Anti-bullying speaker bullies Christians
NEW YORK (BP) -- Parents and conservative leaders are expressing outrage after sex columnist and gay advocate Dan Savage unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against the Bible and Christian teenagers at a national high school journalism conference.
"Dan Savage is a bully," said Phillip Naman, the father of two children who attended the journalism conference sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association. "When you are attacking somebody for their character, for their beliefs -- that's abuse. Dan Savage was abusing the children in a bullying fashion."
Naman's son, Jake, was one of the first students to walk out of auditorium when Savage began berating the Bible.
Savage told the students, "We can learn to ignore the [expletive] in the Bible about gay people -- the same way we have learned to ignore the [expletive] in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity," Savage told the young students. "We ignore [expletive] in the Bible about all sorts of things."
Savage is the founder of the "It Gets Better" anti-bullying program. He's been a guest at the White House, and President Obama even recorded a video segment for the anti-bullying campaign.
He later used another expletive to label the students who walked out of the speech.
"You can tell the Bible guys in the hall they can come back now because I'm done beating up the Bible," he said. "It's funny as someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible how [expletive] people react when you push back."
Naman said Savage's behavior was cowardly.
"For a 47-year-old full grown man to say the kinds of things he did to that group -- somebody should lose their job," he said. "It was obvious he had an agenda to push. He wasn't there to talk about journalism. He was there with an agenda. That is deceitful, wrong and there was absolutely no way the kids should have been subjected to that."
Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, was upset by the attack on Christian teenagers.
"Inviting Dan Savage to speak to teenagers on 'anti-bullying' is like asking a member of the Ku Klux Klan to speak on racial tolerance," Jeffress told Fox News. "His hostility toward Christians is typical of the hypocritical intolerance of liberals."
Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin told Fox News that Savage has a long history of controversial behavior.
"He had a few marbles missing," Malkin said. "He is most infamous for breaking into the campaign offices of former GOP president candidate and social conservative Gary Bauer -- and licking the door knobs of the office -- because he happened to be sick and wanted to infect them with his cold virus.
"Right there you know this is not someone you should be sending into public schools to talk with children about things like bullying," she said.
So who thought it would be a good idea for someone with that background to address high school students?
The National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association did not return calls seeking comment about why Savage was invited to speak and who was responsible for the invitation.
"The anti-Christian bigotry of the activist left has really been exposed," Malkin said. "I can't fathom a group like that -- bringing someone [like Savage] before student journalists."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, agreed and called Savage a "disciple of division and intolerance."
"It's beyond irresponsible," Perkins told Fox News. "This is signing on to a one-sided hate-filled debate that is taking place where Dan Savage is given entrance to schools across America to belittle people who simply disagree with him."
Malkin said she was most impressed by how the Christian students conducted themselves during Savage's tirade.
"I think what these kids did was rather courageous," she said. "They helped call attention to the incivility and indecency of Dan Savage -- which has gone on too long."
She added, "It was a much better decision than we see at your average college campus where the kids who disagree with conservative speakers will not just turn around quietly and leave -- but will stand there and try to obstruct the free speech of conservative speakers either by hurling things at them, shouting them down and acting like a complete lynch mob," Malkin said.
Naman said his son was not trying to cause trouble by leaving the speech.
"We were attacked," he said. "And when that happens you have to stand up for your faith. As a Christian you have to stand up and say it's important."
His wife, Mary, said the attack on her children was sad.
"I think that he missed the whole point of Christianity," she told Fox News. "That saddens me. Did he do something wrong, did he hurt people? I think he did. That's just bullying."
Savage apologized for using the expletive to describe the Christian students.
"It was name-calling and it was wrong," he wrote on his website. "And I apologize for saying it."
But he stood by his comments about the Bible.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard daily on Fox News Radio stations around the nation. He is the author of "Dispatches From Bitter America" and "They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick." This article first appeared at www.toddstarnes.com. Used by permission.