Date: Sat, 6 Aug 94 08:01 CDT Subject: Promise Keepers +gt; About a tape circulated to int

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Date: Sat, 6 Aug 94 08:01 CDT From: Dick Williams Subject: Promise Keepers > About a tape circulated to interpret Promise Keepers to others: > There was one mention of male > "leadership" of the family, but the explanation only involved > taking initiative to seek the welfare of your wife and children. > What we were instructed to repent of was not allowing women to > run our lives, but rather the self-indulgent and indifferent > neglect of our families. A point of major emphasis was that of > "honoring" your wife. Among other things, we were told this > involved really listening to her, treating her as an equal, and > making her the most important person in your life, other than > Jesus Christ. (I don't know where that puts the other persons of > the Godhead.) We were encouraged to give our pastors support, > friendship, and accountability. Their most vitriolic rhetoric > came in their condemnations of racism. We were encouraged to > mount spiritual warfare against its evils. "The Devil owns > racism." Becoming a "Promise Keeper" involved making a series of > commitments. The only ones I remember were 1) a commitment to > meet weekly with a small group of men to hold each other > accountable for such things as their relationships with God, the > care of their families, and their sexuality and a commitment to > meet monthly with a Christian man of another race or denomination > for prayer, fellowship, and understanding. > > These people weren't theologians or moral philosophers, and there > were occasional things said with which I felt uncomfortable. But > they seemed to me to be devoted men of God, who loved their wives > and families and sincerely wanted other men to do the same. On > this tape, at least, they were manifestly were not advocating > anything remotely related to hatred or abuse. Indeed, if I > followed everything, without exception, that they advised, my > relationship with God and my family might in some respects be > diminished, but I have no doubt that they would, on balance, be > much improved. I take your admonition to be more careful and respectful myself in commenting on ideas and groups I disagree with to heart and reexamine my spirit here. Believe it or not, I usually am more circumspect when I discuss these things. You must understand that I have lived here -- among the formulaters of Promise Keepers -- and working in the same institution with their "esteemed leader" for several years now. For a long while, I listened and questioned gently, and probed hoping to hear good things. This year, for the first time, I am hearing some of the same things you have heard on your tape. You must now understand my skepticism about these glowing PR creations. Because I am hearing domething radically different. You must also understand that some of us in local evangelical circles (Mennonites, Quakers, etc.) have been attacked mercilessly by the words and by legislative (Ammendment #2 in Colorado) arrows dresigned literally to kill much of our Christianizing effort. When Bill McCartney ("Jesus of Boulder," as one of his followers dubbed him a couple of years ago) opened verbal fire on the gays "and other creatures of the 'beast'" was this not hate and abuse??!! Some of us at the university thought he should be relieved of his job. The Univ. Pres. simply slapped his wrists and instructed him not to speak thus from a university podium and not to carry on Promise Keepers' business using university stationery. He has toned down his "official pronouncements." Also, you should understand that much of the publicity of Promise Keepers has been modified since the formation of the Citizens' Project, which is a broad-based group of 15-20,000 people here in Colorado (first organised in Colorado Springs) formed to monitor the activities of the so-called religious right in this area. The first thing we learned was that the statements aimed at the general population are far different from what is said within the religious right community itself. One of the objectives of the Citizens' Project is to publish these pacifying and hate-mongering statements side by side. We could hope that the Promise Keepers -- and perhaps other far right organizations too -- are listening and learning. After all these years of listening to their hate and experiencing the political results of it, I am very skeptical. I consider the movement VERY dangerous and damaging. I have experienced the hate directly as I served on a school-improvement team in the Boulder Valley School District. These people do not simply disagree politely (as you would have me do), they pull books off the library shelves and spread hate and distrust of teachers and public school folks -- and also of citizens committed to the open forum of ideas. Hoping for a more personal and respectful understanding of where I am coming from, I remain yours thoughtfully. Dick Williams

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