None too kind
Actress Melissa McCarthy reverses course on support for anti-trafficking organization
Actress Melissa McCarthy’s “20 Days of Kindness” campaign turned out to be anything but kind to a Christian anti–sex trafficking organization.
The nonprofit Exodus Cry said HBO Max contacted it two weeks ago to say McCarthy had selected the group to receive $20,000 and free promotion on her social media accounts. The charity blitz was part of a promotional campaign for McCarthy’s upcoming HBO Max movie, Superintelligence.
Exodus Cry says on its website that it “exists to combat sex trafficking and all forms of commercial sexual exploitation both domestically and internationally.” It helps people leave the commercial sex trade and advocates for political and social change to prevent human trafficking. The group announced its participation in 20 Days of Kindness on Nov. 10.
Two days later, the Daily Beast posted an article with the headline, “Why are HBO and Melissa McCarthy raising money for an anti-abortion group?” The article pointed out that Exodus Cry founder and CEO, Benjamin Nolot, made past comments against abortion, homosexuality, and gay marriage. It also pointed out the charity co-sponsors a campaign with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation called #Traffickinghub to shut down Pornhub, an adult pornographic website. Pornography has been linked to sex trafficking.
Exodus Cry also produced a documentary on Netflix about prostitution and the dangers of the hook-up culture.
All that was enough to make McCarthy cry mea culpa on Instagram on Thursday: “We blew it,” she said. “We backed a charity that, upon proper vetting, stands for everything we do not.” She thanked those who flagged the charity, apologized again, and encouraged viewers to keep donating to her other choices. Planned Parenthood, on the campaign’s list of charities, met her approval.
In a statement to WORLD, Exodus Cry spokesman Daniel Garcia claimed The Daily Beast and McCarthy got it all wrong. He said Exodus Cry does not take a stance on abortion, though its CEO, Nolot, does believe in “the protection of life in the womb.” The charity partners with organizations both for and against abortion with the goal of ending trafficking.
Additionally, Garcia said, “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 is a former member of International House of Prayer (IHOP), a congregation whose leader, Mike Bickle, has admitted that 80 percent of the charismatic phenomena that occurred at meetings he’s been part of were fraudulent and fake. Christian organizations such as Grace to You, Pirate Christian, and Christian Research Institute have criticized IHOP for other reasons over the years, including false teachings, an emphasis on prophetic words over the Bible, and a cult-like hold on young people.
Exodus Cry did grow out of IHOP in 2008. Garcia did not comment on any link with IHOP but reiterated Exodus Cry’s sole purpose is to stop sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
Garcia also said the United Nations gave the organization consultative status and more than 300 organizations worldwide endorse Exodus Cry and its fight against trafficking. In 2011, it produced an award-winning documentary exposing horrors of trafficking. It recently put out a video showing the connection between pornography and child trafficking.
Exodus Cry has received an outpouring of public support since the McCarthy removed the group from her campaign, Garcia said: “We’re 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.”
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