John Paulk, former chairman of Exodus International, who is famous for having been an advocate and spokesman for the Christian "ex-gay" movement and reparative therapy, (also known by critics as the "pray away the gay" movement), has formally recanted his position and apologized through a letter distributing to numerous gay publications. In a letter published in Advocate.com, Paulk describes his change of heart:
For the better part of ten years, I was an advocate and spokesman for what’s known as the "ex-gay movement," where we declared that sexual orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God, intensive therapy and strong determination. At the time, I truly believed that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not.
So in 2003, I left the public ministry and gave up my role as a spokesman for the "ex-gay movement." I began a new journey. In the decade since, my beliefs have changed. Today, I do not consider myself "ex-gay" and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.
I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past,
Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.
From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.
Today, I see LGBT people for who they are — beloved, cherished children of God. I offer my most sincere and heartfelt apology to men, women, and especially children and teens who felt unlovable, unworthy, shamed or thrown away by God or the church.
The Religion News Service adds that the publication PQ Monthly noted Paulk had been seen in various gay bars and had gay clients for his catering business, which he and his wife, self described "ex-lesbian" Anne Paulk started when he left the ministry in 2003. Paulk said that his marriage of 20 years to Anne was ending, and she is taking a different stance, still embracing reparative therapy with Christian counseling through the Restored Hope Network, saying in a statement that "Christ is still at work changing lives in conformity to God's will expressed in the Bible." She indicated that she will be praying for John:
“Challenges have been mine over the past several years… not of my own design, but I have stood true in the profound strength I found in Christ Jesus. I have walked the path that God has put before me, alongside those I love. There are also certain paths I have refused to walk down, dark and dangerous paths of deceit and sin. Someone dear to me has made different choices followed by very different words. And there, on that path, our ways part sadly.
Many of you already know, and some have yet to know, that John and I are in the process of divorce. I do pray the very best for John and I have a greater love and affection than can be expressed in words. He is the father of my children, the man with whom I spent the past 21 years building a life together. His conclusions and mine are very different in key ways. I would ask that you join me in praying for his decisions regarding his future, hope, God’s truest freedom, and love to direct his decisions. Please also pray for the boys and myself as we also find our way forward.
Paulk said in his apology that people should not buy books and testimony he wrote in the past, because "they do not reflect who I am now or what I believe today."