Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, will be in Atlanta Saturday for the “Beyond Pain to Wholeness: Overcoming the Stigma” conference hosted by Healing of the Heart Ministries.
The conference is being hosted at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, Ga., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will focus on a range of topics from sexual abuse to homosexuality.
Chambers, who is the conference’s luncheon keynote speaker, has been the head of Exodus International since 2001. Exodus is a Christian-rooted organization “offering a biblical message about same-sex attraction,” according to its website.
Exodus has long been thought of as an “ex-gay” organization and in the past has advocated reparative therapy to change sexual orientation. Such therapy is considered harmful by the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and other mainstream medical groups.
Exodus now offers a somewhat more nuanced description of its work, to the dismay of some Christian conservatives.
“While we have never met anyone who ‘chose’ to feel same-sex attracted, people do have to eventually make a decision to either act on those feelings or not to act on them. Since 1976, Exodus has served as an organization helping men and women surrender their sexual struggles to the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” the website states.
But the website also states, “We do believe that any sexual expression outside of a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman falls outside of God’s creative intent for human sexual expression and is sinful.”
Chambers made headlines late last year after an interview on “Our America with Lisa Ling” where the Exodus president says he still deals with same-sex attraction, despite many years of faith-based therapy and counseling.
His comments caused a stir in some faith circles after Chambers implied that he wasn’t heterosexual. Exodus International has lost leaders and affiliates after distancing itself from the ex-gay message, Christianity Today reported in December.
The Atlanta conference is organized by Dr. Betty Mitchell, an ordained minister and sexual abuse counselor.
The conference, Mitchell said, will bring people of faith together to discuss often taboo topics in the church like incest, sexual abuse, domestic violence and, of course, homosexuality.
“The purpose is to bring these subtopics out into the open,” Mitchell told GA Voice by phone today. “We’re going to come out of the closet on them, so to speak.”
Mitchell says many faith leaders are often unprepared to answer questions about these kinds of topics.
“We’ll be able to treat, minister, provide the love and grace we need to to people who have experienced these kinds of things,” she said. “Our silence is almost like agreeing with society when they say a homosexual is going to hell when we know that’s not true. We are going to dispel myths about these areas.”
Top photo: Exodus International President Alan Chambers (via Exodus International)