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Exodus International to Close: “We Are Sorry.”

Alan Chambers

Exodus International, an organization advocating and practicing discredited therapies to change people’s sexual orientation, announced that it is closing its doors for good. The organization’s president Alan Chambers apologized to the LGBTQ community and made some important observations about the role the Christian church played in these practices, which have caused harm to thousands who sought their treatment.  These practices have been criticized by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and many other professional medical, social work, and counseling organizations.

In Alan Chambers’ apology, he describes the spiritual violence he experienced in the church and how he regrets perpetuating that violence through Exodus International.

From Exodus International:

It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the church’s treatment of the LGBT community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt. Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church…

Here is an expanded version of the apology I offered during my recent interview with Lisa Ling to the people within the LGBTQ community who have been hurt by the Church, Exodus International, and me…

To Members of the LGBTQ Community…

There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. 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…

Please know that I am deeply sorry. 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 stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

In his apology, Chambers continues to advocate for harmful interpretations of scripture that often anchor the oppression LGBTQ people experience in the Church. “I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them.”

Tonight Lisa Ling will broadcast a special report on Our America about Exodus International’s decision (10 ET / 9 CT). A group of ex-gay survivors confront Alan Chambers of Exodus International and hear his apology.

Watch the preview:

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  1. Jeanette #

    Gutsy. So many never look back and acknowledge the pain and devastation they have caused others. I understand. I have gone from Bible thumper at age 12, telling the United Church of Christ that they were reprobates for considering the ordination of gay people, to a 21 year and counting lesbian relationship with my partner.

    I have great compassion, actually, for those dealing with glbt issues themselves, because I know what it takes to re-evaluate one’s world view, theology, etc. and be willing to be transformed. I also have appreciation for those who are angry, afraid, anxiety ridden over these issues and think that the moral fabric of America or the world will fall apart if gay people marry, etc.

    But, I stand around these issues, as I have for all human and civil rights, not because they are “my issues” but because I seek justice, attempt to love kindness, and try to have the humility to know that my perspectives may have to evolve about many things for the rest of my life.

    Kudos to this man who admitted where he was mistaken and asked forgiveness of those he hurt.

    June 21, 2013

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