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Christian group Exodus International apologizes to gay community

BY DAVID CRARY, AP NATIONAL WRITER

imageORLANDO, Fla. -- The leader of Exodus International, a Christian ministry that worked to help people repress same-sex attraction, has apologized to the gay community for inflicting "years of undue suffering." He plans to close the organization while launching a new effort to promote reconciliation.

"The church has waged the culture war, and it's time to put the weapons down," Alan Chambers told The Associated Press on Thursday, hours after announcing his decision at Exodus' annual conference and posting his apology online.

"While there has been so much good at Exodus, there has also been bad," Chambers said at the conference. "We've hurt people."

Based in Orlando, Fla., Exodus was founded 37 years ago and claimed 260 member ministries around the U.S. and abroad. It offered to help conflicted Christians rid themselves of unwanted homosexual inclinations through counseling and prayer, infuriating gay rights activists in the process.

Exodus had seen its influence wane in recent years as mainstream associations representing psychiatrists and psychologists rejected its approach. However, the idea that gays could be "converted" to heterosexuality through prayer persists among some evangelicals and fundamentalists.

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