HBO Max and actress Melissa McCarthy have confirmed they have revoked a $20,000 donation to anti-sex trafficking group Exodus Cry over claims the organization is tied to Christianity.
“We blew it,” said McCarthy, who stars in Superintelligence, a film that is linked to a charity promotion that granted the donation to the organization that has targeted the porn industry for its involvement in the exploitation of women and girls.
Melissa McCarthy posted a video to Instagram with the message:
It has come to our attention that our 20 Days of Kindness, which is something — a kindness up that we started to kind of shine a light on 20 great charities — had one in there that, there’s no other way to say it, we blew it. We made a mistake and we backed a charity that, upon proper vetting, stands for everything that we do not. So, I want to thank everyone, on social media who said, “What are you doing? Are you sure you want to back this?” Because the answer is no we do not.
HBO Max announced the film would be the focus of its holiday charity effort called “20 Days of Kindness”:
We decided to have some fun and do some good as we spread some kindness to this world. That’s why we are giving away a Tesla Model X (Carol’s ride from Superintelligence) and a virtual hang with Melissa McCarthy herself to raise funds for a few incredible organizations…not to mention we are even giving away some seats to Superintelligence‘s Virtual Premiere!
Day 1 of our #20DaysOfKindness The #Superintelligence family is so inspired by @girlswhocode and their commitment to support + educate young women to ensure they have a place in technology. @att was inspired to give $1,000,000 !!!!!! Thank you for an incredible DAY 1! @hbomax pic.twitter.com/RNyDBLDhZ2
— Melissa McCarthy (@melissamccarthy) November 11, 2020
The Daily Beast flagged the donation to Exodus Cry, claiming the anti-sex trafficking group is “part of a strange anti-porn operation” that has “ties to Trump and the Christian right.”
The Beast reported Benjamin Nolot, founder of Exodus Cry, started the organization in 2007 as “little more than a weekly prayer group” at the “charismatic Christian enclave known, incredibly as the International House of Prayer, or IHOP.”
Mike Bickle, the founder of IHOP, the Beast stated, is against same-sex marriage and promoted traditional marriage in Uganda through a documentary film.
The Beast cites Right Wing Watch, a group that keeps vigilance over the “extreme agenda” of Christians and others whose views it does not tolerate, as noting IHOP’s Bickle was part of an evangelical Christian group that supported Trump.
“We have pulled it,” McCarthy continued about the donation to Exodus Cry, apologizing profusely:
We are so incredibly grateful for you ringing the bell and helping us be better. We’re sorry for our mistake. Oh boy, are we sorry for it. [I] can’t believe that we missed it. And that’s it. And I just want to say that I hope it doesn’t ding the other charities because they’re really doing some amazing things, and 20 Days of Kindness Is really meant to shine the light on all of those wonderful charities. So, let the kindness continue… and thank you. Thanks for the help, we really needed it.
HBO Max also said, according to the Wrap, “We were made aware of the issues surrounding Exodus Cry and have removed them from the list of partners associated with the 20 Days of kindness campaign.”
Exodus Cry, however, said in a statement on its website that, as a result of confronting PornHub/MindGeek about its “complicity in the mass sex trafficking and exploitation of women and girls,” the porn company “has sought to gaslight and deflect from the crimes they have committed by making false accusations.”
The organization identifies itself as “an independent US 501c3 organization, with consultative status at the United Nations, that exists to combat sex trafficking and all forms of commercial sexual exploitation both domestically and internationally.”
Exodus Cry denies accusations it is an “anti-LGBTQ+ organization”:
Exodus Cry exists to help every person, including those who identify as LGBTQ+, be free from the harms of commercial sexual exploitation. Exodus Cry is an organization that since its inception has never advocated, campaigned, or focused on any other issue besides sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation is the singular focus of Exodus Cry, and any suggestion that Exodus Cry has campaigned against any other issue is categorically false. Exodus Cry’s 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.
In March, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) urged the Justice Department to investigate PornHub, and its parent company MindGeek, over allegations both are exploiting sex trafficking victims, including children.
“PornHub must not escape scrutiny,” Sasse said. “I therefore request that the Department open an investigation into PornHub and its parent entity MindGeek Holding SARL for their involvement in this disturbing pipeline of exploiting children and other victims and survivors of sex trafficking.”
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