Christians in Indiana Unite to Create a Prom That Gay Students Can’t Attend

A group of Christian students (and their parents) from Sullivan High School in Sullivan, IN‎ don’t want to go to their own prom… because gay students are allowed to attend.

So, yesterday, they gathered at First Christian Church to make plans for an alternative prom that would ban gay students:

Their idea is to create a [separate... traditional prom]. Students say there are several others from their high school who agree, but are afraid to take a stand.

“If we can get a good prom then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe,” said student Kynon Johnson.

And now they want everyone to know where they stand.

“We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don’t think it’s right nor should it be publicly accepted,” said a local student.

Several local pastors support the seperate prom movement.

“Christians have always been prepared for a fight. Jesus gave us armor for the front, not the back; we’re not running anymore,” said Bill Phegley with Carlisle Church.

I would love to know what they all think is going to happen at a prom that allows gay students.

Because, as a teacher who has chaperoned a high school prom multiple times, I’ve seen what straight kids do at a dance. I’ve seen what Christian straight kids do at a dance. Whatever these people are afraid gay students will do, I promise you straight kids are doing things that are waaaaaaay more inappropriate.

Who knew you needed an alternative, Christian-created, no-gays-allowed prom in order to grind against the wall with your date?

It brings to mind what happened to Constance McMillen three years ago when her school canceled prom for everyone just so she couldn’t attend with her girlfriend.

The bigots have a Facebook group called “2013 Sullivan Traditional Prom” where members go to great lengths to convince people they’re not haters — they just want to make life miserable for gay students, especially ones who have the audacity to hold hands and smile and make themselves known in public:

Our first suggestion would be that the school administration ask the same sex couple or couples not use this venue (the Grand March) to demonstrate their sexuality because it is offensive to many and would be demonstrating before minors. So our wish is that the school officials and board return to the traditional couple stance in the same way Indiana only accepts traditional (man and wife) marriages.

We encourage you to show support for the teens in our community that are standing up for what they believe is right. Their position is based on the Bible’s stance against homosexuality and its acceptance in society and in our schools. It is very difficult for many of our high schoolers to stand up against peer pressure, our permissive culture and main stream media and yet many teens are standing up concerning this blatant demonstration that is not in accordance with God’s Word.

Please keep in mind that we love those who participate in homosexuality but that does not mean that we love homosexuality. Just as it has become their civil right (according to our society today) to attend the Grand March as a homosexual couple, it is our teens right to speak out against such a public demonstration. Many believe, as our teens do, this is not the venue to demonstrate a homosexual lifestyle.

You have to appreciate how honest that phrase is: “according to our society today”… If these Christians had it their way, in other words, LGBT people would never have gotten civil rights in the first place. But if the “law” says they have to be treated “equally,” then the Christians will just avoid them at all costs.

It’s like that one time Jesus said: “What?! There are people who don’t agree with my beliefs? Fuck that. I’m outta here.” (It’s in the New Testament somewhere, I’m sure.)

And there’s this:

We would like to stress to everyone that this is not a hate group. We do not hate anyone, we are not judging anyone. We are choosing to stand on the word of God. The bible says the truth will set you free. All we can do is stand for what we believe and let God do the rest. We will not judge or hate anyone for their choice. We simply choose the entire word of God. The unchanging living word of God. God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Yes, they love gay people so much, they’re gathering at a church to figure out the best way to celebrate the end of high school without those damned gay kids getting in their way.

You choose the side of God? Fine. I’ll choose the side of human decency, kindness, and not being a complete asshole to classmates I don’t like.

Here’s the same person:

Our position concerning the SHS Grand March is we believe that the student body was not given the opportunity to voice it’s opinion concerning same sex couples.
A petition was started and passed around by a few students in favor of same sex couples attending the Grand March. The petition was not pre-approved by the school prior to its circulation. Some students who chose not to sign the petition were called into the office and were told to be quiet about it. The students were told to “drop” the issue, then it was approved.
The school did not allow the community to have a say or an opinion in the matter.

Apparently, AJ Doffing believes that civil rights should be put to a vote of the student body. Which would theoretically also open the door to voting on whether black students or Hispanic students or atheists or Jews should be banned from attending prom.

But they would never do those things. Because that would be hateful.

My favorite post on that Facebook page, though, has to be this one:

Don’t forgot about the meeting today at the first Christian Church at 1:30! We need to get as many parents and students there as possible to really make this a go! Come in through the back doors hope to see everybody there:)

Oh, Christians… sometimes, you make my job so easy…

The school can’t really do anything about this since they have to open the prom to all students — right now, administrators haven’t made any public statements.

So what can you do to help? Email SHS principal David Springer or Superintendent Chris Stitzle and tell them to voice their unwavering support for an inclusive prom no matter what happens in this case. LGBT students need to know they have the support of the adults in the district even if some of the students and their families are lost causes.

Dan Savage adds another suggestion (emphasis mine):

And here’s one’s for all you “not all like that” Christians out there: Sullivan First Christian Church needs to hear from Christians who think it’s wrong — who think it’s un-Christian — for a Christian church to serve as a meeting place for a hate groups that exists only to exclude LGBT adolescents from a milestone like prom. Sullivan First Christian’s contact page is here. [Their] phone number is 812-268-4348. Give ‘em a shout.

(Thanks to Meg for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Haha USA

    What they really need to be doing is banning jews and blacks from their prom… it’s exactly the same type of bigotry isn’t it?

    Or maybe it’s because you can catch teh gay but you can’t catch teh jew or catch teh black that this type of bigotry is acceptable?

    • DavidMHart

      Can’t catch teh jew? All the active practitioners of Judaism that I know are adult converts :-)

  • AndersH

    The “demonstrating before minors” part makes me think they want to relocate their alternative prom to St. Petersburg, where they could trust law enforcement to back up their bigotry.

  • Bill Clayten

    Their tuxedos better not be made of any kind of blend material! For the sake of their souls, I hope they’re not serving shrimp!

  • iEatWoofers

    “We don’t want be in the same building as you, we don’t want so see or hear you, we don’t want you to have the same rights as us and we think you should be outcast by society! Oh, and if you don’t stop being gay, we think it’s OK for you to suffer for ETERNITY. But seriously, we love you all! What? Hypocrites? Us!? No! We’re only spreading GODS LOVE. GOD thinks being gay is bad so he made you gay so I could tell you not to be gay so we both can go to heaven! Doesn’t that make sense to you?!” -These idiots.

    • observer

      More like freaks if that’s honestly how they think…

  • Santiago

    I cannot open the alternative prom link in the second paragraph. I will try later. Are school funds being used for this alternative prom? I would hope not.

    • Santiago

      It finally worked for me. Not much info there.

  • Ricky Wilks

    Obviously they don’t have the courage of their convictions since they’ve taken down their website and facebook page.

    • Amy in Indiana

      Did they take down the Facebook page or did Facebook take it down? I would imagine lots of people (like the almost 20,000 “likes” on the Support the Sullivan High School Prom for All Students page) reported their page for hate.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Can you imagine the howling and screams for blood if someone passed around a petition asking if Christianity should be allowed? Or if a school decided that they didn’t want Christians being Christian-y out in public and decided to hold a prom that Christians couldn’t attend?

    The Fucking world would end.

    But no. It’s perfectly fine to hate on people who disagree with you. And that’s what this is: Hate. You *cannot,* CANNOT, love someone and still seek to see them harmed. I don’t care what you tell yourself to make sure you sleep better at night.

    • ReadsInTrees

      Actually, they’d probably life it…..definitive PROOF that Christians are being persecuted!

  • Star

    I can’t open any links to their Facebook page. Have they taken it down? *Fingers crossed*

    • WillBell

      Most likely closed to the public, they don’t want any of us non-bigots getting in the way of their close mindedness.

  • MD

    That word “love” that thy keep using… I don’t think it means what they think it means.

    • icecreamassassin

      Well, for people like this, love isn’t anything more than a label of any kind. The important aspect of ‘love’ is being able to say ‘I love you’. Actually behaving in a loving matter is irrelevant.

    • onamission5

      Unfortunately, they do probably think they are being loving, because True Love (TM) is doing whatever you can to keep those around you from burning in hell, even if what you do makes their lives miserable now, it’s all worth it when they see the light of jesus’ truth. So ostracization, shunning, rejection, condemnation, bullying, all this is seen as an act of love because they are trying to save your soul, don’tcha know, because they True Love you.
      The above reflects the substance of an actual conversation I had with my mother about why she was such an asshole to me after I came out.

    • PsiCop

      “Inconceivable!” :)

  • newavocation

    Prom at an Xian church? Nice it will make the Jews and Muslims feel right at home. Can wait for the KKK to sponsor one.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Was reading the article and came across this little gem “Do you think they (Gays) have a purpose in life?’ No I honestly don’t. Sorry, but I don’t. I don’t understand it.”

    It’s sad that any educator holds that view of any students.

  • Matto the Hun

    I like Dan Savage’s suggestion regarding other Christians speaking out against this bigotry however…

    It does get tiring hearing nonsense from Christians how “un-Christian” it is to be bigoted against LGBT. No it isn’t! This group of hate mongering fuckwits at Christian Church are actually correct about their Bible! It’s not like that hateful shit about men lying with men being abominations fell out somewhere along the line. I don’t want all the moral, non-bigoted Christian people I know to say “yeah, you’re right, I hate gay people now” but it’s a dishonest way of avoiding an uncomfortable truth about their faith and their God.

    Anyway, lacking a better solution, I say go with Dan’s advice and let those assholes know how un-Christian it is.

  • observer

    “We simply choose the entire word of God.”

    So you admit, at least for Christianity, that religion is a choice, yet homosexuals are the ones who are demanding “special” rights.
    I guess I should count my blessings anyway, this maybe the closest I’ll ever get to a True Christian™ admitting he’s a Cristian so he could get away with being a jerk to his fellow men.

    “God is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

    “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” ~ George Wallace

    The whole idea of voting on civil rights isn’t just unconstitutional, it’s really just a smoke screen; it gives the illusion that bigots are being “fair” by at least giving homosexuals a chance to be a part of a civil society. It maybe risky, but they’re highly confidant that the majority will vote “for” God.
    If it does, then it’s a win-win for the bigots – they show they they’re being generously “fair” by putting civil happiness on the line, and they show that, in the end, the cosmos doesn’t like homosexuals.

  • Piet Puk

    They should have their alternative prom in 1947, when more people where this ignorant and hatefull.

    • Piet Puk


  • Dave Warnock

    tried to go to the church page; doesn’t seem to be up. It did have their motto on it: “The Grace Place”…perfect…(sighhhh)

  • sam

    “It’s like that one time Jesus said: “What?! There are people who don’t agree with my beliefs? Fuck that. I’m outta here.” (It’s in the New Testament somewhere, I’m sure.)”

    You’re referring to Luke 19:11-27. ‘Jesus’ is giving a parable in which he endorses the behavior of the protagonist: (:27) “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me.”
    Classic Fascism (not that ‘Jesus’ said anything about homosexuality).

  • Sindigo

    I love the gambit: “We would like to stress to everyone that this is not a hate group.” If you ever feel the need to start your sentence with a disclaimer like that then you seriously need to re-evaluate what you’re about to say. For example, you can be sure that 99% of the time when someone starts a story with the words “I’m not racist but, ” whatever comes out of their mouth next will prove the sentiment inaccurate.

  • Jasper

    “Christian love” – an oxymoron since 33AD

  • Dal Bryn

    At my Christian high school we didn’t have prom because dancing is a sin (so is playing cards). We had some sort of formal where we were suppose to rent tuxes so that we could stay six inches away from our date while listening to a choir and sermon after eating an overcooked “fancy” meal.

    • MD

      I am sorry. I am so sorry.

      As overblown as the whole ritual of prom can be, your experience sounds like pure torture.

    • Thegoodman

      Prom was completely stupid, a huge waste of money, and overall a crappy time. You didn’t miss anything.

      I was not a nerdy/lonely/reject kid, either. I had a date both years (one is now my wife). I went with a bunch of friends and all that other stuff. However, in hindsight, it was one of the most overrated and overpriced events of my life.

  • Tom in Raleigh

    Looks like the Facebook page is down. Pity. I always find reading this sort of stuff amusing.

  • Tainda

    No christians at a party? SWEET!

    • M. Elaine

      That’s what I was thinking! I know which party would be more fun. Those Xtians also better stick to Christianity-approved music – no tracks allowed by artists who are friends of or who are themselves LGBT.

      • I pay taxes

        Just Anita Bryant records, over and over again.

        I’m appalled that Ms. Medley is allowed anywhere near kids. And those poor, obviously Kool-Aided kids in the local news piece, casually spouting despicable Westboroisms. No one’s born thinking that way.

    • curtcameron

      Good point – maybe this whole alternate-prom thing was an idea of the more open-minded students, so they could have a prom without pesky bigots! Sort of like the B-Ark in HHGTTG.

    • m6wg4bxw

      Exactly. Instead of the Christians changing the rules in the school (though I realize they asked for that), they took their religion to the religion house. Excellent solution.

    • jdm8

      That’s really pretty sad in a way. Christians are trying to take their ball and go home with it. The pun was not intended, but it works. A prom isn’t a place where i think of as a place for people to push their religion, it’s just a fancy dance. It’s sad that they’re so offended that they can’t keep anyone out of the official party, they’ll just make their own. I guess it is best if they did that if they’re going to make a problem out of something that shouldn’t be one.

    • DavidMHart

      Hey, I have no objection to Christians at a party, as long as they play nice. The great thing about this is that it filters out the preachy, judgemental Christians; the happy-to-live-and-let-live Christians can prom it up with the rest of the student body, and the bigot brigade get to have a hate-fest. Everyone’s a winner :-)

  • WoodyTanaka

    Just one more example of why there should be no religious exception to anti-discrimination laws. Where it and freedom of religion clash, we must insist on the religion taking the back seat to the non-discrimination.

  • C Peterson

    Please keep in mind that we love those who participate in homosexuality but that does not mean that we love homosexuality.

    Man, you see a sentence like that, reeking of moral decrepitude, logical inconsistency, and just plain ignorance, and you just know that everything else that’s being said is tainted. It’s a good thing that there is no Jesus, because he’d be blowing gaskets that these people claim to be Christian.

    • rwlawoffice

      Not true at all. Jesus is the example of loving the sinner but not the sin.

      • C Peterson

        Rubbish. Whoever invented the words that were ultimately attributed to Jesus, he (or they) had no concept of internal consistency. The words of Jesus given in the Bible have plenty of hateful content.

        It doesn’t mean anything to “love homosexuality”. It doesn’t make sense to talk of “participating in homosexuality”. And it doesn’t make sense to “love” people you don’t really know. Everything about that sentence, and most of the accompanying sentiments, is empty theobabble.

      • Glasofruix

        If he existed he would be bitchslapping you right now.

        • bernardaB

          I would say that he would be Hitchslapping you right now.

      • Anon

        See I don’t quite understand how this works in regards to people like me. Homosexual people.

        Because saying ‘I love you, but I don’t love that you’re gay’ is like saying ‘I love you, but I don’t love that you have blonde hair or have blue eyes or are a woman’. None of those things are my entire identity but they’re still a huge part of me. I can dye my hair or wear contacts the same way I could lie about my sexuality but that will not change the fact that I am still a blonde, blue eyed lesbian. I’m attracted to women and frankly, if somebody can’t accept that about me then I don’t see how that counts as loving somebody.
        Also the phrase ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ implies that there’s something inherently wrong about being homosexual.
        I’m here to tell you, there isn’t.

      • TCC

        Right, because when Jesus met the tax collectors and prostitutes, the first thing he did was to tell them to go eat somewhere else, right? And what did Jesus say about homosexuality, again?

      • Piet Puk

        1. Invent sin.
        2. Make up punishment for sin.
        3. Make up Jesus as imaginairy cure.
        4. ?
        5. Profit!

  • jfletch

    So I’m curious. What denomination is this exactly? Most “First Christian” churches are Disciples of Christ, which usually means socially progressive (for example, there is a DoC church where I live that will not perform the civil part of marriage ceremonies until gay marriage is legalized in KY). I’m curious because if they are DoC, it would be a good opportunity for other churches in the denomination to stand up to them. I can’t tell from the website, though (I didn’t see the chalice symbol).

    Maybe not entirely pertinent, but it piqued my curiosity.

    • Erp

      I note that though the church was a meeting place, it isn’t obvious that the church as a whole supports this (I would guess any of the senior members of the congregations could get permission to use it for a meeting while not necessarily being explicit about what the meeting was for). Notably the minister is not quoted as supporting. Instead he is quoted in another article as not supporting (though not necessarily supporting gays). I wonder if the back door was to avoid the senior minister finding out.

  • LesterBallard

    This is why I’m not a friendly atheist. Fuck these people.

  • EffieDarling

    I wonder how many of those good christian kids will be having anal sex after their christian prom in order to “save my virginity for my spouse.”

  • Tom

    Did they really just use the phrase “stand up against [a] permissive culture?”

  • Jordan Sugarman

    It’s like Footloose in reverse: “Your prom isn’t morally restrictive enough for us, so we’re going to throw off the chains of inclusiveness and hold our own, morally pure prom just over the county line!”

  • Bubba Tarandfeathered

    I wonder if they have gone as far as to research whether or not the prom dresses, worn by their bigoted daughters, have been designed by clothing designers who might be gay?

  • Richard Wade

    There are adults today who as teens participated in bigoted and segregationist practices against the African Americans in their schools and communities. Many of them are now deeply embarrassed by their behavior, and are reluctant to admit to it. As society matures and rejects divisive and exclusionary attitudes, individuals who hold those attitudes either adapt and change or they become increasingly marginalized and forced to hide their retrogressive views. They are then less capable of teaching the next generation to hold and practice them.

    I can only hope that many of these young people can eventually see through their lame rationalizations for their talk love and practice hate club they call their religion.

    • Anna

      There are adults today who as teens participated in bigoted and segregationist practices against the African Americans in their schools and communities.

      Heck, not just adults. That still goes on today. This post reminded me of the documentary Prom Night in Mississippi and the racially segregated proms that are still held in parts of the Deep South.

  • Daniel

    Wow. The Bigot Prom seems to be supported by the Special Ed teacher, who in an interview, equates gay and special ed students at the school.

    “Homosexual students come to me with their problems, and I don’t agree with them, but I care about them. It’s the same thing with my special needs kids, I think God puts everyone in our lives for a reason.”

  • Emma

    “We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals”

    Correction, you want to make the public BELIEVE that you love homosexuals, that this is a matter of “love the sinner, but hate the sin”. However, we all know it isn’t. We all know that saying’s a load of BS.

    And yeah, if this is what you consider “God’s love”, I’m glad I’m having no part of it.

  • Everyday Atheist

    Graduate of Sullivan High School, here. Major kudos are deserved by the school officials. In the local paper, the principal basically said, “This isn’t an issue. If you’re a student, you can attend prom with your date. That’s what the law says, that’s what we do.” Matter-of-fact in a very refreshing way. He could face huge backlash from the bible bashers in town.

    It should also be noted that a Facebook group has been created to show support to gay students at SHS. Last I checked, it was up over 4,000 likes.

    On the “love the sinner” nonsense, I noted on Facebook that, if the person you’re supposedly “loving” instead feels hated and rejected, you’re doing love wrong.

    It sucks to see my hometown portrayed in such a bad light. I’d love to say the haters are the minority, but I’m not sure. The fact that gay kids will be allowed to attend with the date of their choice does, however, suggest that much progress has been made in the last 20 years.

    • MD

      I don’t think your hometown looks bad, be ause th public high school is doing the right thing and all. It’s only the small minded morons who are doing their “Traditinal Prom” silliness that look bad.

  • TychaBrahe

    Nicole: Buff, I don’t see why we have to invite every single senior.
    Buffy: Because it’s the senior dance. It’s just a shot in the dark.

    • nakedanthropologist

      “How about a sign that says ‘don’t tread on me’ and then have, you know, a big picture of like, the earth?’”
      “How do you not tread on the earth? I mean, you’re gonna have to, right?”

  • Har Davids

    I had no idea that Jesus was into body-armour; aren’t these people confusing him with Rambo or John Wayne? It’s obvious they’re projecting their idiocy on a dead Jewish carpenter, who can’t defend himself.

  • McAtheist

    “Come in through the back doors”……for our anti gay meeting, tee hee.

  • Kimpatsu

    “Our position concerning the SHS Grand March is we believe that the student body was not given the opportunity to voice it’s opinion concerning same sex couples.”
    Personally, I think the misuse of the apostrophe should exclude this person from attending any public event…

  • Sue Blue

    “Come in through the back doors…and don’t put your Klan robes on until you’re inside.”

  • Shadow

    It looks like Westboro “Church” has some potential new recruits for the Church of Hate.

  • bernardaB

    Isn’t dancing sort of gay? How do they decide who is gay or not? At my prom long ago I don’t remember that it was exclusively for couples, hetero or not. Some boys and girls are incorrectly identified by rumor as gay at schools, so are they to be excluded? Or a gay person might just go to the prom with a good friend of the opposite sex, how would they know? In high school my next door neighbor and good friend, a guy my age, was gay, but I didn’t know it until later, but it didn’t change anything for me.

  • NickDB

    “We simply choose the entire word of God.”

    Except the part about love thy neighbour, don’t wear blended cloth, no shrimp, no menstruating women (Are they going to check and ban those that are from the Prom too?) and, and, and………

  • Gg

    I don’t think your lumping all Christians together is any better! I am a Born Again Christian and I understand what they are trying to do, but it saddens me as I feel they are missing the mark. Maybe a better course of action would be volunteering to chaperon at the prom to help ensue a more appropriate atmosphere for their teens because as you stated the concerns expressed are displayed by heterosexual and even Christian couples.

    • PietPuk

      Maybe you have missed this part?

      And here’s one’s for all you “not all like that” Christians out there: Sullivan First Christian Church needs to hear from Christians who think it’s wrong — who think it’s un-Christian — for a Christian church to serve as a meeting place for a hate groups that exists only to exclude LGBT adolescents from a milestone like prom. Sullivan First Christian’s contact page is here. [Their] phone number is 812-268-4348. Give ‘em a shout.

  • Mark Dorn

    “Christians have always been prepared for a fight”
    Exactly what Jesus said when he non-violently submitted himself to torture and crucifixion. Christians should really try doing what they claim to believe in.

  • Jason Hinchliffe

    This is a very simple problem. The students have every right to create their own “gay free” prom. We also have every right to laugh at them mercilessly and ignore their stupidity.


    Why are these people so concerned with the sexual orientation of others?

  • newenglandsun

    Well…look at the bright side – the gays get the real prom here.