Several high school students walked out of a lecture by Dan Savage, the gay rights campaigner, after he linked certain passages in the Bible, which he called him “bulls**t,” and homophobic bullying.
Mr Savage, best known for the viral ‘It Gets Better’ campaign, was addressing a group of students at the National High School Journalist Conference in Seattle.
In the lecture, he said: “People often say that they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying acts because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong.”
“We can learn to ignore the bulls**t in the Bible and what it says about gay people,” he said, and went on to compare the acceptance of homophobic teachings to the acceptance of those verses which seem to support slavery and eating shellfish.
Although the audience seemed to applaud Mr Savage’s comments, some Christian students seemed to take offence and walked out.
The conservative leaning Fox News invited one of the people who attended the lecture, and he said that the situation felt hostile. Another commentator told the news channel that far from being about anti-bullying, it became a pointed attack on Christian beliefs.
However, Mr Savage himself quickly said later in the lecture: “The bible guys in the hall can come back now because I’m done beating up the bible.”
“It’s funny,” he added, “as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.”
The National Scholastic Press Association, which sponsored the conference, defended Mr Savage. “We appreciate the level of thoughtfulness and deliberation regarding Dan Savage’s keynote address,” the executive director of the NSPA told Fox News.
“Some audience members who felt hurt by his words and tone decided to leave in the middle of his speech, and to this, we want to make our point very clear: While as a journalist it’s important to be able to listen to speech that offends you, these students and advisers had simply reached their tolerance level for what they were willing to hear.”
Mr Savage himself apologised if anyone was hurt by his comments, but said he would not apologise for what he said.
He started the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign in order to counter homophobic bullying, and the many teenage suicides it occasioned. Among others, it has attracted contributions from President Barack Obama, David Cameron, and PinkNews.co.uk founder, Ben Cohen.