Readers may remember the incident from last October when Exodus member and therapist James Phelan “one-two drop kicked the hell out of” a fellow marathon runner. The other runner had objected to Phelan yelling about how he thought those cheering along the sidelines with pride flags were “pushing the gay agenda.” An alleged shove led to the drop kick response by Phelan. We were never able to get any third-party verification of the incident, but Phelan not only admitted to his actions, but bragged about them in a post on his blog.
XGW posted about this to call attention, not just to what we saw as an overly violent reaction, but to Phelan’s apparent glee in the telling of it. This did not seem proper for a professional therapist, particularly one who claimed a desire to “help” gay clients. Exodus President Alan Chambers responded in similar fashion, and shortly thereafter Phelan was removed from the Exodus referral list. Phelan was also allowed to resign from the anti-gay Transforming Congregations ministry over the same issue. He remains a member of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) without interruption, and is certified by Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation (IHF) as a “sexual re-orientation coach.”
We have since learned that Chambers has invited Phelan back as a member of Exodus, presumably to once again receive referrals from the organization. Phelan explained in an email response to our query:
I was “suspended” by Alan Chambers because he did not like my comments in my blog back in Oct. These are when I posted about the marathon and he and Randy wrote in. My responses were, in his opinion, mean-spirited. As a result, later on, I did talk with them and agreed that I had said some mean things and apologized. At the same time, they (Randy, Alan, and Melissa Ingram- board chief) felt my blog was not in line with Exodus values. As a result, they asked me to wait some time before they would reinstate me to the member network. Through this time they did some monitoring and we did some telephone diaglouging. After the Exodus Leadership conference they spoke with me and said as of March 08 I was invited back to the network.
Phelan says he has not yet taken them up on their offer. It appears that Exodus executives, while distancing themselves from Phelan when his behavior was in the forefront, now have reason to want him back. For what it is worth, we suggest that Phelan pass up this invitation to return, and perhaps realize from recent events just how superficial and self-serving these entities can really be.