Drew Brees and Bring Your Bible to School Day Controversy Highlights Growing Intolerance

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was forced to respond to criticism late yesterday for recording a 22-second video promoting our organization’s annual “Bring Your Bible to School Day”, which occurs this coming October 3rd.

Specifically, Brees was put on the defensive for doing the video because Bring Your Bible to School Day is associated with Focus on the Family. Critics were aghast that he would lend his name to the event, citing our ministry’s belief in biblical marriage and support of counseling for those with unwanted same-sex attraction.

In reporting on the episode, the Washington Post pejoratively labeled us as an “anti-LGBT religious group.”

Is there no longer any realm where I can disagree with someone on the definition of marriage and human sexuality and still be considered a decent person?

By both the Post’s and other critic’s standards, anybody who holds to the historical teachings of biblical sexuality is now labeled a bully and bigot, someone who holds others in personal contempt.

In fact, by this same measure, the Roman Catholic Church, which like many theologically conservative evangelicals who adhere to orthodox Christianity, is also an “anti-LGBT group.” And following this same zero-sum assessment logic, all Christians must also be “anti-Muslim” and all people of the Jewish faith are “anti-Christian.”

Such labels are decidedly unfair and a gross distortion of reality.

Like Scripture teaches and Drew Brees referenced, we believe we’re called to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. We’re also commanded to love our neighbors, whether they identify as heterosexual, homosexual or something else.

We believe we must treat everyone with love and respect. In 21st century post-Christian America, the best and only way forward is to not poke ideological opponents in the eye but to find ways to acknowledge and respect our differences.

Yes, we believe the teachings of the bible, that marriage is a sacred institution intended for the union of one man and one woman. As I have told critics, I am not the Bible’s editor. I accept it as written and have neither the authority nor gall to amend the sacred text. But that belief does not give us license to demean those who don’t accept the teachings of the Old and New Testaments.

But American pluralism also demands that those who disagree with me shouldn’t mock or malign my deeply held religious beliefs. Shaming me is mean-spirited and unproductive. If you expect me to accept and respect you, then I am deserving of your respect and acceptance. Tolerance is a two-way street.

Many have demeaned our organization because of our support of so-called “gay-conversion therapy.” Such soundbites woefully misrepresent the position of our organization.

To be clear, we do not advocate for any therapy that requires or promises change or sexual conversion. We especially denounce any practice that shames, degrades, coerces, abuses, or insults any individuals.

But because we hold that every human possesses inherent dignity and is of immeasurable worth, we do believe in and support the availability of professional counseling in matters of sexuality that is respectful, safe, ethical and responsive to the client’s values and desires. Anybody with unwanted same-sex attraction should be allowed to pursue their desired help. The availability of respectful, safe, ethical counseling in matters of sexuality honors those in search of assistance.

We recognize that our values aren’t everyone’s values and are not forcing our point of view on anyone. All we ask is that the tolerant left tolerate those of us on the right.

Drew Brees is the latest individual to be caught up in the middle of a growing intolerance toward those of us with a conservative Christian worldview. Whether it’s Second Lady Karen Pence being attacked for teaching art at a Christian school, the New York Times asking for stories about “#exposechristianschools,” public high school students in Pennsylvania battling a “Bible ban” on their campus, or Chick-fil-A being banned from airports due to their biblical beliefs, people of conservative Christian faith are being unfairly targeted.

This latest turn reminds us why it’s vital to empower the next generation with the understanding that they don’t have to hide their faith or compartmentalize it to the “private” sphere.

If you have a school age son or daughter, I hope you will consider inviting them to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day. Click here to sign up and learn more.

The nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage protects their right to boldly, authentically and freely live out their faith—without fear of reprisal. That’s the heart and vision behind Bring Your Bible to School Day.

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Jim Daly

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