Some conservative groups have advised parents to keep their children home on the Day of Silence, April 25, 2008. Sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, the Day of Silence supports the safety of gay students on high school and college campuses. Conservative groups, such as Mission: America are concerned that the Day of Silence promotes homosexual behavior.
Are we missing a teachable moment?
What if Evangelical kids and college students led the way in making schools safe for all students? Where could we start? How about this Friday, April 25, 2008?
Without altering convictions about sexuality, I propose that Evangelicals should have something more to contribute toward the elimination of harassment and violence against gay people and people who are viewed as different. Indeed, we should be leading the way to make schools safe and build bridges to those who often equate "Christian" with condemnation.
To pursue bridges, Michael Frey, Western PA Director for College Ministries with Campus Crusade and I are promoting an alternative. We propose that Christian kids join gay students by pledging to abide by Christ’s teaching in the Golden Rule. So far, as of this writing, students in 19 high schools and college plan to participate by agreeing with GLBT peers about respect of each other as Image bearers of God. Students can distribute pledges to honor the teaching of Christ to love as He loved and to treat others as we want to be treated.
Some bridges are being built. For instance, a Campus Crusade for Christ group at Slippery Rock recently entered a dialogue with a gay support group on campus and will help lead the call for respectful treatment of all students on campus. Randy Veccia, student leader, says the efforts of both groups will serve "to raise awareness that everyone deserves to be loved." Christian students in high schools in Greensboro, NC are going to reach out in ways not contemplated before.
Rev. Bob Stith, Gender Issues Strategist for the Southern Baptist convention had this to say about the Golden Rule Pledge Initiative:
Several years ago I stood outside a church which was being picketed by two very vocal and rabid “Christian” groups. Standing on the sidewalk were also some young lesbians doing their own picketing. The first group became more and more vocal in their opposition and insults. They began telling the young women how despicable they were and how God despised them.
At that point I walked over and told the girls, “I am a Christian and I do believe the Bible says homosexual behavior is sin. But I want you to know what these people are saying is wrong. I want to apologize to you and tell God does love you very much. Don’t ever let anyone convince you He doesn’t.”
I have long thought Christians were missing a great opportunity by not being more vocal in helping to make our schools safe places for all kids. It doesn’t require that we compromise our beliefs. Indeed it can give us a great opportunity that we might not otherwise have.
What a wonderful opportunity to express our convictions in a way that is positive, loving and redemptive. What a wonderful opportunity to train our children to care about all people, to model the example of Jesus and the woman at the well.
Who knows but what this could even be the beginning of a movement that will turn the tide of school shootings and violence in the hallways?
I hope you are correct, Bob.
For more information about this initiative, go to www.wthrockmorton.com/goldenrule.
If you have a Facebook account, go to this link and join there (even if you are not in school)
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About Dr. Warren Throckmorton
Warren Throckmorton, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City College (PA). He co-founded the Golden Rule Pledge which advocates bullying prevention in evangelical churches. His academic articles have been published by journals of the American Psychological Association and he is past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He is the author with fellow Grove City College professor, Michael Coulter, of the book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. Over 200 newspapers have published his columns. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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