Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian organization with a mission to “deal with faith and homosexuality,” is closing its doors after more than 30 years. The board reached a decision after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture, according to a news release.
Board member Tony Moore 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.”
Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus, said, “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 also said, “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 day before the announcement Exodus was closing, the organization released a statement apologizing to the gay community for years of undue judgment by the organization and on behalf of the Christian church.
The board, instead of operating Exodus, will create a separate organization that Chambers said will “reduce fear and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”
Earlier this year, John Paulk, who years ago served as the organization’s poster man, apologized to the gay community. Paulk, in April, said, “Today, I do not consider myself ‘ex-gay,’ and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.”
Responging early June 20 to the news from Exodus, the Rev. Cindi Love, executive director of the LGBT faith-based activist group Soulforce, said, “I pray that Alan Chambers is truly remorseful about the damaged and lost lives as a result of Exodus interventions. Soulforce will never stop speaking up for our siblings who are vulnerable to the harm and spiritual violence caused by ‘ex-gay’ ministries. We are grateful for this development. God loves us exactly as we are – we need no repair. Anyone who continues to try and ‘fix’ LGBT people makes a mockery of God’s love.”
Truth Wins Out, an organization dedicated to fighting the use and promotion of “ex-gay” therapy, which has been widely discredited and deemed harmful by major medical and mental health organizations, also responded to the news.
“We applaud and congratulate Alan Chambers for his willingness to approach this decision with honesty, integrity and authenticity,” said Truth Wins Out associate director Evan Hurst. “It takes a real man to publicly confront the people whose lives were destroyed by his organization’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. We look forward to a day when we can truly consider Alan to be an ally.”
But Truth Wins Out executive director Wayne Besen said, “While we are overjoyed to see Alan Chambers and the board of Exodus do the right thing by closing their doors, there is still far more work to do to put an end to the awful practice of ‘ex-gay’ reparative therapy. As we’ve seen with the recent formation of the Restored Hope Network, 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. We must remain vigilant in exposing and countering the terrible, damaging work of people like Anne Paulk and Andrew Comiskey, until the day we can safely say that no LGBTQ adult or youth runs the risk of being driven into depression or suicide by the false gods of ‘Pray Away The Gay.’”