Exodus International, anti-gay Christian group, distancing itself from ex-gay therapy

Alan Chambers is married to a woman, but admits he's sexually attracted to dudes.
Alan Chambers is married to a woman, but admits he's sexually attracted to dudes.

Exodus International, the county's best-known Christian ministry devoted to helping people suppress gay urges through the power of prayer, is distancing itself from the idea that a person's sexual orientation can be permanently changed or "cured."

It's a significant shift for the 36-year-old group, which has traditionally offered to help Christians rid themselves of gayness through prayer and the sort of "reparative" counseling made famous by Marcus Bachmann's Bachmann & Associates.

Exodus' annual conference begins today and is being held this year at St. Paul's Northwestern College. Yesterday, during an interview in Minneapolis, Exodus' president, Alan Chambers, told the Associated Press he's removed books endorsing ex-gay therapy from Exodus' online bookstore and is working to persuade member ministries to stop espousing it.

"I do not believe that cure is a word that is applicable to really any struggle, homosexuality included," said Chambers, who is married to a woman and has children, but speaks openly about his own sexual attraction to men. "For someone to put out a shingle and say, 'I can cure homosexuality' -- that to me is as bizarre as someone saying they can cure any other common temptation or struggle that anyone faces on Planet Earth."

Chambers said the 600-minister conference being held this week in St. Paul will highlight Exodus' efforts to dissociate itself from ex-gay therapy. The AP notes that Exodus and its 260 member ministries have seen their influence wane in recent years as mainstream associations representing psychologists and psychiatrists "have relegated [ex-gay] therapy to crackpot status."

"I consider myself fortunate to be in the best marriage I know," Chambers added. "It's an amazing thing, yet I do have same-sex attractions. Those things don't overwhelm me or my marriage; they are something that informs me like any other struggle I might bring to the table."

MinnPost's Brian Lambert has a more cynical take on why Exodus might be distancing itself from ex-gay therapy.

"Let me guess. They were told its [sic] no longer covered by insurance," Lambert writes.

Related coverage:
-- Senate rejects effort to block tax dollars from being used for ex-gay therapy
-- Marcus Bachmann's clinics still practicing ex-gay therapy, says new undercover report
-- Marcus Bachmann: The City Pages Interview
-- Anoka-Hennepin school board says 'no' to ex-gay therapy

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