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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “34 – JONAH”

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34 – JONAH


“A Utah student is joining three other gay men to file a lawsuit against a group performing so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ Utah’s first openly gay senator, Scott McCoy, will represent the students.

Michael Ferguson, Benjamin Unger, Chaim Levin and Sheldon Bruck all underwent therapies at a New Jersey center called Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, more popularly known as JONAH. The Southern Poverty Law Center is sponsoring the lawsuit and filling it under New Jersey’s Fraud Act, which helps protect against false and misleading business practices. The price for so-called ‘conversion therapy’ can be more than $10,000 annually.

‘Conversion therapy is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, ‘converting’ from gay to straight. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations,’ an SPLC statement read.

Locally, there are several therapists who participate in similar practices and encourage others to ‘diminish’ their so-called ‘same-sex attraction.’ One local ‘reparative’ therapist, David Matheson, charges $200 for each session and is currently on a two-month waiting list. He is touted by Evergreen International, a group of gay Mormons who try to live within their church’s teachings. While Evergreen International is not officially sponsored by the Mormon Church, its conferences and events are held in church buildings and frequently features prominent church leaders.…” (“Utah student files lawsuit against so-called ‘reparative therapy,’” Q Salt Lake, November 27, 2012)


“A community forum including professors from Brigham Young University and Weber State University will discuss so-called ‘reparative therapy,’ Dec. 11, 7 p.m., Ogden Main Library. The panel includes BYU professor William Bradshaw, WSU professor Eric Amsel and Allison Black, the chair of Ogden Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

The forum is in response to a New Jersey lawsuit challenging the controversial practice by a group called Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality. A Utah student is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.…” (“’Ex-gay’ therapy community forum planned,” Q Salt Lake, December 5, 2012)


“People who provide gay-to-straight conversion therapy are committing fraud if they describe homosexuality as a mental disorder that can be cured, said a state judge in a ruling civil-rights group predicted would deal a serious blow to the treatment’s future across the nation.

The decision by state Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. gives an edge to the four men (including one Utahn) and two parents suing Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH, accusing the Jersey City organization that promotes the treatment of violating New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

The plaintiffs — Michael Ferguson, who lives in Salt Lake City, Benjamin Unger, Sheldon Bruck, Chaim Levin, Bella Levin and Jo Bruck — claim those who went to these therapists were coerced into engaging in demeaning and emotionally damaging behavior, including having to strip naked and beat images of their mothers.…

Bariso’s decision is bound to have a far-reaching impact, said David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which brought the lawsuit.

‘This ruling is monumental and devastating to the conversion-therapy industry,’ Dinielli said. ‘For the first time, a court has ruled that it is fraudulent as a matter of law for conversion therapists to tell clients that they have a mental disorder that can be cured. This is the principal lie the conversion-therapy industry uses throughout the country to peddle its quackery to vulnerable clients.’

In his ruling last week, Bariso wrote: ‘It is a misrepresentation in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, in advertising or selling conversion-therapy services to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease (or) disorder.’…

Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund that is representing JONAH, said he remains confident a jury will side with his clients ‘who were only trying to help people.’…

Legal issues still remain when the case goes to trial this summer, Dinielli said.…” (Susan K. Livio, “Judge: Therapists who say gays can be ‘cured’ are committing fraud,” Salt Lake Tribune, February 17, 2015)

Ferguson v. JONAH trial transcript excerpts:

June 16, 2015 – Lee Beckstead, Cross-examination

Q. [1972] And also you have some negative experiences having been excommunicated from the Mormon Church you grew up in because you refused to conform your own personal conduct in public ways to their beliefs, right? 

A. Those weren’t negative experiences for me. They were very important in my life development. 

Q. But you grew up as a devout Mormon individual, correct? 

A. I did, yes. 

Q. [1973] You were formally excommunicated from the Mormon Church? A. I was. 

Q. And that was because of being publicly homosexual? 

A. It was because they saw me as an abomination and I wasn’t willing and able to do what they wanted me to do so they got rid of me. 

Q. But you still consider yourself Mormon? 

A. I do. 

Q. And you still work largely with the Mormon religious population in Salt Lake City, the capital of the Mormon Church, correct? 

A. I do, yes. 

Q. But you don’t tell young Mormon men, when they come to you conflicted with same-sex attractions, and they have these religious beliefs, you don’t tell them you were excommunicated from the Mormon Church because they thought you were – and I don’t mean to be offensive – an abomination? You don’t tell them that your church found you — and again it [1974] hurts me to say it. I don’t like the term either. 

JUDGE BARISO: Counsel, can you ask the question does he tell his patients he’s excommunicated; is that what you want to know? 


JUDGE BARISO: Do you tell your patients you’re excommunicated from the Mormon Church?

A. It depends. It depends on the course of treatment. I don’t do it at the very beginning because that would be intruding in their own space. I may down the road if they ask about it, but I don’t always tell people about my experience because I don’t want to interfere with their own — I don’t want them to model their resolution after me. 

Q. You don’t think if someone comes to you and they are a faithful adherent of the Mormon faith and they are trying to reconcile conflicts over their same-sex attractions with their religious beliefs that you should as a matter of informed consent let them know up [1975] front that you were once part of the Mormon Church and were formally removed from it?

A. I have been trained in how to deal with self-disclosure and when to be a blank slate, so to speak, and when to share something, and how to share it and why to share something.  Sometimes I do and sometimes the client, it’s not important for their work.

Q. So the answer should be no, you don’t feel necessarily that you should tell them up front as a matter of informed consent in all circumstances?

A. My profession says I shouldn’t do that up front.…

Q. [2002] By the way, North Star is a group that is affiliated with the LDS church now. It used to have a group called Evergreen, but now there is one called North Star in Salt Lake City and they will also see people, try to help people with same sex attractions? 

A. To live the LDS doctrines.

Q. You actually referred people to that group? 

A. I talked with them about going there. 

Q. But haven’t you actually referred support groups such as North Star? 

A. I refer people to lots of clients to organizations to check out what is going on and see if the organizations fit who they are and what their experiences are. 

Q. Including North Star? 

A. Including North Star.

Q. [2003] North Star exists to help people live their lives in conformity with Mormon teachings which prohibit homosexual conduct, correct? 

A. Yes. 

Q. You’re aware your client,
Mr. Ferguson, has taken a very activist position against North Star and believes they should be shut down? 

A. I haven’t kept up with Mr. Ferguson’s efforts around that. 

Q. You don’t know one way or the other? 

A. I have not kept up with –

Q. He’s never told you that he’s against, even though he was originally on the steering committee of North Star and a proponent of their work, and now he’s adamantly opposed and wants to shut them down? 

A. I know that.

June 16, 2015 – Michael Ferguson – Direct Examination

Q. [2106] Prior to first becoming involved with the JONAH program, did you try to change your sexual orientation? 

A. Yes, I did. 

Q. Again, briefly what kinds of things did you try? 

A. Sure. I went to college at Brigham Young University, which is the Mormon college [2107] in Utah, and while I was there, I went to a counselor and did talk therapy to try to become straight. I also attended — it was an Evangelical Christian group. It’s one of those groups that describes as pray the gay away about focusing on Jesus Christ. Then I also went to a twelve step group. 

Q. Michael, did any of those programs work for you in changing your sexual orientation?

A. No.

Q. But why were you doing all this work going from program to program? Why were you doing this?

A. At the time I deeply believed that my eternal life depended on marrying a woman, that’s one of the requirements to enter into the celestial community of God, which is the highest level of Mormonism.

Q. Did you, at some point, go into a Journey into Manhood weekend?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. How did you first learn about a Journey into Manhood weekend?

A. [2108] I first learned about Journey into Manhood by word of mouth.

Q. Who told you about it?

A. It was someone named Ty Mansfield.

Q. Who was Ty Mansfield?

A. Ty Mansfield was also a student at Brigham Young University. I met him through the choir program.

Q. Did Ty tell you how he knew about these weekends? 

A. Yes, Ty had gone to several Journey into Manhood weekends and also staffed them. 

Q. What did Ty tell you, if anything, about these weekends? 

A. Ty spoke extremely highly of Journey into Manhood. He said that for him it was just as sacred as the Mormon temple and for a believing Mormon to say something like that is a very big statement. He didn’t tell me anything about what happened on the weekend though. He was very, very clear that it was secret and that if he told me the secrets before I went, it wouldn’t be effective. 

Q. Did you decide to go to one of these [2109] Journey into Manhood weekends? 

A. Yes, I did. 

Q. What were your expectations going into that weekend? 

A. Going on to the Journey into Manhood weekend I expected to learn different techniques and different strategies for reducing and overcoming unwanted same sex attractions. 

Q. Did the Journey into Manhood weekend cost money? 

A. Yes, it did.

Q. How much did it cost?

A. The weekend cost $650.

Q. Did you pay that?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Michael, at this point we’ve heard a lot of testimony in the case about the Journey into Manhood weekends from other witnesses in the case. I would like to ask you just a few questions for completeness sake. 

A. Sure. 

Q. Was there something called healthy touch at your Journey into Manhood weekend?

A. [2110] There was. I don’t like that phrase healthy touch, but I know what you are referring to and yes, that did happen. 

Q. Why don’t you like the phrase healthy touch? 

A. In my opinion, it is not healthy and it’s predator. 

Q. But did you participate in something called healthy touch or healthy touch holding? 

A. Yes.

Q. Why did you do that?

A. So you have to understand that on the Journey into Manhood weekend, when I got there, I did not know any person at all. So you’re there with 60 other men. They take away your cell phone. You don’t have a car. You don’t have access to public transportation. You’re completely isolated. So the choice is either you are the one that stands out the entire weekend or you go along with it. 

Q. So you said you participated in healthy touch. Did you watch other people engaged in healthy touch holding also? 

A. Yes, I did.

Q. [2111] Did any of that healthy touch that you saw or participated in feel sexual to you, Michael?

A. Yes, it felt very homoerotic.

Q. Was there anything that the leaders of the Journey Into Manhood weekend said to you in advance of actually engaging in healthy touch?

A. Yes, some of the men of service said that, you know, it’s okay. Some of you are going to get boners, but they said not to get too caught up on it because what goes up must come down.

Q. On this weekend during healthy touch, did everyone hold each other in the same way?

A. No. There were a variety of different positions that people were holding each other in.

Q. Could you please describe for us one example of the ways in which men would hold each other during healthy touch?

A. Sure. One of the ways was there would be a leader who would sit down on the [2112] ground and they would open their legs and then one of the beginner journeyers would sit like backing up into their lap and then the leader would reach around and put their arms around their chest and hold onto them like that. 

MR. DINIELLI: Your Honor, I would like permission to show demonstrative number 26 from our deck. I have hard copies if that would be helpful. 

MR. LI MANDRI: I object, your Honor. He can describe it. 

JUDGE BARISO: Is it on here? Is it on the exhibit list? 

MR. DINIELLI: May I approach? 

JUDGE BARISO: Let me see counsel at sidebar. 

(Sidebar at this time). 

MR. DINIELLI: Thank you, Mr. LiMandri. 

Q. Can you please display demonstrative number 26. Mr. Ferguson, while healthy touch was happening in the Journey into Manhood weekend, to your recollection were there always other people around at the time?

A. [2113] Yes. 

Q. If you could take a look at this demonstrative which I believe is on your screen and tell the jury if that’s a fair and accurate representation of the hold you were just describing? 

A. It is. There are lots of different positions, but this is the one I was just describing.

Q. Michael, when you participated in health touch holding on the Journey into Manhood weekend, did that feel to you just like a hug?

A. No, no.

Q. We can put that away, please. We’ve also heard about guts work or guts processes.  Did you participate in any guts processes during your Journey into Manhood weekend?

A. Yes, I did. 

Q. Does any one of those exercises in particular come to your mind? 

A. One that comes to mind in particular is an exercise where there were about eight to ten men in the small group and one of them was [2114] selected to be the focus. He was telling us that he had been bullied and picked on very severely during grade school. So we were going to recreate that.

Q. Can I ask what did this man look like physically?

A. Sure. He was very short and that was actually one of the reasons why he had been picked on so severely was because he was so short. He was wearing a yarmulke and was wearing religious clothing, so I could tell he was an observant Orthodox Jewish man. 

Q. What were you told to do? 

A. We were given several items. We were given some rope, some duct tape, a large blanket. The first thing we were instructed to do was to take the man, to tie rope onto him and wrap it around so that his arms were bound to his body. Then we were told to take the rope, wrap it around his legs so that they couldn’t move. 

Q. I’m sorry, was he standing up at this point? 

A. At this point he was standing up. [2115] After that, we were instructed to put him on the floor so that we could like roll him into the blanket and we rolled him up so that only his head was sticking up and everything else was covered by the blanket. 

Q. And then what happened? 

A. Then after that, we were told to take the duct tape and to wrap it around the blanket as well. So he was really tied up there. 

Q. After he was tied and wrapped up, what were you told to do next? 

A. At that point we turned him over on to his back so that he was looking up at us and the rest of us stood around him and we were told to start taunting him, to start calling names at him. So we started calling names like you faggot, you queer, you fucker, sorry, you know, homo, you pussy. Just like told to think of the strongest words that we could think of and just shouting those at him. 

Q. There has been some testimony at trial that sometimes the participants offer up their own words to be used during these [2116] exercises. Did that happen in that exercise? 

A. Yes. In this exercise the leader asked him to tell us the most hurtful word that people used to make fun of him. 

Q. What was that word?

A. It was shrimpy.

Q. Michael, did you use that word? 

A. I did.

Q. What happened?

A. So at that point he started to become very emotional and the leader told us don’t stop, keep going, keep going and then that’s when he told us to start using shrimpy, so we stood around and started chanting shrimpy and shrimpy and shrimpy and pointing at him, that kind of thing. 

Q. How did this young man react? 

A. He started crying harder and harder eventually. We were told don’t stop. This is good, he needs this. Don’t stop. He needs to get in touch with his manhood. We kept shouting louder and louder at him. 

Q. How long was this young man on the ground crying?

A. [2117] It was about ten minutes. 

Q. Did he eventually break out of the blanket and duct tape on his own? 

A. No, that was one of the reasons why he was becoming more worked up because he was really struggling to get out of it, but he was tied too tightly. 

Q. While he was struggling what was the leader of the session saying? 

A. Keep going. Don’t stop. He needs these. He needs these emotions. 

Q. Did participating in the guts work process help you to become more of a man?

A. No.

Q. Did it help you develop opposite sex attraction?

A. No.

Q. Did it help you change from gay to straight?

A. No.…

June 17, 2015 – Michael Ferguson – Cross-examination

Q. [2202] You brought up yesterday you’re friends through your Mormon faith connection, correct? 

A. Yes, sir. We met through choir. 

Q. Now, prior to the JiM weekend you mentioned you had undergone various sexual orientation change efforts at various different places and with various people, correct? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. That included therapy at Brigham Young University with a Michael Buxton, right? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And you saw him for a year half first weekly and then less frequently? 

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And he was a licensed practitioner? A. To the best of my knowledge, yes.

Q. [2203] But you didn’t find that helpful because you thought Mr. Buxton was trying to impose a theory and model that didn’t fit for you, the theory being that homosexuality is caused by peer wounds and rejection by male figures? 

A. That’s been my experience with those who do reparative therapy.…

(Trial Transcript,  Michael Ferguson, et al. v. JONAH)


“Gay conversion therapy went on public trial this summer, with a cast of Mormon and Jewish witnesses testifying about the practice, including plaintiff Michael Ferguson of Salt Lake City. At trial, the Southern Poverty Law Center in the case Ferguson vs. JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing), proved what most people now understand: ‘Therapies’ that purport to change sexual orientation are a sham. They do not work, they’re unscientific and can cause serious psychological harm. They also amount to consumer fraud.

A jury in New Jersey unanimously determined that JONAH’s conversion therapy amounted to an unconscionable business practice and was consumer fraud. JONAH falsely claimed it had converted hundreds of people from gay to straight. Clients who testified for JONAH about their ‘success,’ revealed just the opposite: Despite years of effort and expense, the men generally admitted to remaining primarily sexually attracted to other men, despite sometimes marrying women. JONAH could not offer testimony from a single client whose sexual orientation had transformed through its program.…

If a group of men who are attracted to other men want to spend an intimate weekend together naked and often blindfolded or bound, then they should go have fun. But it shouldn’t be sold as part of a scientific or proven program to help gay men become straight. That’s a farce, and it’s consumer fraud.…

Give the whole picture of what is involved for many leaders and members of North Star and People Can Change who enter mixed-orientation marriages and remain active in the Mormon church. Church leaders, LGBT Mormon youth, their families, and the broader LGBT and Mormon community deserve the whole truth.

Be honest that for many affiliated with the North Star group, programs include secret nude men’s weekends in the woods and prolonged cuddling sessions with other men.

Instead of clinging to the failed experiment of orientation change efforts, our communities must embrace and support all members regardless of their sexual orientation. It is essential that, as part of this support, these bogus, harmful programs be exposed and abandoned for what they are, consumer fraud.” (Sam Wolfe, “Op-ed: Gay-conversion therapy should be exposed for what it is, consumer fraud,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 29, 2015)


“The Board of North Star International has accepted the resignations of Jeff Bennion, Chairman, and Pret Dalhgren, Board Member. Jeff and Pret informed the Board that they reached this conclusion that their continued participation on the Board may be a distraction to the organization’s central mission and continued growth. In a joint statement, they said, ‘North Star has never advocated any specific therapy, including reparative.…’” (“North Star Announces Leadership Changes,” NorthStarLds.org, September 7, 2015)


“A group of civil rights organizations are filing a historic consumer fraud complaint with the federal government on Wednesday, charging that a group purporting to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity is engaging in deceptive business practices. 

The Federal Trade Commission complaint comes from the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and it goes after People Can Change. These so-called ‘conversion therapy’ businesses try to make people ‘free from the constant pull of homosexual desires,’ as the PCC website says. 

‘Anecdotal evidence that change is possible is abundant. … But the evidence is even much more than anecdotal. In more than 50 years of research, including 48 studies we will reference here, there are data and published accounts documenting easily more than 3,000 cases of change from homosexual to heterosexual attracting, identity and functioning,’ reads the site.

But as the groups’ complaint notes, there is no reliable scientific evidence backing up these claims. Major mainstream medical groups have, however, found that there is evidence demonstrating that conversion therapy can be harmful to an individual. And the entire practice stems from the once accepted — but now discredited — belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured.

Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, said the groups chose PCC because it’s one of the most prominent organizations of this kind. They hope that by filing this first-of-its-kind complaint against PCC, it could lead to an industry-wide rule forbidding false claims about sexual orientation and gender identity far beyond this one business. 

‘Most people who are subjecting their kids to conversion therapy are doing so because they want to help them,’ Warbelow said. ‘It seems counterintuitive, but they really do love their kid. And this we hope will also dissuade them from pursuing [this course of action].’

The strategy of going after the advertising of groups like PCC is relatively new, arising from a successful lawsuit by SPLC in New Jersey. In June, a jury found that a nonprofit conversion therapy group called JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives For Healing) was guilty of consumer fraud for promising that men could overcome their sexual urges toward other men.

One man testified that JONAH had him use a tennis racket to beat a pillow and pretend it was his mother, and he said older men volunteering with the program were told to cuddle with the younger men as a way to develop healthy male relationships.

‘Our case shut JONAH down, shed light on PCC’s harmful practices, and helped develop this important action to stop PCC and others in this industry from misleading and harming more people,’ SPLC Senior Staff Attorney Scott McCoy said.…” (Amanda Terkel, “Gay Conversion Therapy Group Targeted In Historic Consumer Fraud Complaint,” Huffington Post, February 24, 2016)


“A. Overview of People Can Change and Its Unfair, Deceptive, and Fraudulent Practices 

PCC offers, markets, sells, and performs services that purport to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, commonly referred to as ‘conversion therapy.’ The practice is based on the false premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (‘LGBT’) is a mental illness or disorder caused by a developmental deficiency, trauma, and/or unmet emotional needs. Proponents of conversion therapy, including PCC, assert that addressing those underlying issues will heal the disorder and cause the person to no longer be LGBT. However, there is no competent and reliable scientific evidence supporting claims that PCC’s methods can change an individual’s sexual orientation; in contrast, there is substantial competent and reliable scientific evidence that conversion therapy, including the methods employed by PCC, is ineffective and can and often does result in significant health and safety risks to consumers of those services, as well as economic losses – exactly the types of injuries that are at the heart of the FTC’s mission to protect consumers from harm.…

B. Given the Substantial Scientific Evidence Discrediting Conversion Therapy, the Federal Executive Branch, Members of Congress, and State Governments Support Efforts to Halt the Unfair, Deceptive, and Fraudulent Practice of Conversion Therapy 

… Federal authorities at the highest levels of government, including the White House and Surgeon General, support the end of conversion therapy, citing substantial credible scientific evidence for their positions. The White House recently issued a statement recognizing the complete lack of scientific support for conversion therapy and the substantial evidence showing that it poses risks of serious harms, indicating that ‘As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.’ Similarly, the Department of Health and Human Services (‘HHS’) has voiced support for the end of conversion therapy. In an October 2015 report called ‘Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth,’ the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (‘SAMHSA’), a branch of HHS, called for federal regulatory action as one of the potential future efforts for ending conversion therapy for minors. Among its key findings and expert consensus statements, the report states that ‘Interventions aimed at a fixed outcome, such as gender conformity or heterosexual orientation, including those aimed at changing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be part of behavioral health treatment.’…

In June 2015, in the matter of Ferguson v. JONAH, five plaintiffs won a consumer fraud lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (‘JONAH’) and affiliated parties offering conversion therapy services. Richard Wyler was a witness because three of the plaintiffs were referred to PCC by JONAH representatives. However, because PCC was not a named defendant in the lawsuit, the court order enjoining the JONAH defendants from providing conversion therapy services does not apply to PCC, which continues to engage in the very same practices found to be fraudulent and deceptive by the court in the JONAH case.…

D. People Can Change, Inc. 

Proposed Respondent People Can Change, Inc. was founded by Richard Wyler in 2000 and incorporated as a Virginia non-profit corporation in 2002. The PCC website states that Wyler is a certified life coach, and that he ‘personally experienced enormous transformation from unwanted homosexual attractions.’ PCC markets and sells conversion therapy services including weekend programs and telephonic group therapy sessions. The weekend programs include Journey Into Manhood (JiM), co-founded by Wyler and David Matheson, a Clinical Mental Health Counselor; Journey Continues, a follow-up to Journey Into Manhood; and Journey Beyond, co-created by David Matheson and Alan Downing, a certified life coach. PCC also offers a weekend retreat called A Wife’s Healing Journey, that is ‘designed especially for wives of men who struggle with sex addiction (SA) and/or same-sex attraction (SSA).’ In January 2016, the company launched a multi-week webinar program called ‘Another Way Out,’ for ‘men who are serious about exploring how to diminish their unwanted same-sex attractions or otherwise resolve them in ways that are in keeping with their morals, values, faith and life goals.’…” (“Before the United States Federal Trade Commission: Complaint for Action to Stop False, Deceptive Advertising and Other Business Practices,” Filed February 24, 2016)


Ferguson: I want to push back a little bit.  I respect that you are asking me questions about what I feel, but these are facts.  These are facts that were found in a court of law by a unanimous jury vote, 7-to-0, a jury of peers, that making representations that these types of practices can convert you toward heterosexuality are fraudulent on their face.  Saying that you have a license in psychotherapy when, in fact, you do not is fraudulent on its face.  Offering statistics and giving commercial advertisements based on those statistics when there is no basis that held up in court at all, is fraudulent on its face.  This isn’t just, “What does Michael Ferguson feel?”  This is what has now been weighed by the judicial process and found to be lacking in integrity.…

Keep in mind that we filed this lawsuit two-and-a-half years ago.  The defense has had two-and-a-half years to find success witnesses, and the best that they found were men who still engage in frequent nudity, in constant holding, in these high-emotional relationships with other men; and, who on the stand, every one of these supposed success stories testified, under oath, that they still experienced same-sex attractions.  It got to the point where the judge finally said to the defense, “Frankly, nobody who you have presented has been a success story.  Unless you have somebody who is presenting information that is relevant to the claims of the defense and is a success story, you are wasting the court’s time right now.”…

Ferguson: BYU bishops are totally cool with that.  When members like the ward are like, “Yes, we were just cuddling and spooning and soaking as much as we could so that we overcame our attractions,” that’s not how this works! 

Dehlin: OK, but what if, for them, it does?

Ferguson: Then they should have testified to that in court.

Dehlin: What did they testify?

Ferguson: They testified that they are still primarily attracted to men, and that they have to have these exercise on a recurring basis in order to sustain the lifestyle that they have chosen.

(Michael Ferguson, July 15, 2015)

Schow: You know Sam Wolfe, and you know the Southern Poverty Law Center, right?

Prince: Yes, they just did the JONAH case.

Schow: Right, and they have plans to go further in the same vein—in other words, on gay reparative therapy and approaching it as consumer fraud.  I don’t know the legal ins and outs, but what I heard is that at least one of their next goals is to go after Dean Byrd, and through Byrd, the Mormon Church.

Prince: So how do they go after a guy who’s dead?

Schow: Well, I don’t think that’s their actual objective.

Prince: No [laughter].

Schow: But that’s more or less the way it was explained to me.  Byrd is the person who, like that Jewish guy in JONAH, was out there pushing reparative therapy and was the face of the Mormon Church.  He was a deputy at LDS Family Services, and he certainly was reprehensible in a lot of the things that he did and the promises that he made.  He was allowed to publish, in 1999, that big article in the Ensign, in which he said that parents should know the facts, and they should know that people aren’t born this way and they can be fixed.  So his tracks are certainly out there everywhere, and I imagine there are a lot of people who could testify about the damage that he did.  I’ve often said I thought he was the worst thing that was going on in the Church for at least a decade.  He was relentless and he had the ear of a lot of important people in the leadership.

Anyway, Tom Christofferson is pretty distressed, because he doesn’t want them to go after the Church.

Prince: How did he find out that that’s their next step?

Schow: I didn’t ask him that question, and so I don’t know.  I imagine people within Sam’s circle are talking about it and deciding what to do next.  I don’t know if they have made up their minds.  Sam certainly stirred up a lot through his Op-Ed a week ago in the Salt Lake Tribune.  We were making some headway in our reaching out from Affirmation to North Star, and the North Star people are really furious.  They are furious that Sam did this Op-Ed, and then they are furious that next week he is going to be one of the keynote speakers at the Affirmation conference.  Of course, there is a lot of concern in the whole North Star community and within the reparative therapy community—David Matheson, David Pruden, some of those people, and a lot of the North Star people who are hooked in with Journey Into Manhood.  What Sam Wolfe’s editorial did was to put it out there in a way that Mormon Church leadership cannot ignore it.

Prince: Good!

Schow: Yes, that’s what most of us thing.  But it sure got the Ty Mansfield’s doing everything they can to discredit Sam and to try to justify their position.  Anyway, that’s probably the big news of the past week, that Sam Wolfe Op-Ed.

(Ron Schow, September 6, 2015)