Rally coverage raises more questions than it answers
Promise Keepers

Women Organizing for Change issued the following editorial to register alarm over the way the press handled coverage of the Promise Keepers rally in D.C. The group, which tracks issues of concern to women in this country, suggests that for the most part the media was irresponsible by not asking Promise Keepers leaders tough questions regarding their social agenda as it relates to women and minorities, and investigating the group's political connections.

The press did its best to make sure that viewers were left with a warm glow about Promise Keepers. By and large, local and national media -- by not doing any legwork at all -- missed what worries many people about the Promise Keepers.

Apparently, it is up to you to pressure the press to do its job and investigate points such as:

The political nature of Promise Keepers and money connections

While denying that it is a political movement, Promise Keepers chose to convene in front of the Capitol. Considering that Promise Keepers itself is headquartered in Colorado, this was a curious choice.

More curious is the lack of investigation of political activity of Promise Keepers leaders on local levels, and little notice of the more obvious national activity.

For instance, did you hear or read anywhere that Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney has been a featured speaker for Operation Rescue events? Or that, in many cities, local Promise Keepers leaders are pushing for school vouchers and other tax money giveaways to religious institutions?

Promise Keepers literature calls for creation of a military model of organizing, with small cadres across the country keeping the Promise Keepers' "Seven Promises," which include the promise to influence the world. And there is ample evidence that this "army of men" is working hard in local communities to fight women's reproductive freedom, gay rights and public education.

Finally, there has been little effort by the press to follow the money or look into the group's mailing lists. A cursory look at the $100 million-plus income for Promise Keepers shows that it receives both direct income and indirect services from a variety of right-wing funders and spokespeople, including:

  • James Dobson of "Focus on the Family";
  • Bill Bright of "Campus Crusade for Christ ," with particular help from his "Military Ministry";
  • Pat Robertson and the "700 Club";
  • Gary Bauer, head of the "Family Research Council";
  • Mark DeMoss of the DeMoss Family, whose Foundation funds anti-choice TV ads and other right-wing causes; and
  • Stephen Strang, religious right media mogul who published Promise Keepers' monthly magazine.

And given the right's mastery of direct mail campaigns, it is more likely than not that Promise Keepers lists are carefully gathered, cultivated and used for issue and candidate campaigns.

The male-bashing of Promise Keepers

If women said what Promise Keepers leaders have been saying, they would be accused of male-hatred. Promise Keepers rhetoric says that men by nature are evil and that only fear of punishment by a vengeful god will make them do the right thing. This denies the experience of millions of men who live a non-sexist existence and recognize that equal relationships with women free men too.

The "offer wives can't refuse" by Promise Keepers

Promise Keepers leaders call for men to do the right thing if AND ONLY IF their wives are willing to submit to their leadership. They are clear that men are entitled to demand submission from their wives.

Promise Keepers claims that the problem is that men have been "feminized" and that women are too strong. Their solution is to weaken women in order to strengthen men.

The relationship between good coverage for Promise Keepers and the media's bottom line

It seems that the mainstream press ought to do a little internal investigation as to why it gave Promise Keepers such a pass, especially considering how closely they scrutinized the Million Man March.

Could it be that the religious right's Disney/ABC boycott and the threat of similar attacks are making the media nervous?

To contact WOC, write: P.O. Box 11019, Washington, DC 20008. Voice: 202-861-4730 Fax: 202-364-3018 E-mail: wlo@wlo.org Web address: http://wlo.org.

Promise Keepers

© Copyright by POINT, 1997
Last modified 10/15/97