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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)
  1. Lynn

    Regardless of what they have done in the past, they did the right thing here. Nice job Exodus. It takes a lot of courage to admit you've done something wrong and attempt to reverse it.

    October 7, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  2. IceT

    Many people here are applauding them doing "the right thing", all I see here is that they've stopped doing "the wrong thing". They are bowing to a decline in support for their cause to maintain membership numbers. I'm glad they've stopped but don't give them any credit, their ideology hasn't changed.

    October 7, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  3. django

    clearly the Gay Gestapo is working overtime...they pulled out because they dont want to be bullied in the court of public opinion and abused by the Gestapo lawyers...I personally have no respect for, sympathy for or interest in the Gay issues..they are tolerated never respected..you can play psychological games with these weak kneed lemmings all you like CNN but ppl see you for what you are..tolerated never repsected

    October 7, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  4. vamike

    It's about time the Christian groups started following the example of Jesus in going amoung the sinners, not condemning them, but showing love and compassion. It is God's place to judge, not ours.

    October 7, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • Barry

      That is correct vamike, the only truths in the bible are the moral lessons of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. WWJD? He would and did accept everyone. Why do Christians forget this?

      Racism, greed, poverty, bigotry, war, these things ruin countries not two men getting married. Time to wake up people. God is not coming down to judge the world, because if he/she/it was the first stop would be visiting the Christian groups protesting funerals and send them straight to hell.

      October 7, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  5. Mark

    What's interesting is that glbt group use the phrase "Day of Silence" to reflect and accurately portray their day. To reflect the fact that thousands of people that are gay need to be silent so they're not discriminated against, or bullied, or killed (yes, killed). The other side uses "Day of Truth", which isn't accurate – it's a day of "their belief". Christian truth is SUBJECTIVE. It is not truth – any more than Muslim truth, or buddhist truth (you get the idea). So right off the bat, they're mis-advertising their event. Not everyone holds the Christian belief as truth! Now this is also a belief (mine) – there's no logical reason to deny gays the ability to "marry" – we are not marrying to further the species – we marry for love! The other benefits (financial) are nice, but not the primary reason for the marriage in the first place. Of course, there are some that might marry for that same reason, just as any straight couple would. Just my 2 cents.

    October 7, 2010 at 9:08 am |
    • Mike

      Why is it necessary to redefine the definition of marriage? Why are civil unions not adequate?

      October 7, 2010 at 9:13 am |
    • Mark

      @Mike – because separate is not equal. would you want your marriage to be called a civil union? marriage as a word means something. yes, civil union does describe it, but the warmth of the word marriage is understood by all – meaning a union of two people in love that want to spend their whole life together and that each person means the world to the other. you don't have to explain what marriage is.

      October 7, 2010 at 9:19 am |
    • Mike

      Mark, Thanks for the reply. Best of luck to you.

      October 7, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  6. Robert

    Wonderful! This must be a first! A Christian group that love thy neighbor.

    October 7, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  7. Mark

    Some people that read the bible obviously don't get it. God is about love, forgiveness and comapssion. They are merely obeying one of the 10 commandments: Love thy neighbor as you would love yourself". Any individual or group claiming to be followers of Christ and do not follow this commandment are indeed sinners themselves. Like those wacko's who protest funerals holding signs that "God Hates Them", these people are attention seeking radicals who are being misled. It is also a perfect example for keeping religion out of politics. It's a matter of interpretation and these factions will be fighting amongst themselves for control, just like the religious issues of the middle east.

    October 7, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  8. Norman

    Where do all of these groups get the idea in their head that gays are a sinister movement that's trying to turn the rest of the world gay? That's such a preposterous notion, it's like they'd believe in a talking snake or something...

    October 7, 2010 at 8:58 am |
    • django

      In Atlanta, it has been made quite clear that for many Gay men and women turning a straight person gay is a trophy...so cut the crap

      October 7, 2010 at 9:15 am |
    • Conspiracy Does exist

      It is a sinister movement. It hides behind children, impose its lif estyle on children, indoctrinates children, seek punitive laws against those who disagree with their idealogy, hate God, hate the bible, attacks churches and denominations, persecute those who disagree, its orientation is grave, its acts intrisincly evil, death and tragedy follows where ever it goes, corrupts everything it touches, sins against purity...it seeks to occupy high places in govts, courts, employment, schools, medical and miilitary to dominate and impose its evil agenda...it will not stop til it infiltrates your very homes

      October 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  9. Tom

    Looks like today is gay day on CNN. There are three gay headlines on the web site this morning. Hurray! The world is simple.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:56 am |
    • Really!

      Let's throw FRUIT LOOPS confetti!
      (not!)

      October 7, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  10. Barry

    I have had enough of this, this has got to stop. There is no such thing as biblical truth because there is no truth in the bible. When are people going to realize that this book was created by man, racists elite men who used the creation of Christianity to gain control of an entire region. I am not going to state that God doesn't exist , even though he/she/it doesn't, but if he/she/it does exist this would not be his word.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:52 am |
    • ZarGoth

      Thank you for your insight– & no, there is no god....

      Just be good with that, friend.

      October 7, 2010 at 9:16 am |
    • Mike

      I served 30 years in the military to defend your right to spout your views without fear of repression or retaliation.

      However, your view is just as imflamatory to Christians as gay bashing is to gays and lesbians.

      October 7, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  11. welllduhhh

    "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,"

    duhhhh....... I can see the Spirit is really moving this guy/organization along...

    October 7, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  12. Tiffany H

    I don't suppose I understand gays. I mean it seems they want tolerance and want rights but they don't want to tolerate anyone who feels differently than them. So we aren't allowed to have differing opinions on what's right and what's wrong in this sense? And biologically heteros are normal. I don't think there's any arguing with that. The reproductive system only works one way and that's what its for reproducing. I think you respect the person and disagree with their act. That said they should have the same rights as others.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:38 am |
    • David in Cincinnati

      I agree with you, Tiffany; you don't understand gays. The many I know are entirely tolerant of the other persuasion. You also don't understand biology; gayness and hetero-ness developed together within the powerful s.e.x-ual drives evolved to amply guarantee reproduction. Both are normal. You're also neglecting the broader expression of s.e.x exploited by human beings in simple love.

      October 7, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • Mike

      Tiffany, My take away from your post is that you are seeking a civil debate rather than one side bashing the other. However, if you look at other opinions being posted on all of the news sites, there no longer is a civil debate in the social media environment. It has gotten very ugly and people are no longer showing respect for one another. I believe it is the anoymity of the electronic forum that has allowed people to be so rude and inconsiderate of others. I am not convinced that many of these people would be this bold and brash in face to face communications.

      October 7, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  13. Tim

    You can not be pro family and anti gay. Gays are part of our familes, our lives, in every way. Gays love the lord, or try to amid the hate that christians dish out. Why did Jesus never mention this issue, in 33 years he never said a thing. How about Romans 9:18 that says God in charge of hearts, and the scripture that grace is sufficient, our christian community and leadership preaches hate, not the love that Jesus taught.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  14. RW

    Thank God that a "Christian" group is coming out with some truth about what Jesus would do! As a gay Christian, I consider this to be a significant break through. I pray others will follow.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  15. JohnnyAsh

    Wow, an organized Christian group actually beginning to demonstrate Christian values.... there may be hope for the country yet...

    October 7, 2010 at 8:19 am |
    • Neal

      They are not demonstrating tolerance, they are demonstrating PR. The recent bullying and suicides expose Exodus and groups like it as hate groups that promote depression and suicide among gay kids. Their central message is unchanged.

      October 7, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  16. Jon O

    I think these wackos who are totally disconnected from reality – the ones who think the survival of the species is at risk, etc – need to be put on an island where their hateful, ignorant ways can do us no harm.

    Here's my suggestion – here's a warning, stop reading if you don't care at all about the truth.

    1) last time I checked America had tens of thousands of children in foster care, waiting for adoption. Maybe you should get off your computer, shut up, and go adopt a kid and show some actual charity and compassion? Put your money where your mouth is, anyone can hate people – hate is easy – but your absolute failure to live up to the charity and good works Christ requires makes you an absolute failure as a Christian.

    *And for those who claim that all Christians are giving and sacrificial (hahahahaha) – the plain and simple truth is that if the 60% of Americans acted in the manner in which Jesus required, our country would have no foster kids – no starving kids, no sick kids, no sick people, no starving people... etc. Something tells me there is enough wealth among the 180-200 million "Christians" to fix these problems...

    But I forgot, fixing poverty and sickness requires selflessness, charity and sacrifice.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:18 am |
    • Jon O

      2) millions of children around the world die, every year, of sickness and starvation – so not only are you failing here, you're failing around the world.

      So before you make such baseless, ridiculous statements like "the species is dying" I suggest you do us all a favor and go play on a Nascar track... that's in use... by untrained, speed demon drivers... who are blindfolded.... and you're tied to a post... a post that somehow would do no damage to the innocent Nascar driver who doesn't share your lazy, ignorant, hateful worldview.

      October 7, 2010 at 8:21 am |
  17. Kristin

    I often wonder if we could tell if a child was going to be gay in the womb, like how we can now tell if a child has certain illnesses before they are born, which would these radical Christians choose, abortion or having a gay child.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:17 am |
  18. David in Cincinnati

    Funny that CNN doesn't allow use of this word-kind of important to this subject!

    October 7, 2010 at 7:58 am |
  19. David in Cincinnati

    Test word: s.e.x.

    October 7, 2010 at 7:57 am |
    • Reality

      David in Cincinnati,

      The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also “a-pe” and “gra-pe”. You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".

      More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden words or fragments.

      October 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  20. truth

    When there is un-natural/sins or events happen (not defined by God) there will be sufferings. But God is loving, and his grace will follow us as long we repent.

    October 7, 2010 at 7:51 am |
    • .

      The above is a lie
      We all know god does not exist, except in the minds of fools
      And note, I am happy in a loving relationship for many years now, seems your god does not want to hurt me? Maybe I am god? I command you not to follow me anymore its degrading to you.

      October 7, 2010 at 7:58 am |
    • David in Cincinnati

      Truth, learn to know Thyself!

      October 7, 2010 at 8:04 am |
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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.