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October 6th, 2010
05:37 PM ET

Christian group pulls support for event challenging homosexuality

CNN's Dan Gilgoff filed this report:

A national Christian organization will stop sponsoring an annual event that encourages school students to "counter the promotion of homosexual behavior" because the event has become too divisive and confrontational, the group's president told CNN on Wednesday.

"All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they'd like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not," said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, the group that sponsored the event this year.

Called the Day of Truth, the annual April event has been pushed by influential conservative Christian groups as a way to counter to the annual Day of Silence, an event promoted by gay rights advocates to highlight threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

The Day of Truth, held on the same day as the Day of Silence, "was established to counter the promotion of homosexual behavior and to express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective," according to a manual for this year's event published by Exodus International.

On the Day of Silence, students take a "a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools," according to a web site run by the event's sponsor, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

The Day of Silence began in 1996. The Day of Truth started in 2005 and attracted the participation of 6,000 students nationwide this year, Chambers said.

"I thank Exodus for making this very important step," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard on Wednesday after hearing of Exodus' decision. "The Day of Truth was an effort to push a very specific set of opinions about homosexuality into schools in a way that was inappropriate and divisive."

On the Day of Truth, middle and high school students are encouraged to wear Day of Truth T-shirts and to distribute cards that say "It's time for an honest conversation about the biblical truth for sexuality," according to Exodus' manual for this year's event.

"I don't think it's necessary anymore," Chambers said of the event on Wednesday. "We want to help the church to be respectful of all its neighbors, to help those who want help and to be compassionate toward people who may hold a different worldview from us."

Chambers said that Exodus International - which promotes "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ," according to its website - has not changed its position on homosexuality but has reevaluated how best to communicate its message.

An expert in evangelical responses to homosexuality says Exodus' decision is likely to be criticized by some conservatives.

"This is a very significant move, a very real break," said Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College. "Some will say that simply naming sexual orientation provides legitimacy for homosexuality."

At least one major Christian group, Focus on the Family, stood by the Day of Truth on Wednesday.

"Without question, Day of Truth is a loving and redemptive way students of faith can express their views positively in response to GLSEN's Day of Silence which only presents one point of view," Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family, said in a statement.

"In contrast to the whole idea of 'silence,' Day of Truth has encouraged students to exercise their free speech rights and have an open dialogue while respectfully listening to others," Cushman said.

The Day of Truth was started by the conservative group Alliance Defense Fund, Chambers said, but the group transferred primary responsibility for the event to Exodus this year.

Chambers said he contacted Alliance Defense Fund last week about his decision and that it's unclear whether that group will continue to sponsor the Day of Truth.

"As the organization leading the event, Exodus International is free to make decisions they deem best regarding the event," the Alliance Defense Fund said in a statement Wednesday.

"Contrary to comments by GLSEN falsely labeling the Day of Truth as 'inappropriate and divisive,' the event was always about the right of students to peacefully express their point of view on the subject of homosexual behavior," the statement said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Culture wars • Homosexuality • Schools

soundoff (930 Responses)
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  2. J.W

    Wow how did I get all the way back to this article?

    March 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  3. Annant

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    March 2, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  4. gregory michale

    I came across a new book called There Is Only One Hell

    Available at http://www.thereisonlyonehell.com

    It chronicles two criminals and their conversion to Islam and subsequent soldier's of Islam

    The book teaches the basic tenets of Islam which in essence is peace through violence and the global community to Islam.

    Each christian should read this book or be at least familiar with the goals of Islam and just not rely on the news media which does not routinely address this topic.

    So, we as christians know our faith, we should learn what Islam teaches because it at first teaches peace until in power when they act in violence.

    Thank you.

    November 26, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  5. nonogo

    What pray tell is "biblical tolerance and grace"? The Bible talks a lot about grace but its examples sure don't show much tolerance.

    November 22, 2010 at 8:22 am |
  6. passerby

    As I quote one of the posters (namely hal9thou) "Christianity is coming to an end, slowly but surely."

    No, Christianity as the world sees it is coming to an end. Christianity as the way Jesus Christ want it to be will continue. There is a difference.

    I am not Christian but I believe in tolerance and "Love thy neighbor".

    October 25, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  7. Kate

    When you have to put an adjective in front of the word truth (ie biblical truth), you are admitting it's not really truth.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  8. sedreck fields

    Next year Jesus Christ is coming for ME!!!!!!!!

    October 25, 2010 at 7:11 am |
  9. sedreck fields

    Come Lord Jesus Christ I will WAIT FOR YOU!!!!!

    October 17, 2010 at 5:56 am |
  10. Carol

    Good for you Exodus! Wow, if you start to read the comments, you have to scroll to the end! I'm glad to see that there is a sprinkling of good along with the bad!

    October 14, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  11. sedreck fields

    Hey too people that say why do I think Jesus Christ is coming back NEXT YEAR IS THAT OBAMA IS THE ANTICHRIST!!! You see obama is making the jews and muslim sign a PEACE PACK!!! And if you a true FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST YOU WILL KNOW THAT IS THE BIGGEST SIGN THAT THE RAPTURE IS COMING!! BECAUSE ALL TRUE CHRISTIANS MUST BE OUT OF HERE BEFORE THE PEACE PACK HAPPEN!!! P.S IF YOU NOT LOOKING FOR JESUS CHRIST TOO COME BACK THEN YOU WILL GET LEFT BEHIND!!! AND WHEN YOU SEE THAT YOU GOT LEFT BEHIND YOU BETTER NOT CRY!!!! BECAUSE I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!

    October 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • Whoa

      sadwreck,

      You don't know your left behind from your right behind. You need a kick in both of them, however.

      October 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • Amanda

      We won't know who the antichrist is until the peace treaty is BROKEN after approx. 3.5 years. This one may only be a type/shadow of another to come.

      October 27, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • Amanda

      P.S. A pre-tribulation rapture is the most popular way of thinking, but it isn't Biblical. CHRIST ONLY COMES BACK ONCE. For pre-trib theology to work, He comes back at least twice.

      October 27, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.