The article on Promise Keepers written by Jimmy Fowler ["60,000 naked men," November 14] gave a very clear sense of what Promise Keepers is all about. I have been a volunteer at all four conferences held in the North Texas area and have never really seen the PK spirit captured in print as well as Fowler was able to do. You are fortunate to have him on your staff.
Let me make one major clarification. Beer and wine were not on sale during the conference. What may have been confusing is that the stadium's standard concession stand signs remained in place. These signs had prices for beer and wine, and it may have appeared that beer and wine were being sold. I assure you that this was not the case.
Editor's note: Mr. Bristol is correct. Beer and wine were not sold at Texas Stadium during the 1996 Promise Keepers rally. Dallas Observer staff writer Jimmy Fowler had seen long lines of customers at stands advertising beer and wine coolers, and he incorrectly assumed these items were for sale. The Observer regrets the error.
Part of Jimmy Fowler's article "60,000 Naked Men" reports on Promise Keepers' vocal support of the institution of marriage. However, in "The Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper," written by the group's leader, the Reverend Tony Evans, the group's male-dominant authoritarian sexism is revealed in the section "Reclaiming Your Manhood:" The first thing you do is sit down with your wife and say something like: "Honey, I've made a terrible mistake. I've given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role."
Further, how can the Dallas Promise Keepers meeting be termed a "diverse" gathering by "men of every age and income level" when the privilege costs $60 per participant? The group of men who generally have this kind of disposable income do not represent as "diverse" a group as Fowler reports.
Promise six talks of "reaching beyond racial and denominational barriers." PK founder and former Colorado Buffaloes coach Bill McCartney and others talk of "repenting the sin of racism." To do this, they offer individual moral improvement and fundamentalist faith as the answer. There is no discussion of the underlying causes and effects of racial inequality.
Further, the official political neutrality of the organization doesn't wash with the views voiced by McCartney. At past rallies, McCartney has charged PKs to "take the nation for Jesus Christ." These comments reflect the explicitly political nature of the organization's leaders and their espousal of the doctrines of the religious right.
Fowler's story seemed to focus on the huggable-ness of the Promise Keepers. This is exactly how these homey, fun gatherings are designed and marketed. However, his story is belied by the late, great revelation of the Promise Keepers organization's hidden political and religious agendas.
Give pagans their due
I am again completely amazed that I live in a region that consistently shows the rest of the country how ignorant we are. In reference to your story concerning witchcraft and paganism in Arlington ["Grab your torches," November 28], I have a couple of issues to address.
Associating paganism with Satanism is so blatantly theologically incorrect that you may as well assume that all people who are not "Christian" are devil worshipers as well. Paganism, or neo-paganism as it is more properly called, is a natural religion drawing upon the idea that all human beings are born with, and should seek out, the truth within themselves according to how they fit into the natural universe.
Satan, or the equivalent, has no relevance or place in the study of neo-paganism. The subject of animal sacrifice is ridiculous. Any pagan will tell you that respect for living creatures--including animals--is of the utmost importance. If someone is sacrificing animals in Arlington, I can assure you it is not a pagan.
The term "witchcraft" is used loosely in your article as well. Paganism and Wicca do have some similarities, but they are not the same and should not be grouped together. Your reporting lacks clarity and proper information. Earth-based religions are gaining members every day. We are artists and professionals, students, spiritualists, and mothers; we come from every walk of life and diverse backgrounds. I think it is time for us to be properly portrayed instead of blatantly misrepresented.
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