Exodus International Shuts Down. Colbert Responds.

A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of a bizarre movement or group (?) called the ex-gays. This is a collection of religious based organisations (Christian and Jewish) who dedicate themselves to trying to change young gay people straight. It has been called *reparative therapy* by their supporters and  the *pray-away the-gay* movement by their detractors. Probably the most accurate label attached to the movement is… dangerous. Vulnerable young people are taken to these so called counsellors by their concerned Christian parents where, for the required fee, the young people are taught to hate who they are even more than they already do.

The leading ex gay organisation for the last 40 years has been Exodus International.   I have blogged on this group before after I discovered that the LCA*s Commission on Social and Bioethic Questions actually recommended the organisation in an article in the Church*s official magazine. My earlier blog shows previous leaders of Exodus International including founding members tearfully apologising for the harm and even suicides that their *ministry* had caused.

I was reminded of this whole sorry saga again late last year when Dr Beverly Yahnke a visiting American Lutheran  psychologist advocated reparative therapies in her lectures  on homosexuality to LCA pastors, chaplains and  care workers.

Well, BIG NEWS! This week Alan Chambers, the head of  Exodus International, at their Annual Conference announced that they are shutting down the ministry. While this news is significant it is not so surprising. The death knell for Exodus was already sounding early last year when Alan Chambers, in a stunning display of public humility and honesty, admitted that 99.9% of people who seek a change in sexual orientation experience no change what-so-ever.

Last night, Chambers also followed the lead of  his penitent predecessors. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network with a group of ex-gay survivors. He listened to their  stories, acknowledged the pain that Exodus had brought into their lives and offered his heartfelt apology.

Hopefully the ex-gay movement will soon be a thing of the past. Two US states have brought legislation to prevent children under the age of 18 being subjected to their  therapies. Since the industry*s  finacial viability rests on the fears of Christian parents who are able to force their children into harmful programs, such legislation will probably spell their end.

But, of course, religious crackpots will continue to impose their narrow and harmful  view of scripture on the vulnerable young people in their care.  A new group called Restored Hope Network has already formed to continue the hurt. It is backed by NARTH, (a network of counsellors who make their living from reparative therapy) and consists of various fundamentalist religious groups who were brought together by Robert Gagnon author of  The Bible and Homosexual Practice. I have written on Gagnon here.

And where is the LCA in all of this? Well, Gagnon*s one eyed work is considered a central and helpful book by members of the Church*s Commssion on Theology and American Lutheran Psychologist Bev Yahnke highly recommended NARTH in her lectures. You do the math.

Anyway… enough words. Here is comedian Colbert*s take on the whole thing.