Newsweek/Washington Post blog reports on Golden Rule Pledge

Jacqueline Salmon reports on the proposed conservative school walkout on the Day of Silence and the Goldren Rule Pledge.
About the Goldren Rule Pledge, Ms. Salmon notes:

A Pennsylvania educator and an evangelist have yet another approach.
Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, and Michael Frey, Western Pennsylvanvia director for College Ministries with Campus Crusade, want Christians to adhere to the golden rule.
Saying Christians should be “leading the way” to create schools safe, even if they disagree with homosexuality, they’ve created the Golden Rule Pledge to encourage respectful treatment of all students.
If approached by gay-right supporters asking what what they will do to end the silence on what they see as discrimination against gays, Throckmorton urges Christian students to carry cards pledging adherence to the Golden Rule: “I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated. ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.'”

The article is featured on the On Faith blog which is described as a “conversation on religion and politics with Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn” and appears to be a collaboration of Newsweek and the Washington Post.

Christian Post reports on Golden Rule Pledge

Actually, the article reports on various responses from evangelicals to the Day of Silence with mention of the DOS, Day of Truth, Golden Rule Pledge and the proposed DOS walkout.

Students Encouraged to Skip School on ‘Day of Silence’
By Lawrence Jones
A national coalition of pro-family groups are urging parents to keep their students home this coming Friday in protest of the annual “Day of Silence,” when students vow silence to bring attention to the discrimination of gay students.
Over 20 Christian-based conservative groups have called for the massive walkout from middle and high schools participating the April 17 event, arguing that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)’s sponsored event politicizes the classroom to support the belief that homosexuality is moral. They include state chapters of American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Illinois Family Institute, Liberty Council and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.
“This day is not about ‘tolerance’ as it claims, but about forcing propaganda and acceptance of high-risk behavior into the schools with no opposing views allowed,” said Linda Harvey of Mission America, which also supports the walkout.
Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute said that while “all of civilized society must oppose bullying,” she opposes the “illegitimate means of using public education to affirm volitional homosexual behavior.”
Campaign for California Families said the demonstration will serve as financial “leverage” to get the message across, saying public schools in California lose $100 a day for each child absent.
The groups have encouraged parents and teens who are not willing to risk teacher retribution or missing school to send a letter to schools officials expressing their objections to Day of Silence.
The coalition has also called attention to a resolution sitting before Congress that would urge the federal government and public schools to officially recognize and celebrate Day of Silence. The legislation also requests that “the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe the National Day of Silence with appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities.”
House Concurrent Resolution 92 was introduced on April 1 and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
GLSEN claims that over 8,000 students participated in last year’s Day of Silence. The organization says the observance is needed, pointing to its 2007 survey showing 86 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation while 44 percent report being physically harassed.
The band of pro-family groups, meanwhile, says that by opposing the event they are in no way endorsing the bullying and harassment of those in the LGBT community.
One Christian professor, however, has come against the walkout, saying it’s not very productive.
“How can we get anything accomplished if we leave the field?” Dr. Warren Throckmorton, professor of Psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, wrote last week on his blog on Crosswalk.com.
The expert in mental health and sexuality issues contends that students taking part in Day of Silence have a point, saying he has spoken with Christian students who have admitted to bullying or harassing gay students.
Throckmorton has created an alternative response to Day of Silence, asking Christians to take The Golden Rule Pledge and show up at school to live out the teaching of Christ to treat others as they want to be treated.
When Day of Silence students hand out cards asking, “What will you do to help end the silence?” Christian students should respond: “This is what I am going to do. I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated. ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.'”
Meanwhile, several other Christian-based conservative groups are promoting the Day of Truth on April 20, the following Monday, as a direct response to Day of Silence. According to Day of Truth’s Web site, it was established to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective.”
Alliance Defense Fund and Exodus International, the promoters of Day of Truth, are encouraging students to speak the “truth in love” and engage in conversation about homosexuality.
Participants are also asked to hand out cards reading: “I’m speaking the Truth to break the silence. True tolerance means that people with differing – even opposing – viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There’s freedom to change if you want to. Let’s talk.”

For the record, I do not see the GRP as counterprogramming, but as an appropriate response to a request for respect and fair treatment. I simply cannot find any teaching in my religious tradition for walking away from people who are asking for respect.

Golden Rule Pledge 2009

Soon (April 17), the Day of Silence will be observed around the country and some conservative groups are not happy about it. A coalition featuring the American Family Association and the Concerned Women for America is suggesting students walkout of school to protest the disruption of silence by same-sex attracted students. Not a hint irony there, I tell you.
Again this year, I suggest an alternative to a walkout. Go on over to the Golden Rule Pledge and check out the plan there.
If you are on Facebook, you can join the initiative there as well. I will have more through the next several days, but I wanted to get the word out here today…

National Day of Avoidance

The Day of Silence is coming — April 17 to be exact — and some conservative groups are already calling for students to walkout of school on that day.

TINLEY PARK, Ill., Mar. 3 /Christian Newswire/ — A national coalition of pro-family organizations is urging parents to call their children out of school on April 17. This is the day designated for this year’s Day of Silence when students and/or teachers will purposely remain silent during instructional time to protest so-called discrimination and gain sympathy for students who identify as homosexual or transgender.
The Day of Silence is a yearly event sponsored by the partisan political action group, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The implicit purpose is to undermine the belief that homosexuality is immoral. It is the belief of the sponsors of the Walkout that parents should no longer passively accept the political usurpation of taxpayer funded public school classrooms through student silence.

The walkout is a new wrinkle. Last year, these same groups called for parents to keep the kids home. It sounds like the plan this year is to allow students to go to school and then tell them to walk out.
The news release contradicts itself on at least one point. First, it reads:

The DOS requires that teachers either create activities around or exempt silent students from any activity that involves speaking. DOS participants have a captive audience, many of whom disagree with and are made uncomfortable by the politicization of their classroom.

And then a little later, says:

Higgins further emphasizes that “The worthy end of eliminating harassment does not justify the means of exploiting instructional time.” The First Amendment already allows DOS participants to wear t-shirts or put up posters, but according to a document co-written by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, a “school can regulate what students say. . . and it can also insist that students respond to questions, make presentations, etc.” Students and teachers should not be allowed to exploit instructional time to advance their socio-political goals.

Note the two sentences in bold print. The release first says the Day of Silence requires that teachers exempt students from speaking and then admits that the DOS does not mandate such exemption. As noted in the release on this blog last year, DOS materials make this clear.
I will again favor the Golden Rule Pledge. Facebookers can join that effort here.

Exodus International to take over Day of Truth

Exodus International will take over the “Day of Truth” in 2009. This news release was jointly provided by Alliance Defense Fund and Exodus.

Day of Truth to be spearheaded by Exodus International
The Alliance Defense Fund is transitioning its leadership of the Day of Truth initiative to Exodus International.
Day of Truth was launched four years ago in response to GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) “Day of Silence” national initiative. “Day of Silence,” established in 1996 and aggressively placed in public schools throughout the U.S., asks students to take a nine-hour “vow of silence” to protest what they describe as “discrimination and harassment” against student’s engaged in homosexual behavior.
In 2004, when a student in Poway, California openly objected to this overt promotion of a practice that he found morally offensive, he was punished and silenced by the school administration for expressing his views. The school’s actions prompted the Alliance Defense Fund to legally defend this young man’s rights and, in turn, to launch a national response to the GLSEN’S Day of Silence. That response was the Day of Truth.
Designed to give students an opportunity to openly voice their views on (and objections to) the Day of Silence, the Day of Truth has grown from a handful of students to over 13,000 participants in all 50 states standing for the Truth. As the movement has grown, the focus has continued to broaden…providing students not only with legal assistance when their free speech rights are challenged, but also providing them with information on how to minister and witness to individuals struggling with homosexual behavior.
It’s because of growth in this latter area that this transition is occurring. For more than thirty years, Exodus International has provided thoughtful care to individuals wishing to leave homosexuality and offered support for related families, friends and churches. With 230 member organizations, the Exodus network is mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality…perfectly positioning them to lead the Day of Truth into the future.
ADF will continue to serve as the legal support arm for this project and represent any student who is silenced or punished for speaking the Truth.
When is the Day of Truth?
This year’s Day of Truth will be Monday, April 20, 2009. To view a video and participate this year, visit www.DayofTruth.org and register. Even if you have registered with us in the past, please register again this year. This allows us to track the number of participants every year. (It’s free to sign up!) You may also order products and materials, download free resources, and learn more about the project. On the Day of Truth, participating students wear their Day of Truth t-shirt and hand out “Truth cards” which simply explain that it’s time for “an honest discussion about homosexuality.”
Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, for resources, or to share your ideas. You can reach us at sthomas@telladf.org or 1-800-TELL-ADF.

The Day of Silence is April 17, 2009. I continue to oppose boycotts and confrontations and instead will support the Golden Rule Pledge.
The Day of Truth has in the past focused on change of sexual orientation as being a prime message for schools. I will be interested to see what Exodus changes about this event.

Year in review: Top ten stories of 2008

As in year’s past, I have enjoyed reviewing the posts from the year and coming up with the top ten stories.

1. Cancelation of the American Psychiatric Association symposium – Amidst threat of protests, the APA pressed to halt a scheduled symposium dedicated to sexual identity therapy and religious affiliation. Whipped up by a factually inaccurate article in the Gay City News, gay activists persuaded the APA leadership to pressure symposium organizers to pull the program. Gay City News later ran a correction.

2. The other APA, the American Psychological Association, released a task force report on abortion and mental health consequences. Basing their conclusions on only one study, the APA surprised no one by claiming abortion had no more adverse impact on mental health than carrying a child to delivery. I revealed here that the APA had secretly formed this task force after a series of research reports in late 2005 found links between abortion and adverse mental health consequences for some women. New research confirms that concern is warranted.

3. Golden Rule Pledge – In the wake of Sally Kern saying homosexuality was a greater threat to the nation than terrorism, I initiated the Golden Rule Pledge which took place surrounding the Day of Silence and the Day of Truth. Many conservative groups were calling for Christian students to stay home. This did not strike me as an effective faith-centered response. The Golden Rule Pledge generated some controversy as well as approval by a small group of evangelicals (e.g., Bob Stith) and gay leaders (e.g., Eliza Byard). Some students taking part in the various events were positively impacted by their experience.

4. Exodus considers new direction for ministry – At a leadership training workshop early in 2008, Wendy Gritter proposed a new paradigm for sexual identity ministry. Her presentation was provocative in the sense that it generated much discussion and consideration, especially among readers here. It remains to be seen if Exodus will continue to move away from a change/reparative therapy focus to a fidelity/congruence ministry focus.

5. New research clarifies sexual orienatation causal factors – A twin study and a study of brain symmetry, both from Sweden and a large U.S. study shed some light on causal factors in sexual orientation.

6. Letter to the American Counseling Association requesting clarification of its policies concerning counseling same-sex attracted evangelicals. Co-signed by over 600 counselors (many of whom were referred by the American Association of Christian Counselors), I wrote a letter to the ACA requesting clarification regarding how counselors should work with evangelicals who do not wish to affirm homosexual behavior. The current policy is confusing and gives no guidance in such cases. Then President Brian Canfield replied affirming the clients self-determination in such cases. He referred the matter back to the ACA ethics committee. To date, that committee has not responded.

7. Paul Cameron’s work resurfaces and then is refuted – Insure.com resurrected Paul Cameron’s work in an article on their website about gay lifespans. The article was later altered to reflect more on HIV/AIDS than on homosexual orientation. Later this year, Morten Frisch produced a study which directly addressed Cameron’s methods.

8. Mankind Project unravels – This year I posted often regarding the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. Recently, I reported that MKP is in some financial and organizational disarray.

9. Debunking of false claims about Sarah Palin’s record on support for social programs – I had lots of fun tracking down several false claims made about Sarah Palin during the election. Her opponents willfully distorted her real record to paint her as a hypocrite. I learned much more about Alaska’s state budget than I ever wanted to know but found that most claims of program cuts were actually raises in funding which not quite as much as the agencies requested. However, overall funding for such programs increased.

10. During the stretch run of the election, I became quite interested in various aspects of the race. As noted above, I spent some time examining claims surround Sarah Palin’s record. I also did a series on President-elect Obama’s record on housing, including an interview with one of Barack Obama’s former constituents.

I know, I know, number 10 is an understatement. (Exhibit A)

Happy New Year!

Top ten posts by number of comments and page views – 2008

Time to wrap up 2008 with a review of the stories told and topics covered. I also will give the top ten posts based on page views.
By far the election was the broad topic which generated the most page views. Aside from the Berg vs. Obama thread, readers prefer to comment on the sexual identity related posts. As in past years, I will pick out my top ten themes in a later post.
Top ten by number of comments (fluctuation should be minimal since most of these threads are quiet now)
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1 (796)
2. New study casts doubt on older brother hypothesis and reparative drive theory (460)
3. Gay City News prints letter clarifying sexual identity therapy (282)
4. New Direction for Exodus? (277)
5. Day of the Golden Rule? (264)
6. Sally Kern: What should she do? (248)
7. Study examines brain differences related to sexual orientation (239)
8. Multiple factors involved in sexual orientation, part 2 (221)
9. Sexual orientation theorizing: Is change possible? (219)
10. 60 Minutes Science of Sexual Orientation: An update from the mother of twins (217)
Top ten by page views are:
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1
2. Hey Florida, is this ok with you?
3. Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher talks about his dialogue with Obama and spreading the wealth
4. Berg vs. Obama: Update and current status
5. Michelle Obama likes upscale clothes too
6. Donofrio vs. Wells: NJ Obama citizenship case slated for SCOTUS conference
7. What Might Have Been – The Man Who Could Have Reversed Roe v. Wade, Part two
8. Some light on Sarah Palin’s church affiliation
9. Did Barack Obama vote to withhold treatment to infants surviving abortion?
10. Day of Silence and Golden Rule Pledge on Appalachian State University
The top post has been viewed over 15,000 times with the other posts gradually decreasing from there. These numbers are constantly changing.

Pro-life Day of Silence

Today is the other Day of Silence – a day of silence to speak for the babies silenced via abortion.
The website supporting the day begins:

On October 21st, people from all over this nation will give up their voices for a day in solidarity for these children. Red arm bands and duct tape will identify them as taking part in the Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity. They will carry fliers explaining why they are silent and educate others about the plight of the innocent children we are losing every day.

This Day of Silence is promoted by StandTrue Pro-life ministry and claims over 4500 schools are taking part.

WND Day of Silence incident reports – The rest of the story

Yesterday, WorldNetDaily filed a report about Mission America’s efforts to keep kids out of school on the Day of Silence. I noted that the WND article reproduced the Golden Rule Pledge card and called it a “popular poster used to promote the Day of Silence.”
However, reading further, I became curious about some of the bullet-point reports from various schools labeled by the WND article as Day of Silence “incidents.”
This post is the follow up of two allegations. First, from a Kirksville, MO parent:

Kirksville, Mo.: A parent reported that the Kirksville High School principal and superintendent laughed when she asked if her child could be excused from participating in the school’s Day of Silence. According to Mission America, she said, “They called me a narrow-minded bigot and refused to give excused absences.”

Curious, I called the Kirksville High School Superintendent of schools, Pat Williams about the allegation of name-calling. When I read the account to him, he said, “That’s absolutely false. I did not use that language with any parent or in response to any inquiry.”
He told me that a couple of parents called to express disagreement with the Day of Silence and one mother met in person with him but he did not express any judgment about the mother’s views. He further explained that the matter of an excused absence would be at the discretion of the building principal.
He told the parent that the Day of Silence was student initiated and followed procedures established by the school for student-initiated activities. Mr. Williams explained,

“We don’t pass judgment on the causes as long as they follow established parameters. We have had a variety of student-initiated activities such as Bible study groups, days of prayer, and national flag pole prayer observances. This year, a parent and student also approached us about a Day of Truth as a follow up on Monday and we held them to the same standards.”

Randy Michael, principal of Kirksville High School also took strong exception to the Mission America source. He said flatly, “That’s not true” when I read the allegation to him. He said he received “two or three” complaints about the event and at least one request for an excused absence which was denied. He explained that there was no basis for an excused absence since no student was compelled to participate in the Day of Silence.
He said both the Day of Silence and Day of Truth were observed in accord with the same standards. Students were required to speak if called on by a teacher. Also, no student could force their materials on others, but could give cards or information out if asked. “Neither day disrupted education,” Mr. Michael said.
I emailed Linda Harvey at Mission America to see if I could interview the parent involved but she declined to provide more information or contact the person who made the allegation. The Kirksville administrators were not aware of any allegations surrounding the Day of Silence until I called. In my opinion, the the information provided by Mr. Williams and Mr. Michael and the fact that the school district also allowed the Day of Truth detract from the credibility of the anonymous allegation.
I also talked to the Mesa, AZ Police about this story:

Also in Phoenix, at Desert Ridge High School, Arizona Republic reported that nearly 250 students stayed home. A parent who objected to the observance hosted a pool party for students who refused to participate. His son received a death threat via text message, and police questioned a group of homosexual students who silently sat across the street from his home.

You can see a not completely accurate video report here.
I talked to Detective Steve Berry at the Mesa Police Department who said the Mesa Police received a call from a student who heard a rumor that someone was planning a shooting on the Day of Silence. No targets were identified. The text message was not a threat but rather a report of the rumored planned shooting. Essentially, Det. Berry said the threat was a rumor that was passed through the grapevine, but there was no text threat directly made toward anyone. Thus, the KPHO.com report is misleading in that no student group was ever identified as responsible. The WND report is misleading in that the boy in question did not actually receive a text message with a threat, according to Det. Berry, who read the police report to me.
And those were just the first two bulletpoints. I guess you can’t believe everything you read.

WorldNetDaily. Golden Rule Pledge. Day of Silence.

I couldn’t think of a good title for this one so I just assembled the players, so to speak.
Check out this Worldnetdaily article banging away at the Day of Silence and then scroll about half way down the page and check out the “popular poster used to promote the Day of Silence.”
I was saddened to see that Linda Harvey believes her efforts were successful. But I had to smile a bit to think that the Golden Rule Pledge card was considered a promotion for the DOS.
Maybe next year we’ll have t-shirts…