“Cynical fear mongering” from the American Family Association

For reasons that are not immediately apparent, The New York Times has written a story about the American Family Association, which believes that telling people not to beat up gay and lesbian children is morally wrong.

The AFA is urging parents around the country to keep their children home from school on October 30, when many schools will participate in “Mix It Up at Lunch Day”, when students are encouraged to spend time with kids they usually don’t talk to.

The program, started 11 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center and now in more than 2,500 schools, was intended as a way to break up cliques and prevent bullying.

But this year, the American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group, has called the project “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools” and is urging parents to keep their children home from school on Oct. 30, the day most of the schools plan to participate this year.

The charges, raised in an e-mail to supporters earlier this month, have caused a handful of schools to cancel this year’s event and has caught organizers off guard.

“I was surprised that they completely lied about what Mix It Up Day is,” said Maureen Costello, the director of the center’s Teaching Tolerance project, which organizes the program. “It was a cynical, fear-mongering tactic.”

A growing body of research suggests that when people who do not go to church hear the word Christian, they think of organizations like the American Family Association. To some extent, that’s our fault. So what’s out next move?

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