The leader of a Christian ministry that worked to help people repress same-sex attraction has announced his plans to close the organization.
"The church has waged the culture war, and it's time to put the weapons down," Alan Chambers told The Associated Press after apologizing to the gay community for inflicting "years of undue suffering."
Chambers heads Florida-based Exodus International, which was founded 37 years ago and claimed 260 member ministries around the world, according to news reports. It used counseling and prayer in offering to help conflicted Christians rid themselves of unwanted homosexual inclinations.
Chambers told the AP the new initiative would seek to promote dialogue among those who've been on opposite sides of the gay rights debate. The new ministry will be referred to as reducefear.org.
Some ex-Exodus followers, meanwhile, have formed a new group called the Restored Hope Network - a continued promotion of the idea that gays can be converted to heterosexuality.
Although married to a woman, Chambers has spoken openly about his own sexual attraction to men.
Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Campaign's religion and faith program, told the AP the closing of Exodus was a "welcome first step in honestly addressing the harm the organization and its leaders have caused."
At the onset of the Arab Spring in late 2010 and early 2011, many world leaders, including President Barack Obama, had expressed hope that the political uprisings would lead to greater freedoms for the people of the region, including fewer restrictions on religious beliefs and practices.
But according to the Pew Research Center, the share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religion rose from 37 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2011.
The Middle East and North Africa continued to have the highest levels of restrictions in the year when much of the Arab Spring uprisings occurred, with social hostilities involving religion increasing markedly and government restrictions remaining high.
— Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
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Nothing in Heaven or on Earth can change our lives for the better greater than a personal relationship with God. In this book, you will discover the seven greatest prayers that will grow your relationship with the Lord. Being both a study and a prayer devotional, "The 7 Most Powerful Prayers That Will Change Your Life Forever" is the first week of the "52 Weeks Of Prayer" devotionals.
Zionism: A modern movement in Judaism rooted in the establishment of a separate Jewish nation, based on God's biblical promise that Israel would forever belong to Abraham and his descendants as a nation.
Page 2 of 2 - Many Zionists do not have religious motives but believe a Jewish state is necessary because of the long history of persecution of Jews.
That goal was realized with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Zionism refers to Mount Zion, the site of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.