Weekly Wire
Salt Lake City Weekly Promise Keeprs or Cry Babies?

By City Weekly staff

OCTOBER 20, 1997:  What do you call a large gathering of men in a football stadium crying and praying to God?

BYU fans?

Many names come to mind, but what these people call themselves is Promise Keepers. They have, for the past year or two, filled football stadiums to pray, cry and make promises.

They could have called themselves the Cry Babies, but that probably wouldn't give the image or the allure that the name Promise Keepers offers.

Still, with all the wailing and tears, it does tend to make BYU look pretty normal. In reality, these gatherings are old-fashioned, male-only Christian revival meetings sans the fire and brimstone.

Promise Keepers is led by a former football coach who likes the football-stadium setting for this manly approach to Bible-Belt Christianity.

But why should anybody, including the National Organization of Women, take exception to a group of men praying and crying. Yes it is rather weird, but should it be downright frightening?

Both of Salt Lake City's daily newspapers have ripped N.O.W. for criticizing these mostly white men who gather under the umbrella of Christ to say they have lost their way and hearken back to a more traditional America. The Deseret News labeled N.O.W. as an extremist organization, crying wolf as the Promise Keepers wail and pray and hug and promise to reassert themselves as the heads of American households.

What gives?

Members of the progressive women's movement might not want to return to the 1950s, when men laid down the law and women were simple housekeepers, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Not that that's possible these days, many women being single heads of household, both bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan — whether they want to or not.

Frankly, other than white males, who does want to hearken back to the 1950s? Certainly minorities don't. Why should women?

That's what is frightening about 750,000 mostly white men on the Mall in Washington D.C. praying and crying and demonstrating that they long for traditional values. Traditional white, male values might have been nice for white males, but they weren't too grand for anyone else.

If these men want to take responsibility for their own actions and renew their faith, fine. Nobody has a truck with that. But when a group of mostly white men gather, under any heading, and promise to recapture a past symbolized by discrimination, then groups like N.O.W. have a right and responsibility to raise a red flag.

Beyond that, the self-flagellation encompassed by Promise Keepers just seems to be a bit over the top — faith and responsibility not lending themselves to spectator sport.

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