As the Oct. 4 rally at the Washington Mall quickly approaches, opponents of the evangelical men's organization Promise Keepers are speaking out.
The National Organization for Women is organizing an action during the Promise Keepers "Stand in the Gap" event this Saturday. The NOW group will stage their counter-protest very close to the Promise Keepers' stage, using large signs with quotes from the Promise Keepers leaders to expose the group's political agenda.
The NOW website features some comments from the Promise Keepers' leadership, such as Tony Evans' comment "I believe that feminists...are frustrated women unable to find the proper leadership." Both Evans and McCartney have stated their belief that women have too much influence in our already "effeminate" society. "The demise of our community and culture is the fault of sissified men who have been overly influenced by women," Evans said. Women are supposed to submit to men's leadership "even if we know they are wrong," said one female member of a women's Promise Keepers auxilliary. Diane Webber, whose husband Scott has become an ardent Promise Keeper, told the Washington Post that it was God's will that she should submit to Scott, who should lead the household. In an apparent criticism of feminists, Promise Keepers supporter S. Patrice Sheppard told the Post that God made her to be a "helpmate" and that "Women who belong to NOW tend to lean on their own understandings for survival, earn what men earn, do the same jobs as a man."
Alfred Ross, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy Studies, said the Promise Keepers' views of women will help to destroy families, not build them. "There are real problems in our society, but Promise Keepers is not a real answer for real men to solve real problems. The solution to a bad marriage is not to put your wife into submission."
Warren Hern, author and expert on late-term abortions, said McCartney offered "psychological protection" to those who made death threats and shot at the Boulder abortion clinic where Hern works. "I think this is a fascist movement," he said. "Coach McCartney is an absolutely primitive man who wants political power and has considerable political power. He's an incredibly ignorant man and a very bigoted man. He's poison."
With a $680,000 house in Boulder, almost $42,000 in speaker's fees from last year, and other unreported income, Promise Keepers leader Bill McCartney is being criticized for more than just his views on women, lesbians and gays. NOW cites enormous financial support from the Religious Right as evidence of Promise Keepers' political agenda. In Boulder, where he was once a $350,000-a-year football coach and publicly defended two of his players who had been charged with rape, some refer to him as "McCartney and his Penis Keepers." While McCartney fervently preaches against "sexual sin," which includes sex outside of marriage and the use of birth control, his unmarried daughter had two children by two of his players.
"Their call for 'submission' of women is one that doesn't have a place in either the pulpit or the public sphere in the 1990s," said NOW President Patricia Ireland.
Media Resources: Washington Post - September 27-29, 1997, NOW