In the United States on Friday, Exodus featured speaker and megachurch pastor Ken Hutcherson led Snoqualmie, Washington, students in a school walkout and protest against silent opponents of antigay violence. In other words, he led a student protest in defense of antigay violence, which Hutcherson himself favors.
Exodus followed up today with an endorsement for the April 28 “Day of Truth” protest which supports antigay bigotry and refuses to even acknowledge — much less discuss or oppose — antigay violence in schools.
The moral failure of Exodus and other conservative religious organizations to stand in solidarity with antiviolence advocates is fueling new initiatives in the United States and abroad. Hutcherson’s grandstanding tirades and his disruption of classes are scandalous:
- Hutcherson called his student supporters “warriors,” described pro-harassment advocates as “moral people” and called for them to be “unashamed” in their opposition to the antiviolence Day of Silence.
- Hutcherson’s loud protest and a related boycott by a coalition of ex-gay and antigay organizations interrupted learning at the school and dissuaded 495 out of 1,410 students from attending classes, whereas the silent vigil against violence had no impact on learning.
- Hutcherson criticized Christians who favored a non-disruptive “Golden Rule” approach to student antiviolence initiatives.
- Focus on the Family congratulated Hutcherson on his opposition to antiviolence vigils.
Despite a promising ad-hoc gesture of cooperation in a single locale, a rival “Golden Rule” protest organized by pro-exgay pundit Warren Throckmorton declined to oppose disruptive pro-violence boycotts; pitted self-styled Christians against antiviolence advocates; and refused to affirm the moral and religious values of those who oppose antigay violence and harassment in schools.
Thus far, only one ex-gay advocate (out of hundreds who are affiliated in some fashion with Exodus) has spoken out clearly in opposition to the bullying of Hutcherson and Focus on the Family. Exodus, meanwhile, officially declared its support for the bullies, through an April 28 “Day of Truth” which declines to discuss antigay violence, opposes antiviolence initiatives, and instead encourages unrepentant bullies to moralize publicly again their same-sex-attracted and gender-variant classmates.
The chronic refusal of conservative religious communities to stand unequivocally in opposition to antigay violence is having repercussions — turning more and more people against right-wing religious authorities, their demagoguery, and their false piety. Ongoing antigay violence in schools, combined with the venomous defense of such violence by “Christian” bullies, will ensure still more Days of Silence in schools across the United States — and abroad.
Just last week, the South American nation of Colombia was reminded of that fact, and patience with supposedly grown-up bullies is wearing thin elsewhere.
Two female Colombian youths in a same-sex relationship were forced to go to court against their school’s principal a few months ago to preserve their right to go to school. When they won their case, the school’s students welcomed them back to class last week with taunts and jeers declaring, “We don’t want you” and “We want Magola [the principal].” Some human-rights advocates are now calling for an annual Colombian version of the Day of Silence in response.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Roman Catholic Church and local medical officials who apparently learned nothing about respect and nonviolence in school conspired to defame and humiliate a gay patient, jeering the patient during surgery to remove an object used for sexual stimulation. Then they posted video of their hatred on YouTube, and presented the patient’s one-time faux pas — rather than their own hatred and mockery — as evidence of a mental disorder.
In all parts of the world, immature schoolyard-style bullying extends well into adulthood among self-styled defenders of a “morality” that is rooted in violence and prejudice. The Day of Silence may offer a model for other antiviolence advocates to take their activism and their values beyond schoolyards — directly into hospitals, churches, and fraudulent ex-gay “ministries.”