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Promise Keepers (also known as "PK") is an organization of fundamentalist Christian men who promise to keep their wives and daughters in servitude. Women are expected to obey their husbands, their male professors and male employers. Even if women can see that the men have made mistakes, the women should carry out their orders and leave it to God to put things right.
Promise Keepers is sometimes characterized, along with religious revival meetings in general, as a close cousin to large group awareness training.
Promise Keepers was founded in 1990 by Bill McCartney, who was then head coach of the University of Colorado football team. At the time, McCartney's family had just weathered a mini sex scandal. In 1988 McCartney's daughter, Kristy, told McCartney that she was pregnant by the team's star quarterback, Sal Aunese. When Aunese died of stomach cancer in 1989, the unwed Kristy showed up at the funeral with her five-month-old son. People began to gossip about who had fathered the dark-skinned baby (Aunese was Samoan). Although McCartney knew that Aunese was the father, he allowed several of his non-white players to take unnecessary paternity tests before Aunese was identified as the father. In 1994, McCartney left his coaching job to work full time at PK. He later left PK and founded a group called The Road to Jerusalem, which attempts to solidify the bonds between "Messianic Jews" and Christians, to convert Jews to Christianity, and to prepare the world (i.e., Christians) for the End of Days.
While continuing to serve as CEO of The Road to Jerusalem, McCartney returned in 2008 to serve as Promise Keepers' CEO and chairman of the board, in part to shore up PK's waning influence on American politics. Promise Keepers peaked circa 1997, when they hosted "Stand in the Gap", a well-attended gathering on Washington, D.C.'s National Mall. A year later, financial trouble forced them to lay off their entire paid staff. Attendance at subsequent rallies dropped off considerably. On December 31, 1999, they announced plans to hold New Year's Eve rallies in every U.S. state capitol; they later canceled every one, citing concern over the Y2K computer bug. Well into the 21st century, they're still around, but little is heard from them.
One small nice thing to say about them
While it's true that PK encourages its members to treat their wives as property, the types of men who typically attend their meetings already do that. Some of these men may have even been treating their wives as cheap property to take for granted. PK at least encourages them to treat their wives as really valuable property, thus actually improving the treatment these men bestow upon their wives. In other words, while PK encourages these men to treat their wives as second-class citizens, they were already in the habit of treating their wives as third-class citizens, so for them it's actually a step up...though that's not saying much.
- The National Organization of Women's page on the Promise Keepers. Now outdated, but with plenty of information about what the group was like in the '90s.
- Promise Keepers official website
- The Road to Jerusalem official website
- "All in the family — Miles coaches son of late QB recruit": USA Today, 26 December 2007
- "The McCartney connection": The Denver Post, 29 July 2007
- "Screwed for Life": Denver Westworld, 18 August 2005
- Vision/mission statement: The Road to Jerusalem website