In 2007, I worked with Bilerico contributor Paige Schilt and others to create the "Ex-Gay Survivor Conference" in Irvine, California. Exodus International - the organization which has claimed to change people from gay to straight for nearly 40 years - was hosting its annual conference in the same city that same weekend.
The conference Paige and I created brought together 200 people from all over the world that had been emotionally, mentally, and spiritually harmed by Exodus and other such programs. Our conference nonviolently challenged the toxic message perpetuated by Exodus, and simultaneously provided a venue for survivors of such abusive programs to tell their stories and begin the healing process.
Yesterday, Exodus International announced it is closing down. A clip from their announcenement and President Alan Chambers' personal apology are after the break.
From Exodus International's statement:
"Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we've ceased to be a living, breathing organism," said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. "For quite some time we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical."
Chambers continued: "From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we're all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal's older brother, trying to impose its will on God's promises, and make judgments on who's worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father - to welcome everyone, to love unhindered."
For these reasons, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. "This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation," said Chambers. "Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities."
From Alan Chambers personal apology:
Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.
Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn't change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn't stand up to people publicly "on my side" who called you names like sodomite--or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.
Thank goodness. Kudos to Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out, Christine Bakke, Peterson Toscano, and so many others that have worked endlessly to see this day become a reality.