Exodus International issued a clarification Tuesday to refute reports that it is a reparative therapy organization. The Christian group asserts that its main focus is not to change a person's sexual orientation.
"As an organization, we do not subscribe to therapies that make changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal," the statement reads.
"Our ministry's objective is to equip the Church to become the primary place where people of faith seek support, refuge and discipleship as they make the decision to live according to Christian principles."
The clarification was made after some in the media "mischaracterized" the organization. One ABC affiliate identified Exodus as a group "whose members now live heterosexual lives, many with spouses and kids, because of reparative therapy."
Exodus had been contacted by the media to weigh in on a bill in California that would ban reparative or conversion therapy for minors. The bill, SB 1172, was approved by the state Senate last week and now faces the Assembly.
The measure was introduced by Senator Ted Lieu who called efforts to change a person's sexual orientation "bogus" and harmful. Cited in the legislature is the American Psychological Association's report from 2009 which advised mental health professionals to avoid reparative therapy as it can pose "critical health risks" to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
The bill states: "Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age, regardless of the willingness of a patient, patient's parent, guardian, conservator, or other person to authorize such efforts."
The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality is lobbying against the measure, arguing that there are no studies indicating that reparative therapy carries a greater risk than all other forms of psychological intervention.
"The American Psychological Association has observed that there are no studies by which to accurately estimate the effectiveness of sexual orientation change intervention or the prevalence of harm," said NARTH President Dr. Christopher Rosik. "In NARTH's view, a truly scientific response would call for more and better research to answer these questions, not a legislative ban that runs roughshod over professional judgment and parental choice."
Amid the debate, Exodus International – which claims to be the world's largest ministry helping individuals and families struggling with same sex attraction – says it "supports an individual's right to self-determine as they address their personal struggles related to faith, sexuality and sexual expression."
For those who choose to seek help through Exodus, the group helps them "surrender their sexual struggles to the Lordship of Jesus Christ."
"We believe in a 'gospel-centric' view, meaning that all people, regardless of individual life struggles, can experience freedom over the power of sin through a daily relationship with Jesus Christ, a commitment to scripture, and by being a part of a vibrant, transparent and relational community of believers found in the local church," Exodus states.