Earlier this month, John Paulk rebuked the ex-gay movement that he once championed as a spokesperson for Focus on the Family. Now he has issued a formal apology, clarifying that the therapy did not change his sexual orientation and admitting that he harmed people by suggesting otherwise. Here are some excerpts from his full apology:
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. [...]
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.
Paulk asked for some privacy as he resolves some personal matters — namely, the demise of his 20-year marriage. His wife, Anne, still identifies as ex-gay and is among the founding members of the Restored Hope Network, an ex-gay advocacy organization that splintered off from Exodus International after that group stopped claiming that homosexuality could be cured.
At the end of his letter, Paulk also discouraged people from ever buying either of the two books he wrote about being ex-gay. Not only do they not represent who he is or what he believes, but he doesn’t receive royalties from their sale anyway.