June 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Largest ‘ex-gay’ group shuts down
Exodus International, Ex-gay, gay news, Washington Blade

Exodus International logo

Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry that claimed to have helped “cure” homosexuality for thousands of people through prayer and conversion therapy, announced on Tuesday that it is shutting down its operations.

The announcement came one day after its executive director, Alan Chambers, issued a written apology to the LGBT community acknowledging “the pain and hurt others have experienced” through failed attempts to convert from gay to straight.

Chambers’ announcement and apology also came about a year and a half after he startled leaders of the ex-gay movement by saying conversion therapy doesn’t work for more than 99 percent of the clients who undergo such therapy.

Experts from the nation’s leading, mainline mental health organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, have long held that conversion therapy doesn’t work and is harmful to those who undergo it.

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” Chambers said in a statement released on June 19.  “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical,” he said.

The statement, which was released during Exodus’s annual conference in Irvine, Calif., says the organization’s board voted unanimously to close its operations. It says local ex-gay ministries affiliated with Exodus throughout the country that have been autonomous would continue to operate, “but not under the name or umbrella of Exodus.”

Rev. Cindi Love, executive director of Soulforce, an LGBT supportive Christian organization that has long opposed the practice of conversion therapy, called the closing of Exodus International a positive development in the advancement of LGBT equality.

“I pray that Alan Chambers is truly remorseful about the damaged and lost lives as a result of Exodus interventions,” Love said in a statement. “Soulforce will never stop speaking up for our siblings who are vulnerable to the harm and spiritual violence caused by ‘ex-gay’ ministries,” she said.

“We are grateful for this development. God loves us exactly as we are – we need no repair,” she said. “Anyone who continues to try and ‘fix’ LGBT people makes a mockery of God’s love.”

Wayne Besen, founder and director of Truth Wins Out, an LGBT organization that has challenged the “ex-gay” movement, called the action by Chambers and other leaders of Exodus International a bold move and a “crippling blow” to the “ex-gay” movement.

“This will forever cast a looming shadow on the ‘ex-gay’ industry,” Besen told the Blade. “It cuts to the heart of their credibility. This will hang over their heads and diminish their false promises and their false hope that they’re selling to vulnerable and desperate people.”

Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program, called Exodus International’s decision to close its doors “a welcome first step” in addressing the harm she said Exodus has caused to LGBT people during the 37 years it has been in business in the U.S. and abroad.

“Now we need them to take the next step of leadership and persuade all other religious-based institutions that they got it wrong,” Groves said. “This is the right kind of reparative work that is left for them to do.”

In his written apology Chambers told of how up until recently he “conveniently” concealed his own “ongoing same-sex attractions” while continuing to advance Exodus International’s mission of helping people shed their homosexuality.

“Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there,” he said. “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,” indicating his plans to remain married to his wife Leslie.

“I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced,” he said. “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,” he continued.

“I am sorry that there were times when I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite – or worse,” Chambers said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • As a very straight, very atheistic father of a gay woman who just married her partner of 20 years under Washington State's relatively recent homosexual marriage law, I will say PRAISE THE LORD.

    • Your behavior is as wierd and backwards and makes as much sense as your perverted daughters behavior. If you an atheist then why would you praise the lord? Shouldnt you be praising your fellow sick twisted human kind. They are the ones who are passing these perverted laws.

  • I want to vomit. I am so sick and tired of this perversion and debauchery being shoved in mine and my children’s faces that if I had the money I would move to Russia. What the hell is wrong with people in our country these days. How can you not see that homosexual behavior is wierd, abnormal, freakish and absolutely bizarre. It is a mental disease. It doesn’t matter what an organization of doctors say. They are human which makes them fallible and prone to being wrong. Whether you believe in God, atheism, or evolution all you have to do is look at the anatomy of men and women to know they fit together. For hells sake, it takes a man and a women to perpetuate our species not a man and man or a women and a women. How in the hell can you reconcile the belief that sexual behavior that promotes the extinction and death of a species is normal. This world is so sick and backwards. A man will never be able to impregnate another man in the butt no matter how many millions of years of evolution occur. Think people think. Just stop and think what you are teaching young innocent minds. You are teaching them that flagitious acts of men penetrating other men in the butt for sexual pleasure is normal and good. You sick sick perverts. You will pay for the damage your nefarious and insidious promotion of such debauchery and abnormal behavior has caused.

  • The word gay means happy not homosexual. Stopping misusing the word. When there world was some what normal the proper term queer was used. Stop perverting and twisting innocent things especially children’s minds.

  • Mr. Chambers is gay? What a surprise. The louder the opposition, the deeper the closet. ‘Nuff’ said.

  • Why have you left my other comments in moderation limbo? What are you worried about? If my comments are wrong then people can just ignore them but I think the real reason you haven’t approved them is because 1. The media is mostly liberals who think any type of behavior is okay and if you say otherwise you’re not politically correct and 2. You don’t believe in freedom of speech unless the whatever is being said aligns with your beliefs. Way to be true jurnalist blade.

    • Sorry johnny boy but you aren’t commenting you’re simply hating. Go back to the hole you crawled out of and take that slime trail back with you.

      You bigots and your closed minds actually believe that you’re practicing freedom of speech when bash us gays and lesbians, yet anyone that criticizes you is a communist or fag, right? Don’t hold your breath waiting for your hate speech honey, you’ll die first.

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