A USA Today columnist says a massive Promise Keepers men's conference scheduled for July in Dallas should be canceled due to the CEO's biblical beliefs on sexuality.
Promise Keepers, a Christian men's conference founded by college football coach Bill McCartney in 1990, is scheduled to hold the rally July 16-17 at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Tens of thousands of men are expected to attend.
Mike Freeman, a sports columnist for USA Today, said in a Wednesday column that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones – as well as AT&T – should make the event "disappear" due to recent comments by Promise Keepers CEO Ken Harrison.
Harrison, speaking to a radio program, bemoaned how the culture is negatively impacting men.
"One of the things they're doing to make their agenda happen is destroying the identity of the American people, and if they can get Christians, especially Christian men, to sit down, be silent and be passive, then they can be effective," Harrison said. "It's working. Christian men are not standing up for what's right. I mean, you think about how quickly we went from homosexual marriage to men putting on dresses, being called women, and playing on women's basketball teams. Where are the Christian men?"
Freeman argued that "comments like Harrison's shouldn't be anywhere near an NFL team. A company like AT&T shouldn't be associated with them, either."
"By allowing this conference to happen at one of football's meccas, and by AT&T allowing it, they are helping to mainstream hate speech," Freeman wrote. "... [I]f owner Jerry Jones, one of the most powerful men in all of sports, didn't want the event to occur at the stadium, he could likely use his influence to make it disappear. Same with AT&T. The battle against this type of bigotry is fought, in part, on this level."
Harrison stood by his comments in an interview with Freeman.
"Look, today's culture is blurring the lines when it comes to sexual identity," Harrison said. "Both Promise Keepers and I subscribe to a Biblical worldview when it comes to male and female, and that's one of the religious freedoms we celebrate in our nation. Sometimes we agree with culture, and sometimes we don't."
Harrison also rejected the labeling of his words as "hate speech."
"The irony of defining my words as hate speech is that is exactly the opposite of what we teach," Harrison wrote. "All people everywhere are welcome to come to our rally to celebrate and be unified around the fact that God forgives the sins of all who believe in Jesus."
The Promise Keepers website says its goal is to "build up Godly men for a better tomorrow."
"More than ever, America needs a revival of godly men," the website says.
Evangelist Franklin Graham, in a Facebook post, defended Promise Keepers.
"The Promise Keepers organization and events have had a great reputation of encouraging men from a biblical perspective for over 30 years," Graham wrote. "... This USA Today writer thinks that the AT&T Stadium shouldn't be associated with Promise Keepers and that the organization shouldn't be 'anywhere near an NFL team' because of their biblical stand on sexual identity and marriage being defined as between a man and a woman. This is the cancel culture speaking. The issue is religious freedom. This event is not 'anti-trans hate' as it is being described, but rather the freedom to believe, share, study, and celebrate biblical truth in love."
The Promise Keepers website reposted Graham's comments with a remark, "YES. Thank you, Franklin Graham."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Tom Pennington/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.