Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, has announced that they will no longer sponsor the annual Day of Truth (DOT) event which has been used for the past few years to counter the Day of Silence. The DOS was first proposed by Maria Pulzetti, and organized by other students at the University of Virginia in 1996. In 2000, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) proposed that it become an officially sponsored project.
Chambers confirmed to XGW that the activist component of the DOT contributed to a polarizing debate rather than a relational dialogue. “As a tool, it seemed to emphasize the divide rather than building a bridge,” he said. “We want more than that.”
The first DOT was organized by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) in 2005, and has been held on the day after the DOS each year since. The ADF is a conservative activist legal organization which claims to have established the DOT “to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective.”
There have been several legal actions associated with the DOT, with the Tyler Chase Harper
incident perhaps the most notorious. Harper was suspended for wearing a T-shirt that read “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned,” and on the back read, “Homosexuality is Shameful” and “Romans 1:27.” The ADF unsuccessfully defended Harper in a lawsuit claiming his religious freedoms were compromised.
In response to groups who were calling for complete boycotts by students on the DOS in 2007, Dr. Warren Throckmorton started the Golden Rule Pledge as an alternative. With a Facebook group and then a dedicated website, his idea has gained momentum. DOS participants are encouraged to carry cards which say:
Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.
DAY of SILENCE – What are you going to do to end the Silence?
The Golden Rule Pledge proposes this as one way to respond and reply to the question above:
This is what I am doing. I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Luke 6:31.
The Golden Rule pledge has not been without its own critics — from both sides. However, it has given the children of moderate conservatives a way to participate on the DOS and attend school during that day.
In 2009, the ADF turned over responsibility for the DOT to Exodus International. In what has turned out to be their only year doing so, Exodus sponsored that years event. It is not known if the ADF will attempt to keep the DOT active or offer it to another group.
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.
Read more on CNN’s Belief Blog