Exodus International, the nation’s oldest and largest Christian ministry devoted to performing controversial gay-to-straight “reparative therapy,” announced Wednesday night that it is shuttering its operations after more than three decades.
In announcing its decision, president Alan Chambers, 41, repudiated the organization’s mission and said he was “sorry for the pain and hurt” so many experienced by the group’s efforts to “repair” their sexual orientation.
“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,” said Chambers, in a statement.
“[W]e’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Chambers. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”
The apology and announcement coincides with the ministry’s 38th annual conference being held this week in Irvine, Calif., and the Thursday, June 20, airing of the documentary “God & Gays” on “Our America with Lisa Ling.”
Chambers also said that for years he wasn’t honest about his own feelings of same-sex attraction that never left him, and apologized for being dishonest about the real ability to change one’s sexual orientation.
Chambers said the organization plans to re-emerge as a new ministry that would would work with churches to create “safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities.”
Founded in 1976, Exodus was an umbrella organization which had grown to include over 120 local ministries in the United States and Canada and over 150 ministries in 17 other countries.
The demise of Exodus International has been two years in the making.
In January 2012, during an address to a Gay Christian Network conference, Chambers stated that 99.9% of conversion therapy participants do not experience any change to their sexuality and apologized for the previous Exodus slogan “Change Is Possible.”
Months later, in June 2012, Chambers stated that conversion therapy is potentially harmful to those participating and that it does not work.
Earlier this year, John Paulk, the former chairman of Exodus, formally renounced his past and said he was “truly, truly sorry” for the pain he caused by advocating that gays could change their sexual orientation through prayer and therapy.