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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. Mark

    Once a few Christians see the light, others will follow...

    October 6, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  2. bowrbird

    I was raise by the unforgiving, sadistic, hateful people called Christians. I don't believe they are redeemable even by their own savior much less by society. Any organization that lives by controlling others is bound by their very existence to to harm others. There is no other reason for organized religion to exist except to control people. If in my live time they all ceased to exist I would be very happy.

    October 6, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
    • Tony

      I'm sorry that was the case. I've said it once and I'll say it again, Christ is not about religion. It's sad that man twisted something that was meant for good. I know my words could and never would make up for the issues you faced but for what it's worth, I'm sorry.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
    • chelseykia

      I truly don't know what to say to people whose hearts were, and still are, broken and trampled on by the people who claim to have taken on Jesus's cross and then, use it to bash on the people Jesus loves.

      Like Tony said, "I'm sorry" doesn't do justice – but I do know Jesus is asking to bring all the pain and anger to His feet, and He will bind it. Will you look at Jesus the way He truly is, and not portrayed through someone else?

      October 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • Tell_Me

      chelseykia:

      You, too, only see Jesus as he was portrayed to you by someone. Granted, your version seems more kindly, but you have still learned this take on him by reading or listening to others who told you their version.

      It was nice of you and Tony to be sympathetic to bowrbird, however.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
    • chelseykia

      Tell_Me : When I gave my last $20.00 to Jesus after half a year of endless job searches in vain, and two days later, I not only got a job, but had skipped several steps to an upgraded position with a stable financial income, that was when I knew Jesus would always come for me.

      When I dropped and sacrificed everything in the earlier half of my life to fulfill what Jesus specifically told me to do, as in, not the feel-good gospel, but in which country I was supposed to go to, which field I am supposed to turn to, and when things started to unfold according to what Jesus said, I knew Jesus would always come through for me without fail; He never lies.

      When I was suffering from stomach pains and cried myself to sleep every night from the pain, and was healed by Jesus days later with the power of the Holy Spirit in an outreach where Jesus was moving, I knew I'm in good hands.

      When I was angry and raging at God and feeling sorry for myself, He had my friend call me up and say all those thoughts I've been harboring the past half hour were utter lies fed into me, and that He had always loved me and never held me into condemnation – because I was too stubborn to listen and so, He had to urge my girlfriend to call me up. I knew, despite my thoughts, God is always there for me.

      God becomes real when you decide to go even further than depending on someone's perspective – you REACH OUT to Him. πŸ™‚

      October 6, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  3. Bubba

    Didn't Jesus say something about loving your neighbor or something? Are these Christians familiar with Jesus's work?

    October 6, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • Tony

      Yes he did. Too bad many Christians don't pay attention.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  4. Tony

    While I can't speak for all Christians I feel we have gotten a bad rap because of a few nut jobs out there that say they represent God and Christ but do not do his will. I don't force religion down anyones throat. In fact the Bible is clear that we do not change the hearts of men, Christ does. I am for my God, not a pastor, preacher, priest, political party, or anyone else. I live my life as hard as I can according to the Bible. I fall all the time. I stumble yet get back up. I don't judge if I can help it and say I'm sorry when I do. Christianity is so much more than what is being portrayed by TV, politicians, and Hollywood. We are not all evil monsters who serve an angry God who will send you to hell the minute you mess up. I serve a Father in heaven who loves me, guides me, and disciplines me like any loving father would. Bad things?? We are so quick to blame God but why? Satan does play a HUGE role in that. The Bible says God only wants good for his children so why should we blame him. We don't blame our kids for the man who broke into our house do we? No, we blame the one who created the evil in the first place. I'm tired of ultra right Christians who have their own agenda. I'm tired of Gays saying we are monsters. While I may not agree with your lifestyle I am not to judge. I am to teach according to the Bible and God does the rest. Please don't think we are all out here to brain wash or convert the world into some sick image that has been made up by man. I love, I live, I have a wife, and kids. I do the best I can and hope for the rest of the world.

    October 6, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • Gary

      Tony as a straight happily married man with two great kids. I think its only religious folks attacking Gays and not the other way around. Gays were born that way. Many religious folks say they are going to hell for eternity . That is being the monster in my book .......use the brain your God gave you tony

      October 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
    • Tony

      Gary while I believe that they were not born that way I am still standing my ground not to judge. I can't say who is going to hell. That is not for me to decide and I'm glad. I am using the brain I was given and showing compassion...how about you? I am a Christian and have many friends who are gay. As I could condemn them so they could condemn me. That's the point...Don't judge.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
    • Frank

      ""While I may not agree with your lifestyle I am not to judge. "

      Once again: BEING GAY, LESBIAN, BIS#XUAL/PANS#XUAL/OMNIS#XUAL, TRANSGENDERED/TRANSS#XUAL, AS#XUAL OR JUST PLAIN OLD QU##R IS NOT A 'LIFESTYLE'. IT IS A DEEPLY INNATE PART OF WHO YOU ARE AS A HUMAN BEING. THAT IS ALL."

      October 6, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
    • Frank

      Anyone who says that a transs#xual isn't born that way is either deeply ignorant or in denial of reality. I'm sorry, but that's how it is.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • Tony

      Frank...and that's why I don't judge. No matter what is in our lives we all fell short. ALL of us... Why should I condemn a gay man or woman when he or she could condemn me as well. We all sin. I don't care what the religious nut jobs say. Sin is sin. To God telling a lie is just as bad as killing a man. So I don't get your point. I am openly saying that I am no better than anyone else, so I don't get your post.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
    • Frank

      The first post got kinda messed up because I had to 'fix' it so CNN would allow it.
      I am simply saying that it is not a choice. You'd have to be completely out of your mind to 'choose' being transgendered in this society. Nevermind being gay, lesbian or bi because those things are a bit more acceptable and easier to deal with/live out in this society, or most parts of it.
      Oh, and I am a Christian. So I'm not bashing your faith.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
    • krzkt

      Tony, I respect you for saying that. Thank you. Don't blame the media, there's plenty of folks who don't make the news who portray those undesirable characteristics. Just keep being who you are.

      October 7, 2010 at 3:25 am |
  5. sedreck fields

    I USE CAPS SO YOU WILL FILL ME!!!! SO GIVE JESUS CHRIST YOUR LIFE!!!! AND STOP WORRYING ABOUT MY CAPS!!!!!!

    October 6, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • asrael

      Consider yourself "filled"...

      October 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
  6. Truth Seeker

    Salient moments in Monotheism:

    Abraham heard a voice – "kill your son" – which he attributed to YHW... YWHY... YWEIGH... God..
    Moses heard voices in a burning bush – he broke the 15 commandments tablets in anger (ref. History of the World, Part 1) when he came down from the mountain because the Israelites were partying and he did not get an invitation (probably because he was such a killjoy); God gave Moses only 10 commandments the second time, probably because God was irritated with Moses for bothering him while he was watching the game.
    Jesus was hungry and wanted figs in the off-season. The fig tree did not have figs so Jesus cursed the tree and killed it. (Question: Instead of murdering an innocent tree, why did not Jesus will into existence a nice baby-back rib dinner with all the fixens? He is supposed to be god after all. Oops, never mind…).
    St Paul heard voices and saw lightning – and so Christianity was spread to the Corinthians (who made great leather products, I hear), Ephesians, Romans, Hobbits, Ewoks, Wookies, …
    500 years later, Mohamed hears voices, borrows heavily from the existing sacred fairy tale books of the jews and christians and starts his own gang, which constantly fights with all the other gangs that purport to believe in the same god.
    Joseph smith heard voices – now mormons have to wear magic underwear.

    if that happened today, Abraham would be (deservedly) locked up, Moses, Paul, Mohamed and smith would be on anti-psycotic medication. Jesus would be hitting the senior’s special at Sizzler, and banned from attending garden shows.

    Sad and dangerous that these religious people let these delusions pollute their minds and make them hate.

    October 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
    • chelseykia

      "Abraham heard a voice – "kill your son" – which he attributed to YHW... YWHY... YWEIGH... God.."

      Yes, and God tells him right before the knife was raised," STOP!" For Abraham has proved that God is the #1 in his heart. And so, a thousand years later, in exchange, God has returned the favor by offering HIS own son in exchange by nailing Him to the cross.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
    • Truth Seeker

      So christians, when is the new date for the rapture? (jesus said it would be during the lifetimes of those who heard him preach). apparently the rapture date has come and gone several times now (depending on which version of christianity you believe in, seems like you are all still here though...). When you evangelicals get raptured, can I have your car (especially if it is a '68 Mach 1)?

      October 7, 2010 at 1:35 am |
    • Frogist

      @Truth Seeker: "Jesus was hungry and wanted figs in the off-season. The fig tree did not have figs so Jesus cursed the tree and killed it. (Question: Instead of murdering an innocent tree, why did not Jesus will into existence a nice baby-back rib dinner with all the fixens? He is supposed to be god after all. Oops, never mind…)."
      He couldn't go get ribs cuz he was Jewish and they don't eat pork, duh! Well at least I answered one... BTW You would love Eddie Izzard's explanation of religion. Tea and cake or death!

      October 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • chelseykia

      Truth Seeker @ I do not know anything about raptures and whatnot, not familiar with whatever versions of theology or denominations – all I care about is Jesus. I fell in love with Him, His heartbeat, His devotion and determination to win the eternal struggle for his children, His purity, His hands, His everything.

      I'll definitely see Jesus. When I pass on, then I'll see Him – and the first thing I'm going to say to Him when I meet Him is," I love you. I love you so much. You are my arms and legs as You promised, You are my Heart and though You told me You loved me endlessly, I'm still sorry for being as flawed as I am and thank you for not giving up on me, for loving me like this."

      I'm not sure about this rapture state, but you can certainly have my car (if I could just get over my car phobia and purchase one.) πŸ™‚

      October 7, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  7. dR mATRIX

    Finally a Christian church following Jesus's teachings. I guess Westboro Baptist Church will picket them now. Does it seem ironic that people felt the need to protest a day of protest that was meant to enlighten people about civil rights abuses?

    October 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  8. Gary

    People are either born gay or straight. I was born straight .

    October 6, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Gary: Not according to Kinsey whose scale says there are degrees of gay and straight contained in all of us. But maybe you're just on one end of the scale.

      October 7, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  9. sedreck fields

    You need ANSWERS TURN TOO JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!

    October 6, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
    • chelseykia

      I believe everyone wants answers, but I'm sure there's a way to transmit this without the use of caps lock. πŸ˜€

      October 6, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  10. chelseykia

    I've come to notice that the amount of bashing and flames mostly targets on America's "Superstar Christianity" – denouncing the Lord as a basis of all that they see within that continent but has no awareness of what the other churches in Indonesia, China, Bosnia and other nations are doing. Many of these churches are battling genuine evil and troubles, and the most prominent is how God has consistently and unfailingly moved like a tidal wave in these churches. One pastor in Indonesia is currently fighting battles that are wildly beyond our imagination with such ease and childlike faith, because : "I have no power, it is God that does the battles for me." I will not name those battles, because they are extremely horrific.

    If you ever want to know which church houses God's presences, it's simple : when the church gives all the glory to the beautiful Lord instead of themselves, then you can find Him, for it is one of the places for Him to rest. Make no mistake, there are many churches that shut the door in Jesus's face as He continuously pounds on them, asking," Why won't you let me in?"

    October 6, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  11. Flush1

    All this @nal abuse has got to come to an end.

    October 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
  12. Grace

    Don't let the world overtake your thinking.

    October 6, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
  13. J.

    Good for you, Exodus. I may not agree with your beliefs, but I respect your ability to disagree without advocating fighting and hate among ideologies. Your group is a breath of fresh air and I applaud you. I hope others will follow your lead.

    October 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  14. LG (Love God)

    I'm a Christian and Jesus doesn't teach anyone to hate another person. However, majority of these post are anti-Christian, religion, or God. That's hate in my book. You automatically assume that just because we don't condone a persons actions, lifestyle, or whatever, that we hate that individual. Unfortunately, most of your views about what Christians belive is so distorted because you hate us and God. Just say yes to Jesus for a second and then you'll understand why we love him and stand firmly by his word, laws, and ways. Satan and Hell are REAL people. Wake up! LG

    October 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
    • nOT Trash

      No, they are not real at all and you are delusional.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
    • dalis

      @ LG Can you leave a comment for the question I've been asking: why is being gay a sin? What exactly is the objection?

      October 6, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
  15. EddieTheHat626

    What a bunch of nonsense. Christians should be real proud of themselves and learn to live and let live.

    October 6, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
  16. SoCalMatt

    I am not religious and I am not gay and I don't have a problem with anyone tagging themselves with either. It is very refreshing to hear about a church that decided to stop attending anti-gay rallies. All of us in America have enough to worry about, let's stop using up so much energy towards promoting hate and intolerance, we should be past all that by now. Hopefully this is the start of an internal Christian revolution and cleansing of the hate spreaders.

    October 6, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
  17. sedreck fields

    To Beware of God you keep say that it's all right too be GAY!!! Let me say this or TEXT this YOU WILL SEE ON JUDGEMENT DAY!!! IF I'M RIGHT OR WROUNG I HOPE FOR YOU THAT I'AM NOT TELLiNG THE TRUE!!!! BUT I'AM TELLiNG THE TRUE SORRY YOU WILL BE GOING TOO HELL!!!!!!!

    October 6, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  18. ...

    I repudiate my previous comment. Didn't read the article correctly...

    October 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
  19. Samuel

    Finally Old Testmament fire and brimstone gives way to New Testament grace and love. I never thought I'd see the day but I'm glad Exodus International has decided to actually follow the teachings of Jesus Christ rather than pay lip service to it like Focus on the Family continues to do. Perhaps there is hope for Christianity after all.

    October 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
  20. me

    Religions progress morally when they adopt secular humanist values and discard scriptural beliefs.

    October 6, 2010 at 9:49 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.