This Is What Ex-Gay Pride Looks Like
August 1st, 2013
They had promised the spectacle of “thousands of ex-gays” descendending on Washington, but in the end about ten people — ten! — showed up for what was billed as an “ex-gay pride” demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to demand “their rights,” or something. Chris Doyle’s group, Voice of the Voiceless, which organized the event, has a longstanding habit of co-opting the language of the civil rights movement, claiming that ex-gays are a persecuted minority in need of special protections under the law. The inherent contradiction of an “ex-gay” minority status — um, wouldn’t that just be straight? — is never explained or resolved. I guess they hoped you wouldn’t see the fundamental flaw in that logic.
But ignoring fundamental flaws in logic is precisely what Doyle was trained for, seeing as he is a protege of Richard Cohen of couch-cuddling and pillow-whacking fame (and, more sinisterly, providing a speaker for the notorious 2009 anti-gay conference in Kampala featuring Scott Lively).
In the video above, you see Chuck Peters, the research assistant for Voice of the Voiceless, condemning gay rights advocates for being “bigoted,” “heterophobic.” “Why can’t I choose who I love?”, he pleads, asking a question no one has ever bothered arguing. But his best domonstration of his heterosexuality came when he schooled the crowd — nope, too small. Group? Fellow taxi-sharers? — in the signature ex-gay cheer: “Hip hip hurray for ex-gays!” So nineteenth century, guys.
Anyway, despite claiming that there are “tens of thousands of ex-gays,” fewer than tens showed up. According to Right Wing Watch:
Besides Doyle, ex-gay activists Greg Quinlan of Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays (PFOX), Richard Cohen of the International Healing Foundation and Douglas McIntyre of Homosexuals Anonymous also participated.
The latest incarnation of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation
July 3rd, 2013
One of the highest profile – and astonishingly clueless – advocates who ever championed fixing Teh Ghey is Richard Cohen.
Richard was never the one to quietly live a life of example. Nor did he hit the church circuit selling the redeeming power of Christ and showing off his wife (which, since he married her in a Moonie mass wedding, would be odd anyway). Nope. Richard opted for publicity.
In 2000, he wrote Coming Out Straight – with forward by Dr. Laura Schlessinger – about how he was cured of his homosexuality through reparative therapy. And though it included cringe-worthy photos of the process, it was his passport to credibility.
Soon Richard was founder of the International Healing Foundation and president of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays), the most colorful of the ex-gay organizations. He was a speaker at NARTH and Exodus events and an ex-gay therapist with a rising star. Richard used that platform to launch his image to a greater audience, CNN’s Paula Zahn Now.
But he probably didn’t realize just quite what impression he was giving while he explained that one’s homosexuality could be healed through hitting a pillow with a tennis racquet while screaming, “mom! mom! mom! mom! Why did you do that to me?” or cuddling in another man’s arms (a method he calls “good touch”). Rather than praise his clever methods, most people just fell off their couch laughing.
I attribute that moment to be the beginning of the end of the ex-gay movement.
It was around that point that some supporters of Cohen’s reparative therapy theories began to see exactly what kind of lunacy they were connected to. Most notably, Dr. Warren Throckmorton told PFOX that either Cohen took a hike or he would pull his support (over time Throckmorton would disavow reparative therapy, acknowledge possible biological bases for orientation, and eventually publicly question some of evangelical Christianity’s assumptions about what expectations can be put on gay people).
Then Cohen unwisely followed his CNN debacle with a 2007 visit to The Daily Show. Either he didn’t notice that the show was on the Comedy Channel or he didn’t guess who would be providing the laughs.
National public mockery was too much even for NARTH, who scrubbed mention of him from their sites.
Shortly after that a much earlier endeavor got noticed, Richard’s 1993 children’s book, Alfie’s Home, all about how little Alfie got molested.
Even for Cohen, this was really really icky.
It was time for a change. A new direction. A new image.
Having realized that his brand of hands-on therapy was not well accepted by much of anyone, Cohen took a new tack. He decided that parents of gay kids were truly in need of his services. So November 2007 brought us a book to help them, Gay Children / Straight Parents.
After all, who doesn’t need a book to tell fathers that what they really needed to do was touch their sons more? (Okay, it was creepy just writing that). I can’t possibly do justice to this in a sentence, but fortunately Jim wrote an extensive review.
But this was just the ticket Cohen needed to get back into the good graces of PFox. They praised his book and his ideas. But it came with a price.
Cohen had kept his religious connections pretty low key and PFOX and NARTH had long sought to sell themselves as secular. But with a growing social acceptance for gay people, increasingly the ex-gay movement was narrowing itself down to social conservative Christians. And there just wasn’t a whole lot of room for followers of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
So Cohen’s International Healing Foundation needed a new face. And in February 2009, IHF gave a trial run to Caleb Lee Brundidge.
Brundidge’s first run out the gate was to Uganda, where he spoke at a conference on homosexuality to pastors in Kampala and where he had an audience with the legislature. Cohen’s Coming Out Straight was presented as a primer and source.
That conference led to Uganda’s notorious Kill The Gays Bill, which not only resulted in at least one death, but severely damaged Uganda’s relationship with most of it’s Western supporters. By the end of the year, Cohen and IHF were reeling from the bad publicity and issued “statements” and “disavowals” and Brundidge became invisible.
In 2010, CNN’s Kyra Phillips ran a piece on a California legislator’s bill to remove from the books a forgotten and obsolete law from 1950 that authorized the state to look for cures to homosexuality. To “balance” the segment she decided to bring on Cohen. This time it was Phillips who was embarrassed by the association and who had to apologize – well, bitch and whine, really – for her lack of wisdom.
And that was it for a while. He joined PFOX in their amicus brief in support of Proposition 8, but that was small potatoes.
Again, it was time for a new angle.
So in late 2011, Cohen decided that he would apologize and just love everybody. His new mantra would not be “change is possible” but “coming out loved”. It was painful. Just sort of imagine Paula Deen inviting African-American leaders over to apologize for her recent comments, and serving them chitlins and watermelon… that kind of painful.
Beginning today, IHF’s doors are wide open to everyone in the LGBTQ and straight communities. The new mission, “Coming Out Loved,” is the catalyst of true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all. IHF staff will assist anyone who is conflicted about their sexuality and other challenging issues that arise for many in the gay community.
The universe yawned. Perhaps the universe found Cohen’s disingenuous definitions of “true tolerance” and “real diversity” to be more pathetic than shocking.
Because it didn’t take long for us to learn that “true tolerance” is for those who demand that you acquiesce to their demands over your life or you are the “real bigot” who doesn’t accept their “sincerely held beliefs”. And “real diversity” is one that puts Cohen on an equal standing with a person of character and integrity.
Not that anyone paid attention or cared.
But I decided to see what Cohen’s IHF is up to these days. And, as it turns out, his IHF has a new face, a new name, a new site, and a new project.
Yes, Cohen is speaking up for those who have no way to speak for themselves. He’s calling for their recognition and to make them feel valued. And especially to defend their rights.
The mission of Voice of the Voiceless is to defend the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families. We also support the faith-based community and work actively in the United States to defend the constitutional rights of all Americans to share their views of homosexuality in the public forum. We support similar international efforts and provide assistance, whenever possible, to individuals and organizations abroad who align with our mission and goals.
Translation: we insist that it’s possible to change your orientation. We insist that those who seek to bash and attack and harm gay people can do so without criticism. And, of course we didn’t mean it when we disavowed the murder in Uganda. We celebrate the nations that deny rights to gay people.
Cohen himself is invisible from the group. It’s cofounded by one of the IHF “counselors”, Christopher Doyle, and none other than the old ranting racist loon, D.L. Foster. And just because it must be ol’ home week, the vice president is the unfortunately named David Pickup (whose original ex-gay counseling advertisement was mistaken by many to be a parody).
And as for the ex-gays, well they deserve a month of their own to… well, I’m not sure what, but if those who “suffer from same-sex attraction” get a month, then so should ex-gays.
So, if you want to catch up on these fellows and see how they are all doing, you can do so right here in July, Ex-Gay Pride Month. You can write ex-gay music or better yet, go to their dinner. It is bound to be entertaining – though you may be the only one there who thinks so. And God only knows what insanity, embarrassment, or tragedy will ensue.
Unification Church (a.k.a. “Moonies”) President Touts Church Ties To Ex-Gay Leader
October 30th, 2012
Warren Throckmorton discovered a video which appears to link Richard Cohen, head of the International Healing Foundation, with the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon. The church, whose members are known as “Moonies,” is now headed by Moon’s son, Hyung Jin Moon. On October 7, 2012, the younger Moon was holding a town hall meeting at the Unification Bay Area Family Church where he fielded a question on homosexuality:
Richard Cohen is a member in our movement who has worked on this tremendously, the whole issue. Even as you mentioned, you said that people are gay through no fault of their own. But of course this is debatable; that’s an assumption. Richard Cohen actually debates that assumption. He’s actually an expert on this issue and so maybe we can connect you to him, Richard Cohen. If you could, give your contact information to Dr. Grubb, we will try to connect you to Richard Cohen. I think in our movement he is probably the foremost expert on that whole issue, and hopefully he can contribute and helping us with programs in the future as well.
Cohen has claimed that he left the Unification Church in the 1990s. He had been a member of thee Unification Church for twenty years, and he acknowledged that his marriage was arranged by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon himself. In 2007, the Freedom of Mind Network, a cult-watch organization, had listed Cohen’s group as a Moon Cultural and Social Front. Cohen called the charge a “slander.” (Cohen’s International Healing Foundation is no longer listed.)
Cohen had once played a prominent role in the ex-gay movement. In addition to authoring books in which he claims to be an expert on the subject, Cohen founded the horribly mis-named Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays (PFOX). He fell out of favor in 2005 when he accomplished the rather remarkable feat of embarrassing the entire ex-gay movement by demonstrating his unorthodox “holding” technique for “curing” gay people with CNN’s Paula Zahn. He compounded that embarrassment by appearing on The Daily Show six months later to demonstrate those same techniques. More recently, Cohen has tried, unsuccesfully, to rebrand his organization as a gay supportive group as a cover for his continuing stealth ex-gay activities.
Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association in 2002 for multiple ethical violations.
Another Ex-Gay Ministry Attempts Stealth Mode
February 6th, 2012
A South African affiliate of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation is the latest ex-gay ministry to attempt a “pro-gay” cover to hide its real anti-gay agenda. Last week, International Healing Foundation (SA) sent the following announcement out to its email list:
New Living Way Ministry is a Non Profit Company and an interdenominational Christian organization that serves and reaches out in love to the gay community and their loved ones. Our vision is to have a care centre from where we will serve those suffering with HIV and AIDS, and where a residential program will cater for people with unwanted same-sex attraction. Temporary accommodation is envisioned for men and woman who are homeless and destitute due to a variety of circumstances, and those involved in prostitution are also close to our hearts to be reached out to. A chapel on the premises will enable us to meet some of the spiritual needs of those we are serving. We believe in serving a person as a whole – spirit, soul and body and will provide the necessary means to do so.
Being also an educational and counselling organization, we endeavour to empower men, women, and children to heal from past and present wounds, releasing them to live a powerful life, and to fulfil their destiny. We also aim at educating the religious and secular communities about same-sex attraction and early intervention. We work to promote healthy individuals and relationships, healing communities, families, and churches.
We value the right of individuals to live life as they desire, and love and accept them just as they are. We will accompany everyone on their journey to wholeness and affirm their right of self-determination, self-acceptance, and self-discovery, while respecting their faith and values and how it might impact their choices.
Not being ignorant of the fact that some terms like “homosexual,” “homosexual community,” “homosexual lifestyle” or “he is a homosexual,” etc. might be offensive to some readers, I want to highlight that it is not our intention to offend anybody, should such terms be found on this website. Because our articles are obtained from many different sources, it’s not always possible to avoid these terms. However, please know that it is not used with malicious intent.
As followers of Christ, it is appropriate for us at New Living way Ministry to repent and ask the gay community for forgiveness for the way individual Christians and Christian organizations have often treated you. We publicly apologize to those of you within the Gay community for the hate you have felt and experienced from the Christian community. That has been our sin against you, and we ask for your forgiveness. We want you to know that you matter to us and you matter to God. God loves you, He cares about you, and He has a plan for your life.
Nice words, although the third paragraph is puzzling. It’s obviously written by someone who has no idea how to actually talk to the gay community. The nice words however fall apart with just a couple of easy clicks on New Living Way’s newly announced web site. The site’s sidebar is loaded with anti-gay propaganda, including NARTH co-founder Charles Socarides’s myopic “Removal of Homosexuality from the DSM III,” an unsigned “Homosexuality and Psychiatry: Homosexuality is Very Abnormal Behaviour!“, the typical anti-gay treatment of “The Kirk & Madsen Manifesto – After the Ball“, and the list of “Other Resources” which firmly shows where New Living Way Ministry is headed.
Last October, Richard Cohen tried a similar stunt here in the U.S. where he tried a similarly cynical “apology” with an announcement of a supposedly new face for his International Healing Foundation. As with New Living Way Ministry, Cohen couldn’t be bothered to do much to update his website to reflect his supposedly newfound “gay-supportive” stance. Just a few clicks around his web site – now at comingoutloved.com — shows that he is still peddling his unique brand of ex-gay messages, including his 2007 book Gay Children, Straight Parents which includes a twelve-step cure-the-gay program – complete with his controversial hugging therapy – to supposedly turn gay children straight.
This Is Not What An Apology Looks Like
October 31st, 2011
Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation has issued something he calls an “apology,” which looks like it is little more than a gossamer-thin marketing gloss.
The International Healing Foundation has educated and counseled thousands of men, women and adolescents who experience unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA). However, on its 21st anniversary, IHF apologized to the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community for years of unknowingly fueling anti-gay sentiment by simply stating, “Change is Possible.”
“We at IHF wish to offer a sincere, heartfelt apology to everyone in the LGBTQ community,” said IHF founder and director, Richard Cohen. “I apologize and ask forgiveness to those who were hurt by our message.” Cohen, a leading expert in the field of sexual orientation and married father of three, knows first-hand how it feels to be ostracized having lived a gay life.
Beginning today, IHF’s doors are wide open to everyone in the LGBTQ and straight communities. The new mission, “Coming Out Loved,” is the catalyst of true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all. IHF staff will assist anyone who is conflicted about their sexuality and other challenging issues that arise for many in the gay community.
The assistance is available to anyone willing to take Cohen’s five steps. I have no idea how much the personal counseling sessions over the phone costs in step 2, but step 3 sets you back $375. Step 4, which looks like it will involve lots of hugging, will cost another $275 plus hotel expenses. Beware of the hugging though. That’s gotten him in trouble before. He was permanently expelled for life in 2003 from the American Counseling Association for multiple ethics violations.
As for Cohen’s supposed change in direction, it doesn’t take but a few clicks around his web site — still at “changeispossible.org” — to see that he is still peddling his unique brand of ex-gay messages, including his 2007 book “Gay Children, Straight Parents” which includes his own twelve-step program, complete with hugging, to turn gay children straight.
Apology not accepted.
PFOX files an amicus brief
September 23rd, 2010
Oh you knew it had to be coming. When Judge Walker found that orientation was an immutable attribute, you just knew that PFOX had to present their wackadoodle ex-gays as proof he was wrong. They pair up with Desert Stream Ministries in an amicus brief which extols “the transforming power of Jesus Christ to heal those struggling with unwanted sexual attractions or behavior” and offers “the realistic hope that individuals with same-sex attraction can choose a course of action that enables them to identify and live as whole-enough heterosexuals.”
The sole issue addressed in this brief is whether same-sex attraction is a fixed and immutable characteristic like race. This issue is critically important because, if a court were to erroneously decide that same-sex attraction is an immutable characteristic, as the district court has in this case, a tribunal in the future might be led to further conclude that homosexuals are a “suspect class” for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause. Such an erroneous conclusion would improperly subject laws like Proposition 8 to “strict scrutiny” rather than the existing legally appropriate “rational basis” review.
The specifically object to the following three of Judge Walker’s findings:
44. Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a person‟s identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. Proponents‟ assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence.
45. Proponents‟ campaign for Proposition 8 assumed voters understood the existence of homosexuals as individuals distinct from heterosexuals.
46. Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.
They argue instead that “sexual orientation is a complex and amorphous phenomenon that defies consistent and uniform definition” and that it is a “mutable characteristic which can shift over time and does so for a significant number of people.” They assert that “both the evidence at trial and the evidence embodied in
this brief clearly show that many people freely choose and change their sexual orientation.”
Now, I dare say that it probably is easier at times to define a person’s sexual orientation than it is their race, especially in California. And if the number is so significant or the choosing so free, than why do they present the same handful of people over and over?
Ah, but PFOX has evidence. To prove that there are thousands of men and women who have successfully left “unwanted homosexuality” behind them and who now “live happy heterosexual lives”, they present four:
Richard Cohen: In that instant, the connection between my childhood abuser and I was cut, and I became free for the first time in my life. With that sense of freedom, I sobbed for about an hour in David’s arms. It was such a release and relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for what had happened and that God had forgiven me. In those moments of release, I found my freedom from same-sex desires. Cutting this neurological connection to the sexual desires freed me from thirty years of relentless pain and an endless pursuit of men.
Oh Lordy. Really. Richard Cohen?
This guy is, shall we say, uniquely peculiar. In fact, he may be the ex-gay ministries’ worst possible nightmare: a wackadoodle that is unafraid of going on television to show just what kind of loon he is.
Alan Medinger (now deceased): But things were desperate enough that after six or seven weeks of agonizing, on Tuesday, November 26, 1974, I went to an interdenominational meeting with Jim. He didn’t know my problem, nor did anyone there. At some point during the evening, I prayed quietly, “God, I give up. My life is a total mess. I can’t handle it any more. I don’t care what You do; you take over.” And He did.
Within a few days, I knew that some profound changes had taken place in me. First of all, I fell head over heals in love with Willa and I desired her physically. My homosexual fantasies that had almost never left me were gone. And most important of all, I knew that Jesus was real, that He loved me, and I was starting to love Him.
I’ll not speak ill of Medinger; he’s passed on and is unable to defend himself. However, I will note that he was not above quoting and relying on such unscrupulous characters as Paul Cameron and Scott Lively.
Now on to two women about whom I know very little:
Kristin (Johnson) Tremba: God taught me that sexual sin was my attempt to meet legitimate emotional needs in sexually illegitimate ways. He showed me that there were some emotional needs that had not been met in my family relationships growing up, there were some wounds, and so I was attempting to meet these needs and cover these wounds in sexual relationships as an adult. He taught me that there were also things I was born with: a sin nature, a particular temperament, various weaknesses, and a negative body image and negative view of my femininity. He taught me that even though I did not choose all my circumstances and struggles, I could choose to overcome them. I could choose to let God change my life…
Brenna Kate Simonds: My journey to recovery has been long and arduous, but more than worth it. God has helped me in many ways along the path to recovery. Therapy played a key role in expediting my experience of God‟s healing in my life. My own therapy taught me how to help others experience their own journey of healing and restoration.
Well there ya have it. That prove that “same-sex attraction is not an immutable characteristic.” Nope, not at all.
All you need is Jesus. He’s a miracle worker.
Ignorance is the Oldest Profession
September 4th, 2010
Here’s a wry chuckle for the weekend.
Ex-gay therapists obviously have a deep interest in what makes people gay (and it has to be something they can charge for). One popular myth fiction completely unsupported crock of bull theory is that gay men just didn’t get enough man-on-man bonding time growing up. Richard Cohen, for example, cures teh gay by having one man hold another in his lap for as long as it takes for the therapist’s erection to subside for the patient to feel manly acceptance.
But if we zip back a few decades, we find experts saying exactly the opposite. Check out this unintentionally hilarious (“The boy so brought up may shy away completely from marriage and turn to men for a sex outlet. This is called homosexuality.”) excerpt from the 1928 book Psychological Care of Infant and Child.
Really, isn’t it time they admit they’re just making this shit up?
Dr. Laura doctors her past
July 10th, 2010
As I have noted in the past, Dr. Laura Schlessinger does not at this time use her radio show to rant about gay people with disgust in her voice. In fact, she advises gay people to come out to their families and told Larry King last year that commitments between same-sex couples are “beautiful thing and a healthy thing”.
But girl has still got her some pent up anger about a boycott of her early 90′s television show which destroyed her chances of being Dr. Phil. Well, that and the fact that her show was simply unwatchable.
And so – yet again – Schlessinger has set out to “set the record straight”. In a June 22 blog post, Laura says that she’s always been supportive and that statements to the contrary are lies about her.
Nothing new here. I’ve been commenting on this for a while, but last night a friend approached me…a friend approached me and asked me how he should handle a particular situation. (I thought I was getting into “Dr. Laura gear”). Somebody had contacted him and challenged him about being my friend because, (and to quote that person) “she hates gays”. For almost a dozen years (I think they’re automatically renewed computer-wise daily…you’ve probably seen it or heard about it), a blog appears under different sources, ostensibly asking me to answer questions about some of the Bible’s entries about slavery, daughters…so forth. It supposes that I ever quoted Leviticus that homosexuality is an abomination. That never happened. I repeat: that never happened. I never said that. I don’t believe that.
In fact (which they will deny…don’t you love activism?) I was one of the earliest radio hosts to support organizations such as PFLAG (you know, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and other efforts to encourage openness and acceptance of gays in their own families, much less society. But to my surprise (but not naivetë), to many activists, truth is irrelevant when the intent is to rally support through raising passions, especially negative passions. Get people angry and they stop thinking for themselves.
She goes on to state that she opposes gay marriage and gays raising kids but that “listeners and fans who are gay” adore her. She quotes several letters and conversations to prove her point.
Having people believe that I’m a bigot and hate me…and “hate” is the word…is horrible, frustrating, demoralizing and unbelievably painful.
But the problem is that these angry “activists” are not wrong. While it is true that Dr. Laura can be supportive today, she has not always sought to encourage openness or supported the goals of PFLAG. In fact, the Dr. Laura of 2000 said some things that certainly would not be considered “supportive” and which did use the Bible as justification for bigotry.
Rather than “efforts to encourage openness and acceptance of gays in their own families, much less society,” in 2000 Dr. Laura was lamenting “the celebration of sexual deviancy and license” and saying that she “reveres the Bible and determines morality by the words of God.”
That year Dr. Laura Schlessinger wrote the foreword to wacky ex-gay gadfly Richard Cohen’s book, Coming Out Straight : Understanding and Healing Homosexuality. She didn’t have any opinions about his beat-the-pillow methods or about the appropriateness of cuddling as a gay cure, but she sure had a lot to say about gay folk.
She started it this way:
We live in a world in which the radical homosexual activists have, through aggressive lobbying and successful strategic initiatives successfully managed to infiltrate and effect change in government, public schools, churches, and even in our scientific institutes. Slowly and ever so surely, they are deconstructing the conventional family in order to accommodate their own personal desires and political goals. In the name of human rights and equality, the extremists in the homosexual community have altered the fundamental fabric of cultural and moral norms.
Oh, but not all gay people were “radical homosexual activists”. Those who agreed that they were sexual deviants, opposed civil equality, and were “struggling with personal and spiritual turmoil” were just fine. In other words, Dr. Laura loved her some ex-gays.
And she was furious that “these zealots” had convinced the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association (neither of which she is qualified to join) to state that there is no proof supporting conversion therapy. The gall!
I do give Dr. Laura credit for changing her views. I appreciate that she no longer seems to believe that change therapy is effective. I’m glad that she finds same-sex commitments to be “a beautiful thing and a healthy thing.” And I’m delighted that a lot of conservative parents today do hear her message of acceptance and support.
But let’s not pretend that the anger wasn’t earned. So to Dr. Laura and her latest complaint, I say:
For heaven sake, Dr. Laura, you weren’t the injured party. You don’t get to complain.
You don’t deserve a reward or praise for supporting gay people. That’s just expected; it’s the right thing to do. And no one deserves credit for simply doing what is right.
But you do need to own up to your past bigotries. By all means denounce them, but don’t deny them. You said it, you meant it, and you need to still be held accountable for the damage you have done.
Read her full FOREWORD after the jump
CNN’s Kyra Phillips: Richard Cohen Not Appropriate Guest for “Cure the Gays” Segment
April 9th, 2010
Earlier this week, CNN’s Kyra Phillips had a bizarre segment questioning whether Homosexuality was “a problem in need of a cure,” and she compounded that bizarreness by inviting none other than ex-gay gafly Richard Cohen on the program as the supposed ex-gay “expert” on the subject. Phillips introduced him as a “psychotherapist” even though he was banned for life by the American Counseling Association in 2002 for multiple ethical violations. He now serves as a “coach” and sells ex-gay therapy “certifications” through his web site.
Phillips responded to the inevitable outcry and ridicule over this serious journalistic misstep yesterday, by hosting another segment, this time by Dr. Clinton Anderson of the American Psychological Association to counter the Cohen’s arguments. She also complained about the response her earlier segment generated:
“Richard Cohen was not the most appropriate guest to have on, but it is a decision that we made and the result of that is our continued discussion today. That is what journalism is all about. And we will continue to do our best to discuss gay and lesbian issues in a fair way on this program. I wish that all of you knew my heart. And as a journalist with a long track record of covering gay and lesbian issues, I wish that those of you who sent me vicious emails watched my newscast more often because if they did, my guess is they would not have been so quick to send such hateful messages. They don’t know my record and my unswerving support for all communities in the battle for human rights, including gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals. And to make it perfectly clear, I love debating issues. It evokes passion but if we cannot treat each other in a civil manner, even when we disagree, then we will never move forward and have a world where all people are treated with the respect that they deserve.”
CNN’s Kyra Phillips: ‘Homosexuality: Is It A Problem In Need of a Cure?’
April 6th, 2010
This came in from Andy Towle:
CNN’s Kyra Phillips just ran a repulsive and shockingly irresponsible segment on Lowenthal’s efforts in which she asked, ”Homosexuality —Is it a problem in need of a cure?”
She then brought on crackpot “ex-gay” Richard Cohen, spewing lies about how people can change their sexuality and become straight, with nobody to rebut his disproven arguments.
For background, CNN’s blog posted this:
California has a law that requires doctors to look into “the causes and cures of homosexuality.” The law was established in 1950, part of harsher laws to crack down on sex offenders. Today a California Public Assembly Committee will vote on whether to abolish it.
At 10:40 we’ll talk with the State Assemblywoman who’s heading up the repeal effort. We’ll also talke [sic] with a leading expert on sexual reorientation, who was gay but is now married to a woman and has 3 kids.
Cohen is the ex-gay “therapist” who was eviscerated last fall by Rachel Maddow for his organizations participation in the Uganda anti-gay conference which led to the introduction of the proposed death penalty for LGBT people under certain circumstances. On March 23, 2002, Richard Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association for multiple ethical violations. CNN’s “expert” on curing homosexuality now practices as an unregulated “coach,” where he sells “certification” for treating homosexuality from his web site.
In 2006, he accomplished the rather remarkable feat of embarrassing the entire ex-gay movement when he demonstrated his unorthodox “holding” technique for “curing” gay people with CNN’s Paula Zahn. He compounded that embarrassment by appearing on the Daily Show six months later to demonsrate the same techniques.
This latest debacle was prompted by the discovery that buried deep within California’s massive Welfare and Institutions Code is a 1967 provision that charges the department of Mental Health with the task of conducting research on “the causes and cures of homosexuality.” California assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal has introduced a bill to remove it from the books. It’s unconscionable for CNN to turn to Cohen as an “expert” in curing homosexuality, and its doubly unconscionable to compound that error by not having a reputable spokesperson to rebut Cohen’s wild claims.
Scott Lively Endorses “Revised” Ugandan Bill. Do Exodus And Cohen?
January 10th, 2010
Scott Lively issued a statement dated today saying that he now supports the “revised” Anti-Homosexuality Bill. We have no idea what the revisions might be. Media reports indicate that it’s merely an elimination of the death-penalty provision, leaving the life imprisonment aspect intact, which is hardly an improvement given the prospect of spending the rest of one’s life rotting away in a Ugandan prison. Lively indicates that there is a forced conversion option, which would please him to no end. Of course, without knowing what the text of the “revised” bill might be, we have no way of verifying any of his claims which must be taken with a grain of salt.
In the lead-in to his statement, Lively says:
“I can’t say that I necessarily agree with every element of the revised bill, but I believe this revision is an acceptable compromise under the circumstances and well within the prerogative of a civilized sovereign nation”
The bill, as currently written, has the following provisions:
- It expands the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to”touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.”
- Affirms Uganda’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
- Defines a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender” (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is death by hanging.
- Requires anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.”
- Criminalizes “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment of seven years.
- Criminalizes “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It could also be used against anyone extending counseling or otherwise aiding gay people. It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality.
- Criminalizes the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Adds a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
- Labels landlords and hotel owners as proprietors of “brothels” and penalizes them with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people.
- Adds an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
- Voids all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.
Since Lively has lent his endorsement to a revised version of this bill apparently sight unseen. Assuming the death penalty is stricken and the alternative to rotting away the rest of one’s life in a dank Ugandan prison is the false “choice” of forced conversion, it is incumbent upon him to answer which of these provisions he thinks are “well within the prerogative of a civilized sovereign nation”?
Let’s face it, Scott Lively is irredeemably evil, fully earning his three spots on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-gay hate groups. But what about the others? Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge cast their lot with Lively when they agreed to speak on the same platform with him. They haven’t fully condemned his continuing agitation in Uganda for a bill that he calls “a step in the right direction.” And, more importantly, they haven’t condemned Scott Lively’s hate-filled vendetta itself.
In fact, when Exodus International removed their link to Lively’s online condensed version of The Pink Swastika (which blames gays for Nazism and the Holocaust), they kept the tantalizing title “Homosexuality and the Nazi Party” which a quick Internet search lands the unsuspecting searcher onto Lively’s exercise in Holocaust revisionism. As for the link, Exodus now explains, “This opinion article by Scott Lively from 1995 is no longer offered by Exodus International.” Why not? Is it because they suddenly found Lively’s article objectionably after having provided that link since at least 2005? Or is it just because the “research” is out of date or that it’s no longer hosted on LeadershipU’s web site? Nobody knows and Exodus appears satisfied with that ambiguity. As of tonight, it’s still there. International Healing Foundation’s Richard Cohen hasn’t denounced Lively either for that matter.
Since they have not unambiguously disentangled themselves from Lively himself, their reputations remain entangled in his ongoing meddling in Uganda’s legislative process. And with that entanglement, they need to answer these questions: Do they agree than any part of this bill is a step in the right direction? If so, which parts?
Now more than ever, it is incumbent on Exodus president Alan Chambers, Cohen, Brundidge and Schmierer to fully and resolutely condemn Scott Lively and the other provisions of this bill, and issue a full apology to the LGBT citizens of Uganda who are suffering from the public vigilante campaigns which their conference sparked. They need to do this now before the idea of a “revised” bill being acceptable gains any further ground. It is long past time for them to call out evil by name.
But as I said, I doubt they will. To date, none of them have shown the integrity, the guts, nor the authentic witness of the Christian faith that they claim to hold so dear. Unless they separate themselves completely, forcefully, and without reservation from this unconscionable mess, Uganda will forever be their legacy and their cowardly silence will become the indelible image of Christ seen by LGBT people the world over. And thousands of Ugandans — and many more thousands of Americans — will never forget it.
My lunch date with Caleb Lee Brundidge
December 22nd, 2009
The last few weeks, media outlets have lit up over Uganda’s proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” of 2009. In case you have been living under a rock for the last month, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Ugandan legislators will soon vote on whether the government will execute HIV-positive men, imprison people for three years for not reporting homosexual activity and for seven years for supporting gay rights or providing services to gays and lesbians.
Last week, while following the story on Box Turtle Bulletin, I was shocked to see a familiar face in several related posts. Caleb Lee Brundidge, a staffer at “sexual reorientation coach” Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, attended a Uganda anti-homosexuality conference organized by the Family Life Network. Brundidge was photographed eating lunch with American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and Family Life Network’s Stephen Langa.
I was surprised because I had met Brundidge the month before his Uganda trip. In fact, I asked him out for lunch. Let me explain:
I’m a straight dude who went undercover in so-called “ex-gay” programs. In February, I attended Journey into Manhood, an intense, 48-hour “experiential” retreat designed to help “same-sex attracted men” (SSA-men, in the lingo) become straight. Brundidge was a “Man of Service”, one of the lower-level volunteers who supported the senior staffers, called “Guides”, leading the weekend.
JiM staff employed all sorts of odd exercises intended to initiate us into the elusive world of masculine heterosexuality. To become straight, for example, men reenacted traumatic childhood memories and engaged in the holding-touch therapy pioneered by Cohen. (JiM co-founder Rich Wyler, a Brigham Young University public relations graduate and Certified Life Coach, is listed on IHF’s referral therapist page.)
One exercise, called Clearing, is a conflict-resolution technique where two men stand facing each other while grasping a gnarled wooden walking stick and verbally work out the issues they have with each another. Step 1: Physically describe the person. Step 2: Verbalize the story I tell myself about him. Finally, to resolve the conflict, staffers encouraged us to arrange later one-on-one time to speak with our fellow clear. Most men couldn’t hold back the embarrassed grin as they asked, “Would you have lunch with me today?”
I picked Brundidge for Clearing. I didn’t have an issue with him. Rather, he didn’t look like any of the other men attending the weekend. Brundidge’s long dreadlocks, tattoo-covered forearms and, yes, his dark skin—he’s an African-American man—distinguished him from the clean-cut, tattoo-free Anglo men attending the retreat. Clearing was my chance to speak with the one guy who didn’t look like everyone else.
Our clearing session was awkward. I followed the protocol explained by camp staffers while Brundidge shifted back and forth on his feet and kept looking away. Finally, I asked him to have lunch. He accepted.
OK, there was a personal reason behind my selecting Brundidge for Clearing. See, I love tattoos. At the time, I had two large tattoos hidden safely under my short-sleeve shirt. I wanted a third somewhere on my forearms, but I was freaked out about how visible ink could hinder my future employability. I wanted to know how Brundidge dealt with people’s reactions.
Brundidge found me at lunch and we talked about our ink-work. He told me how people were often shocked to learn he’s Christian. But, he sees that as a lesson they can learn about being quick to judge.
“You can’t choose how people will react,” he told me through bites of food. “You can only be true to yourself and to God.”
Brundidge sure doesn’t look like a stereotypical Christian, and he doesn’t worship like one, either.
He writes techno worship music, he said. He spins bass-heavy praise music at Club Mysterio, which, if you ignore the cry to “Awaken your hearts to God” coming through the microphone, looks like a tame rave. YouTube videos reveal strobe lights, glo-sticks and teenagers writhing to his music. (Brundidge can also be booked for weddings and high school functions, by the way.)
I would learn after the retreat that Brundidge’s involvement with Phoenix-based Extreme Prophetic Ministries included not only throwing raves-for-Jesus, but raising the dead. In another YouTube video, Extreme Prophetic Itinerant Melissa King describes how she and Brundidge took a field trip to several Phoenix mortuaries asking if they could resurrect the deceased. I’m guessing they didn’t have much luck.
I didn’t speak to Brundidge again until last week, after I had learned he traveled to Uganda to participate in the Family Life Network conference.
In his write-up in the summer 2009 IHF newsletter (PDF: 7MB/12 pages), Brundidge gives few details about the trip. He addressed the Ugandan Parliament, the Family Life Network conference and a church. He spoke on the radio and was interviewed by a newspaper. He describes his speech to Parliament as an effort “to help them understand a more compassionate response to anyone who experiences SSA.”
They must have missed that message. How could they get the message when Brundidge himself writes this about the situation in Uganda:
“As I mentioned, homosexual behavior is illegal and punishable by life in prison or even death. They have fear to go [sic]. On the other hand, the word is out on the street to the young people: If you want to make good money, pretend to be ‘gay.’ Why? Gay activists are recruiting impoverished young boys and girls, offering them money to impersonate homosexuals. ‘Just tell people you are gay and we’ll pay you money.’ In this way, they are trying to skew the data regarding the numbers of people who are homosexual.”
In April, the month after Brundidge and company participated in the Family Life Network Conference, Ugandan legislators began drafting a bill to execute gays.
I e-mailed Brundidge last week, and, after identifying myself as a writer, asked him what he felt about all this. He referred me to the statement on IHF’s website. I pressed him in a follow-up e-mail. After all, didn’t he see how his “gays can change if they want to” message may have influenced the proposed legislation?
His reply, again, was brief:
“I really don’t have anything to say. What I shared is listed on the website on IHF. Thank you for emailing and giving me a opportunity to share. I believe you got a chance to get to know me at JIM so you know my heart is the heart of God. That is Love for all people.”
Up until now, Brundidge was relatively unknown in ex-gay circles. My guess is Brundidge’s race played a factor in his selection to travel to Uganda. Again, from his write-up:
“Upon my arrival, I was greeted by my host Stephen Langa…. He said, ‘Welcome home my brother.’ I was truly home! I saw my mother’s face in many women.”
I made several attempts to get a comment from Cohen. He didn’t return my calls or e-mails. My guess is he stands to benefit financially from mandatory conversion therapy also being considered in Uganda; Brundidge has facilitated IHF’s TLC seminar and could easily hold similar—or even more intense—events there in the future.
This whole mess in Uganda is an example of how ex-gay ministries play both sides of the field: Brundidge and company speak of love and tolerance and being true to yourself while simultaneously spreading paranoia about gay activists recruiting children. They then feign shock when countries like Uganda draft “kill the gays” legislation.
Leaders of the ex-gay movement still don’t see how they are pawns in the hands of people like Don Schmierer and Scott Lively. Ex-gays and their “people can choose to change” message are used to justify punishing those who choose not to. When will ex-gays wake up and take a stand against the very people who want to see them dead?
I was certainly affected by my lunch conversation with Brundidge. The month after I returned home from JiM, I got a tattoo on my right forearm. Who cares if someone doesn’t like it?
Ted Cox is a free-lance writer from Sacramento, California. He was interviewed earlier this month by Sena Christian at AlterNet about some of his experiences from attending a retreat with Journey Into Manhood.
Cohen On Maddow: “Disavows All Relationship” To Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill
December 8th, 2009
I just finished watching Rachel Maddow’s interview with Richard Cohen, of the International Healing Foundation. It’s hard to know where to begin in understanding the huge gulf between what Cohen said and what is actually true, particularly with regard to IFH’s culpability in fueling the flames behind the “Kill Gays” bill that is currently before Uganda’s parliament. Fortunately, Maddow was well-prepared.
It is extremely rare to see television personalities so well versed in this particular topic. Kudos to Rachel and her staff for an excellent segment.
There was a lot of discussion over Cohen’s characterization of gays as predators, a characterization that is constantly repeated by those who are putting forth the bill and included in memorandum attached as a preamble to the bill itself. At the 5:10 mark, Rachel Maddow pointed out that Cohen’s book, Coming Out Straight — which Cohen has donated untold numbers to Uganda to support their Kill-the-Gays mission — portrays gays as predators. Cohen denied that, insisting that Caleb Brundidge, who was at the Uganda conference on IHF’s behalf, didn’t convey that message.
That is a lie. In a summer 2009 newsletter (PDF: 7MB/12 pages) from the International Healing Foundation, Brundidge writes about his travels to Uganda. Concerning the gays-as-predators rumors, Brundidge writes:
On the other hand, the word is out on the street to the young people: If you want to make good money, pretend to be “gay.” Why? Gay activists are recruiting impoverished young boys and girls, offering them money to impersonate homosexuals. “Just tell people you are gay and we’ll pay you money.” In this way, they are trying to skew the data regarding the numbers of people who are homosexual. Last year one school teacher was told this information by two young female students. They admitted that they were being paid to say they were gay. Additionally these girls recruited 13 more girls that year! This is happening throughout their nation. Gay activism is alive and a powerful force throughout the world. They are raising up the next generation to be gay activists, just as in the USA.
In this particular passage which Brundidge repeats without questioning its authenticity or illogic, he doesn’t say that gays are being sexual predators, per se. But he does imply it by suggesting that these young people would become “the next generation [of] gay activists.” After all, people don’t become gay activists just because someone pays them to do so. The entire context of this account is the supposed recruitment of young people into homosexuality, which in Uganda is seen as predatory by whatever means that implies.
Also in that newsletter, Brundidge says that Cohen “donated his books and Counselor Training Program CD series and manual to the Family Life Network. They will use these resources to study and learn how to help those affected by SSA and their loved ones.” (SSA, by the way, is the acronym he uses to describe what he calls “Same-Sex Attraction” — always capitalized. More on that later.) I haven’t shelled out any money for his CD series, but the book, Coming Out Straight, certainly pushes the gays-as-predators theme.
In the second edition, the one that Cohen donated multiple copies of for distribution in Uganda, Cohen dedicates two full pages on sexual abuse as a cause of homosexuality. The researchers he cited say that there are some correlations with sexual abuse and uncertainty over one’s sexual orientation, but no reputable researcher as been willing to pin child sexual abuse as a cause of homosexuality, despite Cohen’s distortion of those researchers’ studies.
And who does all of this molestation. For that anwer, Cohen turns to Paul Cameron. Maddow read this passage from page 49 at the 6:15 mark. Cohen writes:
Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; forty (40%) percent of molestation assaults were made by those who engage in homosexuality.”86
Endnote 86 refers to a Paul Cameron study published in 1986 the pay-to-publish vanity press Psychological Reports, which is not a reputable journal. Maddow does a great job in recounting the many professional organizations who have denounced Cameron for his unethical behavior and fraudulent “research” over the years. Cohen claims that his forthcoming third edition of the book won’t have that citation. He doesn’t say whether his own mischaracterization of research by David Finkelhor, Patrick Dimock, Mike Lew, or many others will appear in that edition or not. (We covered much of that same material in our report, “Testing the Premise: Are Gays a Threat to our Children?”) At any rate, it won’t matter because it is present, plain as day, in the untold numbers of free books he has already shipped off to Uganda.
Cohen kept insisting that his whole effort was to preach of his “love” for gay people and not demonize them. Maddow refuted that rather effectively by repeating his own written words. She read loosely from that summer 2009 newsletter (PDF: 7MB/12 pages), this time from a piece written by Cohen himself:
For the past 40 years, members of the gay rights movement have been working to change the fabric of our culture. They have strategically and systematically been indoctrinating members of society, targeting the youth… As a result of their strategic plan, millions of innocent young children have been enrolled into this false teaching and led into a homosexual lifestyle.
If that’s not demonizing, I don’t know what is.
Maddow also read from Cohen’s 2008 book Gay Children, Straight Parents: A Plan for Family Healing, from page 75, on what supposedly “causes” homosexuality:
10: Other factors. Divorce, death of a parent, adoption, religion, race, rejection by opposite-sex peers.
Cohen reacted, “Race, that’s not in there.” But it’s right there in black and white, which led to the best line of the night: “I’m reading from your book, dude!” Cohen first tried to claim Maddow was reading out of context, but she continued reading passages before and after that line. Cohen was never able to explain how race could contribute to homosexuality. He also doesn’t explain it in his book. He finally had to tell Maddow that race has nothing to do with sexuality. Which means that he also acknowledged, in so many words, that he — the guy who continuously promotes himself as an “expert” and “professional therapist” — has written two deeply flawed books. And that he shipped off a bunch of deeply flawed books to Uganda where his vilification of LGBT people has found fertile ground.
Cohen kept trying to convince Maddow that his organization doesn’t “cure” anyone, but he does use the word “healing” constantly and insist that people can “change.” To me, this is just semantics. What is “healing” if it’s not a cure? Furthermore, he constantly refers to homosexuality as “SSA,” or Same-Sex Attraction” — always capitalized. He used to called it SSAD, or Same-Sex Attraction Disorder, but he only stopped doing that when it became too untenable for him to call homosexuality a disorder after all the professional organizations insisted that professionals should not do so. On Maddow’s program, Cohen kept repeating his web site as ChangeIsPossible.com. But type that into your web browser and where does that URL redirect to? That’s right: GayToStraight.org, and in the program he kept referring to himself as being completely straight. If that’s not meant to be taken as a “cure,” then I wonder how Cohen would explain the difference.
So we have a man who says that gays molest children, then takes it back. He says that he doesn’t demonize LGBT people, has a passage he wrote just last summer demonizing LGBT people read back to him, and he has nothing to say. And he says that race is a factor, and then says, okay, it isn’t. And he doesn’t “cure” gay people, he just “heals” and changes them. And by the time the interview ended, he was left sputtering that the American Counseling Association disbarred him for life because they are anti-ex-gay. In fact, it was for ethical violations, and Maddow’s audience was left with numerous examples of Cohen’s lack of integrity by the time she was done with him.
But before we end this, we should note one positive thing on Cohen’s behalf: with all that, Cohen spoke out forcefully against Uganda’s proposal to legislate LGBT people out of existence. Whether he’s doing that because he has a new-found respect for gay people or because he’s trying to salvage his own tattered reputation, we don’t know — but I have my suspicions. At any rate, he said he is not only against executing LGBT people, he is also against imprisoning them. He’s a proven fraud, and an idiot to boot. But again, we’ll take what we can get.
Statement from International Healing Foundation Regarding Uganda
December 4th, 2009
There’s not much there, but we’ve been provided a copy of the full statement from Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation regarding Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act. The current legislation is a direct aftermath of a three-day conference put on last March by three American anti-gay activists. One of them was Caleb Lee Brundidge, who is a counselor with the International Healing Foundation, and an minister with Phoenix-based Extreme Prophetic.
We first learned of the statement form Rachel Maddow’s program, where she read just two short sentences of the statement. And for good reason. That was the only part of the statement that was relevant, and it was barely so. The rest is nothing but salesmanship, much like the IHF’s web site. The PDF of their statement is here (PDF: 116KB/1 page). It says:
The mission of the International Healing Foundation is to provide counseling for those who experience unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA), including their family members, and to educate all people about the facts of homosexuality—1) no one is born this way, 2) no one chooses to have SSA, and 3) that changing from homosexual to heterosexual is possible.
We condemn any harsh and extreme punishment of persons who identify as homosexual or engage in homosexual behavior. Instead, we advocate education and counseling for those who experience unwanted SSA. We believe that all persons should have equal access to information about the facts of homosexuality—that no one is born this way, no one chooses to have SSA, and that change is possible.
So the questions remain. What is “harsh and extreme punishment”? The death penalty? Lifetime imprisonment? Any imprisonment? And what do they advocate for those who don’t have unwanted “Same-Sex Attraction”?
This is the same sort of non-statement statement that we’ve come to expect from those who can’t find the simple and direct words to say that criminalizing an entire group of people to death is wrong.
International Healing Foundation Issues Statement On Uganda
December 3rd, 2009
Rachel Maddow finally got a statement from Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation about Uganda’s proposed death penalty for LGBT people under certain circumstances:
Caleb Lee Brundidge was one of three American anti-gay activists participating at a conference in Kampala last march which led to the current crisis there for LGBT people. Other American anti-gay activists participating were Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and Exodus International board member Don Schmierer. Rachel also read portions of a statement from Scott Lively which we already covered last Saturday. Don Schmierer belatedly signed on to the November 16 letter from Exodus condemning the Ugandan legislation. His signature was appended just this past Tuesday.
The portion of IHF’s statement that Rachel Maddow read was brief:
We condemn any harsh and extreme punishment of persons who identify as homosexual or who engage in homosexual behavior. Instead, we advocate education and counseling for those with unwanted Same-Sex Attraction.
We don’t know whether this is the entire statement or not, as it can be found nowhere on the International Healing Foundation’s web site. You can find plenty of sales clutter, but no statement.
What we do have is a typically vague non-statement. What is “harsh and extreme punishment”? The death penalty? Lifetime imprisonment? Any imprisonment? And what do they advocate for those who don’t have unwanted “Same-Sex Attraction”? (Note the capitalization; it’s Richard Cohen’s terminology, often abbreviated as SSA, to indicate that he believes that homosexuality is a mental illness.) What they do advocate is left unclear.
If the International Healing Foundation is at all familiar, it is chiefly because of Richard Cohen’s unorthodox methods to “cure” homosexuality, which include “touch” or “holding” therapy. On March 23, 2002, Richard Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association for multiple ethical violations. He now practices as an unregulated “coach.”
Caleb Lee Brundidge is also associated with Extreme Prophetic in Phoenix, AZ. Extreme Prophetic refused to condemn the proposed Ugandan legislation, saying “As a ministry we do not have an official opinion on political policies.” Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton notes the inconsistency behind that statement, since Extreme Prophetic’s stated mission is to “take over spheres and adminstrate them for the glory of God.” Among those spheres of influence is the political sphere. Extreme Prophetic’s own theology makes a mockery of their statement.
Brundidge himself has maintained complete silence.
Take Action: Tell Uganda To Respect Human Rights And Dismiss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
October 19th, 2009
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has issued an Action Alert, asking everyone to write to the Ugandan authorities to express your concern about their latest attempts to criminalize homosexuality and institute the death sentence in certain circumstances.
According to the text of the bill introduced in the Ugandan Parliament last week, the new law would:
- Reaffirm the lifetime sentence currently provided upon conviction of homosexuality, and extends the definition from sexual activity to merely “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
- Create a new category of “aggravated homosexuality” which provides for the death penalty for “repeat offenders” and for cases where the individual is HIV-positive.
- Criminalizes all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
- Criminalizes the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Adds a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
- Adds an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
According to the IGLHRC, the bill’s impacts are wide-ranging:
The bill effectively bans any kind of community or political organizing around non-heteronormative sexuality. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be seriously compromised. Women, sex workers, people living with AIDS, and other marginalized groups may also find their activities tracked and criminalized through this bill.
The IGLHRC provides contact information (email and phone numbers, where available) and a sample letter. You can also send a letter to Exodus, the International Healing Foundation, and Abiding Truth Ministries, as well as and demand that they speak out on the latest outrage which stems from their representatives’ participation in a three-day anti-gay conference in Kampala. The currently proposed anti-homosexuality bill is a direct result of that conference put on by Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, Abiding Truth Ministry’s Scott Lively, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge. For more information on the role their activists played in this latest outrage, please see the links to our coverage at the end of this post.
Please send your letter to:
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
State House Nakasero
Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi
Speaker of the Parliament
Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuka
Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Affairs
Honorable Opio Gabriel
Chair of the Uganda Human Rights Commission
Directorate for Ethics and Integrity
Chair of the Uganda Diplomatic Human Rights Working Groups
Please also send a copy to:
Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda Embassy of the United States of America
Jerry P. Lanier
Send an email and fax to:
Ambassador to the US
Perezi K. Kamunanwire
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations
336 East 45 Street
New York, NY 10017
I am writing to express concern about legislation that would severely restrict the rights of Ugandan citizens, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their defenders, in direct contravention of domestic and international law. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 would not only reaffirm penalties for homosexuality, but would criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality,” including funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality. Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison – even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends.
The negative repercussions of the bill in Uganda will be immediate and severe. It effectively bans the free association and expression that are necessary for a flourishing civil society, and creates a climate of fear and hostility that undermines the citizenship and solidarity of all Ugandans. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. Effective HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be difficult, if not impossible.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates National Objective 5(2) of the Ugandan Constitution, which provides that “the State shall guarantee and respect the independence of non-governmental organizations which protect and promote human rights.” Moreover, it directly violates the right to equality and freedom from discrimination (Article 21), the right to privacy (Article 27), the right to freedoms of speech, expression, association, and assembly (Article 29), the protection of minorities (Article 36), and the protection of civic rights and activities (Article 38) to which all Ugandans are entitled. It also violates the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. This bill undermines Uganda’s commitment to the international human rights regime and threatens the basic human rights of all its citizens.
The Bill’s revocation of fundamental rights would also seriously undermine the country’s reputation and credibility in the international arena. Because it claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country, the Bill will strain Uganda’s relations with regional and international partners.
While people may hold differing opinions about sexual orientation and gender identity, the legislation before Parliament is an ineffective and fundamentally illegal way to express opposition to a minority group. In recognition of the importance of a diverse, dynamic civil society and the domestic and international commitments that Uganda has made, I urge you to swiftly dismiss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 and reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of all Ugandans.
Uganda Activist Cites Disbarred “Therapist” As Authority on Homosexuality
March 31st, 2009
David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch has posted another exclusive video of Ugandan pastor Stephen Langa, as he cites Richard Cohen’s 2000 book, Coming Out Straight, as an authority on the homosexual agenda. The video was taken during a March 15th follow-up meeting to the three-day conference conducted by American anti-gay activists, which included Richard Cohen protegé Lee Caleb Brundidge.
What are some of their strategies? One: redefine homosexuality as an inborn condition based on genetics and biology, so that it will be regarded as irreversible. There is no proof, there is no study that has found that homosexuality is genetic. None, none. In fact, this man has a whole chapter on it. Now this man is a former homosexual, he has a whole chapter on all the science, on all the studies that homosexuals claim [...] the genetics of homosexuality, and all of them don’t qualify. They are unrepeatable. You cannot politicize… [...] an experiment cannot be done, it cannot happen. It doesn’t work. It’s not there. But we see they portray it as such. They portray it as such.
Second, focus on who they are and not what they do. It’s a very critical tactic. A very critical tactic. What does that mean? This shifts the debate from the arena of morality, ethics and psychology to politics, human rights and social injustice. Here’s how clever they are. This is a matter of morality. This is a matter ethics. This is a matter of psychology. But now they shift it to politics, human rights and social injustice. They play on your sense of justice. “Oh, but look at the injustice. See?” They’re like the Blacks, and that is wrong. You see, and here it is. “In this way they emulate the pattern of the Civil Rights movement.” In America, what was the civil rights movement? People are being discriminated against because they are Black.
Now the difference between that and a legitimate civil rights issue and an issue which is not a civil rights issue is this: If that thing is something you have no choice about and something inborn, then it is a civil rights issue. For example, your tribe, if somebody discriminates against your tribe, your color, you know? Those kinds of things. Those are things which are legitimate civil rights and human rights items. But issues of choice, if I choose to be a thief, if I choose to be a murderer, I cannot stand up and say, “Oh, you see, I was born this way.” No.
But you see, these guys are clever. They want to equate legitimate issues that demand or that deserve human rights protection with things that don’t. And that is how they were able to win in South Africa, because they say, “Well oh, Blacks were discriminated against, the Blacks in South Africa. So we are also like that.” And so the South African government, as the other people passed, they also passed. And in America, this came up at the time when they see Black civil rights had just gained prominence and had just got their rights, and so they also smuggled themselves into the middle of it. And they came together with the Blacks. But that’s the tactic. It’s the tactic. It’s the tactic.
There is so much in this short clip that is wrong that it’s hard to know where to begin. But there is one thing that bears mentioning. Anti-gay activists who assert that there is no biological basis for homosexuality for anyone pretend that there were only three studies worth mentioning. Those studies include Simon LeVay’s 1994 brain study, Bailey and Pillard’s 1991 twins study, and Dean Hamer’s 1993 X-chromosome study. As far as activists are concerned, these are the only studies that have ever been published, and none of them “proved” that homosexuality is biological or genetic.
The truth is however that there have literally been hundreds of studies published in peer-reviewed journals in the past twenty years or more, the preponderance of which suggest a biological basis for homosexuality in many people. Anti-gay activists refuse to acknowledge those studies. Instead, they only pick on the three weakest and easiest to disprove studies.
This is the sort of “science” one would expect from Richard Cohen. He has been banned for life from the American Counseling Association, and his controversial “holding” or “touch” therapy techniques — which are also clearly demonstrated in that same book Langa is so fond of — has made him the laughingstock of the ex-gay movement. Seeing it being used as fodder for Uganda’s latest anti-gay campaign, while Exodus — America’s largest and best known umbrella organization of ex-gay “experts” — remains silent is no laughing matter.
Scott Lively: Following The Money
March 25th, 2009
How is a well-known Holocaust revisionist able to gain so much cooperation among other anti-gay groups? Let’s follow the money.
Lively’s Pro Family Charitable Trust is an arm of his Abiding Truth Ministries, which is one of only twelve anti-gay hate groups listed by the the SPLC. A quick look at the trust’s contributions tell an interesting story:
- NARTH received three grants totalling $2000.
- The Jewish ex-gay group JONAH received a grant for $500.
- Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation received a grant for $500.
- Peter LaBarbera received two grants totally $2000.
- Watchmen On the Walls, a group that was co-founded by Lively, received a grant for $500. The Watchmen are also listed among the SPLC’s twelve anti-gay hate groups.
- Paul Cameron’s Family Research Institute received a grant for $300. The FRI is another of the SPLC’s anti-gay hate groups.
- Exodus-Affiliated ministries receiving grants include Living Stones Ministry ($250), HIS Ministry ($500), and PFOX ($750).
- Other notable recipients include San Diego ex-gay gadfly James Hartline ($500), Stephen Bennett ($500) and Linda Harvey’s web site, Mission America ($400).
These must be considered minimum sums. The top grant is described as being the 31st grant on a page which only lists 28 grants, so this is clearly not a complete list.
It also appears not to be an up-to-date one either. Abiding Truth Ministry’s 2007 IRS 990 form (PDF; registration required) from Guidestar.org lists:
- an additional grant of $750 to Linda Harvey’s Mission America,
- an additional grant of $300 to James Hartline
- a grant of $1750 to the Pro Family Law Center in Temecula, California, a project of Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries.
Some of these values may not look like much, but most of these groups operate on a shoestring budget. Some are little more than volunteer operations much like our own vast conspiracy here at BTB (which consists only of a web site and four volunteers). So to many of these outfits, these contributions can be significant. Maybe that’s why Peter LaBarbera has been carrying Lively’s water the past few weeks.
[Hat tip: Warren Throckmorton]
Richard Cohen Is Back In The PFOX and Exodus Orbit
February 26th, 2009
Richard Cohen is back and he’s on tour, with the full blessing of Exodus International member organization PFOX.
Two years ago, the ex-gay movement was widely embarrassed by Richard Cohen when in July 2006 he revealed his “holding” or “touch” techniques before a nationwide audience. It’s a controversial techniques that Cohen promotes through his International Healing Foundation. Cohen had also been president of the PFOX, but he was forced out after that CNN episode aired.
That embarrassment was compounded when in March 2007 he appeared on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. That prompted PFOX and NARTH to scrub their web sites of all mention of him, and Exodus International publicly distanced themselves from his techniques:
Exodus International does not endorse the work of Richard Cohen or the methods utilized in his practice. Some of the techniques Mr. Cohen employs could be detrimental to an individual’s understanding of healthy relational boundaries and disruptive to the psychological and emotional development of men and women seeking clinical counsel and aid.
That was wise, if belated. Five years earlier, Cohen had already been expelled from the American Counseling Association (ACA) for multiple ethical violations.
Well, that exile didn’t last long. Even though PFOX scrubbed their web site to pretend they had never heard of Cohen, we learned that just a few months later PFOX was referring “clients” to Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. Then last year came word of a possible rapprochement between Exodus and Cohen. That was quite a turnaround considering that Exodus International president Alan Chambers had resigned just a year ealier from PFOX’s board of directors because they hadn’t distanced themselves enough from Cohen
And now PFOX, which through all of this has remained a member in good standing in Exodus’s referral network, is promoting Cohen’s “National Tour!” — complete with exclamation marks. Actually, there are no tour dates set just yet. They’re still begging for people to invite him. But the timing’s no coincidence. Cohen will have a new book out, “Loving Gays the Right Way: The Other Side of Tolerance.”
Let’s see, what would the other side of tolerance be?
To remind you of Cohen’s “healing” techniques, here’s a clip of Cohen on CNN.
Exodus and Richard Cohen Make Peace?
July 2nd, 2008
It was only a year ago that Richard Cohen displayed his “holding techniques” for supposedly making gay men straight before a national audience, embarrassing everyone in the ex-gay movement. His stint on Comedy Central was the last straw for the few remaining holdouts. While NARTH and PFOX quietly scrubbed their web sites of all mention of him, Ex-Gay Watch reported that Exodus International President Alan Chambers resigned from PFOX’s board after concluding that PFOX hadn’t distanced themselves enough from Cohen. (Richard Cohen is a former PFOX’s president, and PFOX was still privately referring clients to Cohen’s practice.) Exodus also had posted a formal disclaimer on Cohen’s techniques on their web site.
Now Ex-Gay Watch has noticed that the disclaimer is gone, as are other statements denouncing Cohen’s cuddling techniques. David Roberts also noticed that several Exodus board members openly endorce Cohen’s practice and other similar methods, which led him to asked directly: Does Exodus approve of Cohen or not?
While XGW is still waiting to hear from Exodus, Cohen’s people have already provided an answer:
Richard explained more about his work and his position and methods to Exodus and they all made peace.
If NARTH and PFOX have already forgiven and forgotten his lunacy — can Exodus be far behind? They’ve already gotten past their embarrassment over James Phelan’s boorish behavior. If they can welcome Cohen back, then it will be loud-and-clear confirmation that Exodus is far more worried about public embarrassment than therapeutically appropriate behavior. And that should be cause for everyone to worry.