A group of high school students attending a recent national journalism conference in Seattle had to walk out on sex-advice columnist, author and gay anti-bully activist Dan Savage, after he allegedly made offensive remarks about the Bible. Contradictory his anti-bullying efforts Savage also reportedly called the Christian teens "pansies" for leaving during his speech.
Savage, who recently launched a sex advice show targeted toward college students on MTV, was the featured guest speaker April 13 at the Journalism Over the Edge/National Scholastic Press Association National High School Journalism Convention. During his remarks, which students reportedly thought would focus on bullying as the author would later sign copies of his new book about the subject, Savage said "people [use] the Bible as an excuse for gay bullying," according to one teen who walked out on the columnist.
The 17-year-old California student, whose name was not given, told CitizenLink's Karla Dial that Savage said people using the Bible to justify their views on homosexuality being a sin often cite Leviticus and Romans in saying that "being gay is wrong."
"Right after that, he said we can ignore all the 'B.S.' in the Bible," the student told CitizenLink, which is affiliated with faith-based organization Focus on the Family.
The student said she suddenly reacted by blurting out "That's bull!" before storming out of the auditorium along with several other students. Savage reportedly called the students pansies upon noticing their exit.
Savage, who reportedly has a history of slamming Christianity and the Bible, launched in 2010 an anti-bullying initiative called "It Gets Better," which promises gay and lesbian youth that, if they make it through their teenage years, their lives will reach "levels of happiness, potential, and positivity." The initiative was launched in response to suicides among teens targeted because of their sexuality.
The pledge promoted by "It Gets Better" calls on supporters to "speak up against hate and intolerance" whenever witnessed, whether at school or at work. "Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are," the pledge reads.
Candi Cushman, an education analyst, writes on CitizenLink that Savage's behavior was "extremely ironic," considering his position as an anti-bully activist.
"So it's significant...that Savage would feel the freedom to display such intolerance during a speech that was supposed to be about bullying prevention," she writes. "Using profanity to deride the Bible – and then mocking the Christian students after they left the room – is obviously a form of bullying and name-calling."
In a video published last year by AOL.com, Savage gave a message directly addressed to "religious people" who use the Bible "to justify their anti-gay bigotry."
"There's so much in the Bible that we've learned to ignore. The anti-female, anti-woman stuff in the Bible. The stuff in the Bible that forbids us to eat lobster. The stuff in the Bible that justifies and defends the institution of slavery," he says.
"We've learned to ignore what the Bible has to say about pork, what the Bible says about polyester. We've learned to ignore all of that. We can also get over the anti-gay stuff in the Bible in the interest of justice, fairness and equality for LGBT people," Savage suggests.
The "Savage Love" columnist then notes that "most of the anti-gay stuff" is recorded in the Old Testament, and that the New Testament tells of Jesus teaching followers to love their neighbors as themselves.
Dr. Kenneth L. Hutcherson, Senior Pastor and Co-Founder of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Wash., speaking to The Christian Post last week about his "Take Back the Rainbow" initiative suggested that the type of love pro-gay activists usually reference is different from the biblical love many Christians espouse.
"Biblical love is very strong, not very compromising, it changes lives," Dr. Hutcherson said, adding that the world loves by making one "feel good about one's sin."
"God says to love everyone the way they are, but we are to love everyone so much to not allow them to stay the way they are if they're not right with God or family," the pastor suggested.
CP's request for a comment from Savage was not answered by press time.