Three former leaders of a ministry that counsels gays to change their sexual orientation apologized, saying although they acted sincerely, their message had caused isolation, shame and fear.
The former leaders of the interdenominational Christian organization Exodus International said Wednesday they had become disillusioned with promoting gay conversion.
"Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families," the three said in a statement released outside the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.
The statement was from former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, who left the group in 1979, Jeremy Marks, former president of Exodus International Europe, and Darlene Bogle, the founder of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodus referral agency.
The statement coincided with the opening of Exodus' annual conference, which is being held this week at Concordia University in Irvine.
Exodus' president, Alan Chambers, said the ministry's methods have helped many people, including himself.
"Exodus is here for people who want an alternative to homosexuality," Chambers said by phone. "There are thousands of people like me who have overcome this. I think there's room for more than one opinion on this subject, and giving people options isn't dangerous."
Founded in 1976, the Orlando-based Exodus has grown to include more than 120 ministries in the United States and Canada and over 150 ministries overseas. It promotes "freedom from homosexuality" through prayer, counseling and group therapy.