Official Statement from Soulforce on the Closing of Exodus International

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06/20/13

Soulforce Commends Closing of “Ex-Gay” Ministry Exodus International—Calls for Former Exodus Leaders to Work to End Ex-Gay Therapy Worldwide

After almost forty years, Exodus International has closed its doors. It was the oldest Christian services organization of its type and the market leader in reparative/ex-gay/sexual orientation change therapy. Soulforce, an interfaith organization that works to free lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people from religious and political oppression, acknowledges Exodus International Executive Director Alan Chambers’ apology to the LGBTQ community and welcomes his decision to shutter the organization.

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director of Soulforce said, “The closing of one of the major engines of LGBTQ oppression is an affirmation of  Soulforce’s work of more than 15 years. The goal of all Soulforce actions has always been reconciliation rather than ‘victory.’ Alan Chambers’ heart was softened by the actions of thousands of advocates and the stories of suffering of families hurt by Exodus. Faced with this overwhelming evidence of the damage Exodus has caused, Chambers and the Exodus board took the only humane course of action available to them—they shut the organization down.

“It is our hope that other ex-gay organizations like Restored Hope Network, Genesis Counseling, Evergreen International, and Desert Stream Ministries will take the only humane course of action available to them, and shutter their organizations as well. We hope that Alan Chambers and former Exodus International board members will now dedicate themselves to eradicating ex-gay therapy around the world.”

Opposition to so-called “reparative therapy,” which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity has been central to Soulforce’s mission since its founding by former religious right ghostwriter and Exodus member Rev. Dr. Mel White in 1998. All of White’s books on the religious right have addressed the tragic consequences of the false claims of organizations like Exodus International, Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conferences, and NARTH, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

As an organization, Soulforce has worked relentlessly to oppose the notion that LGBTQ people are in any way “sick” or “sinful,” and has asked all religious people to join them in rejecting “ministries” intended to change God-given expressions of sexuality and gender identity.

A few of the actions by Soulforce volunteers and leaders that have addressed the claims of “ex-gay therapy” have included:

+  2003 – Rev. Dr. Cindi Love appeared on the second largest religious broadcasting network in the   world—the Daystar Network—to counter Ann Paulk, spokesperson for Exodus International.

+ 2006 – The 1000 Watt March, Vigil, and Concert, in which NYU sociologist Dr. Judith Stacey called Focus on the Family to account for taking her studies on children of same-sex couples out of context to justify their anti-LGBTQ political agenda and promotion of ex-gay therapy.

+ 2007 –  Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference, cohosted with with the organization Beyond Ex-Gay, attended by 200 survivors of Ex-Gay therapy. Darlene Bogle, Michael Bussee, and Jeremy Marks, all former Exodus leaders, apologize during the conference for their involvement with the organization.

+ 2008 – Soulforce visits with Pastor Bill Hybel of Willow Creek Community Church as part of its American Family Outing campaign. Alan Chambers of Exodus International later blames Soulforce for the megachurch’s cutting ties with Exodus.

+ 2009 – Soulforce organizes Anti-Heterosexism Conference in West Palm Beach, FL, to protest a conference given at the same time by NARTH.

+ 2010 – Soulforce Symposium: The Truth About Faith, Science, Love, and Reparative Therapy, held in Philadelphia, PA.

+ 2011 – Soulforce Executive Director debates at the National Religious Broadcasters Conference with Joe Dallas, former Chair of the Exodus International board and director of Genesis Ministries, an ex-gay counseling group in California. The debate concerns conservative religious broadcasters’ exporting of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric through their broadcasts in Africa.

+ 2011 – Soulforce, the Human Rights Campaign, and Get Equal delivered a petition with 75,000 signatures to Lou Engle’s International House of Prayer in Kansas City. The petition asked Engle to cease and desist from his support of the “Kill the Gays Bill” in Uganda and to stop any recommendations for reparative therapy in that country.

+ 2012 – Soulforce Equality Riders met with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to discuss ending the endorsement of ex-gay therapy in accordance with official church policy.

Rev. Dr. Love said the closing of Exodus was, “A good start. And not nearly enough.  I hope that Chambers will find it in his heart to confront any ministry in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are targeted for ‘fixing,’ ‘inclusion,’ ‘affirmation’ or ‘reconciliation.’ God already included us, affirmed us and reconciled us. And we don’t need fixing.”