“Brad showed us that we had permission to speak out about the Judeo-Christian values that we believe in, that we don’t have to cower or back down, or we don’t have to spiritualize everything. We have every right as Americans to say, ‘I don’t believe in same-sex marriage.’ That’s what Brad reminds us.”
One of the consistently scarier elements of the religious in this country, is how they seem to mount a movement almost right beneath one’s nose, and suddenly pop out of nowhere. Granted, I tend to live in an internet-induced bubble for the most part, but these cats? Serious heebie-jeebie time.
Promise Keepers is an international conservative Christian organization for men. While it originated in the United States, it is now world-wide. It is self-described as “a Christ-centered organization dedicated to introducing men to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, helping them to grow as Christians”. Promise Keepers is a non-profit organization, not affiliated with any Christian church or denomination. Their most widely publicized events tend to be mass rallies held at football stadiums and similar venues. They also sell a variety of promotional products to “help men keep their promises,” including clothing, books, and music. Dr. Bruce Wilkinson developed the widely-used video curriculum, Personal Holiness in Times of Temptation, as a part of “The Biblical Manhood” series for Promise Keepers.
‘Biblical manhood’? Talk about having a laugh.
Their statement of faith is fairly boilerplate. The ‘7 Promises’ is somewhat borderline worrisome. It’s obvious that they’re homophobic (while trying to appear to be anything but), as they vigorously oppose same-sex marriage. That right there places them directly in ass-clown county.
It was observed that they aren’t…quite right, as reported in this article:
However, critics of Promise Keepers charge its leaders routinely express views that are antithetical to the Bible’s teachings, and outside the realm of mainstream belief. They claim it has an unbridled ecumenicism, a charismatic leadership emphasis, and relies on an anti-God secular psychology.
They say Promise Keepers mimics new-age male bonding and self-discovery therapies, and endorses a book which suggests levels of initiation rites to manhood. They decry its emphasis on phallic symbolism and the fact that Jesus is presented as a sexual male. They note that PK requires submission to leaders and employs a pyramid structure in its organization, that it intrudes on the privacy of a man’s family life and sexual habits. They point out that the group encourages male domination of women, and is rooted in the Vineyard ministry, with strong links to the Kansas City Prophets — a controversial cult claiming visions and revelations from God.
Critics say they do not presume to judge the integrity or the motives of all those in Promise Keepers or question the salvation of these men. They concede that many involved with PK are sincere. Instead, they say they are concerned with the doctrine of the movement and the ministry being promoted. They stress that any group that claims to represent Jesus must 1) preach a pure Gospel, and 2) address man’s spiritual growth from an accurate interpretation of God’s Word. Critics say Promise Keepers fails on both counts.
They worry that the vast majority of men who attend PK rallies probably know very little about the beliefs or church affiliation of the speakers who appear. The lecturers are accepted as authorities on Christian living simply because they say they are Christians and believe the Bible.
“Since the ministry of these teachers runs the gamut from compromising new-evangelicalism and charismatic error, to ecumenical liberalism, it is clear that they [are] introducing the Promise Keepers to unscriptural doctrines and fellowships,” says Al Dager of Redmond, WA. “This is a very serious matter.”
Rev. Gil Rugh, senior pastor of Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE. agrees. “There is so much theological diversity among those involved with Promise Keepers that no in-depth discussion of Scripture or what it means to be a Christian could take place without tearing the movement apart.”
As one former Promise Keepers member remarked, “it’s so diluted and deluded, you can’t get very much out of it.”
And here is a particularly chilling little bit:
Yet the religious right pantheon behind Promise Keepers consists of men who think the Republican party is too liberal. Founder Bill McCartney cut his political teeth speaking at rallies of the violent anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. In impassioned speeches — which are especially chilling when viewed on videotape — McCartney and company have said things like: men must be leaders and women “responders,” lesbians and gays are “stark, raving mad,” abortion is a “second Civil War” and participants must “take back the nation for Christ.”
As Frederick Clarkson notes in “Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy” (Common Courage Press, 1997), Promise Keepers aims to create “men of integrity” while its leaders model opportunistic double-talk. Honor your wife, but take back your role as head and master of your household. Seek racial “reconciliation” with hugs and tears among the biblically correct, but ignore racial injustice when it comes to education, jobs and housing. March on Washington, but assert it’s not a political thing.
It is reminiscent of the way Promise Keepers backer Jerry Falwell claims he doesn’t condone anti-abortion violence but paid $10,000 toward Operation Rescue boss Randy Terry’s fine on a felony stemming from O.R.’s violent seige of women’s health clinics during the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.
Taking a page from Falwell’s play book, a radical activist like McCartney insists his group itself is not at all political. Yet Falwell and other religious right doyens — Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, James Dobson and Bill Bright — launched it financially, lent hundreds of staff members, continue to host and speak at Promise Keepers rallies, publish Promise Keepers books and sell their own politically packed treatises at Promise Keepers events.
Still not convinced? Try signing up as a Promise Keepers supporter, as an academic researcher did, and see if you, too, don’t suddenly start getting mail from the Republican party that you never got before. Lurk online in a Promise Keepers chat group, as one journalist did, and see if you, too, don’t note that abortion is the number one topic — not a woman’s right to choose but an abortion opponent’s right to kill women and doctors.
At this juncture, the Promise Keepers are relegated to little more than an historical footnote – they lost bundles, had major layoffs, and Joe (oops! I mean Bill) McCartney resigned in 2003, but returned in 2008 to become the chairMAN. So while not a big-time contender anymore (like the AFA, or Focus on the Family, or those other delusional fucks), they bear watching as well.
So keep an eye peeled. They may not be the barbarians at the gate we are accustomed to, doesn’t mean they’re not equally dangerous.
Till the next post, then.