Gay coalition targets Promise Keepers rallies

Denver Rocky Mountain News, June 23, 1999
By Jean Torkelson

Promise Keepers will be shadowed by a national gay and lesbian coalition at its midsummer rally in Denver -- and everywhere else.

Equal Partners in Faith, a coalition of activists and religious leaders sympathetic to furthering gay rights, is targeting the Denver-based men's Christian movement.

The coalition has devoted a Web site to portraying the movement as a fundamentalist, sexist, homophobic organization devoted to "the mores and values of 19th century white America."

It urges followers to hold vigils and press conferences when Promise Keepers comes to town.

"It will vary from city to city," said Jane Ralph, a spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Ralph said the alliance, based in Kansas City, Mo., is helping to coordinate media coverage.

Promise Keepers, which meets at McNichols Arena July 16-17, is used to opposition and will carry on as usual, said national spokesman Steve Chavis. He said 15 rallies are scheduled for 1999.

"We have work to do," said Chavis. "We're motivating men to be active in their churches and promoting racial and sectarian reconciliation. We don't have time to chase down all our critics and challenge them on these frivolous allegations."

Chavis said the word fundamentalist has become a red-herring word, but it has a specific meaning for Promise Keepers: "We abide by the historic, core orthodoxy of the Christian faith."

In a letter posted on the Web site, 105 clergy from around the country call Promise Keepers "divisive and potentially dangerous."

The letter was signed by two Coloradans, the Rev. O. Elaine Hinnant of Park Hill Congregational Church in Denver, and Rebecca Vanderslice, a spokeswoman for the Interfaith Alliance in Boulder.

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