John Smid was the director of Exodus member ministry Love in Action (LIA), which at that time ran Refuge, a residential ‘ex-gay’ program in Memphis, Tennessee, for 22 years. This program gained notoriety in 2005 when a teen, Zach Stark, created a plea for help on his MySpace page. This event sparked outrage, that a 16 year old kid could be forced, by his family, against his will, to become a part of a highly restrictive program that had no qualified workers or mental health professionals as staff members. The protests that followed were a significant turning point that raised public awareness on the practices of ‘ex-gay’ ministries and what was going on behind closed doors.
In 2007, five former Australian ex-gay leaders publicly said they had changed their previously held views on homosexuality. One of those was John Metyard who had been the Exodus Asia Pacific and a Living Waters leader. John had also served on the International Advisory Board of Exodus. Three former leaders of Exodus in the US also offered apologies.
“Some people have spoken out about being wounded through their experience with Love In Action. I want to say I am very sorry for the things that have wounded you or hurt you by my hands of leadership at Love In Action or anything I have done personally that has harmed you. Please forgive me.” Smid says.
Love In Action International holds that for the Christian believer, homosexual behaviour will never bring true satisfaction; and that the way to inner peace, joy, and hope is through a relationship with Jesus Christ and submission to God’s will in all areas of life, including sexuality.
If only I could flick a switch
The testimonies of the thousands of gay Christians who have resolved all issues of faith and sexuality and are living fulfilled, moral lives. The concept that a persons sexual orientation determined whether they were a Christian was flawed to begin with 40 years ago (when Exodus was founded); today it’s completely irrelevant.
- The growing scientific evidence concerning the harm caused to people who go through ‘ex-gay’ programs and statements by so many mental health professional bodies warning of the dangers.
- All reputable mental health professional organisations agree that same sex orientation does not need changing. If it is ‘unwanted’, as often quoted by ‘ex-gay’ religious groups, it is ‘unwanted’ because of ignorance about sexual orientation or religious/societal pressure to conform.