Exodus International continues its notable decline in the United States with another poorly attended Love Won Out conference. Exodus spokesperson Chris Stump said only 400 people were at Midway Church, where the event took place. However, judging by the number of cars in the parking lot and the number of people exiting the building for lunch, it appears that Stump’s generous estimate was a bit of a stretch. Love Won Out is a shell of its former glory when it was administered by Focus on the Family — where the “ex-gay” road show regularly drew more than 1,000 people.
This event was highly anticipated because Exodus President Alan Chambers had recently told a crowd of gay Christians that Exodus was altering its message. Chambers also told the Gay Christian Network: “We’re not here to change you. That is our message. It is something that we have to say. We can’t do that… ‘Change is Possible’ we don’t use that phrase anymore…I’m sorry that that is something that we used.”
Additionally, Chambers admitted: “The majority of people I have met, and the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their sexual orientation or have gotten to a place where they can say they have never been tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.”
Would these new realities be reflected in Atlanta? Those who follow these groups were more than curious if Love Won Out would take a new tone.
Not surprisingly, Exodus did not turn over a new leaf, but presented the same old tired lies. For example, at the event, Exodus sold an exorbitantly expensive $330 DVD set and workbook, “Hope for Wholeness,” that explicitly touted the “change” that Chambers said his organization no longer promotes. Here are vivid examples taken directly from a Hope for Wholeness workbook that I purchased at Atlanta’s Love Won Out this weekend.
It is time that the LGBT community stops placing even a shard of hope in Exodus President Alan Chambers. He appears to be incapable of telling the truth and lies for sport. He often tries to distance himself from such lies by claiming he is sometimes unaware when local Exodus member ministries use the language of “change.” However, Chambers can’t wiggle his way out of the fact that his picture is on the back of the nine-part “Hope for Wholeness” DVD set and he is described as one of its “teachers.” (Pictured top left)
Additionally, this DVD-set featured Desert Stream ministries activist Andy Comisky, who calls homosexuality “spiritual disfigurement.” Comisky wrote in his book, Pursuing Sexual Wholeness 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.”
Exodus also was selling Jeanette Howard’s book, “Out of Egypt: One Woman’s Journey Out of Lesbianism.” In her book she writes, “Choosing to leave the lesbian life brings us into direct conflict with the satanic realm….only when we understand and implement spiritual warfare can our walk into wholeness be successful.”
Clearly, Exodus has not changed its ugly and bigoted rhetoric as Chambers claimed at the GCN conference. What he did was use his platform at GCN to strategically reposition Exodus’ brand by making the group appear more mainstream. While many people were not fooled, there were some gullible activists who believed Chambers, in spite of robust evidence that contradicted the Exodus leaders false and misleading claims.
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To protest these lies, Truth Wins Out joined Get Equal GA and several local Atlanta organizations, including the Queer Justice League, to demonstrate outside the mega-church where Love Won Out was being held on Saturday. The demonstration brought out 50 people.
On Friday, Truth Wins Out and the Southern Poverty Law Center held a press conference to discuss the dangers of Exodus. SPLC’s Sam Wolfe and I spoke, as well as “ex-gay” survivor Chaim Levin. ProjectQAtlanta videotaped Chaim’s powerful testimony:
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On Thursday, TWO’s Wayne Besen, SPLC’s Wolfe and Ashley Jackson and Levin hosted held a compelling seminar on the harm caused by “ex-gay” programs. A fascinating panel discussion took place following our multimedia presentations. The local panelists included:
- Jon Diggs: National Certified Counselor – Evolution Project (AID Atlanta)
- Rev T.J. McGiffert; Chaplain at Dekalb Medical and SoulForce Member
- Rev Paul Turner; Pastor of Gentle Spirit Church
- Dr. Gwen Davies; Licensed Psychologist – Clinical Director at Positive Impact
- Mrs. Patti Ellis; Activist Mother of Gay Son – Runs Website FamilyAcceptance.com
- Allen Peebles; Ex-Gay Survivor
- Rev Tony Jones; Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church
Special thanks to GetEQUAL GA’s Paul Schappaugh and the Queer Justice League’s Art Izzard. Both men did an amazing job organizing and were the driving force behind our efforts to counter the “ex-gay” myth in Atlanta. Truth Wins Out was honored to work with them and we are thankful for their warm hospitality while we were in Atlanta.