Alan Chambers, President of Exodus
One of the leading Christian groups in the US that’s promoted the ‘conversion’ of gay people through prayer for almost four decades has shut its doors, with its leader apologising for the harm he’s caused.
In a statement posted on its website, Exodus International – which was founded in 1976 and became influential across the world – announced that it is closing down.
The organisation’s Board of Directors said it had reached a decision “after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organisation’s place in a changing culture”.
The message came less than a day after Exodus released a statement apologising to the gay community for “years of undue judgment by the organisation and the Christian Church as a whole”.
In the letter, titled “I Am Sorry,” Alan Chambers, President of Exodus, 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 stigmatised 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ﾗ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,” said Chambers. (Read the full letter here.)
In July last year, Chambers admitted that he no longer believed that homosexuality can be ‘cured’.
“I do not believe that cure is a word that is applicable to really any struggle, homosexuality included. For someone to put out a shingle and say, ‘I can cure homosexuality’ – that to me is as bizarre as someone saying they can cure any other common temptation or struggle that anyone faces on Planet Earth,” he told AP.
Chambers, who has himself struggled with his sexual orientation, is married to a woman and has children. He also admitted that he is not ‘cured’ of his homosexual urges.
Since its formation, Exodus International has grown to include over 120 ministries in the United States and Canada and over 150 ministries in 17 other countries.
In 2009, it was accused of fuelling anti-gay hysteria in Uganda by taking part in a conference in that country that led to the drafting of the dreaded Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The organisation later issued a statement saying that it did not support the bill.
Truth Wins Out, the US organisation that campaigns against gay ‘cures’ or reparative therapy, applauded Chambers and his board for voting to shut down Exodus International.
“It takes a real man to publicly confront the people whose lives were destroyed by his organisation’s work, and to take real, concrete action to begin to repair that damage, and to work to ensure that no more lives are destroyed by harmful, discredited ‘ex-gay’ therapy,” said Truth Wins Out’s Associate Director Evan Hurst.
The organisation’s Director Wayne Besen added that “there is still far more work to do to put an end to the awful practice of ‘ex-gay’ reparative therapy …there are still enough charlatans and hucksters out there committed to pushing their discredited worldview, at the expense of LGBTQ people and their families, to keep us busy.”
There seems to be a recent growth in religious reparative therapy in South Africa, with at least three reports this year of Christian based ‘gay cure’ services in the country.
These kinds of therapies have been denounced by credible medical and psychological groups around the world as being ineffective and dangerous.