Exodus International began their 3-day regional “Freedom Conference” on Thursday at The Bridge Evangelical Free Church in Fresno, CA. The theme for this year is “A New Day.” The conference will run through the 5th. Keynote speakers are Alan Chambers, Joe Dallas, Don Schmierer, and Dr. Sharon Hersh. The conference will also feature Dr. Nancy Heche, mother of actress Anne Heche, who famously dated openly gay comedienne Ellen Degeneres.
But more alarming is the special program geared towards the under-25 set, which Exodus has titled “Xscape.” This is “a special part of the conference focused on the concerns of young people.” Exodus has high hopes for today’s youth:
For many of them, the Freedom Conference is their first time experiencing freedom to talk, ask and share openly about their struggles in a Christian environment.
This program is obviously offering an “xscape” – er, “escape” – route from homosexuality. My hope would be that they get all the facts about gay life before trying to escape from anything, and consider the dismal chances of making any fundamental changes beyond behavior.
Counter demonstrations are also planned, a Fresno ABC affiliate reports. Members of the Wesley United Methodist Church, including some who’ve tried ex-gay therapy, will try to reach out on Saturday, the final day of the conference, with the message that you can be gay and Christian.
“Right after college I went through a program hoping to break away from those feelings and basically all it taught me was how to hide from myself, hide from other people and block myself off from the world,” says Wendy Slack [a member of the church].
Exodus organizers are welcoming the demonstrators, and invite people to “find out for themselves” whether ex-gay programs are effective.