News of Willow Creek's break from Exodus arrived just before tensions erupted between TOMS Shoes and Focus on the Family over the organizations' apparently conflicting stances on homosexuality. It is also the latest in a series of public separations from Exodus, which has 240 North American affiliates. Where Grace Abounds and Mastering Life Ministries, both Christian ministries that focus on issues of sexuality, parted ways with Exodus in 2008. New Direction, a Canadian ministry, split with Exodus in 2009 after announcing on its blog that it had "become uncomfortable with some of the messages expressed in a variety of ways through the very diverse Exodus network." Dawson McAllister, a longtime Exodus partner and personal inspiration to Chambers, also announced the separation of his organization from Exodus last year.
On a political level, government charity regulators in New Zealand recently voted to repeal Exodus' tax-exempt status because of inadequate evidence that homosexuality can be cured. The opposition New Democratic Party of Canada petitioned the nation's government to revoke the charity status of ex-gay organizations, including Exodus International, in early June.
Chambers said that these departures are unrelated and may have happened for a variety of reasons: the financial crisis, public backlash, political developments, and the maturation of Exodus as a ministry.
But he does see a thread: "I really do think decisions like this, ultimately, highlight a reticence in the church to stand up for biblical truth, and they're coming at a time when we're going to have to stand up for what we believe. I think there's a way to stand up. We have to find that way."
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See Christianity Today's special section on ex-gay ministry, including several articles on Exodus.
Additional coverage of Exodus includes:
Exodus from 'Day of Truth' | Group says event "became more about policy than people." (October 15, 2010)
Why Exodus Was Especially Upset by Advice Show's Rejection | Dawson McAllister Association dropped ex-gay group as partner under pressure from Clear Channel. (April 21, 2010)
An Older, Wiser Ex-Gay Movement | The 30-year-old ministry now offers realistic hope for homosexuals. (September 13, 2007)