Boulder Colorado: Promise Keepers Kult

By Mills Mike

They're HEE--EERE. It's hard to believe, but it's once again time for Coach Bill McCartney's annual "Christian" invasion of Boulder. If you thought living and driving in Boulder was hectic enough this summer, wait until 52,000 red-hot-for-Jesus men descend on our town.

But while some Boulderites see the Promise Keepers as a mere inconvenience for a few days, many of us are alarmed by the very purpose and message of this conference.

Two and a half years ago McCartney used a University podium to promote Colorado for Family Values' Amendment 2, declaring, "Homosexuality is an abomination of almighty God." Homosexuals, McCartney reasoned, are "a group of people that don't reproduce. Yet they want to be compared to groups that do reproduce."

It is difficult to overstate the hurt and anger that this limited view of humanity sent through campus and the city. McCartney had previously aired his strong opposition to a woman's right to choose.

Now he was going a step further -- condemning whole segments of society who do not conform to his ideals, with the express purpose of denying them their civil rights.

That summer, Boulder residents were introduced to the Promise Keepers -- Bill McCartney's answer to feminism. Promise Keepers was created to validate and promote the notion that the man is the head of his household, and his wife subservient. Says the wife of Promise Keepers President Randy Phillips, "Randy has the final word, but I honor him."

Much of what the Promise Keepers say about women's rights echoes the words of Reverend Jerry Falwell, who said, "I listen to the feminists and all these radical gals -- most of them are failures.... They married some Caspar Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That's all they need... a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead the home."

One issue of the Promise Keepers' newsletter contains an article by a man whose wife refused to make him a sandwich while he watched TV. She said he was not appreciative when she did make him sandwiches. The author learned his lesson and passed it on: spoon your wife compliments from time to time, and she will continue to serve you.

But as many Boulder women have learned in previous years' conferences, the Promise Keepers have not yet learned to extend this level of courtesy to women who don't make them sandwiches. Several single women living in CU Family Housing complained that they were afraid to go outside during last year's conference, while many who did were subjected to jeers, catcalls, and unwelcome serenades of "There she goes just a-walkin down the street". One female biker was surrounded by Promise Keepers, preventing her from leaving the bike path while they made rude comments to her, one calling her a "moron".

The Promise Keepers are part of the Religious Right's movement to eliminate from society that which does not conform to their ideals. At last year's conference, McCartney declared "What you are about to hear is God's word to the men of this nation. We are going to war as of tonight. We have divine power -- that is our weapon. We will not compromise. Wherever truth is at risk, in the schools or legislature, we are going to contend for it. We will win."

One of McCartney's leading allies in this spiritual war, Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council, concurs: "We are engaged in a social, political, and cultural war. There's a lot of talk in America about pluralism. But the bottom line is somebody's values will prevail. And the winner gets the right to teach our children what to believe."

More to the point, Kevin Tebedo, Executive Director of CFV, asked earlier this month, "Where are you homosexuals going to go when we win?"

Even as they reach out to convert and homogenize people of color, the people behind Promise Keepers cannot hide their racism. In a mean-spirited attack on Colorado's Latino and Chicano communities, Tebedo's mother, State Senator Maryanne Tebedo, sponsored an amendment to the Colorado Constitution which made English the "official language".

Colorado Springs' Focus on the Family tells us that Native Americans teach their children "voodoo and witchcraft." Phylis Schlafly's Eagle Forum adds, "Many years ago Christian pioneers had to fight savage Indians. Today missionaries of these former cultures are being sent via the public schools to heathenize our children."

Kevin Tebedo himself has said that, "Amendment 2 is not about homosexuality," specifically telling reporters that he favors legal discrimination based on race, gender, and religion as well.

Defending CFV, Colorado Springs pastor Bernhard Kuiper adds, "It should be made clear that in order to live a Christian life, any Christian must be able to discriminate and hate, because that's what the bible says."

We, the people of Boulder, do not subscribe to the sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry, and racial and cultural supremacy espoused by the Promise Keepers. We believe that our country shows its best when it is inclusive, not exclusive; pluralistic, not theocratic; diverse, not homogeneous. With great concern about the dangers of the messages espoused by McCartney the Promise Keepers, we are sponsoring a Celebration of Diversity this Saturday, July 30th, 1992, starting at noon at the Trumbo Fountain, behind the University Memorial Center on the CU Boulder campus.

From there we will march to the lawn of the Boulder Public Library, where our stage will feature music, speeches, and entertainment celebrating difference in our community. Speakers will include poet Allen Ginsberg, Latin-America activist Ellen Klaver, Native American Sage Douglas Remington, Naropa's Anne Waldman, and many, many more. We invite everyone to join us in showing that the true promise of our country lies not in spiritual war, division, and intolerance, but in diversity, inclusion, and liberation.

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