According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Exodus International Apologizes to LGBT Community

An Exodus From the 'Ex-Gay' Movement?
http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2013/06/20/breaking-exodus-international-shuts-down-end-ex-gay-movement?page=full

The movement, which suffered the latest blow on Wednesday as Exodus International's board voted to shut down, is the subject of a new installment of Our America With Lisa Ling.
 
by Trudy Ring
June 20, 2013
 
Art (left) and Sean are two of the ex-gay survivors appearing on Our America With Lisa Ling.
 
The nation’s most prominent ex-gay group, Exodus International, announced on its website late Wednesday that it will shut down and reemerge as a new ministry.
 
The group had for most of its existence insisted gay people can be turned straight. Exactly what its newest iteration will become is unclear from the announcement, and a new website called "Reduce Fear" hasn't even been completed.
 
Decades after leading U.S. mental health organizations agreed that being gay is not a disorder, a small segment of American society, driven largely by religion, has persisted in saying homosexuality is something that can and should be “cured.” While there has always been ample skepticism about the “ex-gay” movement, recent developments indicate the movement is becoming more marginal than ever — it’s not dead, but it’s certainly in critical condition.
 
Stories are legion of those who’ve gone through so-called reparative therapy, seeking to turn from gay to straight, only to find the therapy is not only ineffective but downright harmful. Mainstream mental health professionals have condemned it. One state has outlawed it, and others are likely to follow. Even the president of Exodus International has renounced such therapy and says Exodus is no longer part of the ex-gay movement.
 
That man, Alan Chambers, appears Thursday night on Our America With Lisa Ling, on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, delivering an apology (of sorts) to LGBT people who’ve been harmed by ex-gay efforts. It's timed with a written apology issued this week via the Exodus website. The shift by Chambers and Exodus, however, raises the question of just what the movement is about now — if it doesn’t profess to make gay people straight, is it offering only celibacy or the closet?

A year ago, at Exodus’s annual conference, Chambers announced that the organization was renouncing reparative therapy, saying it offered false hope to those who undergo it and even harms them, while treating homosexuality differently than other “sins.” But he continues to believe that sex should be confined only to monogamous heterosexual marriages.
 
Recently, Chambers, who had been interviewed for Our America’s “Pray the Gay Away?” episode in 2011, contacted Ling to say he wanted to make a return appearance to issue an apology for the hurt caused by ex-gay therapy. She suggested that people who had left ex-gay groups be present. “I was really surprised that Alan agreed,” she tells The Advocate.
 
It resulted in a three-hour meeting that “was exhausting emotionally,” Ling says, and that is readily apparent in the portions featured in the new Our America episode, “God and Gays.” Chambers and his wife, Leslie, met with 10 survivors of ex-gay programs, including Michael Bussee, an Exodus founder who eventually left the group and became an out and proud gay man; Jerry, a former pastor who came out of the closet after a 26-year marriage; Catherine, who was a counselor with an ex-gay ministry and calls it “the greatest regret of my life”; Art, who believes his bipolar disorder was brought on by ex-gay therapy; and Christian, whose experience attests to the gender stereotyping and misconceptions about gays that permeate such therapy efforts — he was urged to give up his found-object art projects and pursue more “masculine” activities such as sports and gym workouts. They and the others were enlisted from an online support group run by Bussee.
 
They gathered in the basement of Hollywood Lutheran Church in Los Angeles, a congregation affiliated with the LGBT-affirming Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ex-gay movement is largely a phenomenon of fundamentalist Christianity, with mainline Protestant Christian denominations accepting gay people as they are. There is also at least one Jewish ex-gay group, and the Roman Catholic Church has a ministry that seeks to help gay people lead celibate lives.
 
Chambers says of Exodus, “Today we cease to be an ex-gay organization.” He apologizes for the hurt it has caused by promoting efforts to change sexual orientation, and he tells the survivors of ex-gay therapy, “You haven’t ever been my enemy, and I’m sorry I’ve been yours.” He says he recognizes the right of LGBT people to campaign for equality. But he also says he will not apologize for his beliefs about biblical constraints on sexual behavior.
 
The others in the room confront him about just what Exodus is. “My cynical side would say it’s the recloseting ministry,” says Jerry. He sees Exodus’s new message as “We cannot change you, we cannot give you a happy life, but we can help you get back into the closet more comfortably.”
 
“No matter what you change, you’re still selling that lie [about changing sexual orientation], and you know it, that’s the worst thing,” says another, Sean, who had been told he was demon-possessed and contemplated suicide because of the pain caused by ex-gay therapy. “You know, deep down inside, Alan, that it is still a bald-faced lie.”
Alan Chambers and his wife, Leslie, respond to survivors of ex-gay therapy.

Chambers responds that Exodus remains “a Christian ministry” that will serve a demographic in need — Christians with same-sex desires who nonetheless want to adhere to biblical teachings about sexuality by being celibate, and the small number, like himself, who will enter a heterosexual marriage.
 
But that demographic, it appears, is diminishing. Exodus’s annual conference, which is going on now, was expected to draw fewer than half the attendees it had three years ago. Some other ex-gay groups have split off from it, finding Chambers’s position too conciliatory.
 
“As long as there’s prejudice and discrimination, there will be some form of these groups,” says Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, an organization that seeks to combat the ex-gay movement. But Besen (who is not involved in the Our America episode) sees the movement as being significantly weakened, at least in the United States.
 
In addition to Exodus’s renunciation of reparative therapy, Besen points out, other blows to the movement include psychiatrist Robert Spitzer’s apology last year for a study he did that was used to justify such therapy, research he now says was scientifically unsound; onetime ex-gay spokesman John Paulk’s recent announcement that he is no longer ex-gay; a law enacted last year in California to bar state-licensed professionals from performing reparative therapy on minors (it is currently being challenged in court); and a similar law under consideration in New Jersey. More states will approve such legislation, he says: “I guarantee it.”
 
Besen, who says the ex-gay movement is now being run by a mix of “charlatans” and “true believers,” spoke with The Advocate as he was on his way to join other LGBT activists to counter an ex-gay conference in Oklahoma City, sponsored by the Restored Hope Network, which broke off from Exodus. Restored Hope Network’s leader is Anne Paulk, the estranged ex-lesbian wife of John Paulk.
 
“We are winning this battle, indisputably,” Besen says. “We have discredited them.” He adds, however, that the ex-gay movement is gaining strength overseas, particularly in Russia and in many nations of Africa. In Brazil, evangelical lawmakers are pressing to overturn a ban on so-called conversion therapy.
 
But stateside, he says, “our opposition is weak.”
 
Ling, a straight woman who has been an LGBT ally since she saw a gay friend bullied and beaten in middle school, says the ex-gay movement “is in the midst of an identity crisis.” She’s not sure what its future holds, but with even onetime advocates like Chambers acknowledging the ineffectiveness of reparative therapy, the movement could fade away.
 
She calls the “God and Gays” episode “one of the most important shows I’ve ever done” and says she “was honored to be in the room” with the survivors. “I want people who are watching this to understand what these survivors have gone through,” she says. She found them inspiring, and she’s impressed with how some have even strengthened their religious faith after accepting their gay identity. “Watching this episode,” she says, “you’ll have no doubt that people can be gay and Christian at the same time.”


Sneak Peek: Lisa Ling's Special Report - God & Gays
 
 
  
Exodus International Apologizes to LGBT Community 
 
by Rachael Held Evans
June 19, 2013
    
It takes a lot of guts to issue an apology as honest and as public as this one from Alan Chambers of Exodus International. 
An excerpt:
Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me. 
And then there is the trauma that I have caused. 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.
Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.
Friends and critics alike have said it’s not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated. 
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.
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.  I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.   
You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope the changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show that I am serious in both my regret and my offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good.
You can read the letter in its entirety here.

It sounds as though Exodus International will be making a big announcement tonight regarding its future. My prayer is that this will be a turning point in bringing an end to the evangelical “ex gay” movement, which I know from conversations with many of you, and with many other gay friends and their parents, has created a lot of trauma and pain.

Much of this seems to have been prompted by a special report by Lisa Ling for OWN called “God & Gays,” which based on this clip, is going to be difficult to watch. (Hey, remember when Lisa was a reporter for Channel One – like the program you watched in high school in the morning?) [There just is] so much pain here.

May this apology be a step toward justice and reconciliation.
 
- Rachael
 
 

Michael Bussee and his Fight Against Exodus International
 
Michael Bussee was the co-founder of Exodus International in 1976, but he left and renounced the group two years later announcing his intentions to live as an openly gay man. Hear Michael's powerful story, and learn why he has decided to bring a group of "ex-gay" survivors together in a powerful confrontation of Alan Chambers in hopes of closing Exodus once and for all.
 
To view a scrolling, historical timeline of events since the first Our America episode of "Pray the Gay Away?" click here.
 
Read more:
 
 

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