Unification Church President Says Richard Cohen is Foremost Expert on Gays in Their Movement

From 2007 through 2008, I wrote a series of posts which revealed ongoing ties between the Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation and the Unification Church (aka Moonies). Initially, Cohen’s staffer Hilde Wiemann denied she was a member of the movement but then later admitted she had been in the movement long after Cohen said there were no ties between his organization and the church.

This week I have come across video which again links Cohen with the Unification church. On October 7, 2012, Moon’s son and president of the Unification Church Hyung Jin Moon held a town hall meeting at the Unification Bay Area Family Church. Sun Myung Moon recently died, but in 2008, he appointed Hjung Jin to be the leader of the church.

The full three hour video is here. Below is a brief excerpt of Hyung Jin’s answer to a question about homosexuality (at about 2 hours and 40 minutes into the session):

Moon says:

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.

I have asked IHF for comment with no immediate response. The mention of Cohen by Unification Church President Hyung Jin Moon does not conclusively prove that Cohen is member of the church. Perhaps Cohen is the only person Hyung Jin knows who claims expertise regarding homosexuality. However, the way he describes Cohen and the ease with which he indicates he can connect the questioner with Cohen again raises questions about Cohen’s earlier denials.

Cohen said he left the Unification Church in 1995. Hyung Jin was about 16 years old at the time.

New study: Lesbian parents not associated with homosexual behavior in sons

In one of the better studies of the effects of lesbians as parents of sons and daughters, researchers reported that 17-year old boys raised by lesbians were no more likely to be gay than those raised in straight homes. Gartrell, Bos and Goldberg found that 5.6% of boys raised in lesbian households reported sex with other boys whereas 6.6% of boys from a representative national survey reported ever engaging in sex with other boys. The difference was not large enough to be considered a statistically significant finding.

Reparative theorists claim that boys who are raised without a strong, salient father often become homosexual. In this study, the boys of lesbian parents had not been raised with any father figure and yet they were no more likely to report a gay identification than boys surveyed in a national sample with predominantly straight parents. If the absence of strong male role model generates same-sex attraction, the effect should show up in this sample.

I need to add that the group of lesbian parents represent a convenience sample and may not be representative of all lesbian parenting. Even so, the fact that boys raised in these homes displayed no behavioral indication of the effect predicted by reparative therapists is worth noting.

I assume these researchers will continue to follow these families and the results may shift more in line with reparative expectations. However, at present, this study is a challenge to the classic reparative theory.

Gartell, N. K., Bos, H. M. W., & Goldberg, N. G. (2011). Adolescents of the U.S. national longitudinal lesbian family study: Sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual risk exposure. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1199-1209.

For more on this study, see this post. I should also make clear that this post is not intended to be a comprehensive review of this study. I am here highlighting one aspect of it. There are many findings of interest, including the results with girls which indicates  that girls are more likely to engage in same-sex sexual behavior.

International Healing Foundation comes out?

Or something.
Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation has re-invented itself as a LGBTQU (U for unwanted) organization on a new website called Coming Out Loved.
On Coming Out Loved, gay affirming people can find a page full of LGB resources as well as an apology from Cohen:

We at IHF wish to offer a sincere, heartfelt apology to everyone in the LGBTQ community who may have been hurt by our message of “change.” As the director of IHF, I apologize and ask your forgiveness. I did not realize that by stating, “Change is Possible,” some would be offended. That was the furthest thing from my heart and mind. To think that our message of “change” would cause further pain to LGBTQ youth and adults is painful to imagine … I am deeply and profoundly sorry.

Really? Is this a sign of the apocalypse?
Whatever it is, I doubt it is going very far. The website also has the old references to same-sex attraction being caused by environment and family background, and to treatment to resolve “unwanted same-sex attraction.” NARTH’s protocol for change therapy is there along with the old list of reparative therapists for referral. Cohen is still offering his book Coming Out Straight, one of the most direct promotions of the change paradigm ever. Moreover, Chris Doyle is speaking this weekend at the NARTH conference, along with a speaker who promotes criminalization of homosexuality.
Perhaps I am cynical, but the changes just look like business as usual along with a parody of gay affirming therapy.

 
 
 
But then again, in the promo video for the new attitude, there is a rainbow flag. (Note the flag circled in the screen cap to the left).
 
 
 
I am looking forward to seeing reaction from AFTAH, PFOX, Liberty Counsel, JONAH and the like.
Seriously, if the IHF crew want to be taken seriously, they need to explain more about how and why they are expecting people to trust them. Also, if the same touch therapy and pillow beating protocols are on the table, then taking a neutral stance is still not enough to address concerns about their work.
 

OneNewsNow distorts Karten sexual orientation change study

Dog bites man. OneNewsNow distorts sexual orientation research.

In a great example of why I hope Janet Porter’s prayer to take over the media is never realized, OneNewsNow distorts the import of Elan Karten’s doctoral dissertation research reported recently in Journal of Men’s Studies.

Here is the OneNewsNow title:

‘Orientation’ change efforts effective.

Here is a statement from Karten and Wade (p. 86):

The purpose of the study was not to replicate findings from prior research or establish the efficacy of this treatment.

Now the way NARTH discusses the study, one might think replication of prior change research was the intent, but it was not a study that was designed to “establish the efficacy” of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). Rather, the authors surveyed 117 men who were trying to change and asked them what seemed to be working in their quest. It was not an outcome study and there were no follow up interviews with any of the subjects.

OneNewsNow says this:

Researchers at Fordham University have released a study showing that homosexual men can change their “orientation” by developing healthy, non-sexual relationships with other men.

As noted by the article, the study did not demonstrate change via any mechanism nor was the stated intent of the study to establish this finding. The study was not designed in such a way that change could be verified. Karten recruited participants from Journey Into Manhood participants and from therapists who conducted change therapy. The subjects were only required to have some same-sex attraction, meaning that we do not know how many, if any, exclusively homosexual men were in the study. There was only one measurement of sexual attraction via the survey with no follow up measures. Thus, change was not really measured, in that there was no pre-treatment or post-treatment assessments. Participants were asked to rate how helpful various interventions had been and various characteristics relating to masculinity.  Nothing causative can be inferred from any of the reported correlations.

There are several problems with the study which make any interpretations of findings speculative but I will return to that in a future post. For now, it is clear that the Karten article contradicts the reporting of OneNewsNow.

This is not the first time OneNewsNow has skewed facts regarding sexual orientation research. For instance, when the APA sexual orientation task force reported findings in August, 2009, OneNewsNow reported uncritically the incorrect view that the APA recommended that evangelical gays should change churches to join affirming groups. In my blog at US News and World Report, I pointed out that OneNewsNow refused a request to correct the record. In fact, when I called to point it out, the reporter hung up on me.

So when Janet Porter prays that Christians take over the media and that CBS should be the Christian Broadcasting System, I cringe. OneNewsNow is owned by the American Family Association, one of the sponsoring organizations for the May Day 2010 taking place this Saturday. In the program for that event, this prayer is offered for the media:

Media

-Repent for how the media has turned its backs on God and the truth.

-Repent for how they have become activists for evil.

-Invite God back into the media to guide and direct reporting in a truthful way. 

As noted in this video and the above prayer, Mrs. Porter proposes that truth will be served if Christians reclaim media. Well, I am all for truthful reporting. However, this OneNewsNow report demonstrates how beliefs about the truth can lead to inaccurate and biased reporting. To me, doing media Christianly at least involves getting all the facts and reporting them accurately, whatever the story might be.

Reparative shake up in Northern Ireland

Yesterday, Alan Chambers posted about a trip to Belfast in order to speak about his newest book, Leaving Homosexuality. In the post, he disclosed that the two men hosting the series (note: according to Dr. Davidson, the recent sessions of Bergner and Chambers are hosted solely by Core-Issues), Michael Davidson and Paul Miller have

broken ties with Mr. [Richard] Cohen and neither utilize or endorse his practices. 

This would be a change for Dr. Miller since he is quoted on Richard Cohen’s website with a glowing endorsement about Richard Cohen’s “counselor training program.” On Cohen’s website Miller says: 
The Counselor Training Program was delivered in an event co-sponsored with ABEO, JONAH and IHF in Northern Ireland. People attended from all over the world (UK, Ireland, Israel, Egypt, Estonia, Germany, Lichtenstein), and the outcome of the training was an amazing equipping for these professionals to work in an evidence-based way with people seeking to change their sexual orientation. It was one of the best training events I have ever attended: clear, evidence-based, stimulating and pragmatic.

         Paul W. Miller M.D., BCh, BAO, DMH (Belfast), MRC Psych

         Consultant Psychiatrist

         Managing Director, ABEO

In 2007, Paul Miller hosted a healing workshop and training session in Belfast (the brochure remains on the Core-Issues website). Then in 2008, Miller was embroiled in controversy surrounding remarks about him by then MP, Iris Robinson. At that time, he described Cohen’s 2007 workshop as “very valuable.” More recently, journalist Patrick Strudwick reported on alleged sessions with Miller. Charges filed over that event will apparently be heard this month by the General Medical Council there. Meanwhile, Dr. Miller has removed his website (www.abeoonline.com) from view. Prior to the recent removal, he advertised a link to Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation (archived copy). Note there that he offered trainings in collaboration with IHF.
ABEO also provides training to those professionals working in the area of unwanted SSA. Through links with NARTH, JONAH, the International Healing Foundation and a number of international experts we are seeking to spread evidence based skills that will help professionals working in this area.
Miller once served as NARTH’s UK representative but appears to have stepped down from that position as he is no longer listed on the NARTH website. I have asked Dr. Miller for additional description about this change and will provide any statement he gives.
Additional note: in contrast to the statement that Core-Issues does not endorse the practices of Richard Cohen, their website does offer his two books, Coming Out Straight and Gay Children, Straight Parents.

CNN, Richard Cohen and California dreaming

More later, but here is the CNN episode which discusses the CA law which once required study of factors which might lead to homosexuality.

Cohen quotes the ACP sheet that I just critiqued…

It must have been a very slow news day for this story to make CNN. The law involved has apparently not been used and is an anachronism. Even if it stays on the books, I suspect the CA legislature would grant about $1 to fulfill it. Pointless.

UPDATE:

CNN follows up with Clinton Anderson. Kyra Phillips says she supports gays and makes an good call for civility.

Incongruence on UK ex-gay website

Last week, a British ex-gay group, Core Issues, hosted an ex-gay conference in Belfast, NI. One of the people involved with Core Issues is Paul Miller, a psychiatrist who was identified in 2008 by NI member of parliament Iris Robinson as a psychiatrist who works with gays to help them go straight.

Now Dr. Miller is facing more scrutiny due to a complaint from journalist who posed as a client and then wrote about the therapy experiences with Miller. The General Medical Council is hearing the complaints. The Independent article is here and Dr. Miller’s work is referenced as “David” in the article and conducts the therapy over Skype.

My intent is not to reflect on Miller’s problems. He is a devotee of Richard Cohen and the UK representative of NARTH. As such his methods and views are predictable. What I want to point out is that the website Core Issues has a link to the Sexual Identity Therapy Framework. I have asked them to remove the link and they have not answered my requests. I want to make it public that the SIT Framework contradicts the rest of the website and is not there by the permission of Dr. Yarhouse or me.

Given the links to NARTH and involvement of Miller, it is hard to understand links to the other resources including ours. Andrew Marin’s book is featured prominently as is Yarhouse’s Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity. In the SIT Framework, we specifically mention Richard Cohen’s book, Coming Out Straight as an approach which is inconsistent with the framework. Explaining a client’s experience as being a reparative drive is something we discourage as well.

There are two broad paradigms in sexual identity ministry – change and congruence. The change paradigm sees homosexuality as a treatable disorder and encourages the use of therapy and religion to change orientation. The congruence paradigm takes no strong position on what causes homosexuality. Change is not the objective but congruent living with a chosen value position. The website Core-Issues is a collection of references and resources which include both models. They certainly are free to put anything on a website which is public domain but I am also free to point out that the SIT Framework is within the congruence paradigm and inconsistent with most of what was described in the Independent article as well as what seems to be the focus of the Core-Issues organization.

Uganda: Caleb Lee Brundidge on the criminalization of homosexuality

During the Family Life Network conference on homosexuality in Kampala, questions were asked on a variety of topics. Criminalization came up via a question to Caleb Lee Brundidge. The conference speakers had an opportunity to address the topic via the questions asked, even the subject was not a part of their prepared remarks. Here you can hear the question and Mr. Brundidge’s response.

I am not sure what Mr. Brundidge is recommending here. He seems to laud the Ugandans for having “a standard” but notes that people are afraid to come out. This question might have caught Mr. Brundidge by surprise. His answer seems to come down on the side of criminalization if a person is “caught in the act.” However, much later, his mentor, Richard Cohen said he would not have sent Brundidge to Kampala if he understood the purposes of the conference.

Even though Brundidge notes a possible problem with criminalization, he provided inaccurate and misleading information to his audience. He could have taken a strong position against criminalization and for freedom of conscience. It seems unlikely that Richard Cohen’s letter has c0nnected with Ugandans the way the speakers did in March. I suspect some of those attending came away thinking that criminalization is an appropriate state response – and still may believe that approach is consistent with the teaching they heard from Americans at the Family Life Conference.

For all posts on the Family Life Network conference in March and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, please click here.

Note: Don Schmierer signed the letter sent by Exodus International to President Museveni which stated opposition to criminalization.