Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: JONAH Responds to SPLC Suit

A group called Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund has taken on the defense of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH) against a suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC complaint alleges that JONAH violated New Jersey’s consumer fraud law by promising sexual reorientation to clients without success. The complaint is here.

It is very discouraging to see the JONAH complaint framed as a freedom of conscience case. As the complaint outlines, the techniques alleged by the plaintiffs have been discredited within the mainstream mental health community and as such should be confronted. Please see this post on the “oranges therapy” and this one on the use of nudity by JONAH counselors.

Furthermore, it is misleading for JONAH to describe what it does in the following manner:

For over twelve years, JONAH has helped hundreds of people live the lives that they want, consistent with their personal values. JONAH’s mission is to give all people the opportunity to explore their internal conflicts around sexuality and other values in a caring, non-judgmental environment.

As I have noted elsewhere, reparative therapists are beginning to use the language of the sexual identity therapy framework to describe what they do. However, reparative therapy is inconsistent with the SIT Framework.

More on this topic:

Dr. Oz’s Reparative Therapy Adventure

Sexual Identity Therapy is Not Reparative Therapy

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: No Naked Therapy?

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: What Does Mainstream Mean?

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: When Reparative Isn’t Reparative

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  • Dave

    This is a very disturbing trend to see these organizations pretending to be SITF. What do you think it will take for non-approved psychological practices to be discontinued? ..political action?? .. legal action?? .. medical board action?? some other action??


  • Zoe Brain

    They lie. So? What’s new?

  • inca nitta


    Speaking strictly from a legal perspective: in order for the plaintiff in this case to win, they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that NO same-sex attracted person who’s been a client of JONAH can ever and has never changed his attractions to heterosexual ones, and that those who claim that have and that JONAH has benefited them (which, I’m sure, there are plenty of such supporters) are compulsive liars, also beyond reasonable doubt. I think this will be a very hard thing to accomplish.

    Also, since JONAH is a officially religious organization, most likely the state cannot control their activities, except for very special circumstances, thus, there are chances that the case might be dismissed on the lack of merits.

  • Jerry

    Gee, JONAH claims to have helped “hundreds” of people over 12 years. That’s anywhere from 16 people/year on the low end to 83 people/year on the high end. And that is not their “cure” rate, just the number of folks whom they claim to “help,” i.e., anyone who walks in their door.

  • Patrocles

    “It is very discouraging to see the JONAH complaint framed as a freedom of conscience case. ”

    I understand your emotions. But then it’s rather discouraging for me to see the SPLC complaint framed as a consumer fraud case. I mean, Marc Potok isn’t George Nader, is he? And the people Jonah believes to help are not Southern poors, are they? So, there’s a hidden angle there, anyway.

  • ken

    inca nitta says:

    December 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    “in order for the plaintiff in this case to win, they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that NO same-sex attracted person who’s been a client of JONAH can ever and has never changed his attractions to heterosexual ones”

    No, all they need to do is show that JONAH’s methods have no scientific basis to “cure” homosexuality.

    “since JONAH is a officially religious organization, most likely the state cannot control their activities,”

    No, JONAH took money from clients and promised a service (curing their homosexuality), that makes it a business not a religion.

  • inca nitta


    It’s a very fine line determining what is considered a religion and what is a solely secular business, legally speaking. Btw, the law of New Jersey does not prohibit officially religious organizations, such as JONAH, to operate as businesses, in general. I see a legal limbo, here.


    Who is George Nader? I’ve never heard this name, before, and I’m wondering what relevance does he have towards SPLC and exgay/reparative ministries?

  • ken

    inca nitta says:

    December 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    “It’s a very fine line determining what is considered a religion and what is a solely secular business, legally speaking.”

    I said nothing about “secular” business. I said it was a business, the fact that it caters to a specific religious group however, does not make it a “religion.” JONAH has no more claim to being a “religion” than a kosher deli has.

    “I see a legal limbo, here.”

    I suspect you are once again only seeing what you want to see.

  • inca nitta

    I used the term “secular” from professional jurisprudential perspective, hence I’ve said, legally speaking. The Consumer Fraud law of New Jersey mostly applies to business that are officially secular and/or that serve secular purposes. That’s not me, but that’s how the lawmakers define things. FYI, a legal limbo is a common term that lawyers use to describe the interpretations of laws that come out as multidimensional, interpretations that are very gray and not so black- and- white. What you said in your last paragraph is exactly that, a law that is pretty complicated, not a black-and-white interpretation. You see what I mean?

  • Zoe Brain

    inca nitta

    How would you describe these:

    As secular/medical, or religious?

    There are a lot of floridly psychotic people who are at the tender mercies of such organisations – often run by people equally reality-challenged.

  • Zoe Brain

    I invite you to have a look through

    We met for nearly 10 hours at the Mt Olive Free Methodist Church and conducted two intense exorcisms. I urged many of you to pray as I would be performing spiritual surgery on one of the ladies possessed, within her body nature, two literal animals–parts of animals that the cult spiritually surgically placed within her belly. One was a part of a lizard, it’s tail, scales, and fragements of it’s skin. These pieces of the lizard were cursed and placed inside of her. There was another animal part within her also, a rabbit’s foot, that had been cursed and placed within her stomach area. As you can imagine this lady has been experiencing, for many years, all kinds of stomach problems and issues. No wonder, she had animal parts within her.

    This isn’t unusual, though, the church is ill equipped on getting cursed objects out of bodies. I have seen all kinds of cursed things removed from the the demon possessed. The late German Lurtheran pastor & exorcist Blumbhardt of the 19th century writes of animals being inside the demonized (including a bat & a turtle) and being removed by the power of the cross of Jesus!

    On this victory night, a demon surfaced by the name of Jackinas who was holding into place the lizard. Melaco was the other evil spirit who held unto the rabbit’s foot. The power of Jesus is greater though and can remove cursed things from the body!

    etc etc

    Here are some of the inevitable consequences:

    Valerie Carey still was being held at a hospital, said jail spokesman Lt. Clarence Huber. Both also face charges of cruelty to children, public indecency and obstruction of police.

    The surviving children were placed with the Division of Family and Children Services.

    The two adults apparently had been transients living at the motel for an extended period, possibly through assistance from a church, Quigley said.

    If the girl was the victim of an exorcism, hers would be at least the sixth such death in the past nine years.

    On March, 8, 1995, Kyung-A Ha, 25, was beaten severely during a night-long exorcism conducted by members of the Jesus-Amen Ministries in San Francisco. Kyung Jae Chung was killed in a July 4, 1996 exorcism in Los Angeles.

    In 1997, a 5-year old girl in Bronx, N.Y., was forced to drink a mixture of ammonia, pepper, vinegar and olive oil because her mother and grandmother thought she was possessed. Gagged with duct tape, she died.

    Charity Miranda, a teenager from Long Island, N.Y., was suffocated in a plastic bag by her mother and sister during a ceremony in 1998. Terrance Cottrell, an 8-year-old, was beaten to death during an attempted exorcism in Milwaukee last September.

  • inca nitta

    As far as I know, any churches/organizations that perform exorcism are considered religious, meaning that any medical offices regulated by states do not perform exorcism, legally speaking.

    In most states, as long as exorcism or any other religious ceremonies did not involve actions that have resulted in physical harm or death, people who’ve performed them, are not being held legally accountable.

  • Zoe Brain

    The physician shared with the owner of the restaurant a fundamental Protestant religion quite foreign to John, who had been brought up as a Baptist but was not religious. The physician administered a total physical exam and said that he could live quite well as a woman, but the real problem was possession by evil spirits. After some discussion of this, John reported a session which lasted 2-3 hr and involved exhortations and prayers over John by the physician and laying on a hands on John’s head and shoulders. During this period, John reported fainting several times and arising to the continuing of the prayers and exhortations, resulting in the exorcism of 22 evil spirits which the physician called by name as they left his body. During and after this session John felt waves of God’s love coming over him but was physically drained. A letter to us, from the physician, confirmed this basic process. The physician noted in his letter that he showed John that his life was a fake and that Jesus could redeem him and that a standard prescription of Scripture readings caused the spirit of the woman in John to disappear.

    Gender Identity Change in a Transsexual: An Exorcism

    David H. Barlow, Ph.D., Gene G. Abel, M.D., and Edward B. Blanchard

    Archives of Sexual Behavior, VoL 6, No. 5, 1977

    This research was supported in part by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH-20258.

  • Jeremy

    I am praying for everyone at JONAH that this frivolous lawsuit end quickly.

    This tabloid report is another example of why this blog should not be taken seriously by anyone other than radical pro-gay activists.