The ex-gay “Love Won Out” conference in Birmingham went underway Friday, the final one led by Focus on the Family before they relinquish control to Exodus International amid financial troubles.

Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen organized a protest of the conference and spoke at the University of Alabama, Birmhingham on Thursday. This has prompted Exodus V.P. Randy Thomas to call for prayer:

I (Randy) won’t personally be at this particular event but having been to about 20 of them, every single one had some sort of protest and every single time the LWO team responds lovingly.  Would you add praying for Wayne and his friends to your prayers for the conference? We’d greatly appreciate it.

There is a promo video, a Twitter account, and a Facebook group for the conference.

LWO’s website says that they have no intention to “cure” gays:

Are you here to “cure” gays?
Absolutely not. The only time you’ll ever hear the word “cure” used in relation to our event is by those who oppose Love Won Out.  They also like to claim we want to “fix” or “convert” gays and lesbians and that we believe people can “pray away the gay.” Such glib characterizations ignore the complex series of factors that can lead to same-sex attractions; they also mischaracterize our mission. We exist to help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome. It is not easy, but it is possible, as evidenced by the thousands of men and women who have walked this difficult road successfully.

However, official statements of purpose give another impression.

From 2000:

Focus on the Family is concerned about the message that’s being silenced to our     youth today. We want them to know that individuals don’t have to be gay. That’s why we’ve developed a one-day conference for those who have a heart for youth and are concerned about the growing tragedy of homosexuality.

From 2001:

Focus on the Family is promoting  the truth that homosexuality is preventable and  treatable, a message routinely silenced  today. We want people to know that individuals  don’t have to be gay.

From 2006:

Focus on the Family is promoting the truth that change is possible for those who experience same-sex attractions — a message routinely silenced today. We want people to know that individuals don’t have to be gay and that a homosexual identity is something that can be overcome.

From 2007:

Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out ministry exhorts and equips the church to respond in a Christ-like way to the issue of homosexuality. And to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, we offer the Gospel hope that these desires can be overcome. By offering conferences, education, counseling and research, the Love Won Out team strives to uphold God’s design for sexuality in a way that transforms lives.

Before, Exodus could always defer to Focus on the Family with complaints, but now that they will be running the show, we’ll see if anything changes. Perhaps there will be an attempt to transform LWO from an ex-gay conference into a “Christian on a post-gay journey” conference.

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