The world’s oldest and largest ‘ex-gay’ organisation, Exodus International, has apologised to people who have been hurt by its efforts, abandoned its founding ‘conversion therapy’ doctrine and announced it will be shutting down.
In a heartfelt open letter addressed to “members of the LGBTQ community” released yesterday, Exodus International President Alan Chambers apologised for the “pain and hurt” Exodus had caused and announced that the organisation would be “shutting its doors”.
“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,” Chambers said.
In the letter, Chambers effectively repudiated Exodus International’s founding mission and admitted to “ongoing same-sex attractions” that he hid for several years.
“Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. 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. As my friends do. As God does.”
Former Australian evangelist and co-founder of LGBTI Christian support network Freedom2B Anthony Venn-Brown, who resigned as a minister in 1991 after coming to terms with his sexuality, attended the conference in California where Chambers announced the group’s disbanding.
Founded in 1976, Exodus was a pioneer of the controversial ‘conversion therapy’ doctrine that posited that homosexuality could be cured through group therapy, abstinence and prayer. At its height Exodus had missions in Latin America, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and several nations in Asia.
Throughout its history numerous leaders of the organisation, including co-founder Michael Bussee, have since come out as gay and distanced themselves from the group.
Chambers ended the letter telling LGBTI people he was “profoundly sorry” and that “you have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours.”