September 29th, 2011
11:09 AM ET

My Take: 'Hate' is too big a word to be used with such little restraint

Editor's Note: Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and author of Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength (David C. Cook, 2010).

By Jim Daly, Special to CNN

(CNN)– We all know the old saying about falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. It's a metaphor designed to explain that while free speech is protected in our country, speaking with reckless disregard for the truth and inciting panic is, at best, irresponsibly dangerous, and, at worst, beyond the covering of the First Amendment.

The phrase has its roots in a 1919 opinion by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, but there's a version of it growing increasingly common today: Falsely yelling "hate" in a crowded public square.

A New York Times story over the weekend chronicled how some individuals and organizations eager to see same-sex marriage legalized have stopped trying to win others to their point of view through reasoned argument and have turned, instead, to emotional epithets as their main rhetorical tool.

The most recent campaign is against the Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), an online shopping service that allows consumers to donate a portion of their purchase from a variety of retailers to the nonprofit group of their choice. Gay activists, primarily through online petitions, have pressured several retailers to pull out of CGBG, alleging that the stores are helping fund "hate."

Similar efforts have been launched in recent months against Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, for speaking at a Focus on the Family event; and Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, for agreeing to appear at a leadership conference sponsored by another Christian group, the Willow Creek Association.

These events are a chilling snapshot of what's become of civil discourse in our culture.

The simple truth is, "hate" is far too big a word to be thrown around with such little discretion. It imputes a sinister motive to what, in this case, is a widely and deeply held belief that God's design for human sexuality lies within the lifelong context of one-man, one-woman marriage.

Does Focus on the Family advocate for that definition of marriage to be upheld as the law of the land? Unapologetically. But do we, as Webster's defines "hate," feel "intense hostility and aversion" to gays and lesbians? Do we regard them with "extreme dislike or antipathy"? Unequivocally not.

That is not to say, of course, that there aren't people and groups who do "hate" gays and lesbians.

There are also people and groups who "hate" Christians. But they do not represent the wide swath of either side of the discussion about same-sex marriage.

For the overwhelming majority of those who see the issue as we do, it is a public-policy matter we approach informed by our faith and motivated by what we feel is best for society.

Study after study has indicated the best environment for children to be raised  and nurtured  is the home of their married, biological parents. Same-sex marriage, by definition, creates homes that deprive a child of either a mother or a father.

Those of us who hold these views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage are certainly accustomed to having our beliefs challenged, even vehemently, and often in our own families.

We pray we speak on these subjects in a way that upholds God's truth while demonstrating Christ's heart and love for all people. However, if this effort to intimidate those who hold our views - and even those who may not hold our views but associate with us - continues, it's possible we won't be able to speak about it at all.

In many ways the environment we find ourselves in is not unlike that surrounding Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Certainly at that point in our history, the threat of communism to our nation was real.

It was right and proper, as most on the left and right agree, that those who did seek to subvert the laws and security of the United States be exposed and brought to justice. But the way McCarthy pursued his anti-communism campaign was, as the Times said in a 1998 editorial, "a menace to the body politic."

He leveled very loud charges very publicly, often with no evidence to support his accusations. Still, the smears stuck even to those he targeted unfairly, who for the rest of their lives bore a stain not caused by their actions, but by his words.

We were a better country than that then, and we're a better country than that now. Ours is a long tradition of turning disagreements into debates, not denigration. Let's keep that tradition going by putting out a real fire – the one caused by overheated, overreaching rhetoric.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jim Daly.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Gay rights • United States

soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. what is this

    So I guess if we just use a word often enough on a subject we can eventually make it stick. Isn’t that the game here, really?

    We can change the definition of a word by simply using it often enough in a certain context, eh? Maybe we are getting a little too carried away with marketing gimmick phrases like “black is the new gray”, “Monday is the new Friday” and all of that. We are getting confused with what words really mean anymore, calling anything we want a cult or a hate group without regards for the definition of those words causes us to lump together things which are not the same at all. Seriously is that the best tactic, is that what it has come to? What happened to debating on the merits of issues in this country instead of mud slinging to win dirty. Have we as a people of this nation not become like the very thing we detest in politicians and their campaigns?

    Friday is never going to be Monday just because we say it is over and over again. Knock off the BS and deal with the issues, head on, instead of trying to repaint your adversary as something he isn’t in order to defeat that thing, instead of dealing with the real thing at hand. If you have to try and make your opposition into something else in order to defeat them, maybe your argument isn’t as strong as you think it is.

    October 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  2. Maggie4NoH8

    Does anyone on the left, or a Christian for that matter, see the complete irony and utter disdain and hypocrisy with which this article was penned?

    How dare Jim Daly comment about the subject of hate without taking a rational, close (heck, cursory) look at himself, and his organization (FOTF)!

    The gall of this man is unbelievable – talk about glass houses! What he and his organization thrives upon is precisely yelling "FIRE" – maybe not literally in a crowded theater, but certainly in the "social issues theater"!

    I ran across a photo of a billboard (on International Blasphemy Day naturally) – the text of which follows:

    Religion is like a penis....
    Its fine to have one.
    Its fine to be proud of it.
    But please do not whip it out in public and start waving it around,
    And PLEASE don't try to shove it down my children's throats.

    October 3, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • mike

      I think you need to reread the article. You are not responding to the article at all, you are responding from your feelings, which is exactly what he is talking about.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  3. Paul Mc

    Until FoTF utterly repudiate support for so-called 'change' efforts and desist from advocating for any and all laws that discriminating against gay people and instead support equal rights for gay people then they are quite simply in the hate business.

    Until FotF stop denigrating gay people on a routine basis then what they do is promulgate hatred.

    October 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • nwatcher

      Wow, I wondered how many posts I would have to read before someone did/said exactly what Mr. Daly said was the problem. First post I read – Congratulations!!! By your stated position on this you probably deny there are some people who would like to change their present orientation/behavior. So you would prefer they have no options available to them? Those folks who have already picked a side to hate, may consider having a civil discussion. You would be surprised at the huge amount of information out there that you choose to disregard, but others use to make informed decisions.

      October 3, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Duh

      "deny there are some people who would like to change their present orientation/behavior. So you would prefer they have no options available to them? "

      All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons.

      October 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • nwatcher

      ... let's try this again, So, you are saying you don't think people who want to change should have that option?

      October 3, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Duh

      "So, you are saying you don't think people who want to change should have that option?"

      LOL – Being gay isn't a choice moron. Just like you didn't choose your hair color etc... LOL! Keep showing the world you're clueless on this subject. LOL!

      October 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • pattysboi

      Exactly correct, Paul. My mother had dobson's CULT send me an antigay book without my permission, and it was returned, refused, before I married my lovely WIFE. We are a married lesbian family, and our marriage is rock-solid and Christ-centered. The focus CULT needs to focus on their own family, and leave mine alone.

      October 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  4. Bill

    An important and different take on the 'hate' issue.


    October 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  5. DavidH

    Focus on the Familiy uses lies to mailign an entire group of people. They routinely misconstrue the finding of legitimate studies, laugh at legitimate science as well as the experience of every gay person on the planet, and quote the Bible as 'evidence' of their stance that gay people are sick, perverted, pedophilic and immoral. This is ignorant, childish, bigoted – HATE. Have you no decency, Mr Daly? At long last, have you no decency whatsoever?

    October 3, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • nwatcher

      So, you found your information where? Focus uses none of the hateful words you just threw out there – of course you just helped to prove Mr. Daly's point. Thank you

      October 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • nwatcher

      ...maybe "hate-filled words" would be a better description...

      October 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Duh

      "So, you found your information where?"

      Why don't you try the A.P.A for one and all world health organizations moron. It's uneducated fools like you that create the hate in our society.

      October 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • nwatcher

      @Duh – so the A.P.A knows what Focus on the Family says? Wait – you didn't read the whole post did you (and it really did sound hateful when you called me a moron).

      Keep trolling for my replys – I've got lots of these for you to respond to but try keep it appropriate in light of the article.

      October 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Seriously

      "so the A.P.A knows what Focus on the Family says?"

      I was stating the rest of David's reply is based on findings from the A.P.A – something you probably have read right moron. LOL!

      October 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Seriously

      That was suppose to read It not I – oops typed to fast.

      October 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  6. Infidel

    You leftist appeasers and apologists that defend ISLAM is the height of hypocrisy. On all fronts – in the areas of human rights, tolerance, reason, science, progress – islam comes up consistently as one of the most evil scourges to have hit the face the earth.

    It is not a religion of peace; it is a violent religion. It is a HATEFUL religion. Wherever it rears its ugly head, it creates for oppression, tyranny, and a lowered standard of living.

    A person who truly values reason, tolerance, and science would completely and unequivocally denounce Islam.

    But leftists don’t. Ask why??

    Perhaps because they do not stand for any of those things.

    October 2, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  7. LV

    I like the point of this article. We're supposed to give LGBT something, namely anything they want, or we hate them. That is indeed a cop out on the part of the LGBT community, and the Muslim community. Maybe we just don't care. Maybe we're just tired of giving every sub-group which can fog a mirror special favors. Maybe we just don't agree that LGBT couples should adopt children, get paid benefits, or anything else which cost society time and money. Are those views insensitive, or honest? Doesn't it depend on the tone? And what is it that would define mission accomplished for the LGBT community? Power? Money? Prestige? Isn't that social climbing? They're angry, and will never be happy, no matter how much we, the majority middle class, give them. (With GIVE being the operative word; we can say enough is enough and stop reacting)

    October 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • RushL

      Yes! How dare they want ALL the same rights we have...

      October 2, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • Seriously

      "Maybe we just don't agree that LGBT couples should adopt children, get paid benefits, or anything else which cost society time and money."

      The point is that the experts have shown that children raised by LGBT couples have the same experience as being raised by straight people. As for getting paid benefits fortune 500 companies are already doing it because there are now laws that state discrimination against sexual orientation is illegal. You may not agree but it's about civil rights, just like there are some that still disagree with African Americans and whites marrying. It's about doing what is right despite your personal prejudices.

      October 3, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  8. Ben

    "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jim Daly."

    That statement could not be more apt.

    October 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  9. Kevin

    @Clay. Saying atheism is better than religion (the previous poster did not, by the way, if facts are important to you) is not "doing the same thing you accuse us of doing". We are all born atheists. Religion is added. Therefore you cannot compare your religion to atheism as if atheism is a religion. It is not. It is FREEDOM FROM religion.

    October 1, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Yuncjunc

      Born atheist – – Can you prove this ? I know I was born to marry a biologically compatible spouse and raise children to marry biologically compatible spouses. Does anyone need explanations when God's plan is so beautiful ?

      October 1, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • LV

      Yunc – you have to prove an affirmative; you cannot prove a negative. In other words, there is no mythical sky creature looking over all of us unless you can prove it. Religion exists to answer the question of death, and it appears to have been created, rules and all, to keep social order. It works, and it is not inherently evil.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  10. SocialistZero


    October 1, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • aldoushuxley

      Hate is a four letter word and begins with the same letter as that place where all of us who have failed to make JEEZUSSS our personal savior will BURN AND FRY for all eternity. Blahahahahah! Evilness, wickedness, sin! The Devil! Satan! Haahahahahahaha! You're all going to burn and fry because Tom Cruise and Jon Travolta are the real prophets! JEEEEzusss was just the flavor of the week. Yea and thou shalt see the wicked ways of thy sinfulness!!! Burn In HE!!!!!!!!!!! for eternity because you weren't born in an illiterate mid-western, or southern community, where football reigns supreme, and independent thought is as punishable by death as witchcraft was in the 16th century.

      Burn in He!!!! burn a witch. Burn a book! Burn a cross!

      October 1, 2011 at 2:18 am |
    • sam

      I legitimately laughed IRL at this. Well done.

      October 2, 2011 at 2:23 am |
  11. SocialistZero

    Maybe people actually just feel alot of hate these days.

    October 1, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  12. Mike

    Like an alcoholic who who claims he can stop drinking whenever he wants, the true mark of a hate group is the denial that their hatred is what it is. It is ALWAYS "love" of the opposite of what they hate.

    When you go out of your way to destroy my family, that is a hateful act. I will not apologize for using the word. I will not apologize for calling you out on it. And I will not apologize to you as I and others like me firmly march you into the "dark pages" of the history books to join the ranks of the KKK, the Nazis, the Inquisition, and every other group that has tried to couch its hate in terms of "love."

    September 30, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • nwatcher

      So, are you agreeing with Mr. Daly that destroying families is bad? I think you are....

      October 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Duh

      "So, are you agreeing with Mr. Daly that destroying families is bad?"

      Especially the gay and lesbian families that have been shown to be just as loving and great at raising children as straights. Social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents—concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people—are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being.

      October 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  13. yeahalright

    "Same-gender marriage, by definition, creates homes that deprive a child of either a mother or a father."

    Replace "same gender (won't let me write the S word) marriage" with "Jim Daly" and your sentence would be correct.

    Where do you think these children come from? Are they ripped from the arms of loving straight christian parents and given to these godless gays? They are abandoned children. You, though, want those abandoned children to stay in foster homes and orphanages rather than in a loving, permanent home.

    Make your next article about how you don't hate abandoned children.

    September 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  14. James

    separation of church and state

    September 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • nwatcher

      Brilliant response!! .... to what?

      October 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  15. milob

    Yeahhhh.....see, when you say you "unapologetically" advocate for the law to relfect your belief that your relationships – your $exual orientation, your time on Earth – is superior to mine......it sure feels like hate to me.

    The hypcriscy of Jim's litte essay is breathtaking – an SPLC-identified hate group complaining about hate!

    September 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Prodigal

      We'd encourage you to actually go to the web site of the SPLC and look for Focus on the Family on it's "hate" list.

      Or I can save you some time: You will not find Focus there.

      That being said, the SPLC list is also something that should be considered in light of Jim Daly's comments. The SPLC would be wise to consider how it's applying such an emotionally loaded adjective against groups that are doing nothing more than affirming a biblical view of marriage.

      September 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Magnum Serpentine

      I have often wondered why Focus on the Family is not on the hate list. In my opinion it should be. With that said, I disagree with Mr. Daily. I would also like to add many Christians do not hate Gays or say they should change, even more Christians have no problem with equal marrage. The Family Rights groups are a small minority thank goodness.

      September 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Hey Prodigal, I think I should be able to own another person, sell my daughters, and that women shouldn't be allowed to vote. Now before you get upset, I'm only affirming a biblical view of these things. Gets me off the hook right?

      Papering over your prejudice with a "hey, it's in the bible" excuse doesn't make them any less prejudicial or hateful. In fact it makes me wonder why you think the world of 2011 should operate according to the superstishions (censor won't let me spell it correctly) of 2,000 years ago. Of course, you probably don't think I should be able to do those things you mentioned. You just pick and choose the ones you like. So even if running the world according to your bible was a good idea, you aren't being consistent. Just picking and choosing to try to give your personal prejudices the aura of reason and morality; when in fact they are neither reasonable nor moral.

      September 30, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • yeahalright

      correction...things "I" mentioned. No edit feature.

      September 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  16. Ben

    Oh, I see. You don't "hate" gays and lesbians. You are just sincerely and firmly opposed to them being legally allowed to be happy in public, based on personally held religious beliefs that they don't share.

    In that case, I don't "hate" you. I just wish you don't ever have the opportunity to be happy in your lifetime. Can we make that a law? If the police see you enjoying an ice cream cone, they have to smack it out of your hand. Not all Christians, just you, Jim Daly. You don't get to be happy ever. Because my religion forbids it. My God says that Jim Daly being happy is contrary to how He created the world, and He never intended for you to enjoy a single moment of your life.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • AmazingSteve


      September 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • milob

      Amen. And whensoever Jim Daly shall break into smile, the devout among thee will smack it off his insipid face. So it is ordained.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Fragistan

      I like that idea. Let's ALL slap him silly for being such a tard. What a disgusting piece of shlt he is. But no "hate" here. Nope.

      September 30, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • yeahalright

      I concur. My religion says people with the name Jim Daly shouldn't be allowed to marry. Tough luck for you then eh? I don't hate you though, seriously. I'll go out of my way to stop you from getting married when it has ZERO affect on my life, but I don't hate you. In fact I love you. My religion says so. But you can't get married. Sounds fair right?

      September 30, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Maggie4NoH8


      PS – I forgot the praise jeebus part.

      October 3, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  17. Rico

    I have a great idea – since it seems that no one is being convinced by any of the online comments from either side (they're actually making things worse), why don't we all try this: Gays, Christians, Atheists, Intellectuals, Moralists, and anyone I may have missed, go find someone whose beliefs are unlike your own and get to know them. People are so much more well-behaved when they're not faceless and nameless like the internet allows us to be.

    September 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  18. Mauriziobattifora.com

    Why don't you christians go to your churches and pray and fast and do your thing without trying to impose your believes on others?.
    Nobody is asking you christians to join an LGBT group or gay parade, or to assist to a gay marriage... You can be free to believe in whatever ghost you want to believe and you are even free to be biggots, but keep it to yourselves.
    This is America, a Country of multiple cultures, traditions, ethnical backgrounds, religions and lifestyles; this is not the middle east nor XIV century Europe. Here we are free to believe in whatever we want to believe and love who ever we want to love.
    Christians, you should put your money into good causes, like helping the poor, the sick, the helpless not into political or social campaigns to take the rights away from those who are different from you. That to me is not very christian like, unless of course that you HATE gays so much that you feel compel to battle them... then you are not really christians, you are anti-christs.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  19. John Winfield

    "Hate" seems very appropriate to me. I call it like I see it.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Clay

      And your view of it is slightly off. Your perception is your reality, go ahead and choose what you see.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  20. Clay

    "The worst offenders are religious fools.
    They hate anyone who's not of their religion.
    Seriously why did religion make out their god to be so vengeful and hateful?
    Religious people are such hypocrites, they are surely here to make normal people laugh."
    And yet, your here saying your Atheism is better then religion.
    Your doing the same thing you accuse us if doing.
    Surely you exist for us to laugh at your inability to follow your own logic.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • nwatcher

      That may be too deep for the typical CNN philosopher to follow ... let's wait and see!

      October 3, 2011 at 6:40 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.