Exodus International drops Day of Truth

Exodus International announced today that the organization will no longer sponsor the Day of Truth (website has been disabled). In an article on CNN’s Belief’s Blog posted by Dan Gilgoff, Exodus leader, Alan Chambers tells the tale:

“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.

Probably surprised by the move, GLSEN’s Eliza Byard welcomed the news.

“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.”

As I noted in the article, I think this is a very significant move. Over the past three years, I have been documenting a split in the evangelical world over how to relate to the gay community. With this decision, Exodus has moved even farther away from the side of fear and stigma. I welcome it as quite consistent with the article I wrote yesterday for CNN.

Print Friendly

  • ken

    Well, it is something positive on the part of Exodus. Unfortunately, it looks like FOTF is still going to try to push for it to happen. from the same article:

    “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.

    So the Day of Silence is about how anti-gay name-calling and bully silences and hurts GLBT students, and Candi wants to present another point of view.

  • Lynn David

    HTML pages are changed, but PDF files are still active.

    I could never reconcile what Exodus said in much of its literature about tolerance going both ways but then stating that “the Day of Truth is only the beginning” as it was hoping to create “an honest discussion about homosexuality” – when it came directly after the Day of Silence which was nothing but a statement for tolerance and against bullying.

    So I am glad Exodus finally got it together, but I’m saddened that it had to happen after several kids committed suicide after bullied for being or perceived as gay.

  • Michael Bussee

    Now let’s see them participate in the Day Of Silence.

  • stephanie

    Mr. Bussee: Exodus will never be what you want it to be. But I am surprised that your only reaction avoids giving them some credit for this move.

  • ken

    Only if they all contracted laryngitis on that day Michael. Although, if that did happen, I’d say someone was sending them a pretty clear message :)

  • Eric

    Apparently promising news, but read up on it. Exodus is publicly backing away from the event. But it only sponsored it. Day of Truth is run by Alliance Defense Fund. All they need to do is line up new sponsorship – and I’m sure there are many wiling to volunteer – and they’ll be back on track. Now its a wait and see of how ADF will retool and maybe re-brand the whole thing and bring it back out once the current dust has settled. It will settle and DoT will relaunch. They will take it underground to fester and re-erupt later.

  • ken

    Eric# ~ Oct 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

    “Day of Truth is run by Alliance Defense Fund. ”

    No, if you read the article you will see that ADF initially started the Day of Truth, but transferred responsibility for it to Exodus. Exodus owns the domain (dayoftruth.org). However, from the article it sounds like Exodus is willing to transfer that to ADF if they want it (or possibly FOTF).

  • Michael Bussee

    Faith, Hope and Love: Ending LGBT Teen Suicide by Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D.

    Regardless of one’s view about sexual ethics, family values, or same-sex marriage, I believe that encouraging or contributing to violence against LGBT people, either directly or indirectly, is the true sin against nature and creation. The steps that the above LGBT religious leaders and allies are taking to stop the bullying and harassment of LGBT youth affirm the truth that God is love and that we are all created in God’s image and likeness.

    I challenge all people involved with anti-gay faith-based groups to practice what they preach and condemn all forms of violence, self-inflicted or otherwise, against LGBT people. They can no longer remain silent and wash their hands of responsibility, as Pontius Pilate did with Jesus of Nazareth, in the face of the growing number of deaths of LGBT young people. Regardless of what these groups may believe about sin, they need to speak out against this violence. That, to me, is what it truly means to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.

    St. Paul writes in his First Letter to the Corinthians that the great theological virtues are faith, hope, and love. We must give faith to our LGBT young people that things will get better, no matter how bleak things may seem right now. We must give them hope that there are others out there who care about them. And we must give them love by speaking out and acting forcefully against LGBT violence in all its forms.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-patrick-s-cheng-phd/faith-hope-and-love-endin_b_749160.html?ir=Impact

  • Michael Bussee

    It is high time they dropped the “Day Of Truth”! Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that Exodus has ever condoned bullying or anti-violence, but they were strongly resistant (until recently) to the idea of officially condemning it via an official policy. It took months of pressure to get them to adopt one when it should have been their official policy for decades.

    On the other hand, they were quick to officially oppose anti-bullying programs and hate-crime laws — describing these as nothing more than “tools to crush Christian evangelism”. I think that now Alan Chambers may be sorry he ever made that statement.

    Now, in light of the string of September suicides, it seem to me they want to paint themselves as forerunners and champions in the fight against bullying — when they have been dragging their feet on this issue for years. I think that dropping the “Day of Truth” is a good step since it was divisive and was intended as a protest against the “pro-gay” Day Of Silence.

    What they fail to see is that in preaching that gay love is “counterfiet”, broken, in need of repair, “evil”, disordered and deserving of eternal punishment, they add to the anti — gay feeling from which bullying arises. Gay kids are inferior to straight kids. Defective. Even God thinks so. Contrary to what gays say, it doesn’t “get better”. It gets much worse if you don’t try to become “ex”, “former” or “post” gay.

    How can a kid hear all of that and not get the feeling that they might be better off dead — particularly when Exodus cannot deliver on its claim that gay Chistians don’t have to be gay if they really don’t want to? Be celibate or perish? That message is a form of bullying in my opinion — no matter how it’s dressed up.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Michael

    Now let’s see them participate in the Day Of Silence.

    I’d be happy if they participated in the Golden Rule project. I say kudos to this move and I hope it holds promise for a future of peace between the camps.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Michael,

    I don’t think that a message of celibacy is bullying. That is, after all, the same message that Christianity delivers to heterosexual youth.

    Some of the other stuff (which you have to admit Exodus has backed away from recently) is nasty. Plain ol’ mean-spirited. And some of the “change is possible” message has the possibility of severe spiritual damage* and perhaps even psychological damage for some.

    But I say we should measure others from where they are, not from where they were. And I applaud improvement at Exodus.

    If Exodus & crew want to say that God calls all his children to celibacy until marriage – no problem with me. And as gay kids mature, they can accept or reject the idea that unlike their heterosexual peers they never ever ever get to experience dating, falling in love, and marrying.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    * re spiritual damage of the “change is possible” message:

    Assertions about what God wants – when coupled to reality that contradicts these assertions – can lead to loss of faith and rejection of God.

    Glee covered this in a touching and realistic manner this week. Sue Silvester does not believe in God because people were cruel to her disabled sister. She prayed and prayed but God didn’t change her sister. So Sue rejected God.

    Kirk, the gay kid, only knows that churches don’t like gay people. They tell him that he “chooses to be gay” and this does not align with reality. So he too doesn’t believe in God.

    I can’t tell you how often I come in contact with people who went through ex-gay ministries who did not lose their gayness but who did lose their faith. The claims and expectations simply didn’t turn out to be true so they lost all belief.

  • DM

    Timothy –

    How strange that you didn’t relate the end of the story on Glee this week with Sue Silvester’s character, when she was playing checkers with her disabled sister.

    Sue asks her sister if she believes in God, and her sister responds, “Do you?”

    Sue tells her sister that she doesn’t and a bit about why.

    Her sister replies, “God doesn’t make mistakes. That’s what I believe.” (Or something close to that.)

    She asks Sue, “Sue, do you want me to pray for you?”

    And Sue replies, “Yes.” A bit teary-eyed – fine acting work if you’ll pardon the observation.

    That was a powerful exchange, Timothy. And it effected Sue’s decision to let the kids in the Glee club – including Kirk (who laid down some fine acting on his part during this episode as well) – sing “What if God Was One of Us?” at the conclusion of the show.

    [Part of the plot this week was Sue & Kirk protesting against a violation of separation of church and state in that week's Glee club assignment on exploring faith.]

    Sue sees that her sister has faith, although she’d been bullied and taunted. And Kirk comes to realize that his friends who were praying for his dad in the hospital did not mean him one bit of harm, but were trying to be comforting and helpful.

    Sometimes people who lose their belief – and this does happen – come around to find it again. And sometimes people who don’t even believe in God come to an understanding that those who do don’t wish to bring them any harm.

  • Michael Bussee

    If Exodus & crew want to say that God calls all his children to celibacy until marriage – no problem with me

    I have no problem with the “I choose to be celibate and so can you” message.

    I have problem with the “fine print” — Celibacy is possible — and you must choose that or attempt heterosexual marriage because gay sex is always evil and — or else — you will land you in Hell in you don’t repent”.

    I have a problem with gayness is “broken”, gay love is “counterfeit”, “homosexuality will always disappoint you”, is always a “sinful behavior”, “there is no such thing as actually having a homosexual orientation”. No such thing as a gay person.

    Gay people are incapable of real love — Andy comiskey’s message. Choosing to not have gay sex? Fine. Telling other people that they are not really Christian, not really saved, headed for Hell? Not so fine.

    Yes, I also am glad that Exodus has moved away from its Day of Truth stance — but have they really decided not to be adversarial regarding bullying, or did they just have to cut some programs due to budget constraints and PR concerns? I suppose I should be happy either way — but I remain highly skeptical of Exodus’ recent procouncements.

    Why, why did they not already have a firm, official policy against bullying? Wht did they have to be pushed? They had to be pushed about this issue. They had to be pushed about Uganda and criminalization — until finally, inaction and silence became such a public embarassment that they had to do something. I simply do not trust this as far as I could throw it.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Michael,

    A thought…

    Perhaps when someone takes steps, however grudgingly, in the right direction, it is better to offer praise rather than condemnation for the slowness of the steps. Otherwise, if they are going to get criticized either way why would they even consider what you request?

  • Michael Bussee

    TImothy — I think that dropping the Day of Truth was a step in the right direction. That’s about as excited as I am willing to get about it right now.

  • Michael Bussee

    I actually sent the flowers and a nice letter — and a phone call of thanks — when they finally adopted their anti-bullying policy. They did not respond. I

    also gave them high praise — and defended them against critics — when they officially opposed the Ugandan Law and finally officially opposed criminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults. I posted my thanks, called Alan personally and sent letters of thanks.

    I try to give credit and encouragement when it is deserved. It’s just that on this issue, I do not trust the motivation, especially given how resistant Exodus was to adopting their policy against bullying. Yes, a good step. A change in direction for Exodus? I sincerely hope so. Time will tell.

  • Michael Bussee

    Will FRC Take Over The “Day of Truth”?

    Earlier this week, CNN’s Dan Gilgoff reported that Exodus International was shutting down it annual “Day of Truth”: A national Christian organization (Exodus) 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

    It was just last year that Exodus took over running the Day of Truth from the creators at the Alliance Defense Fund, so it’ll be interesting to see if ADF will be willing to retake control over the effort. If they do, they can probably expect the support of Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who tells Gilgoff that he is eager to see this sort of effort continue:

    If some other organization, like ADF or FRC, takes it over will Exodus still denoune it as divisive and confrontational — or are they just unloading a financially draining “hot potato”?

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rightwingwatch.org%2Fcontent%2Fwill-frc-take-over-day-truth&h=410b1

  • Michael Bussee

    From Ex-gay watch:

    “We applaud Exodus’ decision to shutter this event. While we realize this does not signify a major change in their own policy or beliefs, we do respect the reasons given. We also challenge the ADF to take this as a signal to let it die here and now.” — David Roberts

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.exgaywatch.com%2Fwp%2F2010%2F10%2Fexodus-international-shuts-down-day-of-truth%2F&h=410b1