Guest Blogger

The Golden Rule Pledge: This Is What I'm Doing

Filed By Guest Blogger | May 16, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay violence, Day of Silence, evangelical Christian, gay youth, hate crimes against LGBT people, school bullying, school violence, violence, Warren Throckmorton

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Warren Throckmorton is the driving force behind the Golden Rule Pledge. The pledge encourages Christian students to give out a card with the Golden Rule printed on it during the Day of Silence.

WBL_EWThrockmorton.jpgAt Bil Browning's invitation, I am glad to write about the Golden Rule Pledge first discussed here on April 25.

The Golden Rule Pledge grew out of my horror at the death of Larry King, my negative reaction to the comment of Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern that homosexuality is a bigger threat than terrorism, and then to calls from some social conservatives to boycott and/or protest the Day of Silence. Whereas I understand moral differences about sexual behavior, I do not believe hyperbole or avoidance helps further the messages of reconciliation and redemption I believe are at the heart of Christianity.

It occurred to me that Evangelicals (some of whom are same-sex attracted and identify as gay) should lead the way in opposition to harassment, bullying and violence. You cannot lead, however, when you are not in school or holding a picket sign. In response, the idea of the Golden Rule Pledge emerged. I started a website, and a Facebook group, which grew quickly to nearly 600 members. Small, yes; but some good things happened.

I heard of one gay-straight alliance which passed out both Day of Silence and Golden Rule Pledge cards. To the pleasant surprise of DOS participants, other students simply passed out the GRP cards which read:

This is what I'm doing:

I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated.

Will you join me in this pledge?

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31).

Some university campus Christian ministry groups simultaneously participated in the DOS observances. To my knowledge, no one changed their moral views, but I believe some important changes were made in the tone of relationships at some schools. Listen to JK's experience at Appalachian State University. I am just including parts, please read the whole thing.

This year I decided to get involved. I went to Campus Crusade for Christ as well as Intervarsity Fellowship to present the idea of participating. They both said they wanted to participate but I was absolutely astonished when Campus Crusade said that not only did they want to support it as individuals, but as a ministry. When I heard this, my heart was pounding- it was a prayer come true.

I can't give you a count of how many students from the ministries actually participated. It might have been one, or many. But to me, it was their sincere desire to do something that really hit me hard. I have long been frustrated with the Christian community's response to the GLBT group. When Crusade called me, a little piece of anger towards the church was cast away.

Students at our school chose to participate by duct taping their mouths shut in complete silence, and when people asked why, handing them a slip of paper that explained. While I was more than fine with doing this, I wanted to do more. I wanted to make it clear that not only do I love them, but Christ does also. So I made my own slips, not to preach, but to break down the walls between the Christian and LGBT communities. The slips I made said this:

"Today I am pledging to be silent to bring attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment experienced by LGBT students.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Luke 6:31

As a follower of Christ, I believe that all people are created in the image of God and therefore deserve love and respect."

Yesterday morning, when I went to the SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance) table to receive my piece of duct tape, I showed them my slips and told them that several ministries would be participating as well. The look on their faces was priceless. They were shocked, but ecstatic. This alone would have been enough to make my day.

And then she described her experience of silence.

I have to tell you about how I felt yesterday walking around in silence with duct tape. I felt humiliated at times, and other times proud. You see, everywhere I went, people stared. I felt like a leper, completely stigmatized from people. In fact, I was experiencing what the LGBT community has experienced for decades.

As I was walking to my dorm, I realized why 30% of LGBT students report having missed one or more days of school per year out of fear. Walking by a dorm, someone opened their window and yelled a derogatory statement to me. I was scared. There was such anger in his voice that I was fearful to walk by the dorm again later that day. I was reminded of Lawrence King, a 14 year old who was murdered because of his homosexuality just two months ago.

Yesterday was amazing. The best day of the year by far. The truth is, this group has been disappointed by the church. I know that as people read that, some will become angry with me. 'Not my church' they will say. But when "Christians" hold signs on campus that read, " God hates Fags." and "fags burn in hell," the LGBT community associates that with Christianity. Many people have told me that they have never said anything derogatory to the gay community, but the problem is they haven't said anything at all. You see, half of the church is screaming hate at them, and the other half is silent. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that silence is powerful. The failure to say something, has said a lot.

This [Golden Rule Pledge] was a great first step for me to get out there in ministry. So thanks so much to you!

We have ideological differences on many issues. However, despite our differences, we need to live and work together. We all can agree that violence toward LGBT people is wrong. Imperfect and incomplete as it may be, the Golden Rule Pledge is one way for Evangelicals and other conservatives to support the anti-violence purpose of the Day of Silence. Along the way, I was pleased to receive encouraging comments about the Golden Rule Pledge from two very disparate sources. First, Rev. Bob Stith, from the Southern Baptist Convention said this about the GRP:

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.

And then, Eliza Byrd, Deputy Executive Director at GLSEN, issued this statement to me about the GRP:

The Day of Silence embodies a commitment to everyone being treated with respect --- people treating each other as they wish to be treated themselves --- and highlights a crucial area of school climate where we currently fall short of that goal. We welcome participation in the Day of Silence of students of all backgrounds and beliefs who recognize and acknowledge this common commitment, and feel that your identification of that common ground is a step forward.

Please note that these statements are from the individuals who do not speak for their organizations. However, I do appreciate the model of rhetoric these individuals provide for their respective communities.

We already have enough smoldering bridges. Instead, the Golden Rule Pledge is about building some.


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Do you honestly think that we queers haven't heard, and been hurt by, this violent rhetoric before? "I think what you're doing is morally wrong, but at least you shouldn't be shot in the face for it" Wow, great message you've got there, buddy. Thanks for all of the support! Ughhh.

I'm not quite sure why you were invited to post here. It’s really disappointing. Bil should have given this valuable blog space (and the accompanying opportunity to improve writing skills, reach a national audience, build resume, etc) to a queer identified student who suffers daily under the type of "hate the sin, love the sinner" bullshit that you are peddling. That’s who I want to hear from on Bilerico. Those are the voices that I value.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 16, 2008 12:25 PM

Oh gosh, and everyone is supposed to love us unconditionally? Mr. Throckmorton's views are very good considering the place he is coming from.

I remind any Christian. The bible is a product of dark age Roman Catholic bishops and was not preserved inerrantly. Further, even in the biblical translations that do survive Jesus Christ had nothing to say against LGBT persons. And this was with homosexuality practiced freely throughout the Roman and Greek civilizations. The most hateful phrases are a gift from Paul who never even met Jesus, was a Roman Tax collector, a Roman Citizen, and devious in his doings\ throughout his life.

Nick, thanks for your opinions. I don't share your view, not at all.

Dr Throckmorton has suffered significant misrepresentation of his views in the past within the GLBT community, "guilt by association", yet he hasn't used his post as a platform to complain of that. I marvel at his forebearance.

I have very significant differences with anyone who has such a high opinion of the work of Drs Bailey and Blanchard, but that's another issue, and can be discussed rationally without hyperbole on either side. One thing Dr Throckmorton is is rational. Another thing is truly compassionate, and trying to follow the Christian message that's on the GRP cards. He's the Real Deal. Others may deserve your enmity, but not him.

If we're not to be a sterile circle-jerk monoculture, views like his are entirely appropriate here, IMHO. Feel free to differ on that one.

I don't know anything about Dr. Throckmorton's dealings with Drs. Bailey and Blanchard. I know nothing of his history other than the Golden Rule Pledge.

I support Dr. Throckmorton's Golden Rule Pledge. Here in Indiana, I meet plenty of folks who - while "disapproving" of homosexuality, also believe that we should be protected from discrimination and violence. I don't approve of fundamentalist Christianity for that matter, but I don't think they should lose their housing or their lives because of their religion. It doesn't bother me in the least whether or not they approve of me; only how they treat me.

Dr. Throckmorton is reaching out to that large class of people who are fence sitters. They don't want to attack us, but they don't know how to help either. By providing the GRP, he is offering the more literal Christian community a safe way to participate and show support for the LGBT community. This is a great first step.

Look at the example from a participant above:

I have to tell you about how I felt yesterday walking around in silence with duct tape. I felt humiliated at times, and other times proud. You see, everywhere I went, people stared. I felt like a leper, completely stigmatized from people. In fact, I was experiencing what the LGBT community has experienced for decades.

As I was walking to my dorm, I realized why 30% of LGBT students report having missed one or more days of school per year out of fear. Walking by a dorm, someone opened their window and yelled a derogatory statement to me. I was scared. There was such anger in his voice that I was fearful to walk by the dorm again later that day. I was reminded of Lawrence King, a 14 year old who was murdered because of his homosexuality just two months ago.

Yesterday was amazing. The best day of the year by far. The truth is, this group has been disappointed by the church. I know that as people read that, some will become angry with me. 'Not my church' they will say. But when "Christians" hold signs on campus that read, " God hates Fags." and "fags burn in hell," the LGBT community associates that with Christianity. Many people have told me that they have never said anything derogatory to the gay community, but the problem is they haven't said anything at all. You see, half of the church is screaming hate at them, and the other half is silent. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that silence is powerful. The failure to say something, has said a lot.

That's powerful. That's a changed life and attitude. That's a positive step.

While, of course, we want everyone to suddenly step up and say, "We love our gay brothers and sisters and won't let anything happen to them!", that's just not realistic. We have to lead.

Dr. Throckmorton is leading evangelicals to tolerance. He can't make them drink, but he's showing them the water; he's just using a pretty glass.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 17, 2008 9:14 AM

Well stated Bil. It was firm and diplomatic. I prefer to think of it as them coming to the real truth first and leaving all the other nonsense behind. All great religions in the world have a variation of "The Golden Rule." It is spoken about, but not practiced frequently.

My favorite quote from the bible had been: "Let the one among you without sin cast the first stone." I loved this quote because it prevented violence against an "adulterous" woman, and because it pointed out that no one is more deserving of salvation than anyone else.

Well, this phrase did not appear in the original Gospel of John, but arrived in a rewrite during the middle ages.

My source is the head of the Department of Religion, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman author of the book: "Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why."

Question Everything!

Respected GLBT sites including Truth Wins Out have indicated that Warren Throckmorton may *not* be leading people to tolerance.

Prof. Throckmorton is an ex-gay advocate. Contrary to the cheery half-truths in this guest column:

-- Throckmorton discourages discussion about ex-gay survivors who were harmed by ex-gay therapy, while cheerleading scant and sloppy data about of ex-gay "successes";

-- Throckmorton implicitly advocates that it is irrelevant whether ex-gay therapies are harmful if one person benefits;

-- Throckmorton disseminates slanted ex-gay disinformation to Focus on the Family and other religious-right media in order to legitimize their political campaigns against respect and equality. Recent examples include disinformation about the Jones and Yarhouse of orientation "change"; half-truths about studies of biology vs. environment as factors in formation of orientation; and the recent APA convention which Focus on the Family politicized with help from Throckmorton;

-- Throckmorton continues to sell the ex-gay video "I Do Exist" even though its featured ex-gay, Noe Gutierrez, is no longer ex-gay.

-- Throckmorton diverts sincere discussion about the reality and biology of sexual orientation into abstract discussion of "sexual identity" and the ease with which one can relabel oneself regardless of one's actual orientation

-- Throckmorton *competes against* the Day of Silence instead of supporting it. His Golden Rule Pledge initiative does not support specific antiviolence guidelines to protect gay youths in schools, it reinforces Christians' mistaken belief that GLSEN as an advocacy group for homosexual behavior, and the GRP is so vaguely defined that its antigay participants may believe themselves to be honoring the Golden Rule by bullying students as they would (supposedly) wish to be bullied if they were "homosexual sinners."

Wow! This Throckmorton dude certainly sounds like a standup guy! I’m so glad we’ve given him a voice here on Bilerico!

Thanks for the information, Mike. Your comments about the GRP are really great, and they reminded me of something that happened to me in 9th grade:

I used to sit next to a girl in math class. One day she gave me a copy of a student bible she said she thought I'd like. In the back was a cartoon about how homosexuals will all die of AIDS and drug overdoses unless they convert to Christianity and give up the homosexual lifestyle. She never called me a fag. She never hit me. I don't think she'd consider what she did harassment or against the Golden Rule in any way. I'm one of the lucky ones who survived my high school, but I can see her giving that comic to someone else who didn’t have the support system I did… and I fear what that would look like.

Here in Indiana, I meet plenty of folks who - while "disapproving" of homosexuality, also believe that we should be protected from discrimination and violence.

Bil, being “disapproving” of homosexuality is, in and of itself, a violent act. There are countless stories of queer youth and adults who commit suicide - not because they can't handle the bullying or physical assaults - but because of the emotional damage inflicted upon them by friends and family who merely “disapprove” of homosexuality.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Apparently that includes throwing your children into reparative therapy. I’m sorry, but that is violence in my opinion. Maybe it’s not as direct or obvious as a punch in the face or a bullet in the brain, but most queers understand that it isn’t much different.

By providing the GRP, he is offering the more literal Christian community a safe way to participate and show support for the LGBT community.

Bil, all bullshit aside, what is it that the GRP offers to the literal Christian community that isn’t offered by the DoS? Supposedly they are meant to send the same message, that we must make our schools safe for queer students. So where does the need for GRP come from? What need does it fill? And what experience from the student you cite could she not have had participating in the actual DoS? Because her story sounds fairly similar to DoS in terms of the way it might make a participant feel.

I think the answer to these questions is that the GRP allows Christians “a safe way” (as you delicately put it) to still express their view that homosexuality is a sin, an abomination against god, an immoral lifestyle choice, etc. I believe that is a violent worldview that has killed hundreds of thousands of queers across the globe, physically and spiritually. I believe that violence against queers would not exist in the same manifestation that it does today without that worldview.

Mike I would like to see some evidence for those charges. My quick reply point by point:

-I have not discouraged discussion about ex-gay survivors. I have a blog where ex-ex-gays post comments frequently. I have posted about the harm done by some reparative therapists and some efforts to change attractions. I have never said or implied it is irrelevant if ex-gay therapies are harmful. You know of my work critiquing reparative therapy and how I have distanced myself from NARTH, PFOX and Richard Cohen.

-Please point out disinformation regarding Jones and Yarhouse and “half-truths about studies of biology vs. environment.”

-Your charge about politicization of the APA symposium is incredible given the distortions of that symposium you have engaged in. Prove that I aided FOTF in their reporting it incorrectly. I cannot control what media write about it.

-The video I Do Exist also provides narratives of 4 other people who still consider themselves ex-gay. However, as I am sure you know, I have not re-duplicated the video and it is available on a limited basis to educational users.

-Mike, perhaps you do not understand the philosophical debates about essentialism and social constructionism in sexuality. Queer theorists would probably not appreciate being considered anti-gay simply because they question essentialism when applied to sexuality.

-The charge against the Golden Rule Pledge is astounding and offensive. Anyone who actually reads my post here on the Bilerico Project will read a quote from Eliza Byard from GLSEN who correctly understands the point of the GRP. If she felt the GRP pledge somehow could lead to more bullying, I do not think she would have written a positive reply. If I was trying to compete against the anti-violence aims of the DOS, then why would I cite with approval the experience of the students at Appalachian State?

But then you already know all of this.

True watchdog web sites including Truth Wins Out, Box Turtle Bulletin, and Ex-Gay Watch have repeatedly reported evidence of Warren Throckmorton's distribution of misleading, carefully worded half-truths via Exodus, Focus on the Family and other religious-right media. These media proceed from Throckmorton's half-truths to engage in outright (but logically consistent) falsehoods. Throckmorton continues to faithfully use these media -- confirming his support for their distortions. Furthermore, Throckmorton refuses to demand corrections from these media.

There is ample evidence at the watchdog sites, also, of Throckmorton's role in the rigged ex-gay success survey by Jones & Yarhouse, Throckmorton's refusal to support specific antiviolence programs, Throckmorton's ongoing disregard for the Beyond Ex-Gay survivors group, and Throckmorton's antigay politicization of the APA forum -- specifically, his misrepresentation of Bishop Gene Robinson's reason for dropping out, and his plan (confirmed by Exodus exec Randy Thomas and others) to promote ex-gay therapy at the forum despite his claims to the contrary.

For anyone who like to bypass Mike and see what I planned to present at the APA symposium, you can go to www.sexualidentity.blogspot.com and download the sexual identity therapy framework.

Mike, you are wrong about the symposium.

Bil, if you readers want to judge for themselves, I invite them to my blog, www.wthrockmorton.com and the framework website above.

This post is about finding common ground surrounding the elimination of bullying and harassment of LGBT students. Why does Mike want to distract from that?

the Golden Rule Pledge is one way for Evangelicals and other conservatives to support the anti-violence purpose of the Day of Silence.

I still have yet to hear a sound reason why Evangelicals and other conservatives can't support the anti-violence purpose of the Day of Silence by actually participating in the Day of Silence.

Please, dear god, will someone answer that mother-effing question. Bil? Throckmorton? Anyone? Because until I hear a reasonable answer, the only one that I can come up with is that the Day of Silence doesn't create the opportunity for Christians to expressly convey that they still believe homosexuality is wrong. Otherwise what is there about the Day of Silence that would make someone, who supposedly agrees with all of its objectives, not support it?

It's a fact that you can not separate the physical violence experienced by queer youth as it is manifested today from the culture that promotes an idea of queer desire as a disgusting sin. The broken and beaten bodies of queer people bare this truth.

Throckmorton is proud of the fact that Campus Crusade participated in his Golden Rule Pledge, but that organization won't even let you serve with them unless you've had at least 3 years of "victory" over your same-sex desires! Campus Crusade may claim that they don't support violence against queer people, but their very teachings constitute violence!

Shit, after just two or three clicks I found a link from their website to this gem of an article about homosexuality! If that doesn't constitute violence against queer people - if that doesn't help construct a narrative of hatred towards queers that ends in beatings and murder - then what the fuck is violence? Because at this point I have no idea.

Dr. Warren Throckmorton is a fraud and a charlatan. He is a fringe therapist from a tiny Christian college. Interesting how he failed to mention that one of the other four people in his failed video was an exorcist that pulls demons out of the butts of gay men.

This is the type of extremism he promotes. The more that you learn about Throckmorton, the more you will grow to distrust him. Judge for yourself. Here is what he had to say about Noe G. before he defected:

http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/throckmortons-embarrassing-money-quote/

Nick, I think Bil addressed your questions in his comments.

I want to thank Bil Browning for the opportunity to describe more fully the Golden Rule Pledge. Those who might like to sincerely dialogue can contact me via the links given here.


No, actually he didn't. And neither did you.

Frankly I think every Bilerico commenter should find it insulting for you to imply that we are not having a ‘sincere dialogue’ here. Over the past year that I've been commenting on Bilerico I’ve seen a lot of heavy issues discussed, but never once have I seen a call for people to stop discussion in the comment thread and to instead exchange personal emails. I'm not sure why you think that, of the thousands of posts on Bilerico, yours is the one where people are not engaging in ‘sincere dialogue’.

And it’s an important part of that dialogue to expose you as a liar and a fraud. Fortunately there are plenty of people like Wayne who are willing to do so.

I found this post on Warren's blog to be very interesting. I'm just not seeing Throckmorton as a big villain here. Wayne & Mike, I'd be interested in learning more about Warren's history with the LGBT community...

Nick, I agree with you about the "sincere dialogue" insult. There are 14 comments on this post. Warren should see some of the trans posts for long and personal comment threads! This is much more civil. :) However, I have to point out that the end of your last comment is getting dangerously close to TOS violation for attacking Warren personally...

I still have yet to hear a sound reason why Evangelicals and other conservatives can't support the anti-violence purpose of the Day of Silence by actually participating in the Day of Silence.

Please, dear god, will someone answer that mother-effing question. Bil? Throckmorton? Anyone? Because until I hear a reasonable answer, the only one that I can come up with is that the Day of Silence doesn't create the opportunity for Christians to expressly convey that they still believe homosexuality is wrong. Otherwise what is there about the Day of Silence that would make someone, who supposedly agrees with all of its objectives, not support it?

That's a good question - and one that I didn't answer before. I find myself agreeing with Nick on this point as well; Christians could support the DOS simply by participating in the DOS.

GRP, however, also supports the DOS but from my point of view it's more of an "add-on pack" like software comes with. The fact remains that a lot of Christians disapprove of homosexuality without condoning violence against us. (No, Nick - disapproving does not equal violence. I disapprove of people who over eat and become severely obese. I would not advocate violence against someone for an extra Snickers or ten million Milky Ways.) The GRP doesn't include any mention of Biblical verses condemning homosexuality; it only mentions the Biblical law that coincides (rather nicely) with DOS.

That's an extremely fair reconciliation in my book. Not only do they show support, they back it up with Biblical verse.

Bil, I acknowledge that the last paragraph in my previous comment was a borderline TOS violation, and I apologize to you for it. It’s actually kind of ironic considering the subject of discourse. However, I stand by the underlying point of that paragraph – that Throckmorton’s background, past comments, and history with reparative therapy are all valid issues to be discussed here. They demonstrate intent and give us an idea of what framework the Golden Rule Pledge was created in. But in the future I’ll let readers reach their own conclusions about what those things say about Throckmorton personally, and avoid the subject myself.

The fact remains that a lot of Christians disapprove of homosexuality without condoning violence against us.

I agree with you. There are many Christians who condemn homosexuality, but who do not support physical violence against queers.

No, Nick - disapproving does not equal violence.

In terms of anti-queer violence I dissagree. But I guess this is just a fundamental disagreement that neither of us may sway on? That’s just a hard point for me to get over because I am genuinely surprised that a gay man who has been both the perpetrator and victim of anti-gay violence would disagree. Looking at incidents of queer violence in our lives, can we really separate them from the culture in which they took place? Can we honestly say this violence could have possibly manifested itself in the same way without a concerted effort on behalf of some Christians to demonize homosexuals? I just don’t think we can ignore the cause and effect relationship here.

One person that this conversation has reminded me of is Mary Lou Wallner. I don’t know that this is 100% comparable, but I’ll mention her story anyway, and let other people make that decision. Mary Lou’s daughter, Anna, hung herself in her closet after years of struggling with her parents over her sexuality. From what I have heard Anna was not the victim of direct violence like gay-bashing or direct harassment. Nothing her mother and father did would constitute violence under your definition it seems. And yet Anna is dead (certainly this is anti-queer violence manifested), and Mary Lou blames herself for much of the reason behind her daughter’s suicide. I guess I can’t say for sure if that is true, but my life experience tells me that it is.

Or what about trans folks who are denied employment and housing from people who “disapprove” of them. That scenario has happened to Bilerico contributors, and I think forcing trans people into poverty and out of their homes constitutes violence. So maybe we just have different ideas about what violence is?

At this point I think only the very fringe of religious leaders in America publicly advocate direct violence against queer people. We rarely have to read stories like this about mainstream American leaders. But are we at the point where we are willing to say that the anti-queer rhetoric that they do use isn’t contributing to an atmosphere of violence? I certainly am not.