Exodus ‘Ex-Gay’ Ministries Shut-Down Is A PR Job: Now Praying Away The Gay Nicely

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Westboro Baptist Church – no hugs. pic by Elvert Barnes

“Westboro with hugs” Dan Savage.

Sean Sala, a San Diego activist, and Michael Bussee of Riverside, Calif.,  one of the founders of Exodus and now its biggest critic, say they have evidence tying Exodus leader Alan Chambers to The Sight Ministry, a new “ex-gay” movement based in Nashville, Tenn.

Chambers sensationally announced the closure of the world HQ of Exodus Ministries the largest group in the world claiming to be able to change people’s sexual orientation through prayer and ‘reparative’ therapy. But that means less than it appears.

Local Exodus branches are autonomous, so many will continue: the Australian arm repudiated Chambers and said they would go on.

A hardcore rump called Restored Hope Network has been established in the USA, and here in Oz, Exodus Australia Pacific (Global Alliance), operating as “Living Waters”, will go on it’s damaging way. Other ‘brand names’ include “Desert Streams”, “Mosaic Ministries”, “Liberty Inc”. There’s a list here but it may well be out of date. There are also a number of online “gay conversion” courses (which are equally damaging and ineffective).

Numerous Pentecostal megachurches, rumoured to include Margaret Court’s personal church/business, Catholic parishes etc. perform anti-gay exorcisms to “cast out the demon of homosexuality” – a business Hillsong and Gloria Jeans Coffees used to be in before they were sprung.

I spoke about this on Channel 10 The Project on Friday (skip to 25.50).

Memo to self: too many chins, grow longer beard.

Memo to self: too many chins, must grow longer beard.

The change at Exodus has come about through some tough behind the scenes work by some real Christians, men and women who, despite the hatred and vitriol directed at them, continue to talk, continue to patiently engage.

Credit is due to Anthony Venn-Brown of Ambassadors & Bridgebuilders International, and to organisations like freedom2be who work tirelessly to repair the damage.

But they may have had the wool pulled over their eyes. Exodus may not be trying to change you any more: now they are simply going to tell you you’re broken and tell you to heal yourself. Which is arguably worse.

It wasn’t long before many people were questioning the sincerity of Chamber’s announcement. Well known gay blogger sexpert Dan Savage said:

‘They’re just re-packing their hate with smiley faces and hugs… Hugs are good, but someone can stab you in the back more effectively in a hug.’

“[Exodus] is responsible for hundreds of suicides—they have literally pushed people to suicide—and now they are just going to say, ‘Oh, we’re sorry’ and swish their skirts and we’re all supposed to just pretend that there isn’t blood on their hands and blood on their skirts.

I’m not impressed. We’re supposed to accept their apology even as they still say, as [president of Exodus International] Alan Chambers said, that he still opposes same-sex marriage for theological reasons and he still believes in what the Bible has to say about being gay.”

 

Now it seems he may be right: Sean Sala posted on his blog called TALKHILLCREST:

Chambers has said that he is shutting down Exodus and claimed that there will be no former affiliation with his new ministry reducefear.org. It appears that Alan Chambers has possibly instead been the conductor of a huge publicity and PR stunt.

An email obtained by Michael Bussee from former Exodus leader John Smid seems to prove the point. Bussee said

“Exodus may drop the name. The formal ‘organization’ may disband. They may not openly promote orientation change. But the new ministry (if it gets off the ground) will still be spreading the message that gay relationships are somehow ‘broken,’ less acceptable to God and not fully deserving of equality under law.”

“Although not under the name ‘Exodus,’ they will maintain strong ties to groups that still teach that homosexuality is disordered and that parents somehow cause this. Their mission will continue. Under the radar, cloaked in a kinder, gentler ‘welcoming’ guise. But still carrying a deadly payload of shame.”

 

The email referred to is from The Sight Ministry, whose mission statement says:

The Lord has given us a vision for a ministry to individuals struggling with sexual brokenness and/or sexual identity issues. . . . . The mission of The Sight Ministry is to provide individuals struggling with sexual brokenness and/or same-sex attractions a safe place to receive “sight” through compassion and love based upon the uncompromising Truth of the Word of God. It is important for the Church to offer hope through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ to those in our community who are dealing with sexual brokenness and sexual identity issues.

Which sure sounds more like a change of emphasis, not a change of attitude.

The email from Richard Holloman of The Sight Ministry says:

Please do not believe everything you may be hearing and reading in the new media. I have spent countless hours with Alan Chambers (Exodus President) and several of the board members to have a clear understanding of where they are with all of this and how they believe the LORD is leading them.

I can assure you, Alan, the board and other leaders affiliated with Exodus have NOT changed their/our views about gay issues. We still believe ANY sexual expression outside of marriage between a husband (man) and a wife (woman) is sinful & contrary to GOD’s plan for human sexuality. We continue to believe that gay marriage is NOT GOD’s plan.

This does not mean we are compromising what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. It simply means we are going to make a concerted effort to respond to all people as JESUS modeled for us. The only people JESUS spoke harshly to were the self-righteous religious leaders of His day.

Richard Holloman, The Sight Ministry,  PO Box 140808, Nashville, TN 37214. 615-509-0782 www.thesightministry.org

Holloman is on Twitter as @RichHolloman and his profile reads:

Executive Director of Sight Ministry, Nashville, TN, (deals with unwanted same-sex issues); Widower; son: Shad; his wife, Tami; 1 grandson Christopher; BA/MDiv Nashville, TN · thesightministry.blogspot.com

[all emphases mine]

Unless and until Exodus states unequivocally that they accept same-sex attraction as natural, normal, god-given and worthy of celebration, not shame, they continue to be part of the problem. This is just a corporate rebranding exercise.

The one good thing that may have come out of this: we now have very public testimony from the former chief spruiker that “conversion” or “reparative” therapies DO NOT WORK. Our best bet may be to go after them for selling an admittedly dangerous product that does not work as advertised.

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. And now he's been nominated for LGBTI Journalist of the Year 2017, which is great news, as he hasn't won any of these things for years! If you want to nominate him too - the more the merrier - you can do it here http://www.australianlgbtiawards.com.au/public-nominations.html "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)