Since 2011, Focus on the Family has sponsored an event called the “Day of Dialogue,” in which participants are encouraged to tell their LGBTQ classmates why they’re going to hell. (It’s a Christian response to GLSEN’s pro-LGBTQ Day of Silence.)
The dialogue is always initiated with the help of this card:
I believe there is a God who knows our names and who cares about the details of our lives — including our relationships, our sexuality and our souls. That’s why Jesus Christ came to this earth to give His life for people like you and me — because He loves every person. As someone who follows Jesus, I’ll stand up for students who are being teased, bullied or harmed. I also believe God cares about us so much that He designed the best, loving plan for our relationships and sexuality. Let’s talk about it!
My favorite response to that comes via Dr. Zach Moore, who created a fantastic parody of an older version of that card. In Moore’s version, the “Day of Monologue” is all about a form of proselytizing nobody wants to hear (except for the Christian saying it).
I was all set to post about this year’s event and how to respond. But I realized that I never saw a press release about it. That was unusual. So I went to go check the exact date of the Day of Dialogue event… and I was surprised to see that Focus on the Family has ended it!
That’s not what they said, of course. They put a much more optimistic spin on the matter, saying that there’s no longer a specific day for the conversation to happen because students can just do it whenever they want.
The initiative has become a well-established, go-to resource for students, with at least 25,000 students choosing to participate each year. So in an effort to better serve and empower participants — and help continue the initiative’s growth — we will be leaving it open for individual students to choose the date that works best for them for organizing a Day of Dialogue in their individual schools. The free-speech tools and guides remain available on the Day of Dialogue website, but students will have flexibility on determining which specific day during the school year to use them and to lead activities.
That’s one way to throw up a white flag of surrender.
The power of the Day of Silence (and the Day of Dialogue) is that everyone’s doing it on the same day. It’s harder to ignore when it’s a national event. Telling students to preach their anti-gay Christian rhetoric on their own doesn’t help “continue the initiative’s growth.” It stifles it. There’s a reason the March for Our Lives rally last month occurred on a specific day: Everyone was forced to pay attention to the topic of gun safety. A rally that occurs at any given moment defeats the whole purpose of it.
So why did this anti-gay event die out? While numbers were never released, I suspect it’s because participation levels were getting lower with each passing year. After all, nearly half of younger white evangelicals now support marriage equality, and many more, I would guess, follow a “live and let live” sort of ethic on this subject. They have no desire to follow the homophobic path of their parents’ generation. (The YouTube channel for this event was updated as recently as last month, but the vast majority of videos on the channel have no more than a few hundred views.)
Focus on the Family has lost this “culture war” battle. They’re even giving up on getting younger Christians to do their dirty work for them. But rather than admit it, they’re hoping no one will notice as they fade away into oblivion. (It’s all very reminiscent of when the American Family Association quietly removed its widely mocked “Bigotry Map” from its website. We noticed.)
By the way, the Day of Silence is still on. It’ll take place April 27.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier)