Exodus International, a national Christian organization that works with homosexuals who want to leave the gay lifestyle, will no longer sponsor an annual event that encourages school students to "counter the promotion of homosexual behavior," CNN reports. The event, the group says, has become too divisive and confrontational.
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, explained the decision to CNN: "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." The group did sponsor the event this year -- held every April -- but will not in the future.
The "event" is called the Day of Truth and is a counter movement to the gay communities Day of Silence:
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.
GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard praised the decision: "I thank Exodus for making this very important step. ... 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."
Chambers made clear, however, that Exodus International has not changed its core beliefs or positions, but rather has reevaluated how best to communicate its message.
"Even though we have reached a fair number of students," Chambers explained in a statement on the group's website, "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."