3 former leaders of ex-gay ministry apologize

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three former leaders of Exodus International, often described as the nation's largest ex-gay ministry, publicly apologized Wednesday for the harm they said their efforts had caused many gays and lesbians who believed the group's message that sexual orientation could be changed through prayer.

Speaking at a Hollywood news conference, the former leaders of the interdenominational Christian organization said they had acted sincerely in their years of work with Exodus. But they said they had all, over time, become disillusioned with the group's ideas and concerned about what they described as the wrenching human toll of such gay conversion efforts.

The news event, in a courtyard outside an office of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, was timed to coincide with the opening of Exodus' annual conference, which is being held this week at Concordia University in Irvine. A competing "ex-gay survivor" convention is to begin Friday at UC Irvine.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexuality

36 Comments
Posted June 29, 2007 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Timothy Fountain wrote:

Now a licensed family therapist
Well, there ya go.  These are the folks who often counsel divorce as first aid.  These are the folks who come to microphones at diocesan conventions and try to close arguments on anything from abortion to zydeco with, “I have studied psychology, and it says…”
... Bussee left Exodus in 1979 after he fell in love with a man who was a fellow ex-gay counselor with the group.
You hear of people in all kinds of support groups pairing off and running back to whatever they were trying to leave. <i>
He speaks out frequently against ex-gay therapies. 
<i> He justifies himself

“God’s love and forgiveness does indeed change people,” 
Awww, ain’t that sweet.  LGBT/LATimes/Bruno get in a swipe at an AAC campaign
said Bussee, who remains an evangelical Christian. “It changed me. It just didn’t make me straight.” 
Now, here he has a point.  Christianity isn’t about making homosexuals into heterosexuals.  That is a flaw in some Christian approaches to homosexuality.

June 29, 8:23 am | [comment link]
2. Craig Stephans wrote:

A misleading title…none of these 3 are recent leaders of the Exodus. One left in 1979.  I cannot imagine a similar article on the failures of drug or alcohol treatment with failure rates in the 90%‘s…“well I started drinking again, so it must be that God wants me to be a drunk and this treatment program is harmful…I’m Christian but I’m still going to get drunk!” The fact that the paper had to find 3 former “leaders” with such marginal or distant ties to Exodus is telling in itself.

June 29, 8:49 am | [comment link]
3. Sarah1 wrote:

LOL.

“3 former leaders of [AA] ministry apologize”

June 29, 9:20 am | [comment link]
4. pamela wrote:

I agree with what Craig says, if we are a recovering alcoholic, we do not continue drinking…  It does not change the fact that every single day we battle the desire for that “first” drink.  It does not always remove the desire. 

I am saddened when I consider the message that our young people have received.  So much of this culture shouts that what is wrong is right…  That, coupled with our fast food mentality of quick fixes and happy endings makes us, and our youth, forget that life is not easy and holiness is even harder.

God never promises that it will be easy, just that he will be with us.  I’m leary of the people standing so strongly in support of sin…  I fear for them when they meet their maker…  I wonder if He will say to them, “depart from me, I never knew you!”,

Luke 13:23   And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them,
24: “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
25: When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.’
26: Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’
27: But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’
28: There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out.

And….  If we see our brothers sinning and do not speak up, what will God say to us?  1 Corinthians 5:
  1: It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife.
2: And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3: For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment
4: in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,
5: you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6: Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
7: Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.

8: Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9: I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men;
10: not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
11: But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one.
12: For what have I to do with judging outsiders? <b>Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? <b>
13: God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”

What a mixed message our young people are hearing.

I know that the issues are complex, as are the consequences.  In all this LOVE is to be our motivation.  We need to encourage our church brothers and sisters toward holiness, by love.  Sometimes, tough love, but always love.

June 29, 9:27 am | [comment link]
5. Dave C. wrote:

Don’t be surprised if in the coming months the APA issues a report calling for a ban on reparative therapy for gays.  A task force has been empaneled, populated with individuals hostile to such aproaches to a “Task Force On Appropriate Therapeutic Responses To Sexual Orientation.”
NARTH on APA

Sound science, facts, evidence, seem not to matter much when there is an agenda in play:
psychiatrist misrepresentation

June 29, 12:35 pm | [comment link]
6. bob carlton wrote:

as a long-term reader on this site, i’ve noticed that posts on glbt issues seem to far exceed those on divorce or adultery.  via google, i did a search across the new & old site - the ratio is 7:1

i imagine primarily straight people read this site, that kendal & the elves are straight - and that most are married

i am curious what is it about glbt issues that so engages people on this site, when divorce & adultery are FAR more rampant in our church and in the culture we live in

June 29, 1:20 pm | [comment link]
7. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Bob,
Are you an Episcopalian? [Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, UCC, Disciple of Christ, Anglican of some sort, etc.]

June 29, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
8. Deja Vu wrote:

bob carlton #6
It is the presenting issue over which the church is about to divide.
We are called to a listening process.
Oh, I forgot, that means we are just supposed to listen and not make comments.

June 29, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
9. bob carlton wrote:

rob, yes I am an Anglican - from birth, both parents wardens, I’ve been a senior warden

deja vu, i thought the presenting issue was scripture & how we interpret it.

June 29, 1:53 pm | [comment link]
10. Deja Vu wrote:

#9 bob carlton
The presenting issue is homosexuality, but the underlying problem is different understandings of authority, scripture and how we interpret it. Homosexuality is the case example.

June 29, 2:02 pm | [comment link]
11. Sarah1 wrote:

Good answer, Deja Vu—“presenting” symptom, like the tumor of a cancer, despite the fact that cancer actually has other symptoms too.

Often times patients are initially treated for presenting symptoms first, until the underlying disease is revealed.

I do agree that the divorce/remarriage issue—and the loosening of those rules in the earlier part of the 20th century—was also a presenting symptom of disease.  But we’ve moved way way way beyond that now.

I do hope that, should the communion divide, that the newer orthodox one will tend to those other symptoms like divorce and more.  And should the Communion establish discipline and order, I hope that we will tend to those symptoms too.

June 29, 2:08 pm | [comment link]
12. Alli B wrote:

Bob C., I believe you already know the answer to your own question - a question which is often posed as obfuscation.  The very huge difference is that adultery and divorce are viewed as what they are, sad evidence of our sinful natures.  We don’t celebrate them, and we don’t ask that they be blessed.  It is that simple.

June 29, 2:25 pm | [comment link]
13. Deja Vu wrote:

#12 Alli B
Yes.
And I believe Gene Robinson says that he and his wife did a divorce ceremony giving back their rings in a church and then had Eucharist. A sort of divorce blessing ceremony.
So we do really have two different belief systems in the same church.

June 29, 2:29 pm | [comment link]
14. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Sorry, Bob, I thought when you wrote “i am curious what is it about glbt issues that so engages people on this site”, I thought you were making a cynical comment.  I didn’t realize you asking inquisitively.  So my comment back you also took inquisitively.  I wasn’t being inquisitive.  I was asking incredulously whether, if you were an Anglican, or part of any other mainline denomination,  you could not see THE presenting issue of our generation.

I do want to challenge your assertion that divorce and adultery are rampant in the Church.  Certainly, the case has been made for such in our society.  But you’d have to prove such in the Church.  Certainly, there are individual congregations that have higher incidents of either, for whatever reason.  That’s simple probability.  But it is also the case that certain congregations, such as the one I serve, has been distinctly at the other end of the curve.  In the nearly 18 years I have served here, there has only been one divorce of a couple that would be considered Communicants in Good Standing, and they were married before I got here.  I know of only one instance of adultery.  As a result, our attention is simply not on those issues.
So, what’s your point?

You also said, “i imagine that primarily straight people, ....etc…..married….etc.”
You are probably correct, although I wonder why you would add that to your comment?
So, what’s your point?

And that makes me wonder whether your original comment really was naive, or not.
....Bob?

RGEaton

June 29, 2:30 pm | [comment link]
15. bob carlton wrote:

here’s my point, Rob

Research again & again find that divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and for Atheists and Agnostics.  Studies also indicate that adultery is no less prevalant in Christians than in non-Christians.

Rather than saying this is all about scripture & authority, than scapegoating glbt folks - wouldn’t be a lot more honest to focus as much attention in our churches & on this wonderful site on what the primary readers (straight, married folks) have as a plank in their own eyes, while we point out the planks in others ?

June 29, 2:42 pm | [comment link]
16. Alli B wrote:

“Rather than saying this is all about scripture & authority, than scapegoating glbt folks - wouldn’t be a lot more honest to focus as much attention in our churches & on this wonderful site on what the primary readers (straight, married folks) have as a plank in their own eyes, while we point out the planks in others?”

Obfuscation, Bob.  It IS about Scripture and authority of Scripture.  I have no idea what you mean by “scapegoating glbt folks.”  Sin is sin, no matter who is engaging in it.  You certainly won’t find anyone on this blog who advocates sin, whether it be adultery or divorce.  We all have our own “planks,” I’m sure.  You seem to suggest we look the other way and pretend we don’t see the heresy we see being perpetuated by leaders of our beloved church.

June 29, 2:53 pm | [comment link]
17. bob carlton wrote:

I am not suggesting ignoring anything - I am suggesting holding one another to a level of accountaqbility that is Scriptural & foundational to community.

A 7:1 ratio of posting on glbt vs. divorce & adultery - that is scapegoating to me for a site is almost exclusively for straight, married Christians

June 29, 3:01 pm | [comment link]
18. Brian from T19 wrote:

I’m glad to see that the current president seems to be recognizing that God does not always “heal” homosexuals of their preference.  They used to encourage heterosexual behavior.

June 29, 3:05 pm | [comment link]
19. Alli B wrote:

It is the issue which is most strikingly showing the division in Scriptural interpretations right now, as you well know.  Of course, the ratio of postings is relevant to the current affairs of our church.  Articles relevant to divorce and adultery are posted occasionally on this site, but the frequency of such news is in no way comparable.  This site is for everyone, Bob; not just straight married Christians.

June 29, 3:08 pm | [comment link]
20. Deja Vu wrote:

The postings go way up when we have interaction with people presenting the LGBT side of things. I don’t think we would have many comments on this thread if bob carlton hadn’t deliberately provoked comment.
On this thread there were 5 comments until bob showed up and now we have 20, of which 14 are by bob or responding to bob.

June 29, 3:36 pm | [comment link]
21. bob carlton wrote:

sorry for upsetting the echo chamber

June 29, 3:43 pm | [comment link]
22. john scholasticus wrote:

Bob is right. We keep being told that ‘this is only the presenting issue’. But, as Bob points out, the stats. tell overwhelmingly against that. And then we get all the stuff about anal intercourse, no kids, AIDS, lavender tendency, Robinson leaving his wife (untrue), etc. etc. Not to mention censorship on T19. When I posted a necessarily explicit but unprurient defence of anal intercourse, it was of course ‘moderated’ and then unpublished. Larry and other reasserters really ought to forget their fear of some gay guy coming up behind them in the shower, meet some of these people (actually, I find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that they don’t already), discover how virtuous they are - and forget it.

John, if you get your own blog, you can post whatever you want.  Kendall’s blog, Kendall’s rules.  Pretty simple

June 29, 3:52 pm | [comment link]
23. Deja Vu wrote:

#22 john scholasticus   ?????
In #13 I wrote that I thought I remembered that Robinson and his wife had a divorce ceremony in a church, not that he left his wife. Are you saying that is untrue? My point was that there seemed to be a developing sacrament of divorce.
And what is your point about “no kids”? For me, the fact that heterosexual intercouse is the way children are conceived is foundational to the whole conversation.
Are you trying to say that procreation is off topic to sexual morality in the bible? Are you familiar with the Brooten scholarship?
And where is this stuff about a gay guy coming up behind Larry in a shower? Is that a different thread?

June 29, 4:12 pm | [comment link]
24. Sarah1 wrote:

I’m glad Kendall is doing such an excellent job at communicating to the reasserters about the ongoing and further corrupting of the Episcopal church.

I can understand why the progressive Episcopalians wouldn’t appreciate this blog and the good job it is doing in communicating.

Keep up the good work, Kendall!

June 29, 4:13 pm | [comment link]
25. Vincent Lerins wrote:

Here is the listening process……on both homosexuality and divorce

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

11 And such were some of you. BUT you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11)

All sex outside of a marriage between one man and one woman is sinful. God NEVER intended for two men or two women to be together in a conjugal relationship.  God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Gen 1:27). If you take a look at the Hebrew words behind male and female, you will discover that male is described as “piercer” and female as “pierced.” I believe we all are mature enough to understand what the writer of Genesis was saying. 

Also, God intended for one man and one woman to be together for life. It is God who makes the man and woman one flesh. There is only one reason in which divorce is allowed and that is for sexual immorality. The reason for this is that the man and woman are one flesh. If the spouse continues with their adulterous partner, they are participating in their sins.

We are all fallen creatures with a sin nature. We all are disobedient and follow our own path instead of the one God has laid out for us in the Scriptures. A homosexual is not worse than an adulterer. However, some sins do carry greater consequences. The homosexual lifestyle is a lifestyle that leads to a shorten life span and is unsafe and unhealthy. God doesn’t have to curse us when we do wrong. We curse ourselves by living a rebellious life and we reap the consequences. However, there is hope!!

When one comes to faith in Jesus Christ, they repent of their sins and are baptized. In the waters of baptism, the person who has expressed faith in Jesus Christ is “born again.” So, they may have been a homosexual or an adulterer. They may have been a murderer.  But, after being born again, they are new creatures in Christ. They are no longer homosexuals, adulterers, etc.

If Exodus International are leading people to Christ, more power to them!!!

-Vincent

June 29, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
26. Bob from Boone wrote:

Bob C., you are learning that when you express a point of view on this blog that the great majority of commenters don’t like, they turn on you. Good luck.

June 29, 4:38 pm | [comment link]
27. Alli B wrote:

I guess you need to define what it is to “turn” on someone.  Does that mean disagree and point out the specifics of the disagreement?

June 29, 4:54 pm | [comment link]
28. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Does that mean disagree and point out the specifics of the disagreement?”

Yes.  ; > ) 

. . . Unless it’s the progressives browbeating traditionalists in a forum—then it’s dialogue for the “listening process”.

June 29, 5:15 pm | [comment link]
29. Irenaeus wrote:

“We don’t celebrate [adultery and divorce], and we don’t ask that they be blessed.”

Alli B [#12]: Just you wait. ECUSA will oblige with a farewell-to-this-marriage service.

June 30, 1:33 am | [comment link]
30. Irenaeus wrote:

Although I disagree with Bob Carlton’s suggestion that T19 and its commenters pull back from discussing LGBTX issues, he raises a legitimate question about divorce.

For better or worse, LGBTX issues are the arena in which ECUSA and other mainline churches are (explicitly or implicitly) dealing with fundamental questions about the authority of scripture and the nature of the church. Orthodox Anglicans in ECUSA should have organized, mobilized, drawn lines, and defended bridges long ago. We didn’t. The American Anglican Council proclaims repentance for that failure as one of its founding principles. But the Internet facilitated organization and GC 2003 made major decisions (e.g., approving VGR) not be cloaked in fog or fudge. We are where we are.

But most orthodox Anglicans find it easier to draw lines on LGBTX issues than on divorce. Both ECUSA and American society liberalized their stance on divorce four decades ago. It’s old news. It’s also commonplace. If we don’t experience it ourselves, we see it in friends, colleagues, parents, siblings, children, and fellow believers—-including more than a few clergy. It’s all very awkward. And given Jesus’ words about divorce, it raises questions about our fidelity to scripture. We can’t lightly dismiss the issue. The frequency of divorce among theologically conservative Christians underscores the practical importance of the issue.

June 30, 2:15 am | [comment link]
31. Ross wrote:

#29 Irenaeus says:

“We don’t celebrate [adultery and divorce], and we don’t ask that they be blessed.”

Alli B [#12]: Just you wait. ECUSA will oblige with a farewell-to-this-marriage service.

I’ve heard of such services being done ad hoc here and there—I have no idea if +Robinson and his ex-wife had one, but I know others have.

I don’t think that necessarily constitutes “celebrating” divorce, though.  When we have a funeral, we’re not celebrating the fact that someone has died—we are celebrating his or her life, and expressing our grief that they are no longer with us.  A divorce “memorial” could be conducted in a similar way—celebrating the good times that were, mourning the passing away of the marriage.  Nobody would be saying that divorce is a good thing, just that it has happened and we wish to mark the occasion.

June 30, 3:00 am | [comment link]
32. john scholasticus wrote:

#22
I accept ‘Kendall’s rules’. But I don’t think the occasional friendly jibe is out of place.
As for Larry being taken unawares in the shower, it was a joke - but a serious joke.

June 30, 3:19 pm | [comment link]
33. Deja Vu wrote:

#22 john scholasticus wrote:

When I posted a necessarily explicit but unprurient defence of anal intercourse, it was of course ‘moderated’ and then unpublished. Larry and other reasserters really ought to forget their fear of some gay guy coming up behind them in the shower, ...


and #32 john scholasticus wrote:

As for Larry being taken unawares in the shower, it was a joke - but a serious joke.

I’m thinking you are not in a ministry that brings you into contact with men who, as youths, actually were sexually molested by older boys or men. These experiences cause them tremendous distress, just as heterosexual molests of young women result in enduring problems.
Apparently your joke was from your own projection, as no one on this site has expressed the fear of which you joke.
However, if someone were to express concern on this site about being sexually seduced or molested, I would like you to reconsider your attitude that this topic is a joke.
And men can be sexually molested by other men. In fact, currently there is a probelm of gay rape in San Francisco. Not a joke.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/06/21/BAG9QQJ1H21.DTL&hw=castro+rape&sn=001&sc=1000
This is a newstory from the San Francisco Chronicle from last week, June 21, 2007. It begins:

SAN FRANCISCO: Campaign to raise awareness of gay rape
D.A., supervisor, police chief start program at City Hall

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Supervisor Bevan Dufty and Police Chief Heather Fong unveiled on Wednesday a new public awareness campaign intended to shine a light on a rarely discussed yet increasingly common crime: gay rape.

Posters will start appearing on Muni buses reading, “I thought he was a great guy until he raped me.” A hot line—(415) 333-4357—is available for reporting the crimes, and a new Web site is up at http://www.mensurvivingrape.org. The campaign comes just before people converge on San Francisco for gay pride weekend.

City officials gathered on the steps of City Hall to discuss the importance of reporting gay rape and sexual assault to authorities—and doing so quickly so physical evidence can be preserved.

“Rape is wrong not matter the gender, no matter the sexuality,” Dufty said. “Our city is prepared to come forward and extend a hand.”

You can use the link to read the whole article. But I wanted to be sure the hotline number, the weblink to the help site and the reassurance from Dufty to the rape victim were in the post.

June 30, 4:44 pm | [comment link]
34. John Wilkins wrote:

Hm - I admit, the insinuations that being homosexual is like being an alcoholic and that homosexuality has an implicit link to rape does indicate that we are of two different religions.  I drink alcohol - does this make me an alcoholic?  Does sex always imply rape?  Yes - it is a different world than in scriptures.  The world isn’t flat, we know it wasn’t made in six days, etc….  Eventually sexuality will be better understood in a way where it isn’t always compared to property crimes or betraying the state.

June 30, 10:24 pm | [comment link]
35. john scholasticus wrote:

#33

I’m not arguing that the topic (viz., in your terms, sexual assault) is a joke. Surprisingly enough, I am against sexual assault. I do believe that many hetero males’ obsession with homosexuality has something to do with their own inadequacies and vulnerabilities. Hence the joke - a joke designed to suggest a serious point - the one I’ve just stated. Nothing offensive here that I can see - certainly nothing remotely on a par with the venom routinely spilled out here against gay people.

July 1, 2:17 pm | [comment link]
36. Deja Vu wrote:

#35 Of course, obsessions always do have something to do with our vulnerabilities and inadequacies.
However, attempting to exacerbate people’s fears and making fun of people for their vulnerabilities and inadequacies is cruel.

July 2, 11:19 am | [comment link]
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