In only its third year of existence, the student-led Day of Dialogue experienced significant growth — despite online attacks designed to intimidate and silence the student participants and their supporters.
The event, sponsored by Focus on the Family, gives students in high school and college the freedom to express a biblical perspective in a grace-filled manner. Students were also able to exercise their free speech rights by handing out “Conversation Cards” before and after class. The cards provided encouraging, redemptive messages. Many wore Day of Dialogue T-shirts and displayed posters. This year’s event took place Thursday.
“We estimate that between 7,000-8,000 students participated in at least 46 states. That’s a 40 percent increase from last year and a gain of six more states,” said Candi Cushman, Focus’ education analyst and Day of Dialogue facilitator. “We commend the students’ courage and love for Christ — and the amazing maturity and example they demonstrate by communicating their message in a grace-filled way — which made it a remarkable success.”
The courage of these students is all the more noteworthy considering the efforts to intimidate them on the event’s Facebook page during the day. The online attack began about mid-morning and lasted for several hours. Homosexual activists posted a flood of angry and mocking comments in an attempt to drown out student voices and intimidate them.
One Day of Dialogue post contained a sincere report from a 16-year-old student saying that “We want to be challenged to show God’s love to as many people as possible during the Day of Dialogue.”
Underneath that post, an activist taunted: “Yes, stand up for Jesus!! Because your fellow students deserve to know who the idiots in their midst really are. Bet you’re staying home alone on prom night!”
Others piled on and mocked other students’ posts and contributions as well, with statements such as: “Poor babies — how about you just appreciate the young people who were speaking out against your supremacy issues?” and “(That student) should share God’s love by sparing everyone her whiny, theologically atrocious thoughts.”
Cushman said the attackers seemed blind to the paradox.
“The irony of adult activists attacking a Christian page for teens and directing insults at teens —all the while claiming they are fighting for the cause of anti-bullying — never ceases to amaze me,” Cushman explained. “Thankfully, adults hiding behind Facebook profiles do not reflect the civil conversations actually happening amongst teens in schools nationwide. In many ways, adults could learn from the example of these amazing students.”
The vicious comments have been taken down from the site in an effort to keep it a safe and welcoming place for students and their supporters.
In fact, one of Day of Dialogue’s most important guiding principles is that name-calling and harassment of any kind, for any reason, is always wrong. The initiative promotes the belief that every human being, regardless of how they identify, sexually or otherwise, is worthy of protection from harm and of respectful treatment because they are created by God and have innate worth.
“That is why we would discourage, and even reproach, our participants and other Christians from ever taking the same sort of action that was taken against our Facebook page on Thursday,” Cushman said. “First and foremost, we challenge students to reflect a Christ-like model.”
The good news is that the online attackers failed in their intimidation campaign. The students had a successful event in their schools, and Day of Dialogue’s page remained intact throughout the day with this statement: “Want to know why the Day of Dialogue is important? The onslaught of attacks against this page today seeking to silence Christian participants in the public square — the majority of whom are students — through harassment and intimidation and bullying comments — illustrate our point perfectly. Throughout history, Christians have defended their free speech right to share the Gospel and Biblical truth. That dedication to speaking will not end today or any other day.”
“The conversation for students doesn’t end this week,” Cushman said, “it continues through the redemptive impact these students continue to have in their schools and communities.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Day of Dialogue.