Mormon, Jewish Gay Men Sue “Conversion Therapy” Outfit for Fraud

Yesterday, plaintiffs backed by the Southern Poverty Law Center announced a suit accusing a New Jersey-based, religion-themed gay “conversion therapy” of violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) offered individual and group counseling sessions on a fee-for-service basis, pledging to end clients’ same-sex attraction.

Now, four former clients and two of their parents say that JONAH offered false promises based on faulty or outdated science.

Plaintiff Michael Ferguson, who is gay and Mormon, described his participation in JONAH exercises including acting out scenes of masculine self-reclamation and violence toward parents.

JONAH was founded by Arthur Goldberg, a former Wall Street executive and attorney who was disbarred after being convicted for fraud in 1989.

Especially in religiously orthodox communities, programs like JONAH and Journey into Manhood—which attracts a significant number of Mormon clients—remain sought after by young men who identify as “same-sex attracted” and hope that intensive coaching sessions will diminish or even eliminate their homosexuality.

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Joanna Brooks is the author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press / Simon & Schuster, 2012) and a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches.