Amid declining revenues, Focus on the
Family is getting out of the “ex-gay” business.
reported the socially conservative group was facing a “serious
In a letter to donors, Jim Daly,
president and CEO of Focus, explained that the group is about $6
million in the red for the year.
Focus' Love Won Out conferences will be
acquired by Exodus International, whose motto is “freedom from
homosexuality though the power Jesus Christ.” Focus said it will
continue to support the workshop financially.
“There is no one better equipped to
take over the operation of Love Won Out than Alan [Chambers] and his
team,” Melissa Fryrear, gender and sexuality department director
for Focus, said in a statement. “They have been with us since the
beginning. They have stood alongside us in sharing the hope that,
with Christ, transformation is possible for those unhappy with
same-sex attractions. And we will stand alongside them as they
continue to share that message as the organizer of Love Won Out.”
The group announced last February that
its founder, James Dobson, and his wife, Shirley Dobson, were
relinquishing control of the Colorado-based ministry. Dobson, known
for his fiery anti-gay rhetoric, continues to host the group's radio
broadcast and speak on behalf of the organization.
“Everyone knows these are challenging
times for organizations and individuals all across the globe,”
Focus Vice President Gary Schneeberger said in a statement. “It is
not an inexpensive undertaking to put on a Love Won Out event; and
contrary to what our detractors say, the conferences rarely have
recouped the financial investment made in them. That is a cost we
have always paid because of the positive impact the events have had.”
The announcement comes on the heels of
a new American Psychological Association (APA) report that says
reparative therapy – the controversial gay-to-straight treatment
promoted by Love Won Out and Exodus International – does not work
and may be psychologically harmful.
At the heart of the therapy is the
notion that being gay is a choice, and sexuality can be returned to
its “normal” state, mostly through religious means.
The APA also overwhelmingly (97%)
approved a resolution that repudiates the therapy.
Wayne Besen, who founded Truth
Wins Out to fight the “ex-gay” movement, called the news a
“There is a shrinking market for
their product,” Besen told The Denver Post. “This
is a very positive development, because it shows Focus on the Family
wants to get out of the ex-gay business – though not completely.
But if this were something they were really vested in, they would
have kept it in-house.”
“Exodus is thrilled with this
opportunity as the Love Won Out conference is a natural fit in our
ongoing efforts to share the hope we've found,” said Alan Chambers,
president of Exodus International, in a statement.
Focus on the Family said a November 7
conference in Birmingham, Alabama would be its last.