After nearly 40 years of performing “gay-to-straight conversion therapy,” Exodus International is closing its doors. The board of the Florida-based Christian ministry, which has grown to include more than 120 local U.S. and Canadian ministries and more than 150 ministries in 17 countries, voted unanimously Wednesday to shut down after a year-long internal discussion.
“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living breathing organism,” said Exodus President Alan Chambers on Wednesday. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical…”
Chambers also issued a series of apologies to the LGBT community for promoting reparative therapy and for failing to stand up to fellow Christians who persecuted gay individuals. “More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection,” he said. “I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.”
The shutdown comes six years after three former Exodus leaders apologized and left the organization. In 2007, former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, former president of Exodus International Europe Jeremy Marks, and the former director of an Exodus referral agency Darlene Bogle issued a joint statement acknowledging the harm reparative therapy caused…
The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement Thursday applauding Exodus for closing its doors. “This is a welcome first step in honestly addressing the harm the organization and its leaders have caused over the past 37 years,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program. “Now we need them to take the next step of leadership and persuade all other religious-based institutions that they got it wrong. This is the right kind of reparative work that is left for them to do.”
I don’t doubt the core of fundamentalist bigots who hate the LGBT community sufficiently to deny them civil rights will continue the anti-Gay campaign under one or another name. The Michele Bachmanns of the political Right will continue the campaign in the halls of Congress. Truly corrupt loons who skim millions of dollars from ignorant and fearfilled religious folk – will continue to crank out their ministries of fear via opportunist radio barons.
Still, a victory as significant as this cannot be overlooked. And credit of some kind must be given to Alan Chambers who appears to have chosen honesty over greed. A decision rarely seen among religious hustlers.