Richard Cohen responds to critics; apologizes for Daily Show

I just received this email from Richard Cohen, published here with permission:

March 22, 2007

International Healing Foundation

Tel. (301) 805-6111

Greetings,

I would like to address the questions that some friends have expressed in regard to some of the media appearances I’ve done recently, including Jimmy Kimmel Live, Paula Zahn Now, The Montel Show, and this week’s Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

I’ve chosen to do interviews on shows such as these in an effort to reach people who would normally never hear our message. Some of these shows have mocked me and this work. Most times though, the interviews on these and other shows have turned out in our favor. I have had wonderful opportunities to get the truth out clearly and have seen many people respond because of these interviews, seeking out healing and change through various PATH (Positive Alternatives To Homosexuality) organizations.

This week’s interview on The Daily Show was difficult. It took place in my home and office, and was the most degrading experience I’ve had in the media. I unknowingly allowed myself to be manipulated and coerced by the producer and the host. I take full responsibility for this mistake. I have learned since my interview with The Daily Show that this program treats most of the experts they interview the same way they treated me: taking bits and pieces of the interview, re-edit it out of order, and make the interviewee appear foolish.

Happily, regular Daily Show viewers—which I am not—are in on the gag and know that this is the way the show generates laughs. I have learned well from this experience to better research future interview opportunities and to be more discerning about the offers that I accept, and what therapeutic approaches I demonstrate on the air. I sincerely apologize if my decision to be on this and other interview programs has caused you any hurt or harm. Please forgive me.

Over the past seventeen years with the International Healing Foundation, I have been able to assist hundreds of men and women with unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA) realize their dreams of a heterosexual life. With all my heart, I want to help the general public understand that no one is born with same-sex attractions (SSA), and that change is possible.

There are still so many people caught in the lies of the “gay myth.” It grieves God’s heart to see His children in such situations. It hurts me too, having lived a “gay life,” and knowing the wonderful possibility of healing that truly exists, and the freedom that may be experienced when someone comes out straight. We must get our message out as often as possible. Lives are [at]stake. Lives can be changed forever.

Changing our cultural understanding about SSA and the possibility of change takes a lot of time, and a lot of skill in reaching out to major media outlets, with a well-crafted message. I am not a public relations expert and very much need the help of one. I have had to handle the media on my own. I realize now that this needs to be changed.

If you can contribute financial resources toward funding public relations and media strategizing, so we can launch a positive campaign to promote the truth about SSA and the possibility of change, please contact me. I/we need and appreciate your help in this urgent matter. I know that we can impact our culture in a positive way. However, we simply need the training and funding to accomplish this life-saving goal.

I am in this for life. Twenty years ago God called me to do this work, and I have been faithful. I will not cease. I will not sit down. I will continue to work for the freedom of all men and women who experience same-sex attractions and their loving families.

Thank you for your understanding, your prayers, and your support.

Many blessings,

Richard

Richard Cohen, M.A.

Director

International Healing Foundation

P.O. Box 901

Bowie, MD 20718

Tel (301) 805-6111

Fax (301) 805-5155

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  • http://realitycubed.blogspot.com Scott

    I pretty much expected his stint on the Daily Show would finish with some sort of fundraising letter.

    Looks like I was right.

  • Ivan

    Oh yes. He had it planned all along…

  • Michael Bussee

    Maybe if he can’t raise the funds, he can attract media attention by using Ed Hurst’s method of semantic vexing and provoking.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Attracting media attention does not appear to be the problem :)

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    If you can contribute financial resources toward funding public relations and media strategizing, so we can launch a positive campaign to promote the truth about SSA and the possibility of change, please contact me.

    What’s the matter? The “Certification” gig not working out?

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Warren, did Richard give you permission to publish his email?

  • Lynn David

    I was thinking there was some modicum of real sincerity in this letter until I got to the appeal for money. I thought Cohen was a business, not a ministry; and now I am getting confused as to just what is therapy based in fact (evidence) and ministerial work based in ??? I can see the religious motivation, but I cannot see that as that which affects substantive change.

    But then that is what many of us have been talking about all along.

  • jag

    He’s really grasping, I feel bad for him. What will he do when it all falls apart?

    Not academics.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Karen – Yes he did.

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Warren writes, in answer to my question about permission to post, “Karen – Yes he did.”

    Thanks for the answer.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Just to be clear, Randy, that statement went up yesterday. In fact, the entire page on which that statement can be found did not exist before yesterday.

    I’m truly glad Exodus has distanced itself from this particular nonsense, but in the interest of truth it needs to be made clear that your “background” info is less than 24 hours old.

  • http://nojam75.blogspot.com Norm!

    “. . . Most times though, the interviews on these and other shows have turned out in our favor. . . “

    What shows were these? Certainly not the CNN, Jimmy Kimmel, or Howard Stern shows.

    “. . . I unknowingly allowed myself to be manipulated and coerced by the producer and the host. . . . I have learned since my interview with The Daily Show that this program treats most of the experts they interview the same way they treated me: taking bits and pieces of the interview, re-edit it out of order, and make the interviewee appear foolish. . . .

    I find it hard to believe he didn’t know what The Daily Show is or what it does. Hasn’t it been on for ten years now? Also, what context would anything he had done or said have not appeared foolish? Don’t blame the media for making foolish “therapy” appear foolish.

    “. . . I am not a public relations expert and very much need the help of one. I have had to handle the media on my own. I realize now that this needs to be changed.

    If you can contribute financial resources toward funding public relations and media strategizing, . . . “

    His sucker, er, supporters could probably spend their money more wisely by simply giving him a TV with one or two months of free cable. Withholding their funding and ending Cohen’s “foundation” would probably do more for the respectability of the ex-gay movement than any slick PR firm could do.

  • Eddy

    Michael, I was drawn back into these discussions after nearly two decades away from the issues. For a time I honestly believed that I could be a bridge that could help the sides come together, dialogue and actually accomplish something together. Thanks for showing me what a waste of time this has been.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Ed – And I for one, am glad you have returned. I have been genuinely blessed by your thoughts and candid recollections of your experiences. Despite some bumps in the road, I think there are some changes taking place for the better.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ed: I also appreciate that you have been here and particularly appreciate the work you did on the “Common Ground” disucssion of last year. I had high hopes. EXODUS seemed to be getting honest about language — and we seemed so close to really DOING something to stand together against the mistreatment of gays.

    After months, I am just very frustrated, as you must be. I am frustrated with the ongoing defense of the term “ex-gay” — and with your explanation that you wanted to “provoke” or “vex” the media by using the term. Anyway I slice it, that’s not honest. You know as well as I do that it gives the impression that the person is no longer homosexual. That’s misleading and confusing, Ed, no matter how well-intentioned you may have been.

    I am asking you and EXODUS to STOP using deliberately provocative or vexing terms. If you TRULY want dialog and not just media hype, you have to be very CLEAR in your use on language — employing terms that are readily understandable to the general public in common use — not vewing or provocative.

    Let you “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”. Joe Dallas was accidentally THIS honest when he admitted (under considerable pressure) that “ex-gay does not mean ex-homosexual”. All I am asking is of you and EXODUS to match his honesty.

    I am also frustrated that Alan Chambers seems more preoccupied with EXODUS’s media image than justice and fairness. He does not seem to have ewither the “heart” or the “urgency” to speak out CLEARLY on EXODUS’s behalf — and issue a SIMPLE, LOVING, CHRISTIAN statement of non-violence and non-discrimination against gays. I have made my feelings on the matter very clear. ALl I am asking Alan to do the same. Is that too much to ask?

  • http://www.transformingcong.org Karen Booth

    Michael writes, “He (Alan Chambers) does not seem to have either the “heart” or the “urgency” to speak out CLEARLY on EXODUS’s behalf — and issue a SIMPLE, LOVING, CHRISTIAN statement of non-violence and non-discrimination against gays.”

    Michael, over the last several weeks, I have really “heard” your heart and frustration about the ways Exodus has changed from the vision you had for it 30+ years ago. Transforming Congregations, to much smaller degree, has undergone much the same in the almost 20 years of our existence. We started as a purely educational ministry, putting out a lengthy journal and frequent newsletter. It morphed into something else under the leadership of my two predecessors – getting more actively involved in United Methodist struggles and doing one-on-one counseling. My vision (and that of my current Board) is to teach churches to reach out with compassion, but also Biblical fidelity. I expect that vision will change whenever I leave and every time we have transition on our Board.

    That’s what Exodus is going through with the continuing transition under Alan’s leadership. As I already posted on another thread, he is trying to “herd cats.” When he “speaks,” he does so for 100+ very different member ministries and for 30+ years of lots of people saying lots of things and using lots of different methodologies. And then when he does respond, do the right thing and attempt to clarify – what you’ve all been asking for – you (and it was you personally, Michael) accuse him of doing PR and damage control. (Not to mention that Alan’s also under the oversight of a Board of Directors who I imagine have some say in setting policy.)

    Just using your above statement as an example – I don’t think Exodus can (or should) issue a “simple” statement about non-discrimination. (Non-violence, yes. That is always wrong.) But my own stance – already admittedly NOT well thought out – is that I think LGBT persons should not be discrimated against in housing and employment. But NOT if their rights infringes on another person’s religious rights.

    Many Christians I talk to would not want to rent to gay or lesbian couples – or to non-married heterosexual couples either. They feel that it would compromise their morals and faith because they would be enabling someone else’s sin. (And they also tell me they might relent if there were no other housing options available.) Now you can disagree with any or all of that, but I use it as an example of the complexity of dealing with gay rights within the conservative community. It’s not all cut and dried.

    Yes, the Exodus family needs to hear your concerns and respond as faithfully as we can without compromising our goals and mission. But I don’t think many of you are being realistic about your personal expectations of Alan.

  • Michael Bussee

    Karen: You said, “just using your above statement as an example – I don’t think Exodus can (or should) issue a “simple” statement about non-discrimination. Non-violence, yes.” Your point is well-taken. Non-discrimination may be too much (and too complicated) to ask.

    And, yes, I did “accuse” Alan of doing “damage control” — and I stand by that. I think it was needed. ALL organizations need to from time-to-time. I am not upset with him for distancing himself from Cohen, NARTH or PFOX. They deserved it. And it took real moral courage to do it.

    How about a compromise?I am willing to leave out “non-discrimination” item if the non-violence statement could be issued. How about I give them another six months or so? I think that might be enough time to herd the cats — at least on an issue about which Jesus has ALDRADY issued a public statement — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…”

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Many Christians I talk to would not want to rent to gay or lesbian couples – or to non-married heterosexual couples either. They feel that it would compromise their morals and faith because they would be enabling someone else’s sin.

    as compared to

    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

    Sigh. Yet again “Christianity” trumps Christ.

    If I read your comments correctly, Karen, it seems that you think that gays should not be discriminated against in work or housing… except for by Christians. Is it any wonder that many people today think the word “Christian” means “hateful and cruel”?

  • Mark R. Urick

    Wow, YOU and Richard call yourselves Christians. Tell me where in the Bible does JESUS ever condem anyone? I went though about three or four EX GAY Crap Ministries and it wasn’t until I crossed over that Imaginary Line and accepted MYSELF as being GAY, that I was at peace and No longer confused. This happened to me back in 1989. Today, I am 54, Jewish, born again Christian and GAY. Richard doesn’t have a Phd in Counseloring, nor does he even know what he is talking about. I cannot speak for anyone else on this planet, but I believe God made me Gay. I have friends who are GAY and they come from homes with a Male and Female parent who are still together so his theories are NO Valiate at all.

    Today, I do not go to Church, but I believe in GOD and I know that MY God is so much MORE than the Christian EX GAY GOD that these people preach.