on the board until August 2001, when his second 3-year term will be completed. At that time, under Exodus bylaws, he is ineligible to serve on the board again until he has remained off the board for a minimum of one year.

      During his probationary period, Paulk will not attend board meetings or have voting privileges.

      "The bigger picture here is that we want to demonstrate a balance of compassion and justice," Bob Davies said in a written statement released today to all Exodus leaders. "We believe that John's actions--to spend time socializing in a gay bar, and then to mislead both the public and Exodus leaders--merit some form of disciplinary action. At the same time, John has demonstrated genuine remorse over his behavior and the negative impact that it has had on the credibility of Exodus. ...He is deeply committed to his wife and children. He is willing to seek godly counsel in analyzing what brought him to this point.... He is also willing to submit himself to appropriate accountability to ensure that he does not succumb to similar behavior in the future.

      "We as a board wish to express our ongoing love, support and commitment to John as a beloved brother in Christ who has invested deeply in our organization for over a decade. John has made incredible contributions to the work of Exodus, and we are sincerely grateful. We solicit the ongoing prayers of our supporters as we continue to walk alongside him as he seeks fuller maturity in his Christian walk," Davies said.

      Davies said that he hoped "the coming months will be a time of helpful introspection as Exodus leaders examine their own vulnerabilities to temptation."

      Davies said, "I believe that, as an organization, we also need to re-examine other issues: the public perception of our use of terms such as 'healing' and 'change'; the stress upon our leaders who share the public spotlight; the necessity among all our leaders for ongoing accountability; etc. This incident, however unfortunate, is giving us another wonderful opportunity to share our unique message with the watching world and also the Body of Christ. I hope that our redemptive response to this situation will be a godly example for many churches in dealing with their own leaders who stumble in various ways."

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      Exodus International-North America
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