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The Promise Keepers Men's Right-Wing Religious Movement Takes Aim at Your Rights

The Promise Keepers Men's Right-Wing Religious Movement Takes Aim at Your Rights

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The Promise Keepers: Men's Right-Wing Religious Movement Takes Aim at Your Rights http://www.

now.org/issues/right/061104pk.html

by Azmat Khan, NOW Communications Intern, and Anna Seifried, NOW Chapter Development Intern The Promise Keepers, a right-wing fundamentalist men's group known for holding men-only rallies in football stadiums, continues its surreptitious campaign for male supremacy with a new nationwide tour. "Don't be fooled by the media coverage of the group's religious faith," said NOW Action Vice President Olga Vives, who spoke at a rally outside the Promise Keepers' first tour event in Albany, N.Y. on June 5. "This organization breeds bigots. Underneath the façade of Christian religion are the workings of the radical religious right, mobilizing men against the rights of women, lesbians, and gays. Let's remember they blame women's equality for society's ills." For 13 years, Promise Keepers persisted with claims the organization is religious rather than political. However, the group adds relevance and value to the radical, political right, through its advocacy. Tom Fortson, the Promise Keepers' leader, said the organization seeks greater influence in the debate of social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. The organization encourages its followers to make a difference in their spheres of influence, including politics. In encouraging men to "take back" their role as head of household, the group promotes an ideology placing women in inferior positions. The organization's leaders advocate the submission of women with a much-quoted biblical passage, "Wives must submit to your husbands, as to the Lord." Women cannot attend any Promise Keepers events, although they sometimes serve as volunteers. Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney also insisted the group's battle against abortion has become the "Second Civil War," which men must lead and women respond. In addition to condemning gender equity and reproductive rights, Promise Keepers leaders denounce homosexuality. McCartney called lesbians and gays "stark raving mad." The Promise Keepers now pledge to "renew the essence of masculinity" through a three-year campaign called "Real Men Matter." The campaign purports to clarify the definition of a "real man" and help men develop true significance in a "morally-bankrupt, godless society." "Uprising - A Revolution of the Soul" by Erwin McManus provides a basis for the 2004 conference season. The book asks men to pursue a quest of honor and set out on a mission to prepare for the "battle" to regain their place in society.

"Most men don't see their need to be noble in the area of their culture," Fortson said. "They've stayed away from those tough issues. In the past, we've encouraged men to deal with the home front. Now, we're saying, 'Ok guys, this is just part of the battle.'" For years, women's rights leaders have warned the public of Promise Keepers' dangerous attitudes and political ambitions. NOW tracked the movements of Promise Keepers, and stayed on-call to mobilize against the group, creating a video to examine the activities of companion women's groups like the Promise Reapers. NOW emerged in 2000 as a leading voice of opposition to their right-wing agenda. Our leaders squared-off with Promise Keepers in television debates, newspaper coverage and radio interviews. NOW even sponsored a counter-demonstration in October 2000 on the National Mall during a Promise Keepers rally. Local NOW chapters take action against Promise Keepers as well, often holding counterdemonstrations at Promise Keepers' rallies to make sure the community knows the true mission of that organization. Last spring, a NOW chapter in Boulder, Colo., opposed the appointment of Bishop Phillip Porter, Promise Keepers' chairman emeritus, to a committee investigating the football recruiting scandal at the University of Colorado. Porter had made public statements that he doubted the testimony accusing university athletes of rape. A delegation of West Virginia NOW members, as well as National Action Center staffers and interns, protested in July at a Promise Keepers' assembly in Charleston, W.Va. Vives spoke to a packed house during a Promise Keepers workshop she conducted at this year's NOW National Conference in Las Vegas. She said the group continues to challenge modern women's roles, asserting men's sole leadership in the home. Promise Keepers advance the notion that women should be domestic figures relegated to submission. Vives also said Promise Keepers' rhetoric, which impacts public consciousness, discourages women from coming forward in cases of domestic violence. Beginning June 4, the 18-stop tour traveled the East Coast into the South, and they are continuing the tour this fall with rallies in the Midwest, Texas, California and Washington. More background information about the Promise Keepers is available at NOW.org.

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