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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. Jewdust Priest

    if you're a christian god will punish you for being such and send you to hell for eternity. Repent now christians, your god is a false prophet. I pity you.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
    • dalis

      Keep your mock pity.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
    • JessIAm

      @Jewdust Priest
      Lol! That's a hilarious way to put that 🙂
      BTW, I follow Jesus, and I really enjoyed reading what you wrote. I'm also a little sad. It's unfortunately some Christians have acted in a manner that makes Christianity and Jesus come across that way.

      October 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  2. Brett

    Thank you for this small step in the right direction.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  3. fakegod

    I can't believe those so-called peaceful christians can protest at soldiers' funeral. What a bunch of wild animals and evils!

    October 6, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • JessIAm

      @fakegod
      Most of us believers oppose Phepp's group, and other groups that act the way his "Church" does (as I read it here on CNN, his church is filled with his relatives). I think protesting anything at a funeral is uncompassionate, and therefore immoral.

      October 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  4. Michelle

    Lol teaching Christians to love thy neighbor.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  5. Frank

    But what about next year? And it's not like Exodus is shutting down. They're just re-evaluating their strategy.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Frank: I know. And Day of Truth still has people who support it too. But we can't fight all the battles at once. I guess we could go to their website if they have one and thank them for not sponsoring the Day of Truth. It's a start in trying to let them know they have done something good and they have admirers for it. And try to find other ways to show that humanity is tolerant and accepting of people who are gay.

      October 7, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  6. AS

    Kindness, tolerance and respect should be the foundation of the how children, teens and adults interact. Hooray to the wise person who made this happen.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • fakegod

      I bet those evil christians will come back to attack those poor gay kids again.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  7. fakegod

    Their freaking bible says all gay go to hell. I think those evil christians should go to HELL instead.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • guest

      the bible is written by man. while i'm not saying that it wasn't at one time written by a higher power but it has since then been revised and translated numerous times and it seems that everytime someone doesn't like some part of their religion they branch off and make their own

      October 6, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  8. Katie

    Good for Exodus for realizing what Christianity is really all about: tolerance and acceptance of our fellow men.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  9. Gaylord

    Hate the sin, not the sinner.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
    • Perry

      Gay Lord ??? Say it ain't so!

      October 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Gaylord

      You said..."Hate the sin and not the sinner"

      How about -0- hate at all..... Only acceptance, peace and tolerance. Unless, it directly affects you like someone trying to m-u-r-d-e-r someone, etc...

      Peace...

      October 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Perry

      Good catch...! Now THAT was funny 🙂

      Peace...

      October 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
    • Ricky

      Sure, let's accept pedophiles and murderers as well. There is no gray area when it comes to God's commandments.

      October 7, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • peace2all

      @Ricky

      You said: "Sure, lets accept murderers and pedophiles as well."

      So, am I to gather from your comment that ....LGBT people = murderers and pedophiles......? Is THAT what you are saying, really..?

      How can you even think or rationalize putting them on the same level...? Wow...! If you don't know the tremendous differences, then taking the time to totally and completely 'demolish' your insane argument, would be a waste of 'my' time.

      However, let me just say, in my opinion, your statement is pure ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, and hate-mongering.

      This does nothing to help create more peace.

      Peace...

      October 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Ricky: Do you know anyone who is gay? I sure do. And they are not pedos and murderers. Sooner or later Ricky, the world is gonna drag you kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

      October 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  10. Dan

    Let's hope this rational decision, as the bible might say, "begets" others.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • TFBuckFutter

      Not possible. Christians preach abstinence only when it comes to begetting.....rationality especially.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • peace2all

      @TFBuckFutter

      Nice...!

      Peace...

      October 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  11. DDS

    Thank you Exodus. A brave and good move. Let all Christian organizations take note and recall that true Christian behavior comes from within and should not be imposed, by neither Church nor State.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  12. TFBuckFutter

    The Day of Truth idea was totally gay to begin with.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  13. joey navy

    Amen.....finally, folks coming to their senses. Bible says, don't judge....and those so-called Christians, did NOTHING but hold these gatherings simply to 'look down upon those who choose different life choices'.....pathetic and said. I'm straight as an arrow, however, could care less if your gay/white/black, etc. What you do in life, is your thing.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • joey navy

      For NOT being a religious person....I still take offense to anyone who feels they need to push their values onto others....don't like gay people....just don't mind them and mind YOUR OWN BUSINESS... that's how things have always been in my area...don't like it, lump it and leave it alone.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  14. OldOwl

    "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. " (Jeremiah 13: 23 KJV} Nice try, Exodus. I'm not buying it. You know how wrong you are, and you are trying to cover it up, so that you can do some more hate-mongering, just in a different venue. If you really have "changed your spots," then I will be watching to see what you do to "bring forth therefore fruits, meet for repentance." (Matthew 3: 8 KJV)

    October 6, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • David Greer

      how would they continue to make money if they abandoned their entire business model (because it IS a business, not a "ministry".)

      October 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  15. All Around Bad Guy

    If they were true Christians, they would; 1) love thy neighbor, 2) love thine enemy, and 3) do unto others. They're anything but what they profess.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • fakegod

      All christians are evil. They are either rich pedos or stupid worshipers.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  16. fakegod

    Those christians should all go to HELL. They have blood of those poor gay kids on their bloody hands. May god have mercy!

    October 6, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
    • McJesus

      Yes. Send them below the ground to be tortured by horned evil dudes. Jesus loves us all... except the heathens who must all suffer for eternity. Amen. 🙂

      October 6, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • dalis

      As many a prominent gay person have reiterated this week following the Clementi suicide, the decision to kill yourself is one you make yourself.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • ChooseYourOwnAdventureScriptures

      Yes, we make our own decisions, but there some people can't help but gently push those who have stepped onto the ledge.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
    • peace2all

      @dalis

      And your point....? Or, as it seems to me that your point is to put the onus on the victim's of 'fundamentalism christianity' and the hatred and intolerance that 'some' preach toward gays, etc... Including but not limited to the Parents, Clergy, Church Congregations in general, etc...

      Peace..

      October 6, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
    • dalis

      @ peace2all My intention is not to absolve anyone of the wrongdoing they're actually responsible for, but harassment is not murder. People who commit suicide, even gay people, are not puppets. They think and act deliberately. Give them that.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
    • csy

      And we are so sure that Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei were Christians because....?

      What if Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei turned out to be agnostics? Will agnostics then have the blood of Tyler Clementi on their hands? Based the logic and rational thinking "free thinkers" keep insisting others do, one would have to say "yes".

      October 6, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
    • peace2all

      @dalis

      I certainly understand and respect your point. And.... given the 'context' of 'this' article and discussion, the fact that you struck out on a different direction seems to me to be 'deflecting' the issue of christian fundamentalists and 'some' with their avowed hatred of gays and bullying in the 'name of god and the bible'... inspired by literal interpretations of said book.

      So, while I agree with you on one level that ultimately virtually everyone makes the decision to take their own life, however, given again, the context of this article, it seemed to me that you were moving or re-directing or deflecting the issues on the table of 'gay bashing' away, from where it needs to be looked at>>>>christians... and for that matter....'anyone,' believers or non-believers that engage in this atrocious behavior so they can take a look at it (hopefully) and... be more tolerant, accepting, caring, empathetic, etc...

      Thanks for chatting @dalis...

      Peace...

      October 7, 2010 at 12:50 am |
    • peace2all

      @csy

      The context of the article and the overwhelming evidence points to a certain, and relatively large segment of christians who interpret the bible literally.

      As to your bringing up the rutgers student who killed himself, and wondering if we would be just as morally outraged if the perpetrators turned out to be agnostic/atheist-non-believers....... While i can't speak for others, I for one, would absolutely be equally enraged at there behavior regardless of their religion or lack thereof. I don't care about the justifications for the hate, I just want the ones who engage in it to stop.

      Peace..

      October 7, 2010 at 1:03 am |
    • Frogist

      @peace2all: Absolutely. Hate is hate no matter where it comes from. But hate has factors that contribute to it. And when christians counter a day against violence with a day promoting intolerance of gays, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that they are contributing to the anti-gay environment. I've never met or heard of a single agnostic who has done the same or has contributed as much to making being gay a bad thing.

      October 7, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • peace2all

      @Frogist

      As always, you and I are in total agreement.

      Peace...

      October 7, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
    • Frogist

      @peace2all: We must be clones or something! LOL! Or is it a Superman/Clark Kent thing... cuz I think I must be Clark... Also I haven't seen Kate lately... But from her latest blog post I think she gave up on us... =(

      October 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Frogist

      Yeah... i have wondered if possibly we were separated at birth...identical twins or something. Superman/ Clark Kent thing... O.K...works for me.

      Wow.. sorry to hear about Kate..

      Just grievin' 😦

      Peace...

      October 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  17. robert

    We need "The Jesus Myth Day". Which it is – a big, fat fable, no different than any other

    October 6, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
    • Dawn

      I'm far from Christian (I'm agnostic), but that statement is pretty stupid.
      Whether Jesus was real or not doesn't mean anything. He had some good ideas about how people should treat each other, and those are the things we should pay attention to. We still follow other parts of other philosophies, this is no different than those if you knock the dogma off of it, remove the parts that are no longer relevant to our modern world, and use common sense.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • robert

      it's impossible for someone who was potentially not real to have good ideas, Dawn. And even if he was real he wasnt conceived immaculateyl, he didnt walk on water, heal the sick by touching them, multiply loaves or rise form the dead. those thigns are all myths.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • Dawn

      Ok, Captain Semantics, you're correct. If you're not real, then you don't have ideas. But SOMEONE obviously did, someone at least had to write ABOUT him. We all know that Aesop's Fables aren't true stories, but it doesn't detract from the point of them.

      And really, you can't prove that he didn't exist any more than someone can prove that he did. Both arguments are pretty dumb, because there's no proof either way. Yeah, he probably wasn't the son of God, and his miracles are a bit suspect, but what's the point of just saying 'there's no way he ever lived', when there's no way of proving it? It's just as dogmatic to go so strongly against it just for the sake of going against it. Are you trying to convince someone of something? Unconvince someone of something? What's your point here? Are you a historian? Has there never before been someone with the name Jesus or Yeshua or similar who tried to teach peace and caring, who someone maybe wrote some stories about?

      Hard core atheists are just as crazy as hard core evangelicals, and make just as much sense.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
    • Brita

      Before making a statement you should check your facts. The books in the Bible were chosen among 100s of letters and other writings of experiencing Jesus. You can still find some of these books even online. On top of that there are other non-religious accounts of his existence and what he did. Most historians believe he existed. You can decide to argue if he was our Savior or not but there's alot of evidence of his existence and of him doing his acts.

      You have a great conspiracy theory going. Somehow all these people got together and made up a story of a non-existent person and get him down to a tee. Nothe Catholic Church did not make it all up.

      October 7, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  18. Lisa

    Now THIS is a miracle. Christians actually behaving like Christ. Perhaps a new day is dawning!

    October 6, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
    • Gaylord

      Right Lisa, because Christ taught that we should only obey some of God's commandments, that we could choose which ones were socially acceptable. GTFO.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • dalis

      @ Gaylord Is GTFU the new WWJD?

      October 6, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • ChooseYourOwnAdventureScriptures

      Actually Gaylord, thats how many Christians behave. Thou shalt not kill...unless you're executing someone or they've trespassed on your property. Love they neighbor...unless you feel the need to waterboard them. How many Christians practice all the rules in the first 5 books of the bible. Not many in this day and age. But they hold on to Man shall not lay down with man... with a death grip.

      October 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  19. blindbear

    While I applaud Exodus for their epiphany, I'm surprised that didn't pick up on that obscure rule ("Do unto others, etc") from reading their Bibles.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  20. Dawn

    What? You mean... Christians- living by the word of Christ????

    OMG

    Congrats, Exodus! You've learned what they mean when they say 'if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all', and realizing that even though they don't agree, you don't want anyone to be hurt because of it.

    You guys are a credit to your crazy religion.

    October 6, 2010 at 6:19 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.