Gay-rights groups are cheering the closing of a Florida-based ex-gay ministry, which was announced this week with an apology from its leader.
“I haven’t always been the leader of Exodus, but I am now, and someone must finally own and acknowledge the hurt of others. I do so anxiously, but willingly,” he said.
He apologized to the gay community “for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the church as a whole.”
Exodus International, founded in 1976 and based in Orlando, was part of faith-based movement to “cure” homosexuality.
Sharon Groves, director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign, thanked Exodus International leaders for sparing a new generation of people from its “psychological and spiritual trauma.”
The decision is “another nail in the coffin for reparative therapy,” said California State Sen. Ted Lieu, who wrote a California law banning sexual-orientation change therapy for minors. The law, SB 1172, is enjoined pending a court ruling.
Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out and ardent critic of ex-gay ministries, applauded the demise of Exodus International, but warned that “the fight to put a stop to these harmful ‘therapeutic’ practices is far from over.”
Meanwhile, supporters of ex-gay ministries applauded the emergence of a new organization that supports faith-based therapy to help people escape same-sex attractions.
Restored Hope Network will bring the issue “back to biblical truth,” said Greg Quinlan, director of government affairs for New Jersey Family First, who is ex-gay himself.
“They believe in reparative therapy because all therapy is about repairing something,” said Mr. Quinlan. “Whether you are repairing an alcoholic, or someone with depression, or you are repairing a marriage, or you are repairing somebody with same-sex attraction — all therapy is about repairing something.”
The new group, which opens its first conference Friday, says it upholds “the power of God to redeem individuals and families from sin’s control, even in the area of homosexuality.”
“I am so thankful that Restored Hope Network exists … to continue the message of transformation and new life in Christ,” said Frank Worthen, a former Exodus leader who is part of the new group.