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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. DUnka Shane

    Cbhristians are devious and should be banned from my AMerica... nohting good comes from the cloth in AMerica dat for sure

    November 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  2. John Baptist

    Christians are bigots.

    November 11, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  3. Brett

    I'm not bashing anyone here, or their beliefs, I just want to say that I'm an Atheist, and wonderfully happy, well-adjusted, and thoroughly enjoying the beauty of life on this planet. Thank you.

    November 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • Frogist

      Brett
      I'm not bashing anyone here, or their beliefs, I just want to say that I'm an Atheist, and wonderfully happy, well-adjusted, and thoroughly enjoying the beauty of life on this planet. Thank you.

      @Brett: That was a refreshing non sequitur! Have a great weekend!

      November 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  4. NoSuchThingAsAnOpinion

    Can you find faults with my articles? http://nosuchthingasanopinion.blogspot.com/

    November 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • Observer

      It's easy to find errors in your prejudiced OPINIONS. It's a good website for anyone who thinks they may talk to a genius and outsmart them easily.

      November 11, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  5. GG

    it's all about control with some religious individuals...not all christians fall into the same category as hateful or bigoted but there are a good number out there who's views are as extreme as some of our extreme islamic terrorists overseas. take the african americans...a lot of christian preachers and followers constantly preached that blacks are against god, interracial marraige was against god, the mixing of races was against god...they used their religion as a tool to try and fool everyday people into believing that racial tolerance was a sin...therefore we had so many generations of people, most in the south, who were misguided and bigoted against individuals who just wanted to live and breathe free. same thing here...gays are just another group of people who long to be free and live their ONE life in happiness. But it seems as though the religions that are constantly preaching love and tolerance continuously show their hypocrisy whenever a major social change is in the air. It's all about control. Even before the major religions we have today existed...pharaohs in ancient egypt would declare themselves gods so that the people they ruled would not question their absolute monarchy...same with Rome and Greece and even the Mayans. Religion through the ages has been used primarily for power and control...and there are the few that actually understand that if their god really does exist, he is about love and tolerance and everybody on this planet was made in his image. And people tend to cling so hard to their ancient text when in reality it is a collection of stories that has been translated numerous times losing much of it's originality, it is based on things that we know could not have happened in real life but are told as a way to guide people through decisions and trials that life throws at us. I just don't see why people try to take the bible so literal. I don't understand why religion can't be a personal thing, why do people feel that it is their place to pass judgement on others or to feel as though they are somehow better than the next guy because they "have god" to the point that they talk down to them saying things such as "I'm going to pray for you". Logically that's just another way to judge somebody else...trying to make them feel as though the life that comes naturally to them is somehow wrong or unforgivable...this is just the sad images that religion has projected...like Margaret Cho said "I just want Jesus to come back and say...'THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT!'"

    November 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  6. Anthony

    Day of ignorance.

    November 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  7. JohnRJ08

    Disgusting.

    November 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  8. xknox

    This thing can't post anything right, I can't post anything at certain times

    November 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
  9. xknox

    "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)

    November 11, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • Observer

      – Matthew 7:12 "Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.”

      November 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  10. Mark

    I'm a Christian and DO NOT agree with Focus on the Family at all. They are nothing but a rabid pack of reactionaries vying for political influence. They have no interest in dialogue and only wish to drown out any meaningful discourse with the volume and frequency of their shouting. My apologies to anyone who is gay that has suffered due to their idiotic droning.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
  11. danny tanner

    I farted!

    November 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  12. Ryan H

    It was only a matter of time before the haters at Focus on the Phallus got involved.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  13. macguysea

    Seriously?... This group is full of nut case crazies...

    November 11, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  14. 9Newsy

    Who will Focus on the Family pick on when gay people aren't so scary anymore?

    November 11, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
    • Jewls

      @9Newsy

      Maybe they'll go after smartphone users! Those people are always on their tech gadget, not taking care of their families, always looking stuff up, not nearly humble and submissive enough... sounds very scary to me!

      November 11, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  15. Skeptic

    I am not surprised. America never runs into shortage of idiots; thanks to the religion, they are now a lot easier to identify.

    Atheist: IQ over 120
    Christians: IQ below 80

    November 11, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
    • Observer

      Where did you get those statistics or did you just make them up?

      November 11, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
    • becazican

      actually observer that was a study that was release in the spring, saying that atheist tended to have higher IQ than people who believed in religion.

      November 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
    • Observer

      Yes, a religious test showed that atheists and agnostics averaged higher scores, but I'm still waiting for support for these statistics.

      November 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  16. Jesse

    James Dobson, his American Family Association, his radio show Focus on the Family and his lobbying group The Family Research Council are all a pack of hate mongers. Don't let them fool you with the constant use of the word "family". They've hijacked it for their own uses. They took good old Christian hate and dressed it up with a grandfather-type figure (Dobson) who looks and sounds harmless. Every word he says is laced with bigotry.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  17. xknox

    @Observer "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16) shut up and go to bed

    November 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  18. DanteX

    Wow.

    One Tragedy After Another.

    First – A pathetic sorry washed-up B-rate movie CLOWN of an "actor" named Ronald Reagan.

    Then – A lazy money-grubbing pathetic publicity-hound weasel who could not even serve-out the term of office to which she was elected named Sarah Palin.

    Now – Now comes before us "The Day Of Truth" brought to us by "Focus On The Family" which is nothing more than sleezy front organization for Conservatives and their Fascist propaganda.

    I am so glad I have "those Second Amendment 'remedies' " available and ready to defend MY freedom and liberty against these Fascists right-wing Nazi's.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  19. TIRED OF YOUR CRAP

    DAY OF DENIAL is more accurate

    November 11, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  20. xknox

    "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16) shut up and go to bed Observer

    November 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
    • Observer

      So we have still another hypocritical Christian who is rude. Education could help that.

      November 11, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
    • Observer

      – Matthew 7:12 “Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.”

      November 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
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About this blog

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.