Since I entered this post regarding the International Healing Foundation, I have been contacted by Hilde Wiemann with explanations offered for the information I posted below. I also have spoken with her by phone. She told me that most of what I wrote below was incorrect about her and the IHF. In the spirit of fairness and openness, I am adding her explanations at the beginning of this post for the benefit of any new readers who come here. You will read her statements first and then you can consult the body of this post. In the final analysis, readers who are interested in this will review our exchange and the linked websites and come to their own conclusions. In the midst of her comments, I will intersperse some observations.
First off, Mrs. Wiemann felt that my question regarding IHF being a Christian organization was misplaced. She said it is a non-profit educational foundation and not intended to be viewed as a Christian organization. She wrote: “IHF was established in 1990 as a therapeutic and educational foundation to assist those with unwanted same-sex attraction and their loved ones. It was not founded as a religious organization.”
She also told me that she converted to Christianity in 1995 and left the UC along with Cohen.
She continued by noting my comments from the original post below and then providing her response:
Here are more clarifications regarding all incorrect statements in your piece:
1. “After review of the IHF website, one thing that can be said for the organization is that many religions are represented by his staff…:
All IHF staff members are Christian: Richard Cohen, Becca Kellner, and Hilde Wiemann.
2. “A brief review finds professionals operating from within Latter Day Saint, Jewish, Christian and Unification Church traditions.”
No one on our referral list is associated with the Unification Church.
3. “However, in 1997, Cohen incorporated the IHF in Washington state with two Unification Church members (Victoria Clevenger and Hilde Wiemann) on the board.”
IHF was incorporated in 1990. No Unification Church persons were founding members. According to Richard, this was an independent project of his own which had nothing to do with the UC.
I did err in reporting the 1997 annual report as being the incorporation paper. I corrected this below. Mrs. Wiemann is correct that the IHF was incorporated in 1990. I now have a copy of the incorporation papers supplied by a former board member. As listed, the three founding directors were Richard Cohen, Betsy Jones, and Nora Spurgin. Click the links to review a website regarding the people involved. This does not confirm that the IHF was a project of the UC but these websites identify the people as UC members at that time.
4. “Cohen is listed as President and Vice President, his wife Jae Sook Cohen as Treasurer and Hilde Wiemann as Secretary.”
Richard Cohen is President, Arthur Goldberg is Vice President, and Jae Sook Cohen is Secretary-Treasurer (2007).
The IRS Form 990 for 2006 lists Mrs. Wiemann as treasurer. Mrs. Wiemann told me this was a mistake of the IHF accountant to list her and that she is not now on the board.
5. “Hilde Wiemann, an associate since his Unification Church days, continues to serve as Secretary for the board.”
I have not been an officer or on the IHF board members since 2002.
6. “Mrs. Wiemann is also listed by the Blessed Family Department of the UC as the national co-director of Coaching Ministries for the Unification Church.”
I have never been in such a position with that church. Furthermore, I repeatedly requested that they remove any reference to myself from their websites.
As noted below, her name is listed here and here (click the link Download a list of ministries) as having this volunteer role. If this is a mistake, it is an honest one on my part. Mrs. Wiemann told me she left the UC in 1995. The references to her on UC websites are here, here, here, here, and here.
7. “It is inconceivable that he is unaware of this connection, since he dedicated his book on family healing to Mr. & Mrs. Wiemann and she was one of the incoporating board members of his organization.”
Warren, your words are misleading. Mr. Cohen dedicated his book first and formost to God, second to his family, and finally to many of his friends. You make it sound as though he only dedicated it to my husband and myself. Please correct this. And as previously stated, I was never one of the incoporating members of IHF.
I agree that some readers might get the impression that the book was dedicated only to the Wiemanns. As she notes, there are multiple dedications.
Now, some of what I corrected and noted here are details that have little impact on the basic point of the post. My initial comments were in response to requests for information from my readers and those who seek sexual identity services. I trust this exchange will provide that information for those seeking it. In short, Mrs. Wiemann says there are no Unification Church connections, and that she and Mr. Cohen both converted to Christianity in 1995. She says that the references to her on Unification websites are based on occasional work in coaching she was hired to do by the Unification Church. She says the websites do not properly represent her and she has and will continue to ask the webmasters of these sites to change how she is represented on these sites. Indeed, she thanked me for bringing these references to her attention.
To view the original post, continue reading and come to your own conclusions…
Beginning of original post dated 10-3-07
Recently, a reader wrote to ask what I thought of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation (IHF) as a source of Christian assistance for someone who wished sexual reorientation. I indicated that do not endorse the techniques demonstrated by Mr. Cohen, nor do I believe his views of same-sex attraction to be an accurate representation of the research. While my opinions were of interest to the reader, the questioner was specifically looking for help within an evangelical Christian framework. I knew Mr. Cohen said he had converted to Christianity, but I was not sure about a specific religious orientation at IHF.
After a review of the IHF website, one thing that can be said for the organization is that many religions are represented by his staff, those on his list of referral therapists and “certified sexual reorientation coaches.” A brief review finds professionals operating from within Latter Day Saint, Jewish, Christian and Unification Churchtraditions. The latter group, followers of Sun Myung Moon, is surprising since Cohen said he left that church behind in 1995. Curious, I asked Cohen recently by email if there were any of his staff had connections to the UC, and he told me, to his knowledge, there were none. To the contrary, it appears that there has been involvement in the church for quite some time by at least Mrs. Wiemann.
It is old news that Cohen spent 20 years in the UC. He told me recently in an email that he left that church in 1995.
However, in 1997, Cohen incorporated the IHF in Washington state with two Unification Church members ( Victoria Clevenger and Hilde Wiemann) on the board. (See correction below). On 1997 annual report, Cohen is listed as President and Vice President, his wife Jae Sook Cohen as Treasurer and Hilde Wiemann as Secretary. Hilde Wiemann, an associate since his Unification Church days, continues to serve as Secretary of the IHF board. She is also the Assistant Director of the Foundation, has served as Public Relations Director and is the lead parent trainer for the IHF teleconference classes.
Mrs. Wiemann is also listed by the Blessed Family Department of the UC as the national co-director of Coaching Ministries for the Unification Church.
As noted, Cohen either does want these apparent connections to the Unification Church known or he genuinely does not know. It is very difficult to see how he could unaware of this connection, since the Wiemanns were two people, among several, to whom he dedicated his book on family healing and she has been an associate since his UC days. It is reasonable to ask, why not be open about this? If Mr. Cohen is running a multi-faith agency, then it would serve informed consent to alert potential clients of this fact. Earlier this week, I sent an email asking him this question, and it was returned with this message:
ihf90 IS NOT ACCEPTING MAIL FROM THIS SENDER
These questions regarding IHF are especially relevant in light of the imminent publication of Gay Children, Straight Parents by Christian publisher, Intervarsity Press. Already available through Christian booksellers, it is reasonable to assume his readers will think his perspective is evangelical Christian. Furthermore, in the book, he frequently invokes God as being involved in the healing process (31 times in the Introduction). He also refers readers to his healing seminars, and parent teleconference sessions, where they may become clients of professionals of a variety of religious backgrounds, including those many evangelicals consider to be a cult.
My purpose here is not to criticize the religious views of Mr. Cohen or his associates. In principle, it is proper for Christians to seek help from people from other religions, and I believe it is proper to pursue certain common goals with people of various faiths. However, evangelicals are understandably wary of cults who alter orthodox teaching but appear to be evangelical. More practically, some people want assistance in line with their faith. Mr. Cohen’s new book will be released in the evangelical market, sold in Christian bookstores, and is endorsed by leading figures in the Christian right (e.g., Joseph Nicolosi, Regina Griggs, Janelle Hallman). It is reasonable to think that this context may create confusion about what IHF has to offer. This may be especially true if Mr. Cohen is not forthcoming regarding his associates. Parents, such as my email questioner, who consult this book, looking for guidance from orthodox Christians will need to take extra care to sort through the recommended resources, especially Mr. Cohen’s own organization.
CORRECTION: I reported above that Mr. Cohen incorporated the IHF in 1997. This is incorrect. According to the 1997 nonprofit corporation annual report I have, the IHF was first incorporated in Washington state on 9-10-1990. I do not have the original incorporation papers to know who was the original board. However, in 1997, Victoria Clevenger was the registered agent and Hilde Wiemann was the Secretary for IHF.
UPDATE 10-12-07: More information is provided here regarding websites that have been altered in recent days to remove or alter references to Mrs. Wiemann. If there are links above that do not work or seem relevant, it may be that they have been altered. Feel free to note those in the comments section.
Also, see this page for a summary of information.