A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how the American Family Association was urging parents to keep their kids at home on “Mix It Up at Lunch” Day, an event sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center that encourages students to break from their cliques for a day and eat lunch with different people. The goal is to make friends with students whom you might not otherwise have met. It’s a laudable goal.
The problem, according to the AFA, was that this was really just a thinly-veiled attempt by the SPLC to promote homosexuality.
Then again, to the AFA, everything is a thinly-veiled attempt to promote homosexuality.
Now, the New York Times is reporting on the effects of the AFA’s boycott. It’s not pretty. There were 2,500 schools listed as participating before the boycott began:
By Friday, about 200 schools had canceled, [the SPLC's Maureen] Costello said. But exactly why was unclear. Of 20 schools that had canceled and were contacted by The New York Times, only one chose to comment.
The SPLC can’t believe anyone would be opposed to “mixing it up” since it seems like such a positive idea. It’s not all about sexuality. It’s about differences, period:
The program is not about sexual orientation but rather about breaking up social cliques, which are especially evident in a school cafeteria, Ms. Costello said.
In some schools, cliques are socioeconomic. In others they are ethnic or religious or based on sexual orientation. By giving students a way to mix with other students, self-imposed social barriers can be broken down and bullying can be curbed, she said.
“I was surprised that [the AFA] completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is,” said Maureen Costello, the director of the center’s Teaching Tolerance project, which organizes the program. “It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic.”
I’m surprised she’s surprised. Lying is what the conservative Christian groups do.
They lie about what will happen if gay marriage is legalized. They lie about what will happen if President Obama completes his first term. They lie about what happens during “legitimate rape.” They obviously lie about the whole Jesus thing, but I don’t even care about that one right now.
Here’s what the AFA is really afraid of: That children of Christian parents will befriend students who are gay or lesbian, and they’ll realize that there’s nothing wrong or immoral or evil about them. Since that contradicts the lies these kids are taught in church, it’ll push them further away from Christianity.
In other words, when kids make friends who are “different” from them, they’ll realize we’re all a lot more similar than we thought.
Who knew Jesus was opposed to that?
In any case, that goes against everything the AFA stands for. The AFA wants LGBT students to feel like there is something wrong with them because it feeds the narrative that Jesus can make everything better. The AFA cares about that narrative so much that they’ll do whatever it takes to push their agenda, even if it means lying to parents about the “hidden goal” behind a truly wonderful event.
Here’s the upside to all this.
Even if schools are canceling the “Mix It Up at Lunch” events, that doesn’t mean students can’t “Mix It Up” on their own. Sit by someone you don’t know. Start conversations with students who seem like they could use a friend. Break free of your social circles for a day and see what comes of it. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
Parents can do something, too. If your kids’ school is hosting the event, call up the principal and thank him or her for standing up against the Christian hate group.
Christian churches should also encourage this. Again, this isn’t about “promoting” homosexuality so you wouldn’t be hypocrites for supporting this event. Take a stand against the AFA; stop letting them speak for you if you disagree with them, because I guarantee groups like the AFA are redefining Christianity in a way that makes the rest of you look horrible. It’s unfortunate, since most churches aren’t awful places, but if pastors aren’t willing to be a voice of reason in this instance, then they’re part of the problem.
Even thought it’s the New York Times, it’s encouraging to see so many Christians on the right side of this issue in the comment thread, but we need more people willing to stand up against Bryan Fischer and the rest of his heartless cohorts. If you’re a Christian, I think you have even more of a duty to do so, since it’s your faith Fischer is hijacking.