The board of directors for Seattle-based Exodus North America voted Oct. 3 to remove John Paulk as board chairman but to retain him as a board member on "probationary" status. The decision follows media reports that Paulk was photographed visiting a gay bar in Washington, D.C. on the evening of Sept. 19.
Exodus International is a Christian organization that encourages homosexuals to leave the gay lifestyle. Paulk, who works for Focus on the Family, is the ex-gay movement's most visible leader. While he is on probation, Paulk will not attend board meetings or have voting privileges.
"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."
Earlier Davies had said that Paulk's actions were "a serious lapse in sound judgment" and that regardless of his reasons for visiting the gay bar, the visit "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 in Washington, was documented with photos. Initially Paulk said he entered the bar at random to use the restroom, but later admitted he had known it was a gay establishment before entering it.
"It's very unfortunate that initially John was so fearful that he hid the truth," said Davies. "He told me later that he was more ashamed of how he handled that than his initial decision to enter the bar. John's unwillingness to tell the truth from the beginning ...