Exodus international Shuts Down: What’s Next?

Alan Chamber’s Opening Address

On June 19, 2013, the first evening of the 38th annual Exodus Freedom Conference, President Alan Chambers announced to attendees that Exodus International was shutting down. He did not make this announcement until the end of a one hour speech.

Eighteen months ago, leaders with the North American region of Exodus International met to discuss the future of the organization which Alan Chambers described as an organization “entrenched in rules” and “behavior, sin management, and shutting out God.”

According to Alan Chambers the organization considered four options as to how to proceed: stay the same; rebrand; modify; or shut down. He referred to rebranding as putting “lipstick on the pig to make it look different.” Even though the group chose to “modify” the organization, it didn’t seem to work.

So when the Board of Director recently reevaluated their chosen path of “modification” Alan Chambers said that they realized that “God doesn’t want us to modify Exodus anymore.” The attendees seemed to be stunned at this announcement. There was no audible reaction from the crowd.

Apology to Gays and Lesbians

Prior to making a public announcement of Exodus International shutting down, Alan Chambers reached out to Lisa Ling of the television broadcast Our America in search of a public forum in which to issue a public apology to gay and lesbian individuals who had been “harmed” by Exodus International.

According to Alan Chambers, Lisa Ling asked if he would be willing to speak directly to some of the individuals who had been harmed by the program. He agreed but reportedly asked not to be involved in choosing the individuals who participated in the discussion.

At least two of the participants Dr. Jallen Rex and Gail Dickert, were from the organization Beyond Ex-Gay.  Having personally heard stories of Beyond Ex-Gay members with Exodus International, it was very difficult to watch the video of individuals sitting in the room with Alan Chambers and his wife as he read his apology to them. The pain was palpable.

Reactions from others regarding Alan Chamber’s apology have been mixed. For some individuals the apology triggers old wounds and for others, anger. Some feel the apology was sincere.

What’s Next for Alan Chambers?

So what’s next for Alan Chambers and Exodus International? In his speech to the conference attendees he stated that “local affiliated ministries which have always been autonomous, will continue, but not under the name or umbrella of Exodus.”

He also told the participants that “this is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are to reduce fear and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”  The new website reducefear.org is still under construction.

Support for Gay and Lesbians

Alan Chambers told the conference participants that Exodus International would never abandon them but seemed to struggle with offering any specific support at this time. As he stumbled he told them that he hoped they already had some type of support system in place.

So I began thinking of organizations that already exist that help to “reduce fear” and are “safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”  Soulforce  is one of these organizations. Their mission is to work nonviolently to end the religious and political oppression of LGBTQ people. Soulforce Executive Director Dr. Cindi Love wrote a letter to Alan Chambers after the announcement inviting the organization to go beyond the apology and be a change agent in very specific ways. A copy of her letter is available here.

Another organization that is a “safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming community” is Beyond Ex-Gay. They are in the process of visioning for their future and are soliciting ideas.   Both organizations are available to help those in need and would appreciate the gift of your time, ideas, and monetary support. Check them out. They are worth it.

Can You ever Switch your Gay Identity To Straight?

Governor Jerry Brown’s Decision to Ban Conversion Therapy in Ca. Upsets Critics

Starting January 1, 2013, sexual conversion therapies, also called reparative therapies, will be outlawed in California for minors.  Governor Brown calls this therapy unscientific with no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be “relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

The law states that licensed mental health providers ”shall not provide minors with therapy intended to change their sexual orientation including efforts to “change behaviors or gender expressions of to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

Often run by religious groups with names like Journey Into Manhood or People Can Change, these pray-away camps appeal to Christian thought that homosexuality is sinful. Conservatives, opposed to gay marriage and the “gay lifestyle” defend these organizations that believe that homosexuality is a “choice” and can be overcome. Is the theory political or scientifically based?

Wayne Besen, the director of Truth Wins Out, a gay advocacy group, believes that reparative therapy is junk science being used to justify religious beliefs that homosexual urges can be banished.

Jerry Brown

Nature vs. Nurture

Although the American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations disapprove of reparative therapy, it is still practiced by a handful of therapists who believe that homosexual desires result  from early childhood wounds.

The director of the largest reparative therapy clinic in the world, Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinical in Encino, California , Joseph Nicolosi, argues that “all  people are heterosexual but some have a homosexual problem, and some of these people attempt to resolve their conflict by adopting a sociopolitical label called ‘gay.’” If you unearth family trauma such as a distant father and an overbearing mother or child abuse, you can bring change not only in sexual desire, but maybe even a permanent cure.(see http://”Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t be Changed.” New York Times, 11/1/12.

Last April, conversion therapy was dealt a blow by Robert L. Spitzer, author of a study eleven years-old that purported that gays could change their sexual orientation.  He said his study was invalid.  In June 2012, the president of Exodus International, the largest Christian ministry for homosexuals, Alan Chambers, said that it was futile to try to change same-sex attraction and it seldom works.anyway: “99.9 percent of people Chambers has encountered in twenty years with Exodus were not able to completely rid themselves of same-sex attraction.

Permanent Cure or Temporary Healing?

Some men who attend these retreats, and partake of reparative therapy, claim the switch works. Says “Jeremy S., 34, a corporate contract officer in Dallas, “ that from his teens until three years ago he lived as a gay man.  It wasn’t working for me.”  After two years of therapy with Dr. Nicolosi, Jeremy claims his attraction to men was” practically diminishing.”  He has not had sex with a man for more than two years and does not think about it more than once a month, adding that his Catholic faith has also deepened.

However, gay rights groups say the therapies cause emotional harm which in some cases has led to depression, even suicide.and certainly anger, hopelessness, and guilt among its patients.

Lawsuits Already Filed: Violation of Free Choice

The lawsuits are being filed on behalf of therapists whose practices include reducing same-sex attraction and changing their sexual orientation, parents who have enrolled their children in reparative therapy as well as the teenagers who are undergoing it.

Does the law infringe on The First Amendment and equal protection rights of individuals to give and receive information that matches their personal and professional beliefs? Will it cause harm to those who claim they need and want the therapy?

What are the long-term effects of subjugating same-sex desires?

Can You ever Switch your Gay Identity To Straight?

 Jerry Brown’s Decision to Ban Conversion Therapy in Ca. Upsets Critics

Starting January 1, 2013, sexual conversion therapies, also called reparative therapies, will be outlawed in California for minors.  Governor Brown calls this therapy unscientific with no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be “relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

The law states that licensed mental health providers ”shall not provide minors with therapy intended to change their sexual orientation including efforts to “change behaviors or gender expressions of to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

Often run by religious groups with names like Journey Into Manhood or People Can Change, these pray-away camps appeal to Christian thought that homosexuality is sinful. Conservatives, opposed to gay marriage and the “gay lifestyle” defend these organizations that believe that homosexuality is a “choice” and can be overcome. Is the theory political or scientifically based?

Wayne Besen, the director of Truth Wins Out, a gay advocacy group, believes that reparative therapy is junk science being used to justify religious beliefs that homosexual urges can be banished.

Nature vs. Nurture

Although the American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations disapprove of reparative therapy, it is still practiced by a handful of therapists who believe that homosexual desires result  from early childhood wounds.

The director of the largest reparative therapy clinic in the world, Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinical in Encino, California , Joseph Nicolosi, argues that “all  people are heterosexual but some have a homosexual problem, and some of these people attempt to resolve their conflict by adopting a sociopolitical label called ‘gay.’” If you unearth family trauma such as a distant father and an overbearing mother or child abuse, you, as sex –gay believers attest, can bring change not only in sexual desire, but maybe even a permanent cure.(see http://”Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t be Changed.” New York Times, 11/1/12.

Last April, conversion therapy was dealt a blow by Robert L. Spitzer, author of a study eleven years old that purported that gays could change their sexual orientation.  He said his study was invalid.  In June 2012, the president of Exodus International, the largest Christian ministry for homosexuals, Alan Chambers, said that it was futile to try to change same-sex attraction and it seldom works.anyway: “99.9 percent of people Chambers has encountered in twenty years with Exodus were not able to completely rid themselves of same-sex attraction.”

Permanent Cure or Temporary Healing?

Some men who attend these retreats, and partake of reparative therapy, claim the switch works. Says “Jeremy S., 34, a corporate contract officer in Dallas, “ that from his teens until three years ago he lived as a gay man.  It wasn’t working for me.”  After two years of therapy with Dr. Nicolosi, Jeremy claims his attraction to men was” practically diminishing.”  He has not had sex with a man for more than two years and does not think about it more than once a month, adding that his Catholic faith has also deepened.

However, gay rights groups say the therapies cause emotional harm which in some cases has led to depression, even suicide.and certainly anger, hopelessness, and guilt among its patients.

Lawsuits Already Filed: Violation of Free Choice

The lawsuits are being filed on behalf of therapists whose practices include reducing same-sex attraction and changing their sexual orientation, parents who have enrolled their children in reparative therapy as well as the teenagers who are undergoing it.

Does the law infringe on The First Amendment and equal protection rights of individuals to give and receive information that matches their personal and professional beliefs? Will it cause harm to those who claim they need and want the therapy?

What are the long-term effects of subjugating same-sex desires?