Oct 8, 2010

Exodus backs out of anti-gay program

CNN's Dan Gilgoff filed this report: October 6th, 2010
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.

1 comment:


    Hi Alan……you don’t know me but I am from Australia and have been working with ex-gay survivors (as we are now called) for over 10 years here.

    It has often saddened me to see the devastating impact a person can experience when they belief they are evil or dysfunctional because of their same sex orientation. I knew the impact that belief had on me personally was emotionally, spiritually and psychologically harmful. I guess I get to see so much more of this as the people I work with have left the change ministries….sometimes after many years. The leaders are often unaware of just how damaging it has been for the participant. One person I’ve worked with attempted suicide 3 times whilst going through the Living Waters program here in Sydney, became bi-polar and couldn’t work. Today he is gay Christian who has got his life back on track.

    I struggled myself for 22 years to resolve these things (including 16 years of marriage and children). I now live as an openly gay man of faith who lives a moral life….totally happy and at peace with who I am. I wish someone would have told me at 18 when I became a Christian that being gay and a Christian was not mutually exclusive. The thing that drives me to do the work I do today is that I don’t want one individual to spend one day in the unnecessary torment I did for 22 years. I also came close to taking my own life several times.

    I’ve just read a report that Exodus is not supporting the Day of Truth to counteract the Day of Silence…….in light of the recent revelations of gay youth suicide. Of course what many of us know is that this is not a spike in suicides they have been going on for decades. What is really sad is that it has taken so long to mobilise people to change this tragedy.

    I wanted to say thank you for that……and the acknowledgement of the potential for further harm.

    Whilst we may hold differing views there is a higher purpose we are all called to……love.

    Some have used Exodus and its message to justify and promote hate……and reject those they should love. Our www.freedom2b.org forum is full of such stories.

    If you are interested in the model I work with that is bringing change and creating more love and acceptance here in Australia you can see it here.

    So thanks for taking this recent step…….it will literally save lives.

    Anthony Venn-Brown
    An Ambassador for the LGBT Community
    Author of 'A Life of Unlearning - A Journey to Find the Truth'
    Co-convenor of Freedom 2 b[e]
    Honoured to be on the 2007 & 2009 list of the 25 Most Influential Gay & Lesbian Australians


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