Richard Cohen And JONAH: A Match Made in Hashamayim?
Maybe it’s the name.
Ever since ex-gay, ex-licensed, ex-Moonie, and ex-Jewish “therapist” Richard Cohen made his disastrous appearance in “The Daily Show,” (see the video here), virtually every major ex-gay organization dropped him like a hot potato. Cohen, described by Wayne Besen only a few years ago as “the future of the ex-gay industry” (Anything But Straight p. 159), was the star that burned out quicker than he rose to fame.
Well, he almost burned out. Cohen may have evaporated from every mainstream Christian ex-gay organization, but he continues to rain down on us because the secular – and vicariously, the Jewish – reparative therapy groups remain loyal. NARTH, although reported by XGW to have rid themselves of Cohen’s stain, still mention him in numerous articles and resources provided, and JONAH cites his research in their online library. They even quote from his book “Coming Out Straight” in order to guide those who are seeking out a reparative therapist. You can also order the book at their online bookstore. In fact, not only has JONAH not wiped clean their connections to Cohen, they continue to enthusiastically endorse him, as evidenced by this email recently sent out:
I want to call your attention to the International Healing Foundation (IHF) and their many resources for parents, family members and friends who have loved ones dealing with homosexuality.
There are teleconferencing classes, workshops, weekends, etc., and an excellent quarterly Newsletter that Richard Cohen, Director of the IHF, sends out that you can sign up for from the web site. In particular, a new Parents Monthly Support Group begins in October 2007.
For more information, and to sign up to receive Richard’s updates by E-mail and snail mail, please go to:www.gaytostraight.org
In NARTH’s case, it’s no surprise that washing themselves of Cohen would be a daunting task – with so few medical professionals actually involved in the ex-gay movement, there aren’t very many “officials” to quote and very few “scientific” documents to cite. The same people tend to be mentioned over and over – and Cohen is one of them.
So why do I say “maybe it’s the name?” Because the name “Cohen” is a very distinctive and important Jewish name. It is literally the Hebrew word for “priest” and anyone who carries it inherits the rights and responsibilities associated with the Jewish temple priesthood, which will return when the Messiah comes and the Third Temple is built. So maybe the Jewish ex-gay groups hesitate to abandon one of their own – and an heir to the priesthood, no less!
Though I find ALL shades of reparative therapy to be despicable, I expect better from my people. This is not simply bias or arrogance — JONAH and Jewish ex-gays take the “scientific” route for gay-to-straight conversion, seeking out therapists through NARTH or Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. The Orthodox Jewish approach to religious study is one of intense complexity, and so a similar approach to healing same-sex attraction would be a natural step. The complex psychoanalytic gymnastics that take place in sessions with these counselors might end up being a futile endeavor, but at the time it feels like you’re going somewhere – uncovering some deep-seeded secret that provides the reason you turned gay. Unfortunately, these sessions provide no real intelligent insight into one’s sexual identity, only excuses and places to lay blame. Cohen’s tactics are nothing but new-age mind games repackaged as novel, effective counseling, when in reality they are none of these things. Intelligent, studious Orthodox Jews are seeking an effective scientific solution, but they will never find one. It is obvious that one does not exist, yet they will continue to delude themselves into thinking this IS a real solution, endorsed by science and blessed by HaShem.
So maybe Jewish ex-gays and ex-gay groups cling to Cohen because they feel they have a great Jewish ally in their struggle (never mind the fact that Cohen converted to Christianity years ago, with a detour through the Unification Church of all places). Having a cohen on your side can potentially make for a match made in hashamayim (Hebrew for “Heaven”).
I would also like to add that the LDS group Evergreen International also used Cohen and recommends his book
It seems this group is heavily invested in ex-gay therapy too.
Great insight Emily.
An all-time classic from The Daily Show!
Cohen has bounced from all kinds of religious identity as well as sexual identity.
Seems to me the man has serious insecurities about what and who he is.
And in being so, the LAST person to be giving advice on what someone should be if they ‘choose’ it.
Apparently, he hasn’t made up his own mind.
For some, sexuality and religion are fluid, Regan. This is progressive, not insecurity. Let’s face it, we live in a diverse world, “can’t we all just get along” and be tolerant of each other? And for the rest of the peanut gallery: As for the Daily Show, that was produced to be a joke, I quess you don’t get it. Must you take everything so seriously and fault find?
James Phelan, I think YOU are the one having a hard time finding the humor in all of this. FYI, Cohen’s history wasn’t “jokingly disclosed” on the Daily Show. It was disclosed before hand, specifically by Cohen himself by his own testimony. As for getting along and being tolerant, why can’t the ex-gay industry just leave us queers alone and let us be who we are and love who we are in peace?
So I watched the Daily Show clip. It’s mean-spirited, or at minimum aggressive and derisive. One clue is the canned laughter that punctuates its “humor.” The reasons and motivations, however, why a person capable of choosing in the matter would seriously consider choosing heterosexuality over homosexuality it regards as frivolous. Or non-existent.
Believe it or not, I do accept that among those absolutely convinced that they are gay or lesbian in fact are that way. (And – believe it or not – I laughed at one point in the video.) But mocking Cohen is, all in all, a rather underwhelming show of intellectual force.
I know how to argue to win, which sometimes means demolishing a target or an opponent when I feel he deserves it. In a recent post, I accuse “AIDS activist” Larry Kramer of being a mass-murderer.
Thanks for the reminder of how uncivil liberal pop culture generally is.
You’re a fan of Ann Coulter, and yet you find The Daily Show mean-spirited and uncivil? Um…
Not a fan – a student.
Tool through my “Gay/Lesbian” category and you’ll see that occasionally I take special care to be civil, even cordial. You’ll also see libelous comments directed at me which I let stand (and which I do not allow to provoke me).
If you watch the entire video of Ann’s CPAC appearance you’ll note that during the q&a she made a specific statement on behalf of why gays are, or should consider becoming, Republicans. She repeats this message in her new book, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans. “Enlightened self-interest” never had a more shining example.
The enemy is not homosexuality per se, but contemporary liberalism.
I believe that these should be enacted all the time, not just “occasionally.”
What exactly is the “liberal” enemy, anyway? that’s such a loaded term. republicans are, by the purest political definition, libertarian, which ultimately makes them more “liberal” than democrats. But, of course, I’m using the word “liberal” in its pure definition, meaning to allow liberties, as opposed to “conservative,” but honestly those two terms have been twisted around so many times by opportunists hoping to diminish either side that they’ve become little more than petty names to throw out in a political cat fight.
That’s an absurd statement, compounding one ideological culture war with another. Let’s stick to the topic and steer clear of private wars.
The Daily Show piece with Cohen was only the last straw in a long line of bizarre public displays, including his appearance on Howard Stern, posing for photos next to partially nude (genitals exposed) men. We will continue to report on Cohen because he is still deeply involved with groups such as the one Emily has written about here. Now with his book being published by Christian publishing house IVP, it is obvious not everyone considers Cohen as underwhelming as you do — that’s the problem.
You’re a fan of Ann Coulter, and yet you find The Daily Show mean-spirited and uncivil?
David, you forget.
If you’re a culture warrior, those who are being vile to the people that you think are your enemies are funny. Those who mock the people who you consider allies are mean-spirited.
Of course if you’re principled then vile is vile and mean is mean. I’ll let Jeremayakovka’s words and behavior demonstrate for him whether he’s principled or just another culture warrior for God – busy fighting the “good fight” and not caring in the slightest about decency, honesty, integrity or compassion.
Emily, David, Timothy,
Thanks for your replies.
The way Cohen presented himself was a little queer (as in strange, not homosexual). The clip’s script, editing, laugh track, and visuals, were queer, too, and compounded Cohen’s queerness rather than explore the points he tried to make.
A patient-therapist situation is typically delicate. A therapist can do only so much (or so little) depending on the patient’s age, mental stability, physical well-being, and other factors. There was zero constructive discussion about the techniques shown (audio tape, pillow-punching, “father-love” embrace): e.g., at what point in a therapeutic process they might best be applied, in conjunction with what other techniques, whether they are a rote series of exercises or tailored to specific emotional issues, etc.
I’m not trying to run interference for Cohen – he should know that the Daily Show and Howard Stern don’t have his best interests at heart. I also think they don’t have Cohen’s patients’ best interests at heart either.
What’s liberal and what’s conservative today is an important discussion. Thanks, Emily, for starting to clear the air. “Contemporary liberalism” is a phrase Robert Bork uses in Slouching Towards Gomorrah.
David, what’s absurd is pretending that contemporary gay subculture could have come about without Marxism and postmodernism (and that they could have come about without it).
Timothy, when criticizing ideas being hyperbolically honest isn’t vile, it’s priceless. Also respectful. Ann Coulter is no bully. When she names, she goes after people in power – the Clintons, The New York Times, the Ivy League. She picks on people her own size, or bigger.
Thanks again for the opportunity to comment.
Jeremayakovka, you are in a different league than these ex-gay watchers. You are much more intelligent, far more gentleman, and prefer a higher grade of cheese and wine. Now on to David R., who leaves me confused as to why a gay man, or any man for that matter, would think it “bizarre” that Howard Stern, would exclude exposed genitals on his show, just because Richard Cohen showed up. Is Richard that miraculous that he could tame Howard Stern? Even, Howard wished Richard “all the best”. Although he had a little fun at Cohen’s expense, he did at least, wish the man well. Unlike the exw. Stop the HATE all you ex-gay watchers!
ummm, most of us just call that “exagerating to the point of lying”. And most of us recognize that attacking the personal rather than the political is vile.
Now you may like it, but that says a great deal more about you than it does about Ann Coulter. I somehow doubt that I would enjoy your company.
Somebody’s not getting the joke: Cohen’s techniques and philosophies are laughable.
He, like others, confuses two seperate issues and assumes they are connected. Masculinity and homosexuality.
The flawed presumption is men who are uncomfortable, unsure, or unfulfilled in their masculinity would seek out other men sexually to find some sort of fullfillment or solace.
Never once do they even attempt to show causation, or anything other than a superficial connection between the two. How exactly do feelings of inadequacy lead to sexual attraction to other men? How does this manage to completely replace supposedly “normal” heterosexual attractions? Shouldn’t we find illiterate people trying to have sex with a book? Blind people trying to have sex with someone’s eye socket?
I used to have problems with feeling unmasculine, and felt distant from my father. All of that has been taken care of, so by Cohen’s logic, I should feel no attraction to men. Yet I do. In fact, I feel more comfortable with both my masculinity and my homosexuality than ever before. If one caused the other, then fixing it should provide some sort of cue, yet I have developed no attraction to women whatsoever.
Considering the fact that more fathers are accepting of their gay sons than in the past, and gay men come from happy, well-adjusted two-parent, loving homes, play sports, and have no interest in madonna, it’s going to get harder and harder to parade around these tired and unfounded beliefs.
Bingo. But the bizarre part is not that Stern was business as usual, but that Cohen went on in spite of that obvious fact. Inspires great confidence in a “psychotherapist,” no?
Cohen comes across just as absurd during appearances where he is given time to explain what he is about (CNN, for instance). People find him absurd and laughable for a simple reason — he is.
What does any of this have to do with anything?? Nobody is arguing about where gay sub-culture came from. I think if we go any further off topic, I will implode from exposure to haughty ego-stroking pseudo-intellectualism.
And, for the record, I don’t think any gay culture could exist at ALL without having first been spawned by neo-existential aristotelian surrealist pacifism. Have the gays no regard for their roots?? Although many would opine that it’s perfectly cromulent to eschew this fact, I would say that their shear ignorance and refusal to embiggen their minds only asseverates their muliebrity – at least among the males.
David, in all due respect, many therapists of various orientations, attend an array of media events with large audiences not inherently for the buffoon of it, but to get their name and purpose for helping others OUT there. Not everyone watches PBS or rely on Uncle Bob to look at UTubes. Let’s do some minor housekeeping here and consider that CNN will show you what they want to show you. They control the camera and angles. If anyone believes the full monty of what they see on CNN, I think they have got to get a life, or at least upgrade their education. Okay, I get it David, you dislike someone so you mock them, laugh at them, and put them down. Mimics what some gays boys have to endure, unfortunately at the hands of some ignorant others.
Tell it to the Marines… I know that one’s religion and sexuality can be fluid. And that is a freedom that’s a matter of individual choice.
Richard Cohen sets himself before the public as a qualified guru of what someone ELSE (mainly gay people) are supposed to be.
That sets him apart from the individual who is finding their own path…as opposed to a phony shyster leading the public by the nose.
You feel me?
Richard Cohen is a buffoon. I also believe that he exploits vulnernable people with his quack therapy. He accepts payment for his services as “voluntary” contributions to his organization to get around the fact that he isn’t licensed (also raising tax questions). He has been expelled from his professional organization for ethical lapses. He has no shame. He tells people on national television about his marriage, completely leaving out the part of his abandonning his family to cavort in NYC with his boyfriend for years. He engages in this “holding” therapy that looks like it might do far more to meet his own needs than that of any patient. He bangs a tennis raquet trying to expell the hold of homosexuality, but if that worked, Martina Navratilova, Bill Tilden and Billy Jean King would have rid themselves of their homosexuality before they hit puberty.
The guy is a fraud on many levels. He even makes other ex-gays cringe. If you haven’t picked up on any of this, you just have not been paying attention to the guy.
And he isn’t very bright. That can easily be exploited by Howard Stern, Comedy Central, CNN and any other show that he agrees to come on. They do the logical thing and give him enough rope to hang himself while everyone laughs hysterically. All things considered, they could be far meaner to him than just ridicule him.
Here’s an example of patient testimony that The Daily Show injuriously ignored:
I began to work with a therapist who taught me a lot of cognitive coping skills and social skills. I also found a men’s organization that sponsored weekend men’s retreats and on-going men’s support groups. I joined a men’s group and continued to work with therapists to heal my homosexuality. Over the course of three to four years, I engaged in a major life-changing transition. Through the use of powerful therapeutic techniques, such as thought-process reframing skills, transactionary analysis (inner child work), bioenergetics, core energetics, reparenting and psycho-dramatic role playing, my homosexual attractions diminished and my true being as a heterosexual man has emerged.
(This was not a patient of Cohen’s, but it’s clearly something any investigator should want to know when considering “conversion therapy” from every angle. Found at NARTH.)
Need I say any more?
@ Jim Phelan
Your making excuses Jim, and ignoring the facts. Either you just want to argue or you are such a fan of Cohen that you are willing to support him no matter what. If the latter, then CNN has nothing on you 😉
You’ve actually rationalized the fact that someone who claims to be both a Christian and a legitimate psychotherapist (for sexual issues no less) appeared next to men with exposed genitals on Howard Stern — that shows some grade “A” denial. A media event? Wow.
One thing you could learn from Jim — The Daily Show is not about investigative journalism, it’s comedy and it appears on the Comedy Channel for goodness sakes. Everyone knows this, but for someone as bizarre as Cohen to appear there simply compounded the humor. The question is, why would he do so?
But since you mention an ex-gay testimony, let’s not forget that 3-4 years is the honeymoon period for many, try a few of these.
Now please, for the last time, let’s get back on topic.
Your big “proof” to us is a patient testimony found at NARTH?? LOL! Ok, sorry we doubted you. you’re right, gays really CAN be scared straight! Shut MY mouth.
we should ease up on this guy, he’s obviously new at this..
Not proof, Emily, just evidence.
(I included the link as a courtesy, to be rigorous, empirical, fair.)
That, or because we wouldn’t allow you to post it without substantiation.
btw, this whole ex-gay/ex-ex-gay contest is new to me. Just looked at the NARTH site for the first time yesterday. I happen to agree with several of its positions.
(I’m here to debate ideas, but not to trash anyone’s personal experiences.)
Having been introduced to Cohen’s techniques and ideas while I was in ex-gay therapy, I have the following to say:
Campy, but – like all camp – unsubstantial.
Being new, perhaps you are unaware that in some instances you are embarrassing yourself. Those of us who have been following this discussion for a while know who is and who is not credible.
There are those who favor re-orientation efforts who are not loons and do not have a history of cults, questionable practices, and admiration of slavery and nazi politics. Unfortunately, a great many who are in “the ex-gay camp” have weird histories, bizarre ideologies, or the ethics of a used-car salesman.
And when you come here championing Cohen and NARTH, people rightly dismiss your opinions as being ill-formed and uninformed. It’s like quoting Dr. Suess for medical issues – it may sound good to you but the rest of us see your ignorance.
We, for example, are aware of Cohen’s eviction from professional associations as well as his Moonie mass wedding, his involvement with a nudist cult, and a whole slew of bizarre behavior. We know of NARTH’s advisors that justify slavery and encourage the mocking of children that do not adhere to gender expectations. You probably are not aware of these things.
If you really want to get a laugh out of everyone here, try quoting Paul Cameron and his deliberately fraudulent “studies”. Even the ex-gay groups try to avoid getting linked to Cameron.
I’m sure that you think that we are critical of the ex-gay movement because we are “militant homosexual activists”. But actually we are critical only of those things which are false, harmful, political, or unsubstantiated. If the ex-gay movement were factually truthful, therapeutically careful, and non-political, there would be no need for our watching at all.
Thank you, Timothy, for possibly doing a better job of reporting on Cohen than did The Daily Show.
Championing NARTH and Cohen? Quoting them.
In your opinion, who among ex-gay professionals and activists is credible?
In my opinion:
Dr. Throckmorton is careful to be factual in what he says. He also holds up the ex-gay claims to scrutiny and, while he is a bit more generous in his analysis than I would be, he isn’t deliberately deceptive. And he is also willing to confront those who, ummm, have lapses in their intergrity.
I think that most of the leaders of individual ministries are honest in what they are trying to do. Some are very willing to believe and repeat the nonsense they hear but overall they seem sincere. You don’t hear much from them because they are more interested in helping stugglers live in accordance with their values than they are in passing anti-gay laws.
Interestingly, many of the grass-roots level ex-gays and local ministries appear to be supportive of gay rights.
Alan Chambers will be truthful when in this setting. When he’s in the political sphere, all bets are off and he’ll say anything. When Alan’s campaigning I believe nothing he says. But when he comes here, his words are probably factual.
Randy Thomas is an activist with a very nasty agenda. But he doesn’t strike me as a liar.
On the other hand: Cohen, Bennett, LaBarbera, Cameron, Griggs, Foster, Hartline – these folks sold their soul a long time ago. Not surprisingly, they have bad reputations even within the ex-gay community.
That’s a good Basic Guide to the Ex-Gays, Timothy.
If I may add my .02.
Bennett and Foster sold their souls. Cohen, LaBarbera, Cameron, Griggs, and Hartline are just plain bat doodoo crazy.
lol, don’t forget the king of krazies, Anthony Falzerano!!
Thanks, all, for introducing your points of view. I’ll consider it. And thanks again for the opportunity to comment.