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Protesting The Promise Keepers Agenda in Charlotte

Promise Keepers held another one of their mass stadium events at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, NC, on Saturday, Aug. 14th, and was greeted by a protest by American Atheists members and supporters near the main entrance.

Despite the heat, nine people turned out for this peaceful protest to inform event attendees of the sexist, homophobic, and reactionary nature of the Promise Keeper message - as well as the extreme theological and political agendas that are deceptively kept from them. Protestors included NC Director Wayne Aiken, Charlotte activist Jim Senyszyn, Dale Hicks, Butch & Jennifer Young, Alex Kent, plus other nonbelievers and church-state separation supporters from the Charlotte area.
“The men who attend these events appear to be sincere, reasonable people who are concerned about the violence and other problems in today’s society, and they are naturally attracted to the public messages of the Promise Keepers,” said Wayne Aiken. “After all, who can object to becoming better fathers and husbands?”

Whether the simplistic, religion-saturated solutions offered by PK will actually make these men better, is problematic. More alarming, however is the more extreme hidden agenda of this organization- Dominionist and Reconstructionist doctrines that are not only hostile to the First Amendment, but explicitly theocratic. Even many of the attendees expressed support for the separation of church and state, unaware of the diametrically opposite position of PK leadership.
“It’s clear that these ‘family values’ themes are just a deceptive method of luring these men into stadiums, where they are subjected to cult programming methods. They are conditioning these men into ‘God’s Army’, with a number of religious-right -and other more extreme- groups waiting in the wings for this new wave of converted activists”, explains Wayne Aiken.

“Most of them have no idea of the true nature of this organization- only its saccharine public face.”

The picket, which lasted from 11am to 2pm, attracted large numbers as the event paused for lunch. Individuals and groups prayed openly as others confronted the picketers with questions and worn-out theological arguments. “It was depressing, but not unexpected,” said Aiken. Although the crowd nearly engulfed the picket line at times, and despite occasional hot tempers, the encounter remained peaceful. “Our main objective was to inform them that they are being lured by a deceptive organization, and I think that some of them got that message.”

Media coverage of the protest was excellent, with the Charlotte Observer running the story and pictures on the front of their Local section. The protest was also covered by WBT television in Charlotte, stories in several newspapers in surrounding communities, as well as a brief mention on NPR.

Jennifer Young, Butch Young, Alex Kent, Wayne Aiken, and Dale Hicks -- engaging a Promise Keeper in conversation.

Jennifer Young, Butch Young, Randy, PKer

Sunday edition of the Winston-Salem Journal

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