Melissa McCarthy and HBO Max have announced that they’re pulling their support for the evangelical nonprofit Exodus Cry as part of their “20 Days of Kindness” fundraising campaign.
“There’s no other way to say it: We blew it,” McCarthy said in a video posted to Instagram Thursday night. “We made a mistake and we backed a charity that upon further vetting stands for everything that we do not.”
“I want to thank everyone on social media who said, ‘What are you doing? Are you sure you want to back this?’” McCarthy continued. “Because the answer is, ‘No, we do not.’”
HBO Max launched “20 Days of Kindness” on Tuesday, tying it to World Kindness Day on Friday and the upcoming Thanksgiving release of McCarthy’s new movie Superintelligence. But Exodus Cry stuck out from the other charities.
The Daily Beast’s Tarpley Hitt exclusively reported on Thursday that Exodus Cry frames itself as an anti-sex-trafficking group but in reality works to abolish sex work entirely. Its founder, Benjamin Nolot, has called abortion a “holocaust” and homosexuality “an unspeakable offense to God,” Hitt noted. The group has spent years lobbying to criminalize the purchase of sex and recently launched a campaign to shutter Pornhub.
In its own statement, HBO Max said they’d axed Exodus Cry from the fundraiser’s roster: “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,” a rep for the streamer told Entertainment Tonight.
Exodus Cry, meanwhile, now has an extensive “Myths vs. Truths” page on its website. It includes a statement from Nolot, who claims that his outlook on queer people has evolved. “In the past I did not adequately recognize the impact of anti-marriage legislation on sexual minorities and I deeply regret the pain and offense that has caused,” he wrote, in part. “I love, respect and advocate for the right of all people to be free from all forms of oppression... I want to make clear that I fully embrace the LGBTQ community as a group that deserves all of the rights that protect their dignity, safety and equality.”
As she concluded her video, McCarthy said she hopes that “20 Days of Kindness”’ previous affiliation with Exodus Cry will not affect the other charities involved in the campaign.
“We are so incredibly grateful for you ringing the bell and helping us be better,” McCarthy said. “We’re sorry for our mistake. Oh boy, are we sorry for it—can’t believe that we missed it. And that’s it... Let the kindness continue, and thank you. Thanks for your help. We really needed it.”