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Ex-Gay Group Exodus International Shuts Its Doors For Good

The logo of Exodus International

The logo of Exodus International

It’s over, and by ‘it’ I mean one of the largest ex-gay groups and ministries in the nation. Exodus International is closing its doors- forever. The announcement came earlier this night during Alan Chambers’ keynote speech at Exodus Freedom.

According to the announcement, the Board of Directors reached the decision “after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture.”

Tony Moore, a board member of Exodus, stated “We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard.”

Still, this came a day after Exodus released an apology to the LGBT community for “years of undue judgement” by the organization and by members of the Christian faith as a whole. In the apology, Chambers wrote:

Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement [sic] by me.

Chambers said of the closing of Exodus that “Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism. For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”

He continued by saying “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.”

The decision to shutter Exodus was unanimous. The plan is to start a new ministry. According to Chambers “This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation. Our goals are to reduce fear, and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.” Despite the shuttering of Exodus International, some of the affiliated ministries will continue their damaging work, but they were always autonomous anyway, and will no longer carry the Exodus banner.

Truth Wins Out pointed out that they “commend Alan Chambers,” and that “his written apology is open and one-hundred percent honest, and quite frankly, it took a real man to write it.”

In the apology, Chambers acknowledges the damage that he and his group have done. In it he wrote:

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.

The full apology follows.

Chambers notes that he hopes that no other ‘ex-gay’ organization will come along to fill the void left by Exodus. Still, given that many of those who have been left to the wind by Exodus’ closing are heading to the Restored Hope Network which is holding their own conference in Oklahoma City, it seems likely that the battle over the heart and soul of Christianity, and the safety of many lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals is still at risk.

Still, it takes a lot for someone to say to an old enemy ‘welcome and we forgive’, but welcome Mr. Chambers, let us work on undoing the damage caused, and making sure that we all have a safe place in the future.

Here is the full apology via TWO:

Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me.

And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.

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.

Friends and critics alike have said it’s not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated.

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.

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them. I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.

You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope the changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show that I am serious in both my regret and my offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good.

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2 Responses to Ex-Gay Group Exodus International Shuts Its Doors For Good

  1. P Smith

    June 20, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    So, did they really wake up one day and realize they were a hate group? Or have donations dried up?

  2. Sleepless in Ohio

    June 20, 2013 at 4:39 am

    Good riddance to bad rubbish