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Exodus International Issues Apology, Hints At Further Developments Tonight

Jim Burroway

June 19th, 2013

Exodus International president has issued a far-reaching apology moments ago:

Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me.

And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.

Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.

Friends and critics alike have said it’s not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated.

Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them. I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.

You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show I am serious in both my regret and offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good..

Moving forward, we will serve in our pluralistic culture by hosting thoughtful and safe conversations about gender and sexuality, while partnering with others to reduce fear, inspire hope, and cultivate human flourishing.

The bolding is original to the press release, which hints at a further announcement at tonight’s opening session of Exodus’ annual Freedom Conference being held at Concordia University in Irvine, California. I’ll be in attendance and will provide updates as soon as I can.

(In fact, I’m posting thus from my phone at a Subway just outside the campus before going in for registration. So please excuse any typos, autocorrect interventions and formatting problems. Also, if you’re in the area, give me a shout via Twitter at @jfburroway.)



June 19th, 2013 | LINK

Nice! Thanks for these updates. I’m hoping for good things!!!

Timothy Kincaid
June 19th, 2013 | LINK

In a world full of excuses, where “I’m sorry you misunderstood me but I did no wrong” is standard, it can sometimes be easy to forget what an apology looks like.

This is an apology. I found myself tearing up a bit.

June 19th, 2013 | LINK

That apology seems heartfelt and sincere. I still disagree with some of Alan’s beliefs but I can now respect his beliefs (because they aren’t cloaked in lies) and expect a respect in return (something that has been implied but never expressed). I know that there are some gay people out there who will never find happiness in embracing their sexual orientation. For those people I hope that Alan and Exodus can give them an alternative option that brings them peace and happiness while living within the boundaries of their spirituality and faith. As long as they are doing that honestly, with all of the facts presented, and there is no pressure to continue if they decide it doesn’t work for them, then I have no issue with them. I wish them metta.

June 19th, 2013 | LINK

I’m honestly at a loss. It does seem like a very heartfelt and sincere apology. I really want to just leave it at that.

But, while “I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives” is a very powerful statement, it doesn’t bring anyone back to either, does it?

Having said that, I believe that advocates are made not born, and they often start to see the other point of view when it affects them deeply and personally as it seems to have finally affected Alan.

I remember him commenting on Kirk’s story a while after you wrote it, Jim, and I thought it was so strange that he would have commented, and I wanted him to say more. I guess this is the “more” I was looking for.

Admittedly, when he says they are announcing changes at Exodus International, that makes me a bit squeamish. We’ve often seen people have a change of heart when a BUSINESS is at stake, and I truly hope this is not the case here.

Progress not perfection.

June 19th, 2013 | LINK

@Maris – I completely hear you. Although I am no longer a Catholic, it seems to me the concept of confession & reconciliation as taught by the Catholics is instructive here. When confessing an apology would be the beginning, not the end, of the reconciliation. Alan has expressed himself well here, but it will be his future actions that truly indicate whether he has really changed and is willing to do the hard work of making up for the hurt he has caused.

However I do find it ironic that Alan, who I am willing to believe acted out of a true sense of faith, has provided a more honest apology than Ken Mehlman who now works for marriage equality. Mehlman acted with cynical political cunning to make gays and lesbians second class citizens in state after state and has never truly even acknowledged what he did.

Paul Cook-Giles
June 19th, 2013 | LINK

Jim, if SCOTUS announces their Prop 8 and/or DOMA decisions tomorrow, please join us in downtown Santa Ana (next door to Irvine):

bill johnson
June 19th, 2013 | LINK

If Alan reads these comments I want to thank him for issuing this apology. There are other leaders, who are still a part of the ex-gay industry, who are refusing to acknowledge the damage that is done by these sexual orientation change efforts and the damage that is done to families by theories that claim that bad parenting caused the individual to be gay. These other leaders cling to ideology in spite of the damage done and now attack Alan for admitting the truth. So I am truly grateful and happy to see this apology and the changes at Exodus and I look forward to hearing more.

Richard Rush
June 19th, 2013 | LINK

Alan’s apology is an excellent start, and it certainly seems genuine to me. One thing, though, stopped me in my tracks: “The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.” It’s difficult for me to imagine any good at all that was ever done at Exodus.

I wonder if Alan will offer to return a substantial amount of the money he “earned” by perpetuating all the hurt and anguish that he is now sorry for.

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