WASHINGTON – Exodus International, an organization which for years advocated for and practiced dangerous so-called therapies to change people’s sexual orientation, announced late Wednesday that it is closing its doors for good.
In a written statement, the organization’s president Alan Chambers apologized to the gay community for undue judgment and dishonesty.
“We are encouraged that Exodus International has made the right decision to close down their doors and spare the next generation of the psychological and spiritual trauma they have caused to so many – particularly vulnerable young people,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program.
"This is a welcome first step in honestly addressing the harm the organization and its leaders have caused over the past 37 years. 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."
The majority of people of faith and a growing number of religious leaders support LGBT equality. A poll of people of faith across America commissioned by HRC found 70% of Christians agree that when religious leaders condemn LGBT people it does more harm than good. In a separate 2011 poll, only 24% of people believed gay people can be made straight through psychotherapy or prayer.
In Chambers’ apology statement, he says for years he wasn’t honest about the feelings of same-sex attraction that never left him and for being dishonest about the real ability to change one’s sexual orientation.
Efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression have been debunked as junk science, and have also been proven harmful to children and adults. All major medical and mental health organizations have denounced the practice including: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization. Learn more HERE.
“Exodus was the oldest and largest pseudo-religious organization telling vulnerable people there was something wrong with them, when in fact they are God’s children,” Groves said. “But the truth remains there are other organizations out there perpetuating the same myths, telling young people they aren’t loved and perfect the way they are, and causing grave harm in so many people.”
Interestingly, the news that Exodus was closing comes just hours ahead of tonight’s episode of “Our America With Lisa Ling,” airing on the Opry Winfrey Network (OWN), in which survivors of “ex-gay therapy” confront Chambers over his 30 years of promoting harmful treatments. Chambers offers an apology during the episode, according to San Diego activist Sean Sala, who appears on the program. Sala and Ling will also appear at 10 am Pacific time on Huffington Post Live.
"Alan Chambers, and the rest of the Exodus leadership, has fully and completely come to the realization that their so-called 'ministry' has done harm to thousands of people,” said Ross Murray, GLAAD’s Director of News and Faith Initiatives. “They are coming to the right decision to end that harm now."
Wayne Besen, head of Truth Wins Out, has pursued Exodus for years to expose its junk science.
"The closing of Exodus is an earthquake that is shaking the very foundations of the 'ex-gay' industry," Besen saod. "We feel vindicated with our efforts to expose these groups and reveal their great destruction. Although new groups are vying to fill the vacuum, the passing of Exodus casts a huge shadow of doubt on their work and cuts right to the heart of their credibility."