Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It’s sexual abuse, but it isn’t fraud: why the JONAH case is frivolous

Sean Ewart

 So it’s finally happening: a few gay guys are suing an organization that promised to turn them straight.

To their surprise the four Jewish men left Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing as gay as they arrived – and considerably more emotionally unstable – and are looking for reparations.

But the lawsuit isn’t exactly breaking any intellectual ground.

We already know many religious organizations, including JONAH, believe that “gay” is a mental illness that can be cured. We also know the American Psychiatric Association rejected that concept 40 years ago.

The young men claim to have been defrauded by JONAH’s assertion and want to be repaid for the money they spent on the therapy and the subsequent therapy they needed after the ordeal.

But isn’t that just… bullshit?

Yes, of course conversion therapy is absolutely twisted. But religions make unreasonable statements all the time – should they be held accountable for all of them?

Could we sue the Catholic Church for the emotional distress felt by the true believer who discovers that transubstantiation is a lie?

Could we sue creationists for perpetrating bad science?

Could we sue teachers who perpetuate the Santa Claus myth when they know it’s false?

The real problem these young men – and their parents – have is that they bought into the teachings of Orthodox Judaism on homosexuality. Like Islam and Christianity, Orthodox Judaism has little room in it for the gays.

Even if being gay isn’t a mental illness, it’s punishable by eternal damnation.

Now, the lawsuit also details what appear to be clear cases of sexual abuse. Surely those are grounds for suit.

But JONAH didn’t defraud anyone, at least, not any more than every religious body ever has.

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