January 09, 2012 12:31 pm ET - by Carlos Maza
For years, Exodus International has been one of the country’s most prominent “ex-gay” Christian groups, promoting the widely discredited practice of attempting to alter a person’s sexual orientation through prayer or counseling.
On January 6, however, during a panel discussion at the Gay Christian Network’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida, Exodus President Alan Chambers confessed that the overwhelming majority of those who had undergone “ex-gay” therapy had not changed their sexual orientation:
CHAMBERS: The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9 percent of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction. I think that there is a gender issue there. There are some women who have challenged me and said, “Well that - my orientation or my attractions have changed completely.” Those have been few and far between. The vast majority of people that I know do still experience some level of same-sex attraction.
According to Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin, Chambers’ comments are just the latest in what appears to be a significant shift in Exodus International’s messaging strategy:
Last November, there were reports that Chambers was considering a modification of their message. At that time, I noted that Exodus has flirted with the idea of retooling its message before. The main message from Exodus has centered on changing from homosexuality to heterosexuality (however loosely defined that change may be). But there has been an underlying theme “the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, it’s holiness,” which leaves open the idea that becoming straight isn’t the goal. Chambers has been giving variations on that theme since at least 2007. He surprised supporters and critics alike in 2009 when he told the Los Angeles Times, “By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete.” It’s unclear whether this is a further tweaking of that theme or if it represents a marked change in message for the organization.
Every major medical association in America – including the American Medical Association, National Association of Social Workers, American Counseling Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association – has rejected the efficacy of “ex-gay” therapy, although anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council and National Organization for Marriage continue to promote the practice.
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