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Alan Chambers Backpeddles and Attempts To Whitewash Exodus International’s Harmful Past

Faced with insurmountable evidence that reparative therapy doesn’t work,  Alan Chambers President of Exodus International a worldwide umbrella group for ex-gay organizations and is intimately associated with right-wing Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family has suddenly changed his mind and has declared that “reparative therapy” doesn’t work and Alan Chambers doing the media circuit to do “damage control” and to whitewash the ex-gay organizations past.

In an  interview with the New York Times last week Chambers declared that there is no “cure” for homosexuality saying that

(Chambers) said Exodus could no longer condone reparative therapy, which blames  homosexuality on emotional scars in childhood and claims to reshape the psyche.  And in a theological departure that has caused the sharpest reaction from  conservative pastors, Mr. Chambers said he believed that those who persist in  homosexual behavior could still be saved by Christ and go to heaven.

Appearing last night on MSNBC’s  Hardball,  Chambers took it a step further and attempted to cover his and Exodus Internationals collective asses by telling guest  host Michael Smerconish that the concept of “praying away the gay has been a  lazy stereotype. That’s not what I did.”

Said Chambers:

As far as reparative therapy… We endorsed that and had people within our  movement who did therapy, but so much of the focus is changing there where they’re talking about 100% cures and using that word specifically with me in  private conversations and even introducing things like heterosexual pornography  to help instigate attraction. I don’t find that healthy at all.

Chambers may not have found it healthy.  But he allowed it and made a fine living off it.  Because praying away the gay, brainwashing and using fear tactics is exactly what Exodus International did.

Not only did Chambers allow and endorse reparative therapy. Exodus International allowed its own staff to use personal stories to promote it and their organization.  EI Ministry director John Smid told the Memphis Flyer in 1997 how he changed from gay to straight.

“I’m looking at that wall and suddenly I say it’s blue,” Smid said, pointing to a yellow wall. “Someone else comes along and says, ‘No, it’s gold.’ But I want to believe that wall is blue. Then God comes along and He says, ‘You’re right, John, [that yellow wall] is blue.’ That’s the help I need. God can help me make that [yellow] wall blue.”

Former ex-gay and EI alum Steve Lee told the ABC news magazine about EI tactics in a  20/20 episode on Sept. 21, 2007 saying . “I would definitely call it brainwashing,” he said. “It was an exercise in humiliation.”

Exodus International also engaged in double-talk about “loving” gay people. (and still does). While having its own television show on the Christian Sky Angel network, where they repeatedly berated and bashed the LGBT life as “perverse” and “sexual brokenness” and even in some cases, presented homosexuality as demonic with one of Exodus International’s most celebrated leaders, Andy Comiskey of Desert Stream ministries writing in his book “Pursuing Sexual Wholeness,” calling homosexuality “spiritual disfigurement” and believes that “Satan delights in homosexual perversion because it not only exists outside of marriage, but it also defiles God’ very image reflected as male and female…Another related source of demonization is the homosexual relationship itself…That attachment and communion are indeed inspired, but their source is demonic.”

But in what has to be the most heinous part of  Exodus Internationals past was that it purposely used scare tactics to recruit new clients in the early 1980’s and 1990’s, by relying heavily on fear of the AIDS epidemic to attract new members and to make money.

This is what Exodus International was, and is. We should never forget that. And there is no way that we should allow Alan Chambers to cover up Exodus International’s harmful and in some cases lethal history of th use of fear, intimidation, brain washing, and anti-gay propaganda since it was founded in 1976.

Regardless of Chambers “enlightenment” and his media blitz quite simply put Exodus International is a dangerous radical organization with a right-wing political agenda that seeks to deny LGBT Americans basic equality and the right to be who they truly are.

No matter what Alan Chambers states he and Exodus International are as dangerous as ever and we should not allow them to whitewash their past and try to distance themselves from the crimes they have committed against out community.

Additional source material – Truth Wins Out

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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