Anti-bullying evangelist with ties to the White House ‘told assistant to quit’ when he found out he was gay
A former assistant to the anti-bullying motivational speaker Nick Vujicic claimed he was encouraged to quit when Vujicic learned he was gay.
Vujicic is an Christian evangelist who was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterised by the absence of arms and legs.
After a childhood of bullying that led him to the brink of suicide, he founded the Christian ministry Life Without Limbs and now gives motivational speeches at schools, churches, prisons, hospitals and stadiums around the world.
But his former assistant, Bradon Schwarz, has claimed that his message of tolerance and acceptance didn’t extend to his sexuality.
“Nick, a man I long admired, told me I couldn’t work for him anymore as a gay man, and our relationship quickly unraveled,” he alleged in The Advocate.
“I’ve struggled to maintain my adoration for the man who rejected me because of who I am, but as I continue watching him share his anti-bullying message across the world — as well as observe his close ties to homophobes Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos, for whom he’s been a personal adviser — I can’t stay silent anymore.”
Schwarz struck up a friendship with Vujicic in 2013 and worked as his assistant from 2015 to 2016.
“I traveled with him and helped him share his message,” Schwarz said. “Part of my job was to be his caregiver. I would feed, bathe, and clothe Nick and even carry him wherever he needed to go. We went thousands of miles across 15 countries all over the world.”
Their work with religious conservatives led him to meet “some of the most notoriously homophobic people in our country” — including Mike Pence, with whom Vujicic partnered for a statewide school and prison outreach.
“Hiding in the closet around these people put me in a difficult situation,” Schwarz said, but he did so because he wanted the opportunity to be mentored by Vujicic, a man he saw as his hero.
Vujicic also offered to help expand Schwarz’s family’s charity, Extreme Mobility Camps, which empowers blind and visually impaired youth through sports and training.
“Not only was my income tied up in this lie, but I felt the future of my family’s nonprofit was at stake,” Schwarz added.
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Thank you @vp for supporting our youth initiatives since 2013 with our anti-bullying campaigns for the young people of America! It was an honor to be in your office today as VP looking over the table that holds the weekly VP Bible Study group. Thanking God for how He is using you with sensitive issues today! Praying for you, a praying man.
He said he was aware that Vujicic was an “outspoken critic of the queer community”, but had no idea his friend and mentor would cut him off entirely. He was outed when a friend of Vujicic’s saw a photo he posted the morning after the Pulse nightclub shooting.
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“I told Nick and asked what he wanted me to do. I ultimately offered to resign, but only if Nick indeed wanted me to quit. He did. So I did,” Schwarz said.
From that moment he claims Vujicic cut all ties with him, as well as Extreme Mobility Camps.
Vujicic went from “donating tens of thousands of dollars over the course of several years, advising our board, and speaking at and hosting our events to withdrawing all support from my family’s charity”, Schwarz said.
Meanwhile, he has had to watch as his former boss launches a nationwide school ‘anti-bullying’ curriculum — with no mention of bullying against LGBT+ people.
“I hope I’ll have the chance to meet him again so we can discuss the importance of providing schools with anti-bullying curriculums that don’t neglect queer people,” Schwarz said. “Speaking out against injustice is what faith calls us to do.”