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. TheRadicalLiberal

    Wow! A Christian group has actually learned a lesson in Christian behaviour. Congratulations. What took you so long?

    October 6, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
    • B-Dog

      Crazy huh??

      October 6, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  2. Popepuncher

    Sedreck- I find it mind boggling that they let 5 years olds post on here.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  3. sedreck fields

    Are you for real Jesus Christ is COMING BACK NEXT YEAR!!!! BECAUSE OBAMA IS THE ANTICHRIST!!!!!

    October 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • Roger

      To your kind, anyone who has the slightest respect for mainstream science, medicine or psychology is the antichrist. You'd rather get your knowledge from an ancient middle eastern desert tribe that did and said things like this.

      Numbers 31: (Moses Speaking) 15 "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them. 16 "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD's people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."

      October 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • tom

      omg ignorant untru and duh

      October 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • Edwin

      Now I know you are a troll. Or a psychotic.

      But seriously, if Jesus comes back and meets Obama-the-antichrist, will they battle on Live TV? It would be pretty cool, especially if it were like WWF wrestling.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • asrael

      Somewhere there is a computer keyboard being seriously abused ...

      October 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Roger: Glenn Beck is from an ancient middle eastern tribe? 😉

      October 7, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  4. Lauren

    Good for them for finally learning to accept people for who they are. Very Christian – it's about time.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  5. tom

    get a life
    your ignorant if u believe that gay is by choice
    and the hate that spews from the ignorant have never had to bury a family member because of the hate and ignorance of all of u
    open your minds and arms to all god never said or used and words against gay and holy books where never written by gods but by man or humans OMG from apes open the mind hear the future

    October 6, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  6. Roger

    sedreck please – if Jesus Christ is God, billions of people are going to hell and billions and billions have already gone. Won't be anything new. I wouldn't worship a God like that just like I wouldn't say Heil Hitler the way many did out of fear for their own lives. It's immoral.

    You need to stop imagining that the people the Real God wants to save are the ones who are the most immoral, self-interested and afraid.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  7. Ash

    Wow, it is really unbelievable to me that anybody would want to react to the Day of Silence (which is a day to reflect and acknowledge the numerous ways in which LGBT have been discriminated against and attacked) by celebrating a Day of Truth discriminating against LGBT! And I'm very proud of Exodus! I'm neither gay nor Christian, but I am so happy to see that people can disagree without demonizing the other side. Great step forward!!

    October 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  8. JOHN

    Christianity is a disease.
    Radical republicans are a cancer.
    Morality is the plague.
    Opinions are overrated.
    Stupidity is an overabundant trait.
    Does anyone disagree?

    October 6, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
    • Frank

      You sound like a nihilist.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • Roger

      I'd disagree and say 'false' morality is the plague.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
    • Mattski

      A truly talented troll would have a more nuanced approach, I think.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • asrael

      I'd say that facile condemnations sound just a bit too familiar...

      October 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • auguron

      I'd say he has it right. They're preaching morality so much that they have no concept of ethics. That is their problem, why they are so twisted.

      November 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  9. bigboxes

    Finally starting to act like christ. Now they get it.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  10. sedreck fields

    Jesus Christ is GOD and if you gay you are going too HELL!!!! And for anybody that like GAYS SO MOST OF THE PEOPLE ON THIS BLOG IS GOING TOO HELL!!!

    October 6, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
    • dalis

      @ sedrick fields Then perhaps you can answer my earlier question: why is being gay a sin? What is the objection exactly?

      October 6, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
    • Popepuncher

      Sedfek, Your writing in hell right now. There is no fiery pits of damnation, hell is earth. Deal with it. Oh, and Jesus is not GOD, Jesus is God's crash test dummy.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • Roger

      This from a book that says: Exodus 21:20 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property." – How ridiculous.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • OnanismO

      Uh uh, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is GOD. He gonna wrap his noodly appendages round yo little god's neck and strangle him.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
    • asrael

      Thought you might be spoofing, but the spelling and grammar argue otherwise; hope you feel a tad better in the next incarnation...

      October 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • Old Fool

      From small minds come small thoughts. You are the problem and you dont even know it. You cant have it both ways. I have found that the biggest racists have no idea they are racists and the biggest idiots have no idea how stupid they really are. Hey, dreck, it's the 21st century. We have come a long way. Let's act like it.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:02 pm |
    • Lisa Hunter

      Your grammar and spelling show you to be pretty much of an idiot. All that "going to Hell" stuff does too.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  11. Charles Centers

    This group needs to be commended. Jesus would not have preached hate against anyone.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  12. JOHN

    The christian radical right wants smaller government. More fredom.
    Except in your bedroom.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  13. BG

    These people have no backbone. Sin is sin...God is love and God loves everyone but God hates sin...end of story. Being gay is a choice that people make. It is a spirit out of hell. I don't hate anyone but i don't accept sin as being normal or an alternate life style either. Jesus is coming back...and either you will be ready or not!

    October 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
    • Dave

      Jesus is coming back? Yeah...keep waiting BG...just don't f with the rest of us in the meantime. I'll be happy to take my judgment directly from God...not from you, thank you very much.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
    • Popepuncher

      God doesn't love us! did you get that from him kicking us out of eden or flooding the entire planet, maybe it comes from the fact he created a being that it's sole purpose was to die, violently and it was his son. Yeah he loves us.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • Frank

      Oh, please. You don't 'choose' to be gay, lesbian, bis#xual or transgender. Did you 'choose' to be straight? If so, tell me about the process.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • dalis

      @ BG Then perhaps you can answer my earlier question: why is being gay a sin? What is the objection exactly?

      October 6, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
    • OnanismO

      Sadly, ten thousand years from now, there will probably still be fools like you, when Jesus' parting words were basically, "I'll be right back." It's amazing how some people just can't let go of their religious fantasies. Feeble minds.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
    • asrael

      Thank you, God, for hating the sin so that I can have a ready excuse for my supreme arrogance...

      October 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • Frank Rizzo

      George Carlin said it best. "Religion convinced the world that there's an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there's 10 things he doesn't want you to do or else you'll to to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you!"

      October 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • Old Fool

      You are the problem and you dont even know it. You cant have it both ways. I have found that the biggest racists have no idea they are racists and the biggest idiots have no idea how stupid they really are. Hey, BG, it's the 21st century. We have come a long way. Let's act like it.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
  14. Peter in Seattle

    In this case the headline should have read: "Christian"

    October 6, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  15. dwayne

    Better than FOX lies.

    October 6, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
  16. Henry Miller

    Why do these religious nuts think it's any of their business who goes to bed with whom? Bloody self-righteous busybodies!

    October 6, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  17. Popepuncher

    I love the act they named themselves after the book in the bible that had their "GOD" kill hundreds of innocent babies and children out of spite.

    October 6, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • dalis

      Well, it sounded better than "Leviticus".

      October 6, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • OnanismO

      No bible thumper ever uses Onan. They tend to forget/ignore him.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
  18. CNN: Providing cover for America's corporations since 1980

    What? Empathy? Hindsight? Thoughtfulness? Not traits that you normally see exhibited by these groups (forget the religious bent). Roger Ailes and Mr. Beck will NOT be pleased. Something went wrong with the indoctrination. Quick – have CNN put out some sympathetic reporting of a staged event showing Beck crying like a baby over some evil scientist murdering some forgotten stem cells in a test tube. That outta bring em back in. Gotta keep the populace fat and distracted to maintain corporate America's dominance of our society!

    October 6, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  19. dwayne

    It is time foe christians to see if they are capable of taking responsibility for their own self's. Religions are all sick.

    October 6, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  20. MrsFizzy

    "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,"
    ...Why should a "Christian" group have been against that in the first place? This isn't promotion but anti-bashing of other human beings ... guess I expect too much. Good for Exodus Group...baby steps!

    October 6, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
    • dalis

      From what I gather, the "Day of Truth" is more of a protest against the organization behind the Day of Silence, the GLSEN which sponsors GSAs in high schools all over the United States. Basically, the conservative Christians aren't pro-bullying (though they're not exactly anti- either), but they think that the bullies kids aren't really gay (because according to them, no one is) until the GSAs get a hold of them and convince them they are.

      For that reason alone, you'd think they'd be highly opposed to bullying – I mean, it only begets more gays right?

      October 6, 2010 at 7:54 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.