Exodus International

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Exodus International
Exodus International logo.png
Founder(s)Michael Bussee
Gary Cooper
Frank Worthen
Ron Dennis
Greg Reid
Registration No.52-1413470 (EIN)
Founded1976 (1976)
HeadquartersOrlando, Florida
Key peopleAlan Chambers, President
Mission"Mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality."
Revenue$1,118,268 (2010)[1]
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Exodus International
Exodus International logo.png
Founder(s)Michael Bussee
Gary Cooper
Frank Worthen
Ron Dennis
Greg Reid
Registration No.52-1413470 (EIN)
Founded1976 (1976)
HeadquartersOrlando, Florida
Key peopleAlan Chambers, President
Mission"Mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality."
Revenue$1,118,268 (2010)[1]

Exodus International is a non-profit, interdenominational ex-gay Christian organization that seeks to limit homosexual desires. It was founded by Michael Bussee, Gary Cooper, Frank Worthen, Ron Dennis, and Greg Reid. Exodus International asserts that reorientation of same-sex attraction is possible,[3] but warns its members not to go to counselors who claim they can help eliminate all attractions to the same gender.[4] It does not conduct clinical treatment but holds the position that, "reparative therapy - a holistic, counselling approach to addressing unwanted same-sex attraction - can be a beneficial tool."[5] Techniques "can include abstinence, lessening of homosexual temptations, strengthening their sense of masculine or feminine identity, correcting distorted styles of relating with members of the same and opposite gender."[6]

Founded in 1976, Exodus is an umbrella organization which has grown to include over 120 local ministries in the United States and Canada and over 150 ministries in 17 other countries.[7] Although Exodus is formally an interdenominational Christian entity, it is most closely associated with Protestant and evangelical denominations. Alan Chambers is the current president of Exodus.

The Exodus Global Alliance formed out of Exodus International in 2004.



In 1973, Frank Worthen began a ministry called Love in Action, which ministered to homosexuals. A conference of various ministries to homosexuals was held in 1976 in the United States during which the ministries (including Love in Action) decided to form a coalition that called itself Exodus International North America. The conference became an annual event when it convened for the second time in 1977.

The conference continued until 1979, when many officials of Exodus North America left the organization due to internal divisions. In 1980, the Exodus North America Conference revived with new leadership and a renewed sense of purpose. Between 1981 and 1984, the views of Frank Worthen began to influence people outside of the United States through interviews and a book written by Kent Philpott called The Third Sex?[8] Exodus International attracted the attention of Johan van de Sluis, who attended the 1981 conference and subsequently created Exodus Europe in coalition with Exodus North America. Exodus Europe held their first conference in 1982 in the Netherlands. Conferences were held annually, each year in a new country. Ministries to homosexuals also arose in Australia and New Zealand under Peter Lane; Brazil under Esly Carvalho; and Europe under Johan van de Sluis. Alan Medinger became the Director for Exodus North America. Medinger founded a ministry for homosexuals and pornography addicts called Regeneration. His position as Director of Exodus North America was filled in 1985 by Bob Davies.

In 1990, Worthen traveled throughout the Philippines, and sent Sy Rogers of Exodus North America to Singapore. During his stay in Singapore, Rogers traveled extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand and South America building vision for a worldwide ministry.

In 1994, Exodus Latin America was created under Esly Carvalho. In 1995 it was decided that the Exodus groups should converge under a single name, Exodus International. The Exodus leaders held a Summit in San Diego, California and formed the Exodus International Advisory Council which merged the various Exodus ministries to create a stronger, more focused Exodus International ministry. Ministries to those with homosexual inclinations were represented from many countries.

Exodus South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand) was represented by Peter Lane and Debbie Hirsch. Exodus Europe was represented by Johan Van de Sluis and Jeremy Marks. Exodus Latin America was represented by Esly Carvalho and Affonso Zuin. Exodus North America was represented by Frank Worthen, Pat Lawrence, and Bob Davies. Exodus World-Wide was represented by Sy Rogers. Asian ministries to homosexuals were represented by Samuel Lee and Rene Gomez.

The founding Exodus Advisory Council included Frank Worthen, Sy Rogers, Bob Davies and Pat Lawrence as representatives of Exodus North America (Lawrence was selected as the International Coordinator), Peter Lane as a representative of Exodus South Pacific, Jeremy Marks as a representative of Exodus Europe, and Esly Carvalho as a representative of Exodus Latin America.

Between 1996 and 1999, ministries expanded throughout the South Pacific. In 1997 the Exodus Advisory Council became the Exodus International Board and restructured itself to include two representatives from each region. Exodus South Pacific changed their name to Exodus Asia Pacific and established ministries in Singapore and the Philippines, where Worthen and Rogers had previously ministered. The first conference was held in Brisbane, Australia in 1999.

In 2002 Exodus Brazil was created apart from Exodus Latin America. Exodus Brazil was headed by Willy Torresin de Oliveria. A homosexual man himself, he had attended a conference as a translator in 1989 without even knowing the nature of the group. 2002 also saw Oscar Galindo as the new director for Exodus Latin America. Under the leadership of Peter Lane, Exodus International saw growth in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia in 2003.

From 2003 to 2007 Exodus International was a (founding) member of Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality.

In 2004, Exodus International renamed themselves Exodus Global Alliance. The first Leadership Summit was held in 2005 and later that year an International Conference was held to discuss ex-gay ministries growing in Africa, Asia, China, Europe, India and Latin America.

In 2006, Exodus began ministries in Caribbean countries such as Barbados and Jamaica as well as Latin American nations such as Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela.

2007 saw the formation of the Exodus Youth Network.[citation needed]

Criticism of conversion therapy

In January 2012 the current president of Exodus International, Alan Chambers, during his address to a Gay Christian Network conference, stated that 99.9% of conversion therapy participants do not experience any change to their sexuality and apologized for the previous Exodus slogan "Change Is Possible". On October 6, 2010, it was reported by CNN and Ex-Gay Watch that Exodus International would not support the 2011 annual Day of Truth (a counter protest to the LGBT community's Day of Silence) originated by the Alliance Defense Fund, as the organization had done in 2010. President Alan Chambers was quoted as saying "All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they'd like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not."[9][10] While he believes that "any sexual activity outside a heterosexual, monogamous marriage is sinful according to the bible", he is attempting to disassociate the group from "reparative therapy" and also step back from contentious political engagement. Speaking to the New York Times in July 2012, Chambers talked about how he believes gay people can have gay sex and still go to heaven. “But we’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else [with other sins].”[11][12]

In another apparent shift in the organization's previous positions, Chambers stated in June 2012 that conversion therapy is potentially harmful to those participating and it does not work:[13]

"I do not believe that cure is a word that is applicable to really any struggle, homosexuality included, for someone to put out a shingle and say, 'I can cure homosexuality' — that to me is as bizarre as someone saying they can cure any other common temptation or struggle that anyone faces on Planet Earth."[14]

Love Won Out conferences

Focus on the Family reaches out to persons with homosexual desires in cooperation with Exodus International through the Love Won Out Conference.[15][verification needed] Love Won Out maintains that "[t]he sin of homosexual behavior, like all sins, can be forgiven and healed by the grace revealed in the life and death of Christ. All sexual sin affects the human personality like no other sin, for sexual issues run deep into our character, and change is slow and uphill-but is possible nonetheless."[16] Exodus International aims to facilitate that change in accordance with the Love Won Out Conference.[citation needed]

Studies of Exodus participants

Jones and Yarhouse

Professors Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse teamed as authors to answer the questions "Can persons who participate in focused religious ministries experience a change in their sexual orientation?" and "Is it harmful for anyone to participate in such programs?" amongst various persons ‘seeking change’ while involved with Exodus ministries over a three-year period of time. They published their results in “Ex-Gays?”: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change In Sexual Orientation”.[17] They found, from a sample of 73 participants (98 before dropouts):

They found "no evidence that the type of attempt to change sexual orientation studied here is harmful."

Schaeffer et al.

Schaeffer et al. surveyed 140 members of Exodus. After a year, 29% said they had changed their orientation, and another 65% said they were in the process of changing. Participants were considered behaviorally successful if they had abstained from any type of physical homosexual contact in the past year. Success was associated with strong religious motivation and positive mental health. Change was positively associated with religious motivation and emotional well-being.[18]


Research by Ponticelli on 15 ex-lesbian women found that Exodus helped them change their lesbian identities through a combination of a new and compelling schema concerning sexuality, reinterpretation of one's past according to that schema, and social support.[19]


Most of Exodus' leadership have successfully avoided controversy regarding their sexual identity for decades. Scandals now are less frequent. However, there have been incidents of note amongst the founders and a leader of the organization.[20]

Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper

Michael Bussee, one of the founders of Exodus and Gary Cooper, a leader within the ministry of Exodus, left the group to be with each other in 1979.[21] In time, they divorced their wives and participated in a commitment ceremony in 1982, exchanging rings and vows. Bussee and Cooper lived together until Cooper's death from AIDS-related illness in 1991.[22] Their story is one of the foci of the documentary One Nation Under God (1993), directed by Teodoro Maniaci and Francine Rzeznik.

In the documentary, Bussee and Cooper present themselves as "two of the original co-founders of Exodus." In an article regarding the history of Exodus International, Dr. Warren Throckmorton questioned whether Cooper should be considered a founder.[23] However, Exodus International president Alan Chambers counts both Bussee and Cooper as "founders" in a September 2006 newsletter article.[22]

As acknowledged by Exodus International in 2006, Michael Bussee "has been a longtime critic of Exodus and its leadership."[22] In June 2007, Bussee issued an apology for his involvement in promoting orientation change through Exodus. Also apologizing were Jeremy Marks, former president of Exodus International Europe, and Darlene Bogle, the founder of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodus referral agency. The apology stated in part "Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families."[24] In April 2010, Bussee stated, "I never saw one of our members or other Exodus leaders or other Exodus members become heterosexual, so deep down I knew that it wasn’t true."[25]

John Paulk

John Paulk, a well-known United States "ex-gay" public figure and Chairman of Exodus International, was removed by Exodus International Board of Directors vote on October 3, 2000, following confirmation of his "engaging in behavior which has negatively impacted the credibility of Exodus." [26]

Paulk, a self-described former "drag queen and homosexual prostitute", became active in Focus on the Family, was manager of Focus on the Family's Homosexuality and Gender Division.,[27] and was the elected Chairman of the board of Exodus International North America in August 1995 for a first three-year term. Paulk was re-elected for a second three-year term in 1998 (the incident occurred during the second three-year term).[28]

On September 19, 2000 while on a speaking tour, Paulk was identified drinking and flirting at Mr. P's, a Washington, D.C. gay bar, giving his name as "John Clint," one he had used in his days as a hustler in Ohio. A patron recognized him and contacted Wayne Besen, an employee of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay political action organization. When Besen arrived at the bar forty minutes later and confronted "John Clint", he denied that he was in fact John Paulk. Upon exiting the bar, Paulk's picture was taken as documentation that he had been in the bar. When confronted by Besen about the incident and the photographs, Paulk admitted being in the bar, but stated that he did not know it was a gay bar and had simply stopped in for a moment to use the restroom. However, eyewitnesses reported that Paulk stayed for more than an hour, flirted with other men, and when questioned about his sexuality, said he was gay.[29][30]

An Exodus press release soon followed:

"John's actions represent a serious lapse in sound judgment. His decision to enter a gay establishment for any reason opens him up to all kinds of speculation by both other Exodus leaders and also the gay community." [28]

Billboard parody controversy

On March 2, 2006, Liberty Counsel, a law firm acting on behalf of Exodus International, sent cease-and-desist letters[31][32] to Justin Watt, who blogs at Justinsomnia, and Mike Airhart, who blogs at Ex-Gay Watch. The letters "insist[ed]" that Watt and Airhart "immediately cease use" of an edited photograph on their respective blogs "or in any other form" which parodied an Exodus billboard. The original billboard image, obtained from Exodus's website, consisted of the message "Gay? Unhappy? www.exodus.to" while the parody image, created by Watt in September 2005, showed the same sign, substantially cropped, with the text altered to read "Straight? Unhappy? www.gay.com."

The following excerpt from Watt's cease-and-desist letter details Exodus's rationale for the request. The letter mentions Wikipedia because Watt had cited the Wikipedia entry on fair use in posting his parody.

"You appear to believe that the stolen image is exempt from federal intellectual property laws as a 'parody' due to 'fair use.' Unfortunately, the intricacies of federal law cannot adequately be covered on 'Wikipedia' due to the variety of facts addressed by courts in numerous cases. Your use of the image is indeed a violation of copyright law and is not covered by 'fair use.'"

In response, Watt contacted the ACLU, who took his defense and responded to the cease-and-desist letter[33] in partnership with the law firm of Fenwick & West LLP. According to reports in The New York Times[34] and USA Today,[35] Exodus decided against pursuing further legal action once the Exodus logo was removed from the parody.

iPhone app

Exodus International released an iPhone app, which they stated is "designed to be a useful resource for men, women, parents, students, and ministry leaders." Exodus said the app receives "a 4+ rating from Apple (applications in this category contain no objectionable material) ..."[36] The app promoted the idea that homosexuality can be cured. Truth Wins Out, in its online petition at Change.org, counters, "No objectionable content? We beg to differ. Exodus' message is hateful and bigoted." The app was removed from the iTunes Store on March 23, 2011, at which point over 151,000 signatures for its removal had been collected.[37] Michael Jones of Change.org stated that the petition would stay up and be collecting more signatures until there is a press release from Apple on the application or its removal.[38]

An outspoken critic of the app was Gary Remafedi, who says his research was manipulated by Exodus for this application. He stated that he "wrote to Apple founder Steve Jobs and interim CEO Tim Cook letting them know that Exodus International's "ex-gay" app flies in the face of science, and violates the ethical codes and positions of virtually every major medical and mental health organization."[39]

A counter petition was also set up on Change.org to keep the app.[40] On March 24, 2011 The Register reported that while the petition to remove the app had received over 150,000 signatures, the counter petition to keep the app had only received 8 signatures.[41]

On March 24, 2011, a statement was released from Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr stating: "We removed the Exodus International app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people."[42]

Truth Wins Out had amassed 158,321 signatures before the petition was closed and victory was declared.[37] The counter petition to keep the app managed to get a total of 28 signatures before the time period for signing closed.[40]

Ugandan conference

In 2009, several Exodus International executives, traveling in their capacity as Exodus International spokesmen, attended a conference in Uganda that promoted what critics describe as promoting "shocking abuses of basic human rights".[43] Close to a year later, Chambers expressed regret for the organization's involvement, and spoke out against the nation's "Kill the Gays" bill.[44]

See also


  1. ^ "Nonprofit Report for Exodus International North America, Inc.". GlobeStar. http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/52-1413470/exodus-international-north-america.aspx. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ "2010 IRS Form 990 Nonprofit Federal Tax Return". Foundation Center. http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/990s/990search/990.php?ein=521413470&yr=201012&rt=990&t9=A. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ Help Dennis Jernigan Visit The Troops In Iraq — Exodus International
  4. ^ How to Find the Right Counselor for You
  5. ^ "Exodus International Policy Statement". http://exodus.to/content/view/34/117/. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  6. ^ "What's your "success rate" in changing gays into straights?". http://exodus.to/content/view/43/87/. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  7. ^ "Exodus International". http://www.exodus.to/. Retrieved 2006-05-04. 
  8. ^ "The Third Sex". http://www.amazon.com/third-sex-homosexuals-their-stories/dp/0882701320/. 
  9. ^ "Christian Group Pull Support for Event Challenging Homosexuality". CNN. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/06/christian-group-pulls-support-for-event-challenging-homosexuality/?hpt=T2. 
  10. ^ "Exodus International Shuts Down Day of Truth". http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2010/10/exodus-international-shuts-down-day-of-truth/. 
  11. ^ . http://www.mail.com/news/us/1389808-christian-group-backs-ex-gay-therapy.html#.7518-stage-subhero1-2. 
  12. ^ "Alan Chambers says conversion therapy doesn't work". 07-07-2012. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/07/07/leader-of-reparative-therapy-group-exodus-says-gays-cant-be-cured/. Retrieved 08-07-2012. 
  13. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/us/a-leaders-renunciation-of-ex-gay-tenets-causes-a-schism.html?pagewanted=all
  14. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47975787/ns/us_news-life/#.T-sF1nB9m2w>
  15. ^ Focus on the Family's Love Won Out Agenda; GA November 4, 2006; Speaker on "The Condition of Male Homosexuality:" Mike Haley
  16. ^ Focus on the Family's Love Won Out Conference Guide Copyrighted 2005-2006Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Stanton, L. Jones; Mark A. Yarhouse (September 2007) (PDF). Ex-Gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change In Sexual Orientation. Intervarsity Press Academic. ISBN 978-0-8308-2846-3. http://www.ivpress.com/media/exgays-whitepaper.pdf. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  18. ^ Schaffer, Kim; Nottebaum, L., Smith, P., Dech, K. & Krawczyk, J. (1999). Religiously-motivated sexual orientation change: A follow-up study. 27. Journal of Psychology and Theology. pp. 329–337. http://doi.apa.org/getuid.cfm?uid=2000-13311-005. 
  19. ^ Ponticelli, C.M. (June 1999). Crafting stories of identity reconstruction. 62. Social Psychology Quarterly. pp. 157–172. http://doi.apa.org/getuid.cfm?uid=1999-05887-004. 
  20. ^ Stafford, Tim (2007-09-13). "An Older, Wiser Ex-Gay Movement". Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/6.48.html?start=2. 
  21. ^ DrThrockmorton.com
  22. ^ a b c Exodus International article, "September 2006 - History Of Exodus", by Alan Chambers, retrieved from http://exodus.to/content/view/671/207/ on March 1, 2009
  23. ^ "Are Sexual Preferences Changeable?", by Warren Throckmorton, retrieved from http://www.drthrockmorton.com/article.asp?id=156 on December 31, 2007
  24. ^ Channel 7 News, article, "Former leaders of ex-gay ministry apologize for 'bringing harm' and causing shame", June 28, 2007, author unknown, retrieved from http://www3.whdh.com/news/articles/national/BO55979/ on January 07, 2008
  25. ^ Michael Bussee interview with Box Turtle Bulletin, 27 April 2010
  26. ^ "Chairman Disciplined For Gay Bar Visit", author unknown (assumed to be Exodus International Media Relations), dated: October 03, 2000, retrieved from http://www.exodus.to/content/view/427/37/ on December 17, 2007
  27. ^ Archives, The Washington Post, "Ads Renew Ex-gay Debate", by Alan Cooperman, 21 October 2002
  28. ^ a b As above, "Chairman Disciplined For Gay Bar Visit"
  29. ^ Wayne Besen Anything But Straight
  30. ^ Southern Voice (newspaper), "Ex-gay Leader Confronted In Gay Bar", by Joel Lawson, 21 September 2000
  31. ^ "My first cease-and-desist letter". Justinsomnia. 2006-03-02. http://justinsomnia.org/2006/03/my-first-cease-and-desist-letter/. Retrieved 2006-04-18. 
  32. ^ "Liberty counsel threatens to sue over Exodus parody". Ex-Gay Watch. 2006-03-02. http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2006/03/liberty-counsel/. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  33. ^ "A response to Liberty". Justinsomnia. 2006-03-22. http://justinsomnia.org/2006/03/a-response-to-liberty/. Retrieved 2006-04-18. 
  34. ^ Miller, Lia (2006-03-27). "Both sides in parody dispute agree on a term: Unhappy". New York Times. p. C7. http://nytimes.com/2006/03/27/technology/27straight.html. Retrieved 2006-04-18. 
  35. ^ Swartz, Jon (2006-03-23). "Christian group backs off case against blog parody". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-03-23-aclu-blog-case_x.htm. Retrieved 2006-04-18. 
  36. ^ Buchanan, Jeff (2011-03-08). "Exodus Releases New Smartphone Application". Exodus International. http://exodusinternational.org/2011/03/exodus-releases-new-smartphone-application/. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  37. ^ a b Truth Wins Out. "Gay ights Petition: Demand that Apple remove "ex-gay" iPhone app". Change.org. http://www.change.org/petitions/demand-that-apple-remove-ex-gay-iphone-app#?opt_new=t&opt_fb=f. Retrieved April 9, 2012. 
  38. ^ "DEVELOPING: Has Apple Pulled the "Gay Cure" App from iTunes? | Change.org News". News.change.org. 2011-03-22. http://news.change.org/stories/developing-has-apple-pulled-the-gay-cure-app-from-itunes. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  39. ^ "Scientist Calls on Apple to Denounce and Remove "Ex-Gay Therapy" App | Change.org News". News.change.org. 2011-03-21. http://news.change.org/stories/scientist-calls-on-apple-to-denounce-and-remove-ex-gay-therapy-app. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  40. ^ a b "Human Rights Petition: Truth Wins Out: Stop with the reverse suppression from gays.". Change.org. http://www.change.org/petitions/truth-wins-out-stop-with-the-reverse-suppression-from-gays-4. Retrieved April 9, 2012. 
  41. ^ Ozimek, Jane Faye (March 24, 2011). "Apple bashes 'gay cure' app". The Register. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/24/apple_withdraws_anti_gay_app/print.html. Retrieved April 9, 2012. 
  42. ^ Apple Pulls “Gay Cure” App for Violating Dev Guidelines | I Has Apple !
  43. ^ http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2009/03/open-letter-to-the-exodus-international-board-of-directors/
  44. ^ http://www.christianpost.com/news/exodus-leaders-issue-statement-against-uganda-s-anti-gay-bill-44477/

Further reading

External links