Sunday, May 15, 2005



DENVER -- A small sign in the Promise Keepers headquarters reads "70,000" -- the number of people the Christian men's organization needs to fill Razorback Stadium in Arkansas for one of its revivals this summer after years of dwindling attendance.

In the 1990s, tens of thousands of men crowded football stadiums across the United States to listen to the Promise Keepers' message, hoping to become better husbands, fathers and Christians. Yet by the end of the decade, the evangelical group had only a fraction of the following it once did...

At its peak in 1996, the organization drew about 1.1 million men to 22 stadium conferences nationwide. Its rally the following year in Washington drew hundreds of thousands of men for speeches, stadium-style "waves" and thundering chants of, "Dear God, I am a sinner. . . . Please forgive me and change me."...

Promise Keepers began to have financial problems when it decided to stop charging admission fees for its conventions, believing they were a deterrent. But voluntary contributions never covered the loss, and the group was forced to lay off hundreds of employees in 1998...

Rick Kingham, senior pastor of Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Wash., said dropping attendance wasn't the Promise Keepers' problem alone.

"It's probably more of an indictment against our society, because men really are asleep, more now than I've ever seen before," Kingham said, noting Promise Keepers' 2005 theme is "The Awakening -- An Unpredictable Adventure."..

That's right: it's our fault that yet another politically right wing exclusivist religious movement as marketing stunt failed.

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