Hollywood star Melissa McCarthy gave into her critics late last week, pulling her support from Exodus Cry, a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Benjamin Nolot, founder of Exodus Cry, said in a statement shared with Faithwire he is “extremely disappointed” in McCarthy.
Initially, the 50-year-old celebrity included Exodus Cry as one of the 20 charities in her “20 Days of Kindness” campaign, an initiative launched in partnership with HBO Max, home of McCarthy’s upcoming movie “Superintelligence.”
Everything appeared copacetic, until The Daily Beast ran an article describing Exodus Cry as an “anti-abortion group hell-bent on killing the sex industry.”
The writer, Tarpley Hitt, went on to call the anti-trafficking charity “a conservative evangelical organization — whose founder has called abortion a ‘holocaust’ and homosexuality an ‘unspeakable offense to God’ — that is dedicated to abolishing the commercial sex industry.”
McCarthy was then hit with a handful of angry tweets from social media users who described Exodus Cry as “anti-choice” and “homophobic.”
The “Spy” star made the decision, then, to completely pull the Sacramento-based nonprofit from her campaign. She also apologized profusely for ever including it in the initiative.
Nolot said he and his team learned McCarthy made the decision to renege on her commitment to Exodus Cry “after reading false allegations about our organization published by a well-trafficked website,” referring to The Daily Beast.
“As saddened as we are about the lost opportunity to showcase our organization,” he explained, “we are devastated that Exodus Cry, which works tirelessly to eliminate human trafficking, has been so mischaracterized and maligned.”
In his statement on McCarthy’s decision, Nolot said that, while he personally believes “in the protection of life in the womb,” his charity “has never taken a position and aligns with a diverse range of groups on the common goal of putting an end to sex trafficking and all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.”
This is not the first time Exodus Cry has been mischaracterized due to its foundation in Christianity. Over the summer, the charity published a blog post titled “Myths vs. Truths About Exodus Cry” in hopes of clearing up any misconceptions people might have about the group.
In the blog post, Nolot addressed inaccurate reporting on the charity’s position on sexuality and the LGBT community. Some 10 years ago, Nolot posted a single tweet about marriage equality. That singular, years-old comment is the foundation of The Beast’s untrue claim that Exodus Cry is “anti-gay.”
“Like much of our nation, a decade ago, when the issue was being widely debated, I expressed in a single personal tweet that I thought government had a role to play in deciding who could and could not marry,” Nolot said this summer. “Today, like many, my views have evolved and I have taken time to better understand the LGBTQ experience and listen to their voices.”
And in his latest statement, the Exodus Cry founder said his charity has “served countless members of the LGBTQ+ community and have fought for them to be protected from all forms of sexual exploitation.”
“Our official statement of inclusion on our website expresses that our organization loves, supports, includes, and respects people from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or political views,” Nolot added.
Despite the claims in the article at The Beast, Nolot said in his statement Exodus Cry, which is nonpartisan and apolitical, “has never advocated, campaigned, or focused on any other issue besides abolishing sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.”
As for the suggestion Exodus Cry wants to in some way harm “sex workers,” the charity has endorsed the so-called “Nordic model,” which, rather than criminalizing the act of prostitution itself, seeks to prosecute those people who hire prostituted women.
Laila Mickelwait, director of abolition for Exodus Cry, explained it to Faithwire this way: “It doesn’t put women in prostitution behind bars. It sees them as victims, provides social services and exit services for them, and then goes after the pimps and the johns and the traffickers and the brothel owners and those who would seek to exploit women in prostitution.”
Looking on the bright side, Nolot said he is thankful for the positive attention Exodus Cry has received as a result of this falling out with McCarthy.
“Although we are dismayed by the far-reaching spread of intentional misinformation,” said Nolot, “we are blessed by the outpouring of public support from followers, trafficking survivors, and those who are just learning about our organization. We remain incredibly grateful for all who are standing with us as we continue to maintain a steady focus on the important work of abolishing global sex trafficking.”