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Exodus NZ’s status and future unclear

Wed 26 Jun 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

Ex-gay groups think we can pray our gay away. It remains unclear whether Exodus continues to operate its ‘ex-gay’ therapy in New Zealand following an announcement from Exodus International that it’s shutting down. Calls to the number listed for the New Zealand wing on Exodus’ International’s website are going unanswered, while there has been no reply to Daily News’ emails. Our newsroom wanted to put questions to the organisation on its future, with Exodus International closing its doors after three decades of trying to turn gay people straight, a move which came after an apology to the gay community for ‘years of undue judgement’. It came a year after the head of Exodus admitted conversion therapy was unsuccessful 99.9 per cent of the time. Exodus has decided to begin a separate ministry, called Reduce Fear, which it says will be about working alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities. “I am suspicious that they have changed their minds about changing about changing orientation but that they will still advocate celibacy as the Christian ideal for GLBTI,” says rights advocate, Reverend Dr Margaret Mayman from Wellington’s St Andrew’s on the Terrace. She has also tried to contact Exodus NZ, to no avail. While it has generally been run under the radar, the New Zealand section of the organisation has been particularly quiet since it failed to retain charity status in 2010. The Charities Commission ruled the Exodus Ministries Trust Board was not performing any public benefit, because being gay is not a mental disorder and does not need curing. politics and religion columnist Craig Young says in New Zealand, the 'exgay' movement was never particularly strong. “Before the nineties, it was more widespread, although its organisations failed to find traction- whether Rock of Life Ministries (Christchurch), Living Waters (Palmerston North), New Image/Lion of Judah Ministries (Wellington) or Exodus.” He says Exodus was based at Covenant Grace Presbyterian Church, a small Pentecostal sect based in Manurewa. He says from past gay media coverage, it seems to cater primarily to older recidivist religious men who have sex with men and attracts few ‘ex-lesbians’. Young has written “In effect, the exgay movement has failed largely because the New Zealand Christian Right has remained stubbornly unable or unwilling to develop counselling or psychotherapeutic skills. “Most mainstream New Zealanders accept that sexual orientation constitutes a durable source of social identity and cannot easily be changed. These organisations have dwindled in the face of growing lesbian and gay community organisation, assertion and social inclusion, leading to exgay 'enclavism,' largely restricted to individuals who have lived most of their lives in fundamentalist social networks, isolated from mainstream New Zealand society.” However ‘Living Waters’ appears to re-emerging in New Zealand. It’s an Exodus-affiliated group which offers “a healing community for relational and sexual brokenness”. It appears to be run out of Palmerston North, has programmes across the North Island, and is planning a conference for October. Its global website says "Living Waters is particularly relevant to those struggling with homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, the effects of sexual abuse, codependency, self-hatred, or the inability to love others well. Thankfully, Christ's capacity to touch and restore us at deep levels of shame and brokenness extends to all of us, regardless of the specifics of our issue."    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 26th June 2013 - 12:48pm

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