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Jun 20 2013

UPDATE: Large homophobic Christian organisation apologises to LGBT community, shuts down

Well. This is something.

Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, issued an apology to the gay community for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole.

Exodus’ President, Alan Chambers wrote:

With that, here is an expanded version of the apology I offered … to the people within the LGBTQ community who have been hurt by the Church, Exodus International, and me.  I realize some within the communities for which I apologize will say I don’t have the right, as one man, to do so on their behalf.  But if the Church is a body, with many members being connected to the whole, then I believe that what one of us does right we all do right, and what one of us does wrong we all do wrong. We have done wrong, and I stand with many others who now recognize the need to offer apologies and make things right.

The New Civil Rights Movement quotes Jim Burroway, who has been following Chambers and Exodus’ anti-gay activities.

This is the end of an era, and major milestone in the history of the ex-gay movement. I imaging we’re going to hear a lot of reactions over the next several days to come, but tonight, Exodus has come to a quiet and — dare I say it — a very dignified end.

All of this is quite extraordinary on a number of levels: a public apology (despite my own reservations about such things), a shut down, a moral declaration of “we were wrong” from people who have every pragmatic and pecuniary reason to continue to profess they’re right (God, after all, is on their side).

I’m not sure what to think and presumably they’ll be some who find this merely “another stunt”. But we should be glad that a leading anti-gay ministry is, like Microsoft, doing a 180 and embracing those they were turning their backs on. No, the LGBT community and its supporters don’t need Exodus’ validation or their acceptance: but to ignore this as a milestone of wider acceptance, of good news for more people being regarded as, you know, people, we should at least be tentatively happy.

Further news or evidence might come in to change that, but for now, as we read this, it’s seems a good sign. I await reality to stop being distracted from Kim Kardashian’s baby to slap me with some facts and change my perspective.

– UPDATE

Realty did come back, in the form of progressive Christian John Shore (via a Dan Savage Tweet):

Congratulations on all the press coverage your apology is receiving!…

…It’s almost like you’ve been strategically planning your heartfelt apology for months! I’m sure you haven’t, of course: nobody is so low that they would turn a moment of piercing remorse brought on by the realization of how destructively wrong they’ve been into a manifestly self-serving, blatantly opportunistic, emotionally manipulative media event. But the timing of it all sure worked out well for you, didn’t it? Yesterday you were the head of a once powerful organization that had become utterly discredited, maligned, and irrelevant, because it was founded upon the life-ruining lie that God is righteously angered by any gay person who does not pray away their gay. And now, with all lights turned toward you, you’re launching Reduced Fear, the brand-new organization run by you and all your friends at Exodus International!

Shore then calls out something contained within Chamber’s apology.

Amongst the many conciliatory-sounding things you wrote in your apology are buried these words:

I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex

…and also these:

I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage.

Now, my guess is that, wit everything going on, you got so busy that you simply forgot to edit out of your apology those two statements. I figure that must be the case; otherwise, one is forced to conclude that you haven’t in the slightest changed your belief that gay people can and should pray away their gay. And if you still believe that the Bible proscribes, denounces, and condemns homosexuality, then  … well, then what exactly are you apologizing for? About what are you feeling remorseful that matters?

Then, as far as I can tell, the only thing that you can be actually saying is that you regret not what Exodus was, but only how Exodus went about being what it was.

And if that’s the case, then of course you’re not really apologizing at all.

Ouch. Read the rest.This is, of course, merely one, response. But it enforces my view on public apologies.

If there’s a response, I’ll note it here, too. Otherwise, let me know in the comments.

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15 comments

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  1. 1
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Cautiously, I’d say this is a good thing. It’s what has become a rare event: fundy Christians admitting they were wrong about something, and deciding not to treat gay folk (officially) like crap.

    I’ll accept small steps, when giant leaps aren’t available.

  2. 2
    Jackie the wacky

    This is a good thing. Exodus has active groups in my area. I’m so happy to see them go!

  3. 3
    grumpyoldfart

    Probably all that happened is that the number of tithe payers dropped too low, so they decided to close up shop – and then chucked out an apology in an effort to retain the high moral ground.

  4. 4
    besomyka

    I’m having difficulty believing this. I’m seeing the same quotes from several sources. I want it to be true, but it’s such a large change it reads like an Onion article.

  5. 5
    left0ver1under

    Shutting their doors and mouths is a start. But I’d also like to see criminal charges and guilty pleas for all the emotional damage, assaults and suicides they’ve caused.

  6. 6
    timberwoof

    They seem to mean it. The Exodus Policy Statements are positive:
    http://exodusinternational.org/about-us/policy-statements/

    Exodus International has not supported and will not support any legislation that deprives others of life and dignity based on their sexual orientation or the expression of such within the confines of a consensual adult relationship.

    Exodus International is opposed to the therapeutic practice commonly referred to as “holding/touch therapy” as a healing exercise for those with same-sex attraction distress.

    … we strongly oppose bullying, name calling and acts of aggression against any individual or group of individuals for any reason.

    Exodus International does not advocate the practice of exorcism as a means of addressing same-sex attraction in an individual’s life.

    The site seems to be responding slowly…

  7. 7
    Ben C

    timberwolf,

    Chambers doesn’t really mean any of it since he still is operating under the illusion that Exodus has somehow done “good”.

    The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.

    And as long as Chambers is unwilling to admit that the organization that he led has done nothing in its entire history that could be even remotely construed as being good for members of the LGBT community I am afraid I will just have to state, “Apology not accepted.” and move on.

    Ben C.

  8. 8
    Onamission5

    My cynical self sees this as a rebranding. A rebranding of what, we don’t yet know, because their new website (reducefear.org) isn’t up and running, but for some reason I strongly doubt it’s going to be a massive effort to undo all the decades of awful for which they are responsible.

  9. 9
    Tauriq Moosa

    Check update.

  10. 10
    artymorty

    So they’re switching from teaching gays to cure their sexuality, to teaching gays to resist it. Is that it?

    If so, what’s the difference? They still see homosexuality as a disease; they’re just abandoning hope for a “cure” in favour of treating the “symptoms”.

    I don’t see a substantial difference between being told I can be cured of my “sinful” desires and being told that I need to spend the rest of my life controlling them under threat of eternal torture in hell. The latter is just as sinister, if not more so.

    They’re the same twisted, ignorant bigots they’ve always been.

  11. 11
    Onamission5

    Ouch. That is a right good fisking if ever I saw one.

    My next prediction is that this rebranding is an attempt to spin themselves into being the Christian organization which supported gay rights all along.

    Think I’ll get a million dollars?

  12. 12
    Onamission5

    Ouch, that is a right good fisking if ever I saw one.

    My next prediction is that this rebranding is their attempt to spin themselves into being the Christian organization which supported LGBT rights all along.

    Think I’ll win a million dollars?

  13. 13
    brucegee1962

    “I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex

    …and also these:

    I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage.”

    There’s amazingly little information in these two statements. What exactly are these beliefs about boundaries and marriage? You could be saying you’re still against gay marriage, or you could be saying you now support gay marriage, but just don’t think there should be any sex outside it (which is what we’d expect a fundamentalist to say.) As it is, though, it sounds deliberately obfuscatory.

  14. 14
    Kacy

    He’s apologizing as far as he can at the moment. He knows he’s done wrong but he can only go so far. The accuser here is expecting a bit much.

    I wrote here about the reasons why this is a difficult but understandable transition period for him.

  15. 15
    Rob

    Sounds like zero-sum thinking to me. Do you never see shades of gray? I don’t wish to sound overly judgmental, but your comment strikes me as pretty fundamentalist and exclusive, in its own way, as in “Either admit that you’re entirely wrong, and I’m entirely right, or I want nothing to do with you.” If I’m misreading you, please clarify.

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