April 18, 2007 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

 I used to read all kinds of magazines. I enjoyed the Christian Century, Macleans and Time to name a few. I tried Christianity Today and others. I let them all die out for one reason or another. Rolling Stone is the one exception (except for the other exception which is the beloved United Church Observer!). I have found that not only does Rolling Stone fill my need for glitz, glamour, gossip and music; it also fills a need for political commentary, albeit an American one.

The current issue contains an article entitled “Battle Cry”. It is written by Jeff Sharlet who describes himself as “… interested in what other people think about God. I’m not even religious enough to be an atheist.” I found that an interesting classification. More interesting is that he teaches magazine journalism and religious studies at New York University. The article is about an evangelical, Ron Luce, and his movement for youth called “BattleCry” and their efforts to recruit an army of teenage Christian fundamentalists. You can read the article here:

Being a progressive Christian, this article scares me because children are being indoctrinated at an age where their critical judgment has not developed sufficiently to avoid being used as dupes in promoting his fundamental agenda that is in part anti gay and anti pro-choice.

Take a few minutes to view three short videos about the crusade here:


After reading the article I was dismayed and imagined cult like brainwashing with a droning speaker. However, the videos are far from dull and ominous and the speaker is charismatic. They show a very dynamic gathering with thousands of youth connecting with Jesus and church through the rock concert style venue. Wow! Wouldn’t we like to see all those young folks coming to our churches? Their vigor, their joy being marshaled into promoting the realm of the Spirit here on earth. What an enormous impact these children can make! Luce is on to something here, something we can find instructive.


The rub for me is that while Luce has discovered a way to relate to these young minds and put their vast energy into service, they are promoting an agenda that I see as counter to the direction Christianity is moving. Now it has been pointed out to me before that I can be as intolerant of thefundamentalist view as they are of mine and I agree. Yet, I feel justified here because I believe that Christianity is a way of love, inclusion and justice. To mobilize people to spread a message that includes hate, separation and injustice is, to my mind, unChristian.

Now, some of what the movement promotes is laudable. They get kids to give up drugs and alcohol; many have given up mindless sex and brain burners like video games and suggestive degrading music. They become active in our world and that is good. What concerns me is the few hateful fundamentalist elements. They are planting a crop seeded with noxious weeds. This movement won’t stop because I say so or even because it’s wrongheaded. It is well organized and well funded.

The economic power that has accrued to the United States makes movements of this nature viable. The children pay to attend the sprawling several hundred acre Academy in Texas where they are trained to “infiltrate the pop-culture strongholds and become multi-media warriors.” The students (called interns) must complete at least one missionary trip.

Perhaps the progressive movement needs something equally exciting to touch these younger folks. Progressives tend to be a cerebral lot. We use a reasoned need to have the Spirit in our life. We try urge young families to join our church families hoping their children too will become lifelong members. It might be an idea to additionally reach out to this younger demographic through a noisy rock concert type venue and excite them about love, inclusion and justice. Show them church is loving, fun and moving. Wouldn’t it be great to have all that energy promoting Christ’s message of Love?


Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

God’s Waiting Room The Sixties

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