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Picketing The Promise Keepers Agenda in Sacramento, California.
September 23, 2020

by Dave Kong
California State Director for American Atheists

American Atheists has demonstrated at every Promise Keeper stadium event during the past few years. While these events are typically lively, the event on September 23 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento was remarkably subdued.

The demonstration brought together American Atheists members from different affiliated groups in northern California, including San Francisco Atheists and the Shasta Atheists and Other Freethinkers. The Sacramento Atheists and Freethinkers, a local group, also joined the protest.

Most of the twelve atheists who came to protest the PK's theocratic and social agenda were veteran protesters who had picketed at the previous PK events. We were expecting the usual influx of thousands of men throughout the morning. We were also expecting, as usual, a group of Promise Keeper men to come talk to us, preach to us, and pray for our souls. We were quite surprised when neither materialized.

While there was a steady stream of traffic into the arena area early in the morning, it had dropped off around 8:30. By 9:15, it had slowed to a crawl. During that time, while many PKs passing by acknowledged our signs with nods, smiles and the occasional thumbs down, only one Promise Keeper stopped to engage us in conversation. Interestingly, he was aware of the group's political ambitions, but called that aspect of the movement "garbage."

Due to the lack of passing traffic, we decided to end the demonstration ahead of schedule. We had an early lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, a rather poor imitation of Taco Bell. (Some of us would have preferred something a little higher on the food chain.)

Is the Promise Keepers movement fading? According to Christianity Today, the Promise Keepers movement has declined from its peak in 1997. Its national staff has been downsized from around 400 employees to approximately 90. The organization's annual budget, previously around $100 million, has been cut to about $30 million.

Attendance at their stadium events has also declined. However, this may be due more to the fact that event registration is no longer free, and has soared to $60-70 per participant. It is possible that this jump in cost prevents the less affluent, yet still dedicated, Promise Keepers from attending.

Also, the Christian menís movement as a whole is far from disappearing. It is beginning to align itself more closely with the churches. Under the umbrella of a group called the National Coalition of Menís Ministries, the Christian menís movement is establishing itself as a permanent part of the American religious landscape.

In closing, I must extend a very appreciative thank you to the Sacramento police department. In organizing the event, the local precinct chief was very respectful and cooperative. He understood that we have a right to peacefully voice our opinion. He trusted our ability to conduct ourselves properly, and didnít even send a police patrol during our protest. After the tense atmosphere at the Democratic National Convention protest, it was a refreshing change.

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