We can only imagine the night sweats and cowering crouches that accompanied Exodus International executive director Alan Chambers’ withering decision to shut down the 37-year-old institution last week in the middle of the night, though we would like to imagine that there was a steamy three-way involved and some poppers. Exodus had become the apparent umbrella to many of the nation’s pray-away-the-gay sideshows, and the announcement – cleverly timed with a self-prescribed public apology for anything you thought Chambers might have done wrong, as well as to boost interest in a Lisa Ling special on the OWN network – surely came as something of a shock to the falsely converted or previously tortured, abused and abandoned. Hell, it even seemed to come as a surprise to Chambers, who is sorta still gay but maintains a marriage with his wife. Even in his apology, Chambers seems wracked with guilt of the religious variety:
“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,” he writes. “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.”
Isn’t that convenient? While the announcement of Exodus’ demise followed the apology by only a matter of hours, with it came the caveat that Chambers’ particular – and ultimately harmful – flavor of greed and guilt would continue under the banner of Jesus, only in a different form. Though he’s calling it reducefear.org (“This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” Chambers says in a press release, signifying nothing), the tone still seems to be one of scriptural damnation, but it allows its leaders all the freedom they want to sleep with whomever they please and feel horrible about it.
Chambers shouldn’t get off that easily, obviously (ha!). As the Huffington Post reminds us, the reparative tactics of Exodus have been promulgated internationally, even as a means of supporting severe anti-gay legislation in Uganda. Also, all those little boys and girls who were shipped off to “camp” in order to have their spirits broken probably have a thing or two to say about Chambers’ extreme makeover, gay edition. That is, if they’re still alive. Thanks for nothing, Exodus. Amen.