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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 • Homosexuality

soundoff (364 Responses)
  1. Joseph

    I'd rather see Muslims rule the world than Christians.At least Muslims are honest about their hatred and bigotry, instead of disguising it as outreach. Give me an honest knife in the chest over one in the back any day of the week.
    Of course, if there were no religions, humans would have to find genuine justifications to hate each other. What a turn around that would be.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  2. Jimmy James

    Bully is bullying, no matter what you call it.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
  3. xknox

    @Observer I didn't had to chose nothing, love chose everything and makes it perfect, it was all made so simple for everyone. Love is God and God is love.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
    • Observer

      Gays obviously have love, so is there any point at all to that comment?

      November 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  4. Modern Family

    xknox, I have plenty of love. I'm Gay, my partner and I have been together 20 years and we have 4 beautiful adopted children. Fortunately we are not so intellectually inferior that we have to believe in some invisible magic monster in the sky to justify our hatred of other human beings like you do.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  5. W00K

    How much money you think the organizers of the day of truth bring in from 14,000 kids?

    November 11, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  6. Scott

    I cannot believe what I am hearing! Who is so awful to sponsor a counter event against what is supposed to be an event to mark violence against and suicide awareness among one particular and vulnerable group of people? Why, that'd be Focus on the Family. Their focus is anywhere but! What irresponsibility and disgrace!!! 😡

    November 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  7. seth

    This conversation really fustrates me and its both sides that are fustrating me. It seems to me that the gay side of this conversation is just as closed as the christian side. If you are gay and preaching about the freedom to be different you are going to have to accept the right of others to speak out. I personaly think its great that these people are teaching these kids how to speak their beliefs and to accept the beliefs of others. Saying that you vomited in your while reading this story showed me how closed off you are. For the christians in the blog please stop telling people that you hope they are not living in sin its really counter productive to your argument. One orther thing don't forget that their are other people that have no affliation to the church who just don't agree with being gay.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • Frogist

      @seth: No one is saying they don't have the right to speak. We are saying that what they are speaking is prejudiced and ignorant and harmful.

      November 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  8. JennyTX

    When you try to convert someone, you are trying to change them. When you try to change them, you're saying they're not good enough to meet your expectations. So this Day of the Dialog is just another way of telling gays they're not good enough and they need to change to please the rest of us. This will make people dislike Christians even more.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  9. Gay American Parent

    Christianity IS a choice, you are not born that way, you CHOOSE to be a bigot.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  10. Observer

    Millions of gays say they were born that way. Someone who thinks they can read the minds of millions of people and know they are lying is purely DELUSIONAL.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • Todd

      Ok, Observer. Prove all of us are delusional.

      November 11, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  11. JonnyE

    What I love is that they fail to mention that Elsa Prince is the single largest financial supporter of Focus on the Family. Her son, Erik Prince, is the founder and CEO of Blackwater Worldwide, the controversial private security firm with annual contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan worth an estimated $500 million. She even built their Research Council Headquarters as a memorial after her husband died.

    November 11, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • Frogist

      @JonnyE: Having flashbacks to 30 Rock last night... Halliburton!

      November 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  12. xknox

    It's not only Christianity, it's common sense. A man should be only with a woman because that's how it was designed, one of its purposes is reproduction and this design is perfect. If you want to put love as main argument well let me tell you that love will never require s-ex forcefully, is just like the love you have to a mother or a father, does it require s-ex? I don't think so, so if you love a same-gendered person that doesn't mean you have to have s-ex with that person. Someone who doesn't follow this design is corrupt from within

    November 11, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  13. xknox

    It's not only Christianity, it's common sense. A man should be only with a woman because that's how it was designed, one of its purposes is reproduction and this design is perfect. If you want to put love as main argument well let me tell you that love will never require s-ex forcefully, is just like the love you have to a mother or a father, does it require s-ex? I don't think so, so if you love a same-gendered person that doesn't mean you have to have s-ex with that person. Someone who doesn't follow this design is corrupt from within.

    November 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • becazican

      you are a very ignorant person

      November 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
  14. EmeraldCity

    Day of Dialogue? Better change the name to Day of Contradiction:

    "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."

    So yes, tell people how others should love lgbt people but also be sure to add that never-ending caveat that, according to the good book, h0m0s3xuality is a sin.

    If there is any design for s3xuality, it exists as is currently reflected in society!

    November 11, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  15. effelbee

    Mike, not me, I believe these other people acept your beliefs, even if they disagree with them. Isn't that OK with you, or do they have to "accept" by agreeing? EH?

    November 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  16. rj

    I think it is exciting that I will be here when gay rights are recognized and the majority of those opposed to it will be gone. If history has any indication of how this will turn out (civil rights, woman's' suffrage) than its a forgone conclusion. Spend your time else where, like at a homeless shelter.

    November 11, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  17. Consult a Biblical Scholar

    What these groups who oppose gays need to do is sit down with a good Biblical Scholar who knows that there is nothing written in the Bible that condemns gays or lesbians. Even Jesus made no mention of it. Those passages often cited are being cited in error because they are speaking to other things not gay behavior. That's what they need to understand. But then it might make many feel uncomfortable embracing the gay lifestyle so they would prefer to hold on to their victorian stigma about gays which does a great dis-service to those of that orientation. Now I can better see how the Blacks felt when they were seen as second-class citizens and the great fight they had on their hands to gain equality among Whites.

    November 11, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  18. Jake Man

    If an adult male has s-e-x with a male child it is called p-ed-o-philia (very popular past- time for h-o-m-o-se-x-uals that have invaded the Catholic Church). If an adult male has s-e-x with a male dog it is called besti-ality. If an adult male has s-e-x with a male corpse it is called necro-philia. If an adult male has s-e-x with an adult male it is called normality. All are equally disgusting and none of them can result in off-spring. All are equally reprehensible. And none are normal. But maybe we should approve marriage between man and dog, man and child, and man and corpse, and man and man. And we should teach our children in school that all is normal and all that man desires is allowed.

    November 11, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • BobInIrvine

      So I guess post-menopausal heteros-e-xual s-e-x is disgusting, since no offspring can result. Or those with infertility, or with vasectomies or tubal ligations? All abominations in your pinhead?

      November 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • KDW31

      If an adult male has s-e-x with a female child it is called p-ed-o-philia (which most male p-ed-o-philes abuse girls so this makes more sense than what you said, though some women do abuse boys though not as often). If an adult of any gender has s-e-x with a dog of any gender it is called besti-ality. If an adult of any gender has s-e-x with a corpse of any gender it is called necro-philia. Straight people do all the things you listed. These are not activities that have g-ay only listed as a requirement. The difference is that the child, the dog, and the corpse can not give consent to relations. If you can't see the difference between two adults engaging in a consensual activity and everything you listed then you really need help.

      November 11, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
  19. Rob

    Labels and generalizations. Secular, not secular, all Christians. Remember that it is same to say Christians as all Christians. Which just like any group is made up of many different types of people.
    If I am a Christian, I forced my point of view on you and laws as well?
    Don't believe the reports that Christian numbers are getting smaller. Still it would have nothing to do with this event. What about the Churches that allow Gay membership. How do you feel about those Christians? Or mostly Gay churches? There are some in Houston. How do you fell about those Christians?

    November 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
    • Kelly Garrett

      @Rob,

      Some Jews became Nazi's, some light-skinned blacks became klannsmen. So what? What do you think those Jews and African-Americans think of their traitors? Well, most of us gays think the same thing about ours. The abused child mollifies the abuser. They are sick, and few...and growing fewer by the day.

      November 11, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Kelly Garrett

      You keep using the word "mollifies" in such a way that I do not think it means what you think it means.
      Maybe if you could elaborate while avoiding that word? Thx.

      November 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • Kelly Garrett

      @SUM DUDE,

      Sorry for the confusion. There is a phenomenon somewhat related to Stockholm Syndrome that affects so-called Gay christians. It is seen in abused children quite often. If a child is known to be abused by one of the parents, that child is returned to the parents and observed. The abused child mollifies the abuser...pays more attention to them...runs right into their arms, in fact, lavishing attention on them. They do this to stem future abuse, they neglect the good parent, because they are not a threat.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Kelly Garrett
      Ah, I see the problem. You are stating it like it is some sort of universal rule or law written in stone that abused children will always do this.

      "Mollify" is not really the best word as it is often used in a different context while using the other definition. Some abused children 'attempt' to mollify their abusers, to 'appease' them in the hopes that their abuse might be reduced in some way.

      That this meets with mixed success in those cases where this is done also contains many variables.

      You should not state that as some sort of immutable law. Stockholm Syndrome is an excellent example of what you are trying to say. Maybe there is a comparable, yet less well known, term for this 'appeasement' used in psychology. (I have no idea, but it seems likely.) You might consider looking it up.

      As it all seems a rather complicated sort of scenario, it gives the impression that you are speaking about a particular sort of scenario and not one in general. There are many ranges and reactions that humans are capable of in any situation. There are also many types of abuse.

      Much too complicated for such a simplistic statement to be anything but confusing.

      November 13, 2010 at 1:34 am |
    • Kelly Garrett

      @Sum Dude

      Ahhh...thanks. Point taken. English is not my primary language (actually it it my 4th language), so I mess us quite often. And you are right, many so-called Gay christians are just following a pattern they grew up with...they have been doing it since childhood. Most usually drop it once they get far from home and amongst the community. The one's Curt Colier was talking about, clergy buried so deep in their closets that they found next years christmas presents, are more along the Stockholm Syndrome cases. It is heart breaking that they do this. Most of us despise them, while at the same time we understand where it comes from...it is just heart breaking.

      November 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
    • Frogist

      @KelyGarrett: So that is what you meant about Colin's post. I'm sorry but I don't buy into the idea that gays who see good in christianity are traitors or somehow trying to suck up to their abusers. I believe there are those who seek to change the way chrisitianity is practised, and I support them wholeheartedly. My point of view is that chrisitianity is not going anywhere any time soon. And waiting for it to die is not going to help those who are dying now. The faster more feasible position is to make it less confrontational towards gay people. And that's already being done by christians and gays worldwide. Coexistence is possible if we accept that, no matter what a book says, humans can accept that which is unfamiliar. Even the fundamentalists no longer condone slavery or follow a million tiny edicts that they once did. Even they instincitively know that the book is open to interpretation no matter what they will tell you. I don't believe in the concept of god as narrowly defined by humans in books that are no longer relevant in many ways. And most christians believe that way too. They might not admit to it. But they certainly act it. And that's the most important thing in my opinion. How they act... not what they call themselves. The battle of terminology can be fought after people recognize they have already redefined god as something other than is in their books. It's a battle that I consider irrelevant in these times. The only thing of worth is how someone behaves towards others. So if people who call themselves christian treat gays as equal human beings, and gays see some good in the teachings of christ, it means they have found a way to coexist. And that's worth more than pushing people apart for the sake of what's in a book. (Unless that book is Twilight. God that shytt is awful.)

      November 14, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  20. Jake Man

    Your comment is awaiting moderation

    November 11, 2010 at 6:32 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.