Promise Keepers defends Christian men’s rally
LITTLE ROCK ” Leaders of the national Christian men’s ministry the Promise Keepers decried the “feminization of men” in response to allegations that the group is sexist and anti-gay, as well as defended their plans to rally at the University of Arkansas’ taxpayer-financed stadium.
“Men break out with feminine attitudes; they’ve been feminized,” the Rev. Robert Smith, senior pastor of Total Outreach for Christ Ministries in Little Rock, said Tuesday on behalf of Denver-based Promise Keepers Christian ministry. “They’re not being a man for their women. There’s an Eve in every man until it’s taken out.”
Smith and Steve Chavis, Promise Keepers’ national spokesman, were in Little Rock to address plans by the National Organization for Women to hold a counter-rally to protest the June 10-11 Promise Keepers event at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Promise Keepers says that, for the $89 price of admission, men are taught to be both servants and leaders to their wives in the way that Jesus was a servant and leader to the church.
Melanie Dietzel, president of the local and state chapters of NOW in Arkansas, said Tuesday that Promise Keepers’ leaders have the right to rally, but that she has the right to protest their teachings, which she called anti-gay and anti-women.
“The Promise Kepers is an organization that is putting a vision and a mission out there to pull men back to a patriarchal stance,” Dietzel said. “This is how we see it. The notion of putting women back in their place.”
Dietzel said she thinks many of the men who will attend the weekend rally sincerely want to become better husbands and fathers, but don’t realize exactly what the Promise Keepers’ leadership teaches.
“I want them to be aware of the leadership and the statements of the leadership of this organization and not to go in blind,” she said.
It’s the first time the university stadium has hosted a private, non-athletic event, but the school said that’s only because no one has ever asked to rent it before. Promise Keepers says it is paying the state $60,000 to use the stadium for two days. It expects 20,000 men to buy tickets, and Chavis said the $1.7 million that should raise would pay for lighting, music and other year-round expenses of the nonprofit ministry.
Chavis said critics who complain that Promise Keepers’ message is for men are right. He said that’s necessary because “men have gone awry and if we don’t do something for men to be men, we’re in trouble.”
He also said the “marketplace of ideas” is dominated by secularism and that Christian ideas are needed to clean up rampant unethical corporate practices, mend broken marriages and combat feminism.
“Our message is Christian; that’s our DNA,” he said. “Our critics, their own form of intolerance is political correctness, which is anti-Christian bigotry.”
Chavis also said it was a fallacy that Promise Keepers teaches dominance.
Smith said an example of the “feminization of men” was that husbands allow their wives to take care of them, and he said: “The vows we give say men will take care of women. She’s giving her name, not him giving up his.”
Chavis noted that the ministry’s chief fiscal officer is a woman and shortly after calling feminism a “scourge,” he cited the feminist mantra “a woman’s place is in the House … and the Senate” to say that Promise Keepers welcome support from women.
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