Soulforce and Beyond Ex-Gay Welcome Change at Exodus

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: March 6, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Paige Schilt, 
Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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In a March 4, 2008, interview with Ex-Gay Watch, Alan Chambers — President of Exodus International — confirmed that the world’s largest network of ex-gay ministries has refocused its priorities and will move away from political lobbying.

In spring 2007, Exodus hired a Director of Political Affairs, and Exodus representatives were vocal opponents of the Matthew Shepherd Act. However, Chambers indicated this week that the Political Affairs position no longer exists: "In August, 2007 after a lot of prayer, deliberation and listening to friends and critics alike –but mostly the Lord — we decided to back out of policy issues and our Director of Government Affairs took a position with another organization."

Chambers’ comments suggest that the change in priorities happened directly on the heels of the Ex-gay Survivor Conference in late June 2007 and the Soulforce Survivor’s Initiative in July 2007. Both projects utilized multiple formats, from press conferences to private conversations, to reach out to Exodus leadership with the stories of "ex-gay survivors" — men and women who believe that attempts to change their sexual orientation did more harm than good.

Christine Bakke, co-founder of Beyond Ex-Gay, was among a small group of ex-gay survivors who met with Exodus leaders over dinner during the Ex-gay Survivor Conference; she welcomed Chambers’ comments: "I feel deep satisfaction that Exodus leaders heard us when we met over dinner and through our more public statements, and I hope that they continue to listen to those of us who invested so much of our lives in the ex-gay experience and found another way," said Bakke.

Jeff Lutes, Soulforce Executive Director, also hailed the impact of survivor testimony. "Survivors of ex-gay programs have demonstrated remarkable courage by sharing their experiences in countless small acts of nonviolent witness. This decision from Exodus, and the acknowledgment that ex-gay survivors’ voices are being heard, is also courageous."

But Lutes added that there is still more work to be done. "We will continue to share the human stories of harm caused by ex-gay ministries and to find new ways to share the message that our sexual orientations and gender identities are gifts from God that can be lived with dignity and grace."

Bakke also gestured to the work ahead. "I welcome the news that Exodus has moved its focus from politics to people. Now, by listening to the people who have been negatively affected by their ministry and messages in the past, Exodus can deepen the discussion to consider their pastoral care needs and necessary next steps."

The Ex-gay Survivor Conference and the Soulforce Survivor’s Initiative were expressions of a growing ex-gay survivor community that includes writers, artists, researchers, and clergy. For more information about these events, and to learn about upcoming projects, visit www.soulforce.org and www.beyondexgay.com.

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Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Beyond Ex-Gay is an on-line community and resource for those of us who have survived ex-gay experiences. For more information go to www.beyondexgay.com.

 

 

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