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. ryan

    hi A S
    you're obviously not a Christian. You support gay marriage rights, that's not something Christ would do. A Christian would know that. I hope one day you do find out what you are though 🙂

    November 11, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  2. blf83

    These pseuedo-christians should go to Pakistan. They are the real blasphemers.

    November 11, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  3. blf83

    Send this group to Pakistan – these psuedo-christians are the real blasphemers.

    November 11, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  4. Nursehope

    I am all for freedom of speech. It is guaranteed in the first amendment as is freedom to practice whichever flavor of religion floats your boat. While on the surface these groups promote tolerance, they will be the first to throw the GLBTS humans under their bible bus push comes to shove. Beware of Christians toting bibles under one arm and knives under the other.

    November 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
  5. Amy J


    November 11, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  6. ChittyChittyBangBang

    @Mike, Not me

    Shake thier dust from your feet, brother.

    God Bless You!

    November 11, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  7. fireybuddha

    double bird to focus on the family. what a crock of hoo-ha.

    November 11, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
  8. Nick-O

    All you naturalist, you say God does not exist. OK, fine. You are wrong but let's all ignore reality and play along. If there is no God the are you mad at nature? Are you not upset that your very human nature is telling you what you are doing is not natural? are you upset that a gay or lesbian relationship has NEVER in the history of man EVER produced an offspring? If you wan't an offspring then you need to beg, borrow and steal from the natural order of things. What do these relationships unnatural relationships bring? Death, disease, destruction. Why is it for every gay couple there is always someone playing out the role of the man and the woman? Why did the last gay woman I saw, stop shaving her legs, cut her hair and looked like a man to the point I couldn't tell she was a woman. Why would a woman want a woman that looks like a man when she doesn't have a desire for a man. (seems like she still does, doesn't she?) What If the entire species turned to strict gay protocol, how long would the human race survive? Does anyone really believe that through evolution a man will in fact give birth to an offspring through his rectum? You see, there is a reason this is called an abomination, because it goes against the very fabric of what it means to be human. It is nothing more than a rebellious act that seeks to satisfy only the flesh while simultaneously destroying the mind and spirit.

    November 11, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Nick-O: Your post is a confusing mix of inexperienced rantings. I don't mean to be mean, but it's hard to follow your train of thought. Se-x isn't only about reproduction. Women don't all look the same. If two gay people form a relationship, it won't harm you. Mankind has survived it's entire existence with gays so we are not in any more danger now from gays. I have never met a single gay person who has said that being in the closet uplifts the mind and spirit.
      I can only assume you are a little lost when it comes to alternative se-xuality... And I think it is a mistake to condemn something without first learning about it. So I can only hope you reach out to the gay community, learn about all the different kinds of partnerships there are in the world. We all start out a little naive. But as we grow, we learn.

      November 12, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  9. David

    It makes me sad, very sad, we can be so mean spirited towards each other in this discussion. I have spent a lot of time reading just about every post and the tone seems to get worse from both sides as I read. Can we just talk about the subject? I mean have a whole -hearted, seek first to understand conversation? I know it is easy to get "fired-up" about our views. Trust me, I can get a little out of hand and impatient, because, I am imperfect. I am not here to take a side or expose my views on a topic. I am here to to say "let's have a decent discussion". Isn't that the intention of this sound off?????

    November 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
    • Kelly Garrett


      Discuss what, David? Christians cannot change their bible, or their god. The Gays are not going to change, or accept "second class" status in teh eyes of any god, or his followers. Neither side can change, really. There are some Gays that will accept "second class" status and call themselves christians, but they are considered traitors amongst us and isolated by the majority of the community. It is not that we attack them, or throw them out of an event, but we don't have anything to do with them.

      There are some backsliding christians that think there is room for us in their christ, but the are very, very few and also isolated from the rest of christendom, just as Gays isolate our oxymoronic "Gay christians," They make as much impact on their faith as the sound of a pin dripping at a KISS concert.

      There is no useful discussion that can be had. We are better spending time on those things we have a hope to accomplish, instead of wasting it on trying to change a god, and his followers. As you have seen, the christian side just goes around in circles, as they always have. Most Gays have learned that discourse with them is totally useless.

      November 12, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  10. A Christian

    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.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
  11. Jay Jackson

    This nertwork has lost its objectivity. It tags individuals who historically are not pro-gay and then puts them into an endless queue called "requires moderation." These comments never eventually appear. Read this post quick and make note of it before the network deletes it.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Jay Jackson: Scroll up. Read Reality's post about danger words that get tagged by the filter. And don't be so paranoid that you feel the need to play the victim all the time.

      November 12, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  12. Kris

    F christians. There is no santa claus, easter bunny and certainly no god.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
  13. Kevin

    What a joke! Dialogue, yeah right. This is just like if the KKK came up with a day of dialogue in order to oppose a day of equality for minorities.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  14. Sean

    one day gay people will be extinct, its just the fact of the matter, because they dont reproduce, its like red heads and how they are going to be extinct soon.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  15. Sean

    I think its fine they hold this event as long as they dont promote hate. I don't support gay people because I think its wrong but they dont bug me either so I have no problem with them. People shouldnt bully other people in any way.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
  16. Jeff

    Smells like another closet case clinging to religion to shield themselves.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  17. Christopher

    Whatever happened to Love Your Neighbor As Your Self? Or, treat others how you would like to be treated? Or even better, He who is without sin cast the first stone? - People in glass houses shouldn't be throwning stones.

    Christians are so quick to pull out the Bible and start using it to their advantage to put others down. Why don't they apply the same rules to everyone? Eye for and Eye and Tooth for a Tooth? The problem is that no one person or group is happy the way the Bible is written. King James had to have his version, Catholics theirs etc... But Christians miss the most important message of the Bible...LOVE ONE ANOTHER, CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER. It doesn't say to hate certain groups or discriminate against them. If we're really made in God's image, then God must be a little gay.

    Christians should focus on straight population and the divorce rate the the mighty and great hetero's. You want to deny me marriage, when you can't get it right and over 50% of you end up divorced...

    See it all goes back to LOVE....

    November 11, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
  18. SCTeacher

    I plan to make sure that my students know there is NO historical proof that Jesus was a real person, and was probably based on the myth of Horus. Teachers everywhere should do the same.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
  19. Dave R

    I don't see anything "honest or respectful", as Focus on the Family puts it, in promoting hate and religious-themed delusions.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
  20. Michael in Mich.

    Only the weak minded call themselves religious and believe in the bible, which is the greatest story ever told.

    November 11, 2010 at 8:58 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.