A Christian ministry that led the so-called ex-gay movement, which professes to rid people of their homosexuality, has announced that it will shut down, and its leader apologized extensively to gays for causing “pain and hurt.”
The ministry, Exodus International, was founded in 1976 and claims more than 200 branches, churches and counselors in the United States and Canada. It had insisted that people could overcome same-sex attraction through prayer and therapy.
Mainstream psychiatric and medical groups have said that the movement, also known as reparative therapy, is unfounded in science and can be harmful. The American Psychiatric Association said 15 years ago that it could cause depression, anxiety and self-depressive behavior in patients.
The president of Exodus, Alan Chambers, who is married to a woman, acknowledged that he still has same-sex attractions, and he issued an apology for the damage his organization has done:
“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.”
This news comes as religious-right groups continue to howl over the decision by Texas-based Boy Scouts of America to drop its ban on gay scouts (but not gay adult scout leaders). We expect the reaction from those groups over the news about Exodus and its leader’s apology will be just as vicious.