Parents at Helm of JONAH Ministry Shut Down After Court Order
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays Says Parents and Families Must Have a Place to Turn for Help
For Immediate Release
January 7, 2016
Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102, or Jen Wozniak, 610.584.1096, ext. 100, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com
RICHMOND, Va.—Ministries for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender identity confusion, along with their families, were saddened by the news that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), after a highly publicized lawsuit, will close its doors later this month as a result of a court order.
JONAH leaders Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Berk announced the closure in an email to supporters to start out 2016. Both are parents of adult children who became involved in homosexuality; Goldberg and Berk started the group in 1998.
Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX, www.pfox.org), the nation’s leading advocacy organization that offers love and support to families and friends of individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion, says JONAH’s shut-down is a grave disservice to struggling families.
“It is tragic that these parents, who were working to provide a way to restore families and give those with same-sex attractions a way to find help, have been effectively shut down by those who hate ex-gays and entrap children with unwanted same sex attractions,” Griggs said. “Those who come alongside Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Berk in their ministry know that parents and families must have a place to go to deal with these very complex issues—and those avenues for help, healing and restoration are becoming fewer and fewer.”
Goldberg and Berk shared the following statement with PFOX on the closure:
“The tragic miscarriage of justice which occurred in the JONAH case reflects the near-triumph of political correctness and the gay activist agenda in the USA. We long for the day when the outcome in the JONAH case will be recognized as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in modern history. So many of the court’s outrageous pre-trial rulings, such as not allowing our six defense experts to testify, the equally outrageous rulings that calling homosexuality ‘disordered’ violates the consumer fraud act, and the ruling during the trial, which prohibited our attorney from arguing our freedom of religion 1st Amendment rights, ended any real chance for a fair trial and verdict. However, we fervently believe that the Torah’s traditional values on sexuality and the family will triumph in the end because these universal laws produce the most just societies which offer God-given truths for all humanity to follow.
“Coercive tactics that attempt to shut down choice are antithetical to a country founded in religious tolerance,” they continued. “We believe that this decision continues the erosion of religious freedom now taking place in our country. Seeking counseling is a very private and personal decision people make and should not be interfered with by government or anyone.”
Also speaking out on behalf on JONAH was the group’s attorney, Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, who was also a featured speaker at PFOX’s Safe Exit Summit conference this past October in Washington, D.C.
“It is sad that so many are celebrating the government’s power to stop willing clients from working with willing counselors to lead their lives adhering to biblical principles,” LiMandri said. “Despite the many grounds for appeal, the financial risks to my clients, who have never made any personal profit out of volunteering to help men and women troubled with unwanted same-sex attraction, made the ultimate settlement necessary. The Southern Poverty Law Center should be embarrassed at the millions its donors spent to shut down one small voluntary nonprofit in New Jersey.”
In November 2012, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit against JONAH on behalf of a few former JONAH clients and their parents, charging that the group was guilty of consumer fraud and violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, the Christian Post reported. In June 2014, a jury decided unanimously that JONAH was liable for consumer fraud. While initially planning to appeal, JONAH ultimately agreed to a settlement that requires the organization to dissolve.
JONAH practiced a form of Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) therapy. Four states, along with Washington, D.C., and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, have banned SOCE therapy for minors—even if they voluntarily request it.
PFOX highlights the stories of those who are either ex-gay or have been affected by transgender, homosexual and other sexual identity issues in their family on its web site at www.pfox.org/personal-stories and www.pfox.org/safe-exit. Some of those featured in the videos now serve as guest speakers at churches for the Safe Exit program for churches and help families as well. For details on the program, including how to invite a guest speaker to a church or how to obtain family help, visit www.pfox.org/safe-exit.
PFOX is a national non-profit organization that supports families and educates the public on sexual orientation and the ex-gay community. PFOX supports an inclusive environment for the ex-gay community and works to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against former homosexuals by conducting public education and outreach to further individual self-determination and respect for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.
PFOX believes that every person seeking positive life change needs the love and support of family, friends, the community and the church, and strives to offer a place for help, a place for truth, and a place for ex-gays to participate in the conversation about same-sex attraction. PFOX families love their homosexual children unconditionally, believing that unconditional love between them and their child is based on treating each other with kindness and respect. Each year, men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to seek help in overcoming a homosexual identity through gender-affirming programs, including counseling, support groups, faith-based ministries and other non-judgmental environments.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization with a mission to support families and educate the public on sexual orientation and the ex-gay community. PFOX is committed to supporting parents and friends of homosexuals who want help, hope and community, and exists to provide education and resources. PFOX works toward understanding and acceptance of the ex-gay community.
To interview a representative from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102, or Jen Wozniak at 610-584-1096, ext. 100, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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