Christianity Thinly Veiled At JONAH
How “Greenberg” is my valley?
You would think that an organization as professedly Jewish as JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) wouldn’t need any help from the Goyim. You thought wrong. (“Goyim,” by the way, means “Nations” in Hebrew, and in scripture refers to the non-Jewish, or Gentile, nations.)
While perusing JONAH’s online library, I came across more than a couple “Jewish” resources that point to not-so-Jewish origins. Now, it would be one thing if JONAH owned up to this and put a disclaimer before the Christian-produced articles saying something like “this article is of a Gentile origin, but is helpful nonetheless” – but they do not. Instead, they edit the articles and muddle their origins so that the religious Jews reading them will not feel threatened.
I will list the non-Jewish sources I found in alphabetical order:
- • Diane Eller-Boyko not only has a page in JONAH’s library; she is also a featured counselor at ChristianCounselingService.org. Fortunately for JONAH, she doesn’t drop one Biblical hint in her interview with NARTH’s Joseph Nicolosi.
• Janelle Hallman is a Christian counselor seeking to help using Christian values – the opening statements on her personal website make this explicitly clear. She works with the “secular” NARTH, where she tones down the bible-thumping, but it only takes a click to go from Jewish ex-gay article to Jesus Christ – the address of her site is provided at the top of her page at JONAH’s online library.
• Kaelly Langston contributed an excerpt from the first chapter of the book she’s apparently working on, called “The Rainbow Connection – The Truth About Homosexuality.” JONAH makes a half-hearted attempt at honesty here, and states that the text appeared in a “slightly different format” in the March 2003 issue of “BridgeBuilder,” the newsletter for Living Stones Ministry (a Christian ministry that takes their name from 1 Peter 2:4). One can only guess at how the other version of the article was “formatted.”
• Alan Medinger, known for using citations of the Nazi-admiring doctor Paul Cameron, has several articles on JONAH’s site, all beginning with the following text: “This article has been adapted for JONAH with the permission of Alan Medinger.” Well, at least they got his permission. But just what needs to be done to properly “adapt” an article for JONAH? I suppose you would need to get rid of all the Jesus references in it. Here is the original text (PDF) of his article “The Prison of Self-Protection,” which was originally published in the January 2005 issue of Regeneration News, the newsletter of Regeneration Ministries. The original article opens with a verse from the book of Matthew.
• Dr. James E. Phelan is a Christian social worker who has, in addition to his article at JONAH, made contributions to GospelCom.net and CatholicInsight.com. Because Judaism has consistently, historically supported a woman’s right to choose, Phelan’s pro-life stance would probably put him at odds with the morals of many of my people.
• Paul E. Rondeau will best be remembered as the man who put Holocaust Revisionism in bed with a Jewish ex-gay organization, by citing the research of Dr. Paul Cameron in his featured article “Selling Homosexuality to America.” He is director of development for Regent University (aka, Pat Robertson University), a major right-wing Christian institution. In fact, his article was first published in the Regent University Law Review, “a forum for Christian perspective on law in a traditional legal periodical.”
• Dr. Gerard Van den Aardweg’s book The Battle For Normality was published by Ignatius Press, a Catholic publishing house. Their site describes the book as “a Christian psychological approach and it offers the best opportunities for change.”
The cherry on top of all this is the “Non-Jewish Books” section of JONAH’s bookstore. JONAH’s “Jewish Books” and “Secular Books” sections each contain 8 items – while the “Non-Jewish” section contains 10. Is JONAH seeking to aid Messianic Jews? Or is it necessary to add the Non-Jewish resources to simply fill out the library? After all, NONE of the Jewish sources are specifically about homosexuality – they are about “traditional values” and bioethics. Every single non-Jewish book is dedicated specifically to the topic of Homosexuality.
If I were seeking help from JONAH, I would definitely be put off by their need to pool Christian resources to aid a Jewish clientele. A Jewish parent seeking help for their child would especially be put off- to paraphrase Wayne Besen, their kid might not come back an ex-gay, but they might come back an ex-Jew. This is one of the biggest nightmares of a Jewish parent. My ultimate question is, with all the rabbinical commentary, articles from Jewish periodicals, stories from Jewish counselors, and even support from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, why is it at all necessary to post thinly-veiled Christian resources? Is Jewish support for reparative therapy and ex-gay life really that sparse?
I certainly hope so.
Emily, my sister…it IS sparse. I’m thinking that since the new guidelines by the rabbinical college are accepting now-there may be little other reference that can be used for change.
Or mores the point, that these Christian groups simply couldn’t care less about Jewish cultural differences and out of arrogance, don’t acknowlege what Jews know.
I’m as concerned that the Jewish culture be preserved and maintained. There would be no Christians, if it weren’t for Jews.
One is an extension of the other, not a reason to supplant the other.
However, Jews don’t aggressively recruit or shoulder their way into EVERY SINGLE public institution the way some Christians are doing now.
Jews are not complaining as vehemently that prayer is being shut out of the public schools.
I think that because of this simple cultural difference of agressive imposition, Christians here are behaving like an opportunistically instead of as a cooperative enterprise that’s pursuing something meaninful to everyone.
Jews and gay people have a lot in common as far as aggression and being a minority under siege is concerned.
Yet, are the ones accused of aggression and undue influence and wealth.
Such strange hypocrisy.
I think that this acceptance is evolutionary on the part of the rabbinical college and many anti gay Christians have rejected it as vehemently as they have rejected the results of the APA’s research.
As you well know they say it’s the result of some kind of aggression on the part of the ‘homosexual lobby’ or ‘radical gay activists’.
As if no deeper thought, free will, curiosity and follow through as a good researcher would do, had anything to do with it.
Perhaps JONAH won’t last very long, or they felt they needed this Christian infusion against a weak intervention that’s growing weaker and has less relevance these days.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad too.
As I’ve said before….we need MORE Jews in the world, not less.
To show who THEY are and who WE are through each other.
The same goes for gay folks. We need MORE, not less. To show us who THEY are, and so who WE are together.
Nothing is ever wrong in learning more in that regard.
Unlike those who lead these ex gay programs. They assume they know enough already, know what to do and how to do it.
And have already shown how wrong they are…but are unwilling to admit it.
This is confusing. Is the enemy of their enemy, really their friend? It is like a fish asking a shark to defend it against an innocent whale. And we all know what will happen.
It is amazing that Emily K, an “author” for the Ex-gay Watch http://www.exgaywatch.com, would accuse JONAH http://www.jonahweb.org of muddling their origins and diluting their message, by including commentary by non-Jews on their public web site. Although I am not of the Jewish faith, it is my understanding that none of their published material is antithetical to any of the basic principles of Judaism.
Ms. Emily K, I would assume is an advocate that seeks to empower the GLBT community, a community that prides itself on building upon the concepts of diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. If this be so, why is her attitude as to JONAH’s material so non-adaptive to those concepts? How evident in her 3 different writings about JONAH is her own acceptance of diversity, inclusion, and tolerance?
Moreover, her ability to challenge by innuendo is mind-boggling. For example, she goes on in her most recent critique of JONAH to highlight me as contributing to JONAH’s muddle: “Dr. James E. Phelan is a Christian social worker who has, in addition to his article at JONAH, made contributions to GospelCom.net and CatholicInsight.com. Because Judaism has consistently, historically supported a woman’s right to choose, Phelan’s pro-life stance would probably put him at odds with the morals of many of my people.”
So what if I am a Christian, is there a problem with that? My faith should not hinder me from helping others. I should be free, faith or no faith, to treat or consult with individuals of all faiths or no faith.
In the article she references, I wrote about help for women dealing with post-abortion syndrome. I never take a political stance. The article is merely about helping women who may encounter psychological problems after an abortion. From this thesis, she assumes I am pro-life. Whether I am or am not is not relevant to the article which she seizes upon. On the contrary, however, what is interesting here is that even those who advocate a pro-choice position are more consistent than Emily. Mainstream pro-choice groups believe a person has a right to choose between birthing their baby or aborting it. Emily’s views do not appear to admit that this is a possible choice, just as she appears to denigrate the possibility that someone can choose to not act upon their same-sex attractions. Is there something wrong with making choices? Thirdly, whether I support abortion or not is not relevant to the Jewish position on abortion which is mischaracterized by Emily. There are any number of Jewish commentators who explain that there is a strong anti-abortion strand in Jewish tradition, a position that is consistent with the Bible’s fundamental pro-natalism. While Jewish law does permit abortion in certain very limited circumstances such as when the pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s life, it is clearly circumscribed. “No Jewish authority permits abortion if a pregnancy is untimely or inconvenient, nor as a form of retroactive birth control.” (Rabbi Michael Gold, G-d, Love, Sex, and Family p. 225-226) Finally, I don’t consider myself “at odds” with the Jewish people. In fact, I have had and continue to have a relationship with many parts of the diverse Jewish community. My relationship is built upon true tolerance and diversity for alternative views. They respect me, I respect them. We understand our likenesses and our differences! It would be helpful if Emily K upheld the same standard.
Finally, why is “Emily K” the only author listed as an ex-gay watch author who is afraid to reveal her last name? I signed my letter with my full name. I am proud of who I am and what I write. Emily, how about you?”
James E. Phelan, LCSW, BCD, PsyD
Yukichoe…that’s really good….loving the image!
The same could be said about using Paul Cameron, and we all know about his crazy Holocaust views.
Though, I wouldn’t necessarily describe Fundie Christians as “enemies” – ask any of them what they think of us and they will profess their “love” for the Jewish people til the cows come home. Just don’t ask them where we go when we die.
For them, it will always be about loving us into conversion. Just ask Martin Luther.
A few years back I thought David Benkof would end up being a part of JONAH, but I guess he had enough integrity to not go with ex-gay organizations even if he no longer wants to be in relationships with men.
I wonder whatever happened to him.
This reminds me of when “Christians” say that “all major world religions also condemn homosexuality.”
-As though having all the other ‘blasphemous and heretical’ religions on your side is supposed to increase your credibility.
Hee hee, I have witnessed that too, Emproph. And it gets on my last nerve.
They also say ‘no cultures EVER accepted homosexuality. Or there has NEVER been homosexual marriage in all of history.
The whitewash has been very thorough about who has been written out of history. About who has been contributing to society in a meaningful way and who doesn’t have the ability to ever make a contribution.
This is still history rewritten to suit supremacist thinking. Who hasn’t done what.
And as you’re pointing out, the other trifecta of the world’s major religions don’t get along with each other, but suddenly have agreement where homosexuality is concerned?
They all have variations of women bringing pain, suffering and chaos to the world too.
It figures that a straight man would say that…don’t it?
Yeah… about that….
It’s part of our religion NOT to aggressively proselytize. Unlike Christianity, a faith that believes a person’s very SOUL is on the line if they do not hear “the Gospel,” Jews believe all good people – Jews and non-Jews alike – have a place in the world to come.
This teaching comes from a passage in the book of Genesis that lays down what are called the “7 Noachide Laws.” These laws are what non-Jewish people are commanded to follow to grow closer to God. Jews have 613 – Noachides have 7. They’re pretty simple, too- stuff like “don’t murder” etc…
I actually have yet to meet a Jew or Jewish group that wants prayer back into schools. When prayer WAS in schools, they were Christian prayers praying to Jesus and the Trinity – for Jews, to pray such a prayer is idolatry and blasphemous. We Jews have so many ways to express our cultural diversity publicly that we don’t NEED to have everyone praying our prayers. We have shabbat celebration at home, b’nai mitzvot ceremonies, dietary rules, a dress code of sorts, different languages to study… It’s just not important that everybody else do these things.
That’s pretty much the point, isn’t it? If Judaism included at it’s core a message of how one can escape eternal separation from God, I expect Jews would be a tad evangelical as well so that others could know about that 😉
Note concerning James Phelan’s comment above:
This comment got stuck in our spam filter because the IP is apparently listed in one of the blacklists we use to screen out junk. I released it as soon as I saw it.
Since this deals a bit with site policy, I will answer it myself. Emily would have listed her last name (Kesselman) but since she has built her entire online presence on the name Emily K, we agreed that no one would know it was her posting unless she used that variation as she does everywhere else. I’ve added her full last name to the author listing as I intended to do anyway when we actually get some new profiles up there.
Using scare quotes around author when addressing Emily seems unnecessarily condescending, as does this challenge concerning her name. Perhaps you would do better to address the substance of her arguments.
And Emily, this is why, since I was a child, I found Jewish life so engaging, deeply committed and seamless. It was about BEING, not just DOING. Ritual and music around religious ceremony is somehthing I’ve loved about Christians and Jews alike.
But the prosthletizing, at once is a way of saying ‘I don’t care what you are, what I believe is what I think is best for YOU’.
I find it rude, but it’s especially aggressive around gay folks, more than any other people’s so called ‘sins’.
I have gotten ambushed on the street and had fingers poined at me simply for dancing, or supporting my gay friends.
It’s hard not to be rude. You all have seen how DL Foster has treated me. He’s actually been one of many, including my own sister.
I can name several rabbis and Christian ministers and biishops off the top of my head who are heroic and who I admire greatly. So it’s not that I’m anti Christian, by any means. So many of our friends here are and I love that.
No, what i can’t take is the snobbish tone so many of our dissenters and detractors use who say they are Christian. Their preoccupation and sometimes disassociative attitudes regarding gay people can be and is strange.
There is a disregard for learning anything more or new on THIS subject only. No contributive information especially isn’t wanted from gay people. They behave as if they are so certain.
Anyway, here we are in egw, and we’re a mixed bag of folks. We actually do have more diversity than in more conservative circles.
Very telling right there.
James Phelan seems to think that his religion should be no impedement for inclusion of his views in an organization that is dedicated to another religion.
By that token, I’ll assume that my religious views should be perfectly welcome for official inclusion at any site hosted by his religion.
or… probably not. Anti-gays never want to play by the rules they set up.
David, James Phelan, you both made my day. Much love. 😀
Attn Everybody: The last name is KESSELMAN. That’s K-E-S-S-E-L-M-A-N. The full name could be Emily “Emily K” Alyse Kesselman (Alyse being my middle name). See my website at http://www.pricklyportal.com.
Once again, that’s EMILY ALYSE KESSELMAN. American citizen, born and raised.
“Emily K” is how ALL people in my life know me. It is who I am! Many people don’t even know my real last name, they assume it is “Kay” until I correct them. I could never be prouder to be myself than as I am being EMILY K! 😀 It’s not just my name, it is my IDENTITY. I sign everything I do “Emily K” – I’m SO proud of everything I sign: my artwork, my writings, my checks… all of it bearing my signature – my self – my name – my identity.
Maybe, maybe not. It depends what “Judaism” you’re talking about. The majority of American Jews are Reform – a sect that accepts homosexuals. The second largest sect is Conservative Judaism, which recently revised its stance on homosexuality to be quite liberal, by Catholic and Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian standards. Even many Orthodox communities hold tolerant stances regarding homosexuals- not to say that they are fully accepting – but tolerant, yes.
And when it comes to “basic pincipals,” well, these are the basic principals of Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to others. That is the whole Torah. All else is commentary.” (Talmud; Shabbat 31a) –Rabbi Hillel, c. 100 BCE
What is hateful to me is forced restraint from expression of love for someone of the same gender.
One last thing:
When I was born in Pittsburgh years ago, my mother thought she was giving me a unique, old fashioned name, naming me after my great-grandmother Emily. There were no other “Emily”s in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh at the time. Later on it was discovered that “Emily” was the most popular girls’ name that year, and that statistic has held consistent for many years now. In 5th grade, out of 30 girls, 7 were named Emily. My mom comments ruefully, “I know, Em, I failed you.. I thought I was giving you this unique, old-fashioned name..” and I say, “no! I DID end up with a unique name! I would never be “Emily K” if you had not given me this name.” And know what? I couldn’t be happier knowing I was named after my great-grandmother Emily – she was a wild lady – but that’s a story for another time. 🙂
I do not get James Phelan. He goes about parading proudly his Christian credentials in various issues. The thingy is, the organization involved in this discussion was JONAH, not CONAH. Unless the J stands for James.
Jews who get too cozy in bed with Christians confuse me. Clearly most Jews believe that Christians are worshipping a false God (Jesus), and are breaking an important commandment.
Also, some of those Christians are praying and working toward an Armageddon in which — according to those Christians’ interpretation of Revelation — all those Jews are to be slaughtered.
Most confusing that Jews would go along with that.
Timothy: Thanks for your comments and I hear your point, however my article published on the JONAH site was based on psychoanalytic theory and research, it had nothing to do with religion. Thanks.
I remember being a 13-year-old girl who only knew the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptist traditions, and going to friends’ Bat Mitzvahs and then to a “teen dance” at the Jewish Community Center. I was so afraid that I would be converted, that I would be pressured, that I would be preached against. But you know what? None of that happened. They just welcomed me and answered my questions. And *that* sold me. I wanted to be Jewish because I had finally found a way to worship God that didn’t require a lot of pressure and frothing at the mouth anger! It looked so appealing–a Type B religion for my Type B self!
I never did convert–my mother at first thought I wanted Bat Mitzvah gifts of my own, and then said “over my dead body”. But I still feel affection for the first people to show me that religion doesn’t have to mean pressure and being downright cruel to people who were different.
I say all this because while I know that individuals within a given religion or sect are different…well, it really disappoints me to see that some Jews are *that* different. Wayne’s Jewish and was raised as such, so I’m sure he knows very well what he’s talking about here. I hope he’s right, too.
Jayelle and Regan:
This may or may not apply to the both of you but there is a Kabbalist theory (the REAL stuff, not that Madonna crap) that some Jewish souls become reincarnated or manifested into the bodies of those not born Jewish. As a result, these non-Jews feel a pull to the Jewish faith and culture, and sometimes convert. I have a friend who says, jokingly, that she feels like she should have been born a Jew. I sometimes wonder if she was born with a Jewish soul. 🙂
B’nai Mitzvot celebrations are the way most non-Jews seemed to get exposed to Judaism, which is wonderful, because they get to see our faithful, quiet side and then our joyful (often raucous!) side.
But our Christian brothers and sisters are not to be dismissed. There are wonderful, faithful Christians out there, especially in the LGBT community. However – Evangelical Fundies make for very strange political/cultural bedfellows. Mark and Mike both bring up important points. Jews and Evang. Christians can work together, but in reality, the relationship can only go so far. In the end, (literally,) Fundies believe they are saved and Jews are damned. I find it very very hard to believe that anti-gay Fundies (the Christians that support JONAH and NARTH) would only go so far as to “help” their fellow SSA-attracted religious people overcome their sexual vices. Why not run the gamut and try to convert them; to share the “good news?” After all, what’s the point of going straight in this lifetime if you’re just going to end up in hell anyway?
I’m glad you posted that Emily! My Druid friends tell me I’m a warrior elf.
I’ll take that too. It’s all about love….if there is a way that my heart can know who people really are, or make me feel like a sister to them….whoever THEY are, I’m really good with that and think it’s healthy.
Emily, that made me smile and want to start some research. I have people asking me if I’m Jewish all the time, but that’s probably because I won’t eat pork and I don’t cover my head. Even my Jewish boss thought I was Jewish! I like being Pagan, though.
By the way, did anyone read the Kaelly Langston article? We all know things can get weird when a friend tells another friend they love them, but da-ang! My close male friend told me he regretted not sleeping with me when he had the chance–reckon I better start up a book and a “ministry” now. And my poor wife! She’s lesbian, and her best friend’s a bi male who has made it clear that he really wishes she was bi, too! And yet she hasn’t spent her entire life over-reacting to it–how come?
Actually, Living Stones Ministries just sent me the “un-JONAH-ized” article from Kaelly’s book “The Rainbow connection” – really nothing is dramatically different, other than that she mentions how her beliefs as a Christian guided her through that confusing time. Obviously, this might be off-putting to Jews. It’s her article that’s used to tell the “truth” about lesbianism, although i gotta say, I can’t relate to ANY of it. I never wanted to emulate the girls I fell in love with and I still don’t. I just wanted to love them and for them to love me back.
Jayelle, I encourage you to do some research. One website that might be of help is http://www.jewishgen.org/. But if you want, stay Pagan- I’m definitely not here to convert anybody.
I’ll have to really take some time with that Jewish genealogy site. Thank you for that.
I envy my wife’s abs and her damn-near-perfect skin, but otherwise…nah, I wouldn’t like to be like her. I really pity the women whom Langston counsels. She still hasn’t learned that there’s a vast difference between an unanswered attraction to a friend and a sinister plot!
Ref to David Roberts, on August 28th, 2007:
Note concerning James Phelan’s comment “Using scare quotes around author when addressing Emily seems unnecessarily condescending, as does this challenge concerning her name. Perhaps you would do better to address the substance of her arguments.”
I do agree this can be seen as condescending and I do apologize. I should have just simply asked nicely and given her the opportunity to discuss the matter. In all practicality, there is nothing neccessarily wrong with using a partial name, pen name, nickname, or even writing ghost. These are all simply choices. I was looking for an explanation, albeit rude. At any rate, I appreciate Emily’s explanation. By the way, great art work Emily and thanks for sharing your website.
Thank you, Dr. Phelan! I appreciate your comment very much. And not to worry – I was not offended in the least bit.