Exodus from 'Day of Truth'
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
Exodus International is dedicated to ministering to gays and lesbians by preaching that they can have "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." In April, Exodus spearheaded the annual "Day of Truth," in which high school students advocate for "an honest conversation about the biblical truth for sexuality." Last week, Exodus stepped away from the event.
"We believe that due to the timing of the event, Day of Truth was always perceived in an adversarial manner, and became more about policy than people. That is in conflict with the mission we have chosen to embrace as an organization," said Exodus president Allan Chambers. "We want to continue to promote dialogue and to equip Christian kids to reach out with compassion, grace and truth. We don't need to practice this once a year, but rather every day."
Exodus is returning the reigns to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which began the event in 2005. The event is a nationwide response to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) "Day of Silence." GLSEN's event is meant to raise awareness of anti-gay bullying and harassment in schools. Exodus stated that ADF will likely find a new organization to lead the event or stop it altogether.
Focus on the Family's Candi Cushman told CNN, "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."
An ADF statement said Exodus is "free to make decisions they deem best regarding the event." However, ADF objected to GLSEN's calling the Day of Truth "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 group said.
The Exodus decision to step back from policy fights comes as culture war battles over sexuality have escalated.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that the U.S. military must cease its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy outlawing homosexuality. Phillips concluded that DADT "infringes the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers and prospective servicemembers."
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins accused Phillips of "playing politics with our national defense" and of "using the military to advance a liberal social agenda."
Perkins said changing the military policy on homosexuality "will only further the desire of voters to change Congress. Americans are upset and want to change Congress and the face of government because of activist judges and arrogant politicians who will not listen to the convictions of most Americans and, as importantly, the Constitution's limits on what the courts and Congress can and cannot do." Perkins called on the Justice Department to fight the ruling on appeal.
Faith in Public Life's Dan Nejfelt said, "Perkins is as out of touch with the convictions of most Americans as he accuses Congress, 'arrogant politicians' and 'activist judges' of being." Nejfelt cited a recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life last month that showed a majority of Americans favor repealing DADT. "Perkins ought to check the polls before presuming to speak intelligently about the opinions of the American people," said Nejfelt.
Evangelicals for Social Acton president Ron Sider said that Christians must do a better job of loving those in the gay community. "As most of us know, a huge gulf separates evangelical Christians and the gay/lesbian community. To a large extent because of our failures, they mistrust, despise, and are enormously hostile to evangelicals, viewing us as homophobic bigots."