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November 11th, 2010
09:12 AM ET

New Christian sponsor takes over event challenging homosexuality

CNN's Dan Gilgoff filed this report:

A major Christian group will take over an annual event that challenges homosexuality, weeks after the event's main Christian sponsor pulled support for the student-focused program, saying it had become too divisive and confrontational.

Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical organization, will begin sponsoring the event known as the Day of Truth but will change the name of the happening to the Day of Dialogue, the group is set to announce Thursday.

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

Exodus International, which had been the Day of Truth's primary sponsor this year, announced last month that it was pulling support for the event.

Focus on the Family said that the Day of Dialogue "will boast a new name while maintaining the same goal it's had since its 2005 inception: encouraging honest and respectful conversation among students about God's design for sexuality," in a press release that is scheduled to go out Thursday.

Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, provided CNN an advance copy of the press release and offered CNN an early look at the event's web site, which is scheduled to go live on Thursday.

"We're trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we're helping to ensure Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint," said Candi Cushman, a Focus on the Family education analyst, in the release. "What is freedom of speech, after all, but a guarantee of the right to have dialogue?"

Cushman criticized the Day of Silence, which is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

"Silence is a media op, but dialogue is a learning op," she said in the release. "That's why we're so proud of the more than 14,000 students who have taken advantage of this opportunity to learn and share."

The Day of Truth had traditionally been held on the same day as the Day of Silence, but Focus on the Family said that the 2011 Day of Dialogue is scheduled for April 18, three days after the Day of Silence.

On the Day of Silence, students take 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 Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

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, said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International.

"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 Chambers said last month in announcing that his group would no longer support the event.

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.

Focus on the Family's web site for the Day of Dialogue discourages participants from bullying other students.

"Any form of bullying and harassment of others is always wrong, including making fun of others, speaking down to them and saying things that hurt people," the site says. "Christian students in particular should be bold in speaking up to oppose that kind of behavior because it goes completely against the model Christ gave us."

"Any verbal and written expressions used by students participating in this event should be loving and compassionate - and never be expressed in a condemning or antagonistic way to others," the site continues. "Even when we disagree with others, we should always demonstrate the utmost compassion and respect for them."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Evangelical • Faith Now • Homosexuality

soundoff (364 Responses)
  1. Demorah

    I'm not really certain what side of the fence I'm on but the more i explore it the less it is sensible. Why would there be so much dying and destruction if it was the word of the almighty? (like asking The almighty why there is loss of life when he instructed us to destroy people). There are a lot of confusing things about the bible that are marked off as simply misinterpreted. This article on christian improbability is not comprehensive or complete or anything, but surely gets you pondering about reasoning vs the scriptures as decreed by christianity.

    May 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  2. Vantha

    Day of truth is a joke. It is like a murderer trying to convince a jury that it's the victims fault for being murdered.

    November 18, 2010 at 2:32 am |
  3. Lu

    I was always a big fan of Focus on the Family until they turned anti-gay. Now I have no use for them.

    November 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  4. Lu

    I was always a big fan of Focus on the Family until it turned anti-gay. Now I have no use for them and no longer contribute to their endeavors.

    November 16, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  5. Lisa

    @Kelly
    Do you know any Christians in real life? Just wondering

    November 14, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  6. Lisa

    @Kelly Garrett,

    I would really love to actually talk with you about this but to be honest, it seems like you just want to continue to berate Christians. Is there any chance that you would let down your guard and be honest, or no?

    November 14, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  7. baruch

    Focus on the Family is a hateful christo fascist organization. They deserve NO credibility.

    November 14, 2010 at 1:27 am |
  8. Gawd

    "Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?" – Epicurus, 341-270 BCE

    November 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  9. Ross Hazelett

    @David Johnson My friend, you are putting on one of the most epic displays of devastatingly spot-on and relentless commenting that I have ever seen on an online commen section. Flawless victory.

    November 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  10. Reoriented

    What I find to be so hypocritical is that pr-og-ay groups are so strongly against those of us who choose to voluntarily, and with informed consent, undergo se-xu-al re-or-ie-nt-at-io-n. If you want equal rights to be g-a-y, then stop attacking our rights to not be g-a-y!

    November 13, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
  11. Jeff in Huntington Beach, CA

    If Christians would just follow Jesus' example and keep their nose out of matters that don't concern them they would get a lot more respect from rational reasonable people like myself.

    November 13, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  12. Looie

    Wasn't this Ted Haggard's church? These people are no more "Christian" then Fred Phelps and the Wesboro Baptist Church.

    November 13, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  13. Reoriented

    So what do you say to those of us who have changed our se-xu-al or-ie-nt-at-ion through modern psychological therapy?

    November 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
  14. Kelly Garrett

    @CW

    The split between the Gay community and your god is permanent, and immutable. You can evangelize all you want, we will not change, and your god will not change. You christians need to to with us, what we have done with you...give up. There are many other areas where you can do your christian works that have a hope of bearing fruit...ours in not one of those, and you waste your time with us.

    I am glad you found your christ, it seems from what you say that you really needed him to keep you from some very hedonistic practices. That is a problem that many humans share with you. I have never had any real desire to watch po_rn, have multiple partners/spouses or many of the other things plaguing you, so I cannot know the blessing your christ is to you. To each their own....and our ways are not the ways of your god. We will have to forever agree to disagree, you have no choice, and I am not going to choose your way and forever be second class in your elite fellowship.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  15. CW

    @ Kelly

    That is your choice....on you nature comment

    as for you Ahh comment....I've tried to be nice....doesn't work...with those like you who have closed their minds to God and what his Truth is....So I can fight for my beliefs....like I said...what you call hate speech.

    Now...I'll try again...it is my hope that you will open your heart...not to what I say...but what God says....in THE BIBLE period. If you do....God will change you.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  16. CW

    So, all you people seem to hate Christians, or anything that has to do with Christianity, including Jesus.

    That is your choice. So be it.
    You won't see me begging you to believe. Live that G-a-y lifestyle, that you say you were born with. Go right ahead.

    You can call me names and say whatever you'd like. It don't bother me at all. I am secure in my God, and do not care what anybody thinks of me for it.

    Everybody wants to demean and put down the word of God (the bible), and some want to believe that there is no God. Some even want to rid the world of Christianity...but guess what? Its been around for 2000 years, and it will never go away.
    Just keep patting one another on the back, and believeing what you believe. Its ok by me. Why should I care where you go or don't go when you die, if you don't?
    The anger here isn't at Christians, its at the thought that what you are doing is wrong, and your trying to justify it.
    When somebody tells you its wrong, you get really angry, and start ranting, hurling insults and the like.

    It must be nice to live in a world where you can do whatever, and suffer no consequences of it, because it "feels" right. Knowing there is no one you will answer to. Knowing there is no hell that is a real fire burning pit. Wonder what flames burn and never consume, but where there is no escape from? Wonder too what kind of pitch black darkness there is, that the flames of hell do not light up the area? Hmmm...interesting.

    You are blaming God. But your real enemy is the Devil, whom you don't believe in anyway. He is the one who is bringing you to the place your at right now, by your own free choices. So, if you don't believe in him, then blame him..cause you don't believe in God, but you blame God...give credit where credit is due.

    All God is responsible for, is giving you a way out. He loves you, too bad you don't believe it. But, it is what it is, huh?
    If you were born G-A-Y, you can do something about it. Or, accept it and enjoy it. That is where the choice comes in.
    What if a man is born without feet? Does he crawl the rest of his life? He could get artificial limbs and learn to walk, and wear shoes. Its his choice.
    Ok, I am done. Have fun, but don't waste your time answering me. I am off to see if there is anything worth reading on CNN blogs anymore, that is not promoting all this forum bashing crap.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU.....SO WELL PUT....TAKE THAT.....AMEN!!!!!!!

    November 12, 2010 at 9:48 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.