Why Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Trying to Crush a Small Jewish Organization?
It almost seems as if certain purported civil-rights activists think homosexuals are like some organized-crime groups: you can join the gang, but the only way you can leave is feet first.
A case in point is a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey against JONAH International -- a Jewish organization that helps people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) -- and some of its associates by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). And what is the basis for the lawsuit? As co-founder of JONAH Arthur Goldberg explained to me:
[T]he lawsuit was filed under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act alleging the commission of a consumer fraud on the unproven theory that same-sex attraction is inborn and unchangeable. Therefore, the programs and counselors to which we refer people have allegedly committed a consumer fraud because those seeking such services allegedly cannot change. Their goal is to put us (and other small organizations like ours) out of business.
Fraud? People with SSAs cannot change? JONAH's satisfied program participants say otherwise. And here are just a few of their testimonials:
- Daniel Meir Horowitz wrote in a post titled "A Long, Hard Road: How Reparative Therapy Saved My Life," "I want to shout to all those plagued by SSA who wish they were not: Don't give up. Please. Despite what you read and hear in our secular culture about the false idea that change is impossible, a ray of light might be just around the corner."
- Nathan wrote, "The insight [JONAH provided]also allows me to see this pattern [of SSA] for what it is not: the thinking that I was born this way asmany elements of society continually preach or a belief that my SSA is so ingrained that it can never be overcome."
- "Jonah Wife," whose husband's SSA had impacted negatively upon their marriage for years, wrote, "[The Therapy] really is working and since JIM [a program JONAH recommends] came into our lives we haven't had one glitch in our personal life. And that's really something to shout about!!"
But Goldberg offers more than just anecdotes. He also told me, "About two thirds of the clients referred to us report significant reductions in their unwanted behaviors and feelings. These results are consistent with other programs that utilize both spiritual and psychological work to help people seeking to change."
Given this track record, it's not surprising that those helped by JONAH are upset that pro-SSA activists are trying to squelch their freedom. As JONAH recently disseminated in an email:
A respondent who was sexually abused as a young boy reports, ...I am so tired of politically correct hate groups that do everything they claim to despise in the name of tolerance - when they tolerate nothing but strict conformity to narrow ideological dogma.... I chose to have gay change therapy."
A client who struggled with SSA for over 10 years says, "The gay movement is becoming one of the most destructive moments [sic] in history. They who want their rights acknowledged are the first ones to take away mine. I have the right to pursue whatever journey I value in life...."
Not according to the "civil rights" group the SPLC, he doesn't. They and other activists claim that SSA is inborn, and, therefore, therapy designed to ameliorate it is ineffective, traumatic and fraudulent. And they have their own anecdotes. So let's go beyond he said-she said and the here and now and examine the testimonial of time.
Homosexuality was institutionalized in Spartan military camps -- which all boys were conscripted into at age seven -- during the city state's mid and late periods. And homosexual behavior was common in much of ancient Greece. For example, we understand that the Sacred Band of Thebes warrior group comprised pederastic man-youth pairings. This raises a question: did all, or most, ancient Greeks have a "gay gene" or some other inborn cause of SSA? Logic dictates that their homosexuality was a purely psychological phenomenon (in many cases, if not most) that was culturally promoted and approved.
Now, has the human mind undergone some great transformation since the Hellenic period that would account for how SSA could never, ever be a purely psychological phenomenon today? Is it reasonable to say that it couldn't be purely psychological in even 1 out of 1000 cases? That would be a radical position.
But if it can be so, then it could be psychological in 2 out of 1000 cases, or 30, 50, or 50 percent of them, correct? So at this point -- even if we accept, for argument's sake, that SSA could be inborn or at least have inborn factors -- you'd have to admit that you really can't know which cases are congenital and which are purely psychological.
Of course, there are people with SSA who defend the inborn thesis with the claim, "I've had these feelings my whole life." This is a tendentious conclusion, however. This is not just because they're extrapolating their own experience to all people with SSA, but also because we don't have memories from prior to the age of three, four or five. So all these individuals can really say is, "I've had these feelings for as long as I can remember." And what occurs during those tender, lost-memory years can have profound and far-reaching effects.
Moreover, what is the nature of these feelings? As Goldberg points out, since young children don't have libidos and generally aren't sexual, what the individuals in question actually sense is that they feel "different." But identifying as homosexual? Hardly.
The point here is that the SPLC and other activists aren't basing their opposition to SSA therapy on reason or science. As to this, note that no "gay gene" has ever been found; moreover, theories pertaining to hormonal anomalies during intrauterine development are at best inconclusive. So this raises a question: why are these activists so opposed to SSA therapy? I doubt it's really because they think it's fruitless and will harm people in its failure.
It's because they're afraid it will succeed.
You see, the pro-homosexuality lobby has made it a dogma in recent times that same-sex attractions are inborn and cannot be changed. The idea is that if you were made that way, how can it be questioned? In fact, you will often hear pro-SSA activists say, "God doesn't make mistakes." And, no, He doesn't, but the line of reasoning here is nonetheless mistaken.
First, whether you believe man is naturally flawed or tragically fallen, it's clear we aren't born perfect. Cleft lips, spina bifida, Down's syndrome and many other congenital abnormalities attest to this, and no one refuses an infant with hypoplasia (a heart defect) surgery with the claim that "God doesn't make mistakes."
The inborn-SSA justification places us on a dangerous road, as it eliminates morality and replaces it with biological determinism. Translated simply, it asserts that if a feeling is inborn, it is okay to act upon it. But to reduce behavior to pure instinct is to reduce man to animal. Genetics does not determine morality. Consider the implications of the inborn-SSA justification. After all, the same social scientists who tell us SSA is congenital also say that sociopaths are born and not made. Now, if, further, someone was born with homicidal instincts, would this give him license to commit murder?
Yet as true as this is, it's not relevant to JONAH's activities. Those who participate in the organization's programs certainly don't believe their SSA is inborn and irremediable, and they pursue remedies voluntarily. Moreover, their testimonials bear witness to how heartfelt is their desire to live a normal life as they see it, and to how they appreciate the assistance of a group that has helped approximately two-thirds of the people seeking assistance to feel better about themselves and to reduce their homosexual feelings and/or behavior. So why should they be denied the choice to avail themselves of the therapy they so desperately want?
Yet this is what the tyrannical SPLC aims to do with an army of lawyers and its $256 million war chest, resources that, of course, JONAH can't even begin to match. And while the organization is being represented pro-bono by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund -- which has already devoted almost a million dollars in legal time to the case -- Goldberg tells me that JONAH has suffered significantly from the filing of the lawsuit. Cooperating therapists and those who struggle to overcome SSA have been intimidated. And JONAH has incurred significant costs to deficit finance additional staff, and a variety of other outlays directly attendant to the lawsuit. These are expenses it can ill afford.
But they pale in comparison to the costs of losing the suit. Goldberg warns, "It is important to note that we are simply SPLC's initial target." For sure. The SPLC calls their action against JONAH a "groundbreaking lawsuit," and breaking ground is a precursor to further development. What they don't tell you is that they will be building downwards, on broken hearts, broken hopes, broken families and broken liberties.
If you'd like to donate to JONAH and help it fight the SPLC, click here