“Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, issued an apology to the gay community for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole,” the group stated on its website Wednesday. Update: The group has announced it is closing down.
In a letter “to members of the LGBTQ community,” Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus International, a group that has long backed “change therapy” for gays and lesbians, issued an apology Wednesday, stating, “I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced.”
[Update at 11:20 p.m.: Following a meeting Wednesday night at its conference, Exodus International went further, announcing it is closing up shop.
“Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality announced tonight that it’s closing its doors after three-plus decades of ministry,” the organization said in a statement.]
The public statement comes in advance of a Thursday airing of the television broadcast “God & Gays” on Our America with Lisa Ling on OWN, in which Ling talks with Chambers about these issues.
In his apology, Chambers wrote, “I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.”
Later, he added:
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.
There are limits to his apology, as he also wrote, “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.”
The changes to be made by the organization were not laid out in the apology or the group’s news release about the apology.
In a news release, the group states only, “Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, issued an apology to the gay community for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole.”
[Update at 11:20 p.m.: The group’s statement Wednesday night added:
“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.” …
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.”
The “reducefear.org” website is not yet live.]
The statements were released on the first day of the group’s Exodus Freedom conference, taking place through June 23 at Concordia University Irvine.
[Update at 11:55 a.m. Thursday: Truth Wins Out executive director Wayne Besen, who has been tracking and opposing “ex-gay” therapies for more than a decade, issued a statement Thursday morning:
“The closing of Exodus is an earthquake that is shaking the very foundations of the ‘ex-gay’ industry. We feel vindicated with our efforts to expose these groups and reveal their great destruction. Although new groups are vying to fill the vacuum, the passing of Exodus casts a huge shadow of doubt on their work and cuts right to the heart of their credibility,” Besen said.]