Exodus makes public statement regarding Richard Cohen

This statement was posted this afternoon on the Exodus International website:

Statement on Richard Cohen

Exodus International does not endorse the work of Richard Cohen or the methods utilized in his practice. Some of the techniques Mr. Cohen employs could be detrimental to an individual’s understanding of healthy relational boundaries and disruptive to the psychological and emotional development of men and women seeking clinical counsel and aid.

UPDATE: Alan Chambers has resigned from the PFOX (Parents & Friends of Ex-gays and Gays) board.

25 thoughts on “Exodus makes public statement regarding Richard Cohen”

  1. This is a very good conversation, I have enjoyed seeing the various viewpoints.. while this is a bit off topic I did want to address a statement made by Michael Bussee.. ” “Therapy” means “healing” — and that’s what all ministries are really called to do, isn’t it?” According to Webster, therapy means ‘treatment’ not healing or cure. As a director of one of those cats that Alan is herding I would like to say that I know of no one but the Holy Spirit who can heal.

  2. Mary – I agree that Alan is doing well giving the herding cats nature of Exodus. I would contest however, that Exodus and NARTH’s moves are in some way equivalent. Exodus made a plain statement on their website, with clear intent and focus. NARTH simply removed references to Mr. Cohen with no statement or explanation. While I commend them for acting, one cannot say, they moved without others. It seems to me that they are following rather than leading on that point at least.

  3. While both sides argue as to the best way to handle eachother – let’s remember that there have always been and will always be good people and bad people in any organization, movement, industry, religion, neighborhood etc…

    Blaming Alan for all the bad in ex gays or religious people is foolish. As well, holding Cohen out there as an example of all reparative therapists is foolish. Alan is doing an excellent job at handling some of the strange ideas and actions of other “ex gay” groups and ministries. And Cohen has been removed from association with reputable reparative therapist and ex gay organizations.

    Keeping in mind that all kinds of social groups, ideas, religious actions etc… go through changes and growing pains. School boards have removed unsavory characters who appeared genuine at one time. Businesses and industries install new procedures for hiring and employee review as conflicts arise. Families renegotiate what their roles and responsibilities are going to be to one and other continually. That Exodus International & NARTH have moved forward without others is a breath of fresh air. It shows integrity and genuine concern for their passion – to help others who are dissatisfied with same sex attraction.

  4. As the mother of two gay sons, the reality of hate is always in the back of my mind. Last week one mentioned about his house ‘getting egg’d’ and although my heart skipped a beat from fear, I teased with him that if they only threw two eggs the vandals must have been throwing them randomly. When our own house would be egg’d and worse, our church leaders would respond with “What do you expect!” Such attitudes eventually made our daughter comment that “If such behavior is “Christian”, do I really want to associate with such people?”

  5. Perhaps it was on another thread, but someone recently commented that while Christians SHOULD stand against violence and hatred, they should not be forced to hire gays or rent to them.

    Let’s take this one step further: Christians should not be forced to hire or rent to ANY sinner! That way, all of their business and apartments could be nice, quiet, morally pure and EMPTY. “Sinners need not apply”.

  6. Ann: I believe that, too. God has wonderful things in mind for us all. For example, isn’t it remarkable that we have this forum to discuss our differences — and our common faith? No place else like this, huh? Thanks, Warren, for providing the space.

  7. Thank you, Ann. That means a lot to me. I am still reeling from the experience, but I know the that I am also blessed — one of those who “mourn and shall be comforted.” 🙂

  8. Michael,

    I am sorry from the bottom of my heart that both you and your friend had that unconscionable experience. I think that a statement of non-violence should be public policy for everyone and there should be very dire consequences by law to those that violate it.

  9. Any time, Karen. You seem like a very good woman. I appreciate your viewpoint, too. Losing a friend and nearly losing my own life to a random act of anti-gay violence has left me with a sense of urgency about this matter. I do not mean to be MEAN, just passionate and persistent. I apologize for my impatience and snarkiness. Truth is, you tend to feel more urgent when it happens to you. I am also worried that it could happen to anyone — for reasons of religious faith OR sexuality.

    We all need to stand united against THAT. I know EXODUS is — I just would feel a whole lot better if they said so and soon. For now, I will lay off the issue, let the Cohen dust settle and give EXODUS some time (say until the end of Summer?) for the thought to sink in and for EXODUS to do the compassionate and just thing.

  10. Michael,

    I had no assumptions about you at all and was not sure that there were any such wesites, but if there were, was just wondering if you felt it would be a good idea to put the same kind of statement up. I appreciate you writing that you would.

  11. Ann: First let me say that I am not a leader or member of ANY “pro-gay” organization. And, unlike Alan Chambers, I am certainly not the leader of any “international organization with over 100 affiliates.” I am only an individual, Christian, Gay man — asking that “Christian” ministries ACT that way.

    But, in answer to your question, I think it would be a GREAT idea to post such a statement on what you call “pro-gay” sites — although I think the gay “community” has made it’s position on hatred and violence ABUNDANTLY clear. To date, and to their shame, EXODUS has not.

  12. Karen: By “alpha dog”, I only meant that I wanted to see Alan take the moral LEAD on this anti-hate/non-violence issue — to spear-head a drive to adopt an “official” EXODUS policy — and to see him strongly urge the “affiliates” to endorse it. Is that REALLY too much to ask of the HEAD of an International “ministry” that claims to “love the sinner but hate the sin”? It’s astonishing to me how fast EXODUS leaders CAN move — when it fits their agenda or the PR heat is on.

    When Alan learned of my friend’s murder and my stabbing, his response seemed rather non-chalant to me — something like “I’m sorry about what happend to you and your friend, but sometimes bad things happen to people…” I was UNDER-whelmed. It was hardly a soul-felt expression of Christian sympathy, let alone a strong, public condemnation of anti-gay hatred.

    I even offered to send him a BLANK sympathy card for EXODUS leaders to sign and send back to me — so that I might feel that the organization I helped create actually gave a damn. It might have meant something to my dead firend’s grieving mother. I know it would have meant a lot to me. It reminded me of when the Calvary Chapel minister backed out at the last minute — and refesued to do Gary’s funeral when he learned that Gary had died of AIDS. That “leader” gave the lame excuse that “he didn’t want to give the impression that he endorsed the gay lilfestyle”.

    Alan’s slowness on the anti-hate/non-violence policy felt similar. It left me wondering if he would have been equally non-chalant if an “ex-gay” or EXODUS leader would have have been targeted for violence — just because someone thought he or she might STILL be gay… Do you think he might send YOU a card?

    EXODUS can certainly issue OTHER “public statements” with some speed — when they think the issue is “urgent”, when they have the “heart for it” — or when their butt is in a sling because of some stupid and hurtful thing NARTH, or Cohen or some unruly “affiliate has done or said that casts EXODUS in a bad light.

  13. Michael,

    I know I mentioned this before – do you think it would be a good idea to post a similar statement on pro-gay sites that states their position of non-violence and fair treatment for all people?

  14. DanieL: I am aware of the “Allies, Too” position on non-violence and have commended Alan for it. The trouble is the your average uniformed reader, clicking onto the EXOUDS website, could have searched for days to find’s EXODUS’s official position on Hatred and Non-violence.

    On the other hand, you could quickly find out that they thought all Hate Crime LAWS should be abolished — and that such laws were only “tools to crush Christian evangelism.” You would only be able to discern that EXODUS was aganist Hate Crime LAWS — not HATE. Their politics were more pronounced than their morality. I looked everywhere and could not find such a astatement.

    Since there ARE “ministries”and “scientists” out there that DO endorse bullying and hatred, I wanted EXODUS to stand out as a shining example of the Golden Rule. Such a statement should be UPFRONT and easily accessible on the FRONT PAGE of the EXODUS website. No one should have to hunt for it. That is what I have been asking for — with mainly excuses and no results to date. I pray that they will do it soon.

    Let me make it clear — I have NEVER believed that EXODUS advocated violence or hatred. I helped create EXODUS. I know better. I just want them to make it OBVIOUS to anyone who looks up “EXODUS” that EXODUS stands against violence and bullying — and FOR the Golden Rule. It would be the “right thing to do” — and not bad for their public relations problems, either. 🙂

  15. Hi Michael … Sorry, pronoun confusion again. By “you” I meant “all you who post on this blog.” I’ll try to be more clear in the future.

    I may have been presumptous comparing Alan’s role to “herding cats.” But I don’t think the Exodus family would be well served by an Alpha-dog approach either. I’d be interested in hearing Alan’s perspective on this.

  16. Michael,

    I believe Exodus has already done something like that, through an annual event called “Allies, Too”.

    Exodus International has a branch known as “Exodus Youth” that promotes this event. which is designed to work in tandem with GLSEN’s “Ally Week” . “Allies, Too” affirms a doctrine of non-violence on school campuses, but does so in a fashion that allows people to echo their agreement on the singular focus of “Ally Week” (presumably, non-violence and nothing more) without having to compromise their conscience by affiliating themselves with an organization that supports a much more wider and aggressive social vision.

    Much of the protest from members of “Ally Week” would claim that one is not a true “ally” unless one is in support of all that GLSEN and their kind envision for society. But of course, if non-violence is genuinely the issue of real concern, it’s not clear why disagreement on that matter should elicit opposition against additional support for the more immediate need to end violence on schools, no?

  17. Karen: I am a bit confused. I do not recall ever asking Alan “to publicly make the dinstinction between therapy and ministry”. Please cite where I did. Personally, as both therapist and Elder, I don’t think there really IS such a clear distinction. “Therapy” means “healing” — and that’s what all ministries are really called to do, isn’t it?

    As to Cohen, I don’t think I am being ureasonable to call what Alan is doing “damage control”. Honestly Karen, what would you call It? Actually, think he needs to do it. It’s part of his “cat-herding” responsibilities! I am not criticizing him for that.

    And I didn’t ask him to do it. He did it all on his own, without any pressure from me. He did it because it was “urgent”. It was the right thing to do. I get it. All “movements” have to do damage control from time to time. 🙂

    As to Alan’s cat-herding skills, it must be tough with all the unruly ministries, but that is not my concern. That’s the price of leadership. I just want him, on behalf of EXODUS, to issue an official, simple, CHRISTIAN statement of fair treatment and non-violence towards gays. Maybe instead of herding cats, he should be more like the canine Alpha male — and take the lead.

  18. Here’s how I see it.

    First of all, Alan Chambers is trying – and I think successfully – to “herd a bunch of cats.” One-hundred-plus-and-counting member ministries. He’s attempting to crystallize, clarify and communicate what we ALL do – not just the national office in Orlando. That includes thirty plus years of lots of folks making lots of statements and practicing lots of different methodologies. (Oh my gosh, that’s the definition of a “movement!”)

    You asked Alan to publicly make the distinction between ministry and therapy. By addressing the Richard Cohen situation he’s doing that. And guess what? He’s then accused of doing PR and damage control.


  19. The EXODUS statement about Cohen gives me some (very small) hope that EXODUS can and will issue an “official statement” (1) if they have the “heart” for it or (2) if they feel the matter is “urgent” enough to attend to. Non-violence and fair treatment of gays is obviously low priority compared to PR disasters and damage control.

  20. Jag,

    I too have concerns about Exodus’ website. It is the first point of contact for many of those seeking their assistance (or the parents or pastors of gay people).

    Alan claims that they have about 400,000 contacts per year. With this volume, one would think that their website and its content would be of utmost importance. Surely before going on a television shoe to drum up more attention, you’d want the site these viewers click on to accurately reflect your beliefs.

    If nothing else, you’d want your mission statement, your position on homosexuality, and your FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) to be factually correct and to accurately present what you have to say.

  21. If only exodus can now come to terms with the inadequacies of their own views…for example, as stated on their website: (http://www.exodus.to/content/view/284/52/)

    “It is somewhat comforting to know that the biological aspects of man play little to no role in the development of homosexuality. If a biological basis could be found, that would have major implications for the handling of the homosexual person, first, it might be possible to treat homosexuality through drug or other therapy.”

    There is just no way they are a scientifically respectable organization with statements such as these.

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