What Does the Shutting Down of Exodus International Mean for the Christian Church?

I’m working on a project with a local professor called The Atheist Voice in which I tackle some burning question people often ask atheists.

Today, we tackled current events — Alan Chambersapology to the LGBTQ community, the closing of Exodus International, and what it all means for the Christian church:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Matt Kovach

    it means nothing to christians

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Awesome video Hemant. Summed up how I feel.

  • Carl

    Hemant, I’m enjoying this new video series very much. You always speak very plainly and concisely.
    BTW, nice shirt. I bought the same one at Target. :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    Shhhhhh…. don’t give away my secrets!

  • Anthony Magnabosco

    It is a rebranding effort – nothing more.

  • Adrian Tippetts

    I think the death of the exgay industry has been somewhat overstated. There are many places in the world where vicious homophobia thrives right now – especially in Africa and Russia. Reparative therapy is likely to thrive in exactly such environments, where LGBT people are constantly made to feel worthless, excluded, ostracised. Just Like when the tobacco industry started focusing on ‘emerging markets’ when folks at home got wise to the harm cigarettes caused, so too the start of this movement take their business elsewhere. With revivals of evangelical and Pentecostal fanaticism gripping Africa and even gaining ground in Brazil – where a law is going through the legislature to lift the ban on such therapy right now – there is plenty of fertile ground for this exgay nonsense to thrive. A new movement has already sprung up – Restored Hope – and there will be a conference in Oklahoma, so there is still plenty of work to do in the US at least. Vigilance is needed!

  • Rain
  • http://camelswithhammers.com/ Dan Fincke Camels With Hammers

    How does shutting down an organization = rebranding it?

  • Rain

    Chambers said in a statement that the organization’s directors voted to shut down Exodus after more than 30 years and start a new ministry that would would work with other churches to create “safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities.”

    Do you think they would be “shutting down” if they were making a bazillion dollars? And do you have any idea what “safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities” means? I sure as heck don’t know what it means. Sounds like some double-talk to me.

  • Heathen Mike

    More power to the project!

    As for the church, I don’t think the shutting down of Exodus International is in and of itself particularly transformative of the Christian community as a whole. What it is, rather, is a metaphorical canary in the coal mine of the anti-gay establishment. That is, it is a sign that the once overwhelmingly united and powerful social forces of condemnation of LGBT have weakened sufficiently that Exodus’ brand of fear-mongering no longer has broad enough appeal to be supported enough financially.

    Of course, “ex-gay” organizations are still out there working hard to reinforce self-loathing in people, but it is starting to become feasible for Christians to actually voice opinions that are not blanket condemnations of LGBT. That’s major progress.

    All of this development comes down to the result of ever increasing visibility of LGBT in all areas of society. It is just harder and harder for bigots to successfully demonize us when more and more of the general population personally knows some of us, and when ever-growing numbers of celebrities are coming out and people realize they are likable. Come on, who can resist the friendly charm of Neil Patrick Harris, or Ellen, or Anderson Cooper?

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    But they aren’t REALLY shutting down. Chambers is starting something new and needs to rebrand. If you read what he says, it’s just going to be a kinder, gentler anti-gay bigotry. Not impressed. This isn’t a change in policy, just a change in PR strategies.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    When the same person is starting a new organization with the same core beliefs. I call that rebranding. I’m open to using a different term but shutting down isn’t quite accurate.

  • Stev84

    Yeah, in some of these places Exodus was active and spread their ideology among local churches. Those ideas will live on and continue to do damage,

  • Lina Baker

    “what it all means for the Christian Church”

    Erp – there’s no one “Christian Church.” What it means for churches of the United Church of Christ, which is an open and affirming church (the head of the denomination is gay) won’t be the same for what it means to the Church of Christ, which is quite conservative. What it means for the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is also open and affirming and ecumenical, won’t at all be the same for what it means for Lutheran Missouri Synod, which is quite conservative and against ecumenical activities. It won’t even mean the same to all Catholic Churches – they can vary hugely, church to church, in terms of how they talk about gay people.

  • compl3x

    I was watching an interview on TV about this today, and while I was only half aying attention the interviewee seemed to be of the opinion that even though Exodus is shutting down many of their affiliates are independent so they will still offer this nonsense.

    I think one here in Australia is called Liberty something or other. Somewhat ironic name considering liberty to be yourself is something they want to rob you of.

  • allein

    “Liberty,” like “family,” in an organization’s name seems to be one of those words that indicate the organization works exactly against the things those words would seem to imply.

  • Octoberfurst

    I personally think the more sane Christians realize that they are fighting a losing battle when it comes to gay rights. As more and more moderate Christians accept gays the churches will have to either become open to gays rights or lose members.

    However the hard-core Right will just hunker down and become more militant about it. I see it already in right-wing Christian forums. They say they will never give in to the “gay agenda”. So what you will have will be a minority of right-wing Christian homophobes who will continue to make a lot of noise and rant and rave but in the end they will be ignored.

  • http://camelswithhammers.com/ Dan Fincke Camels With Hammers

    yeah, I didn’t know about that part. I stand corrected.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    It’s not your fault. The mainstream media skipped that part of the story. so far the purpose of the new organization Chambers has put forth is a meaningless word salad. We do know from interviews that he hasn’t changed any of his positions. It really does look like rebranding but it’s hard to tell until they actually put forth an agenda for the new org that actually means something.

  • skepticalofzealots

    I found the apology to be a bunch of b.s. It started out with Chambers giving a two paragraph explanation of a car accident he caused by accident years ago and the lingering damage that people may have from that accident. He then compared those accidental injuries to the very intentional injuries he caused people. To me, any apology where someone tries to minimize the harm he or she has done, is not an apology at all. He also made it clear that his personal belief, which he thinks reflects the beliefs of the Christian church, is that it remains a sin to engage in any sexual behavior outside of a heterosexual marriage. So, to me, he’s still peddling the same b.s.- just trying to wrap it up in different packaging and seem less hateful; making it more likely for them to capture more people who are torn and conflicted because the religion they were taught from childhood conflicts with their personal identities.

  • Alice

    Exhibit A: (anti-)Liberty University started by Jerry Falwell.