Exodus: ‘Praying away the gay’ doesn’t work

The president of Exodus International announced the organization's closure and apologized for the “pain and hurt” it had caused.

“It takes a lot of courage—and honesty—to admit you were wrong,” and Exodus International has done just that, said Marlo Thomas in HuffingtonPost.com. For 37 years, the controversial Christian ministry was the driving force of the “ex-gay” movement, which maintains that gay men and lesbians can change their sexual orientation through prayer and psychotherapy. But last week, Exodus’s president, Alan Chambers, “joined the ever-increasing chorus of voices in our nation calling for kindness, tolerance, and decency,” and announced his organization’s closure. Apologizing for the “pain and hurt” Exodus had caused, Chambers said he no longer believed that “reparative therapy changes sexual orientation, and in fact does great harm to many people.” The idea of conversion therapy was always absurd, said Susan Milligan in USNews.com. “If one could choose one’s sexual orientation, why make a choice that will make you the target of discrimination, violence, hatred, and even murder?”

This apology is too little, too late, said Gabriel Arana in Prospect.org. Exodus played a central role in peddling the idea to thousands of vulnerable kids and parents that you could “pray away the gay.” When I went to a reparative therapist affiliated with a similar organization, I was “devastated” that my orientation didn’t change, and “I stopped believing in God.” The therapy left me with nothing but a deep guilt and self-loathing that lasted for years. Exodus’s closure won’t bring back those teens who killed themselves because its “therapy” made them feel like disappointments to their families and God. Chambers has their blood on his hands.

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