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Battle for a wholesome generation? by David Batstone 
31st-Mar-2006 11:42 am
After reading the responses to the video I thought I needed to share this. I read this in Sojourners and I thought this was a very insightful piece on Battle Cry. Keep an open mind while reading it. Soujourners is a Chirsitian publication started by Jim Wallis. Its a little long but please read...

What cause do you suppose could bring more than 25,000 evangelical Christians together in San Francisco this past weekend: Immigration? The Iraq war? Climate change? Nope, a celebration of "virtue."

The two-day rally branded itself as Battle Cry for a Generation and fits into a broader national campaign to provide Christian youth with alternative entertainment - Christian rock and rap - and teach clear values.

The moving force behind the campaign is Ron Luce, host of the cable television show Acquire the Fire and author of literature geared for Christian teens. Luce freely uses the language of warfare to express how youth are under attack from a culture that celebrates wanton violence and sexual promiscuity. Corporate commercial centers target youth with a "virtue terrorism," Luce charges, and are winning the battle for their souls. Luce frames his efforts as a culture war, and wants to arm Christian youth with Bible-based solutions for life. The red flags and slogans he uses for Battle Cry for a Generation are revolutionary chic and emotive. Luce is savvy enough to realize that if you are going to resist mainstream pop culture, you have to provide youth a compelling alternative.

Despite my misgivings about the onward Christian soldier motif, I share the concerns that inspire the Battle Cry movement. As a father of four children quickly moving into adolescence I am painfully aware of how advertisers and entertainment outlets hone in on their demographic. The sexualization of youth culture is a primary tool to motivate their desires for consumer behavior. At first blush, that statement appears to be an oversimplification. It's not - titillation is the engine that drives the commercial machine.

So when Luce bemoans the MTV stereotypes of attractive young women and the celluloid images of manhood packed with violence, I am ready to raise his red flag of counter cultural resistance. I, too, do not let my kids run loose on MySpace and closely monitor the DVDs they bring into the house. So much of pop culture is a values cesspool, and I want my kids to understand how those distorted values corrupt a healthy soul.

Of late there have been some encouraging trends in pop culture. A relatively new film company, Walden Films, is making family entertainment that embeds meaningful values. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Charlotte's Web are two of their initial forays into the theaters. And at a time when marketers tell us that only promiscuous sex and violence sell, a rather wholesome "High School Musical" has become a pop phenomenon. These successes hopefully will spawn a new wave of media that I will be happy to see make its way into my home.

Thus, it saddens me to see an event such as the Battle Cry for a Generation rally detour off its original path. It throws itself into the polarized debates on same-sex marriage and abortion. Ostensibly, that is why San Francisco was chosen as the site of the high profile rally last weekend. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Battle Cry invitation stated, "[Come to] the very City Hall steps where several months ago, gay marriages were celebrated for all the world to see."

Predictably, advocates for a libertine culture came out of the woodwork to host a counter-rally. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a front page story covering the conflict - protesters were quoted as calling the event a "fascist mega-pep rally." In the scuffle, the profound range of issues that the Battle Cry raises are lost. Opposition to gay marriage drowns out all concerns about greed, materialism, and the assault on our kids' innocence.

Lamentably, the media fans the flames of the conflict. The Chronicle knows which story will sell papers in San Francisco, in other words. But I also fault the narrow vision of those who stand behind the Battle Cry. If you want to make a symbolic stand, why not go to the town where Desperate Housewives is filmed? Or host the rally in New York City where Sex and the City is set. A gathering outside the studios of MTV also would be rich with symbolism.

I simply cannot understand why so many evangelicals consider same-sex marriage as the prime threat to the virtue of heterosexual families. Honestly, which has ruined more marriages: The extramarital affairs that are so brazenly celebrated on Desperate Housewives or the decision of two men or two women who love each other to make their lifelong commitment public? I don't think there is any doubt about the answer to that question. Yet most discussion of sex and values in the church veers inevitably to the gay and lesbian issues. 

I have a proposal: Let's do an honest appraisal of teenage sexuality and lifestyle. Let's evaluate how the values of youth are shaped, and what forces are at play to move them in one direction or another. And let's ignore those political blocs that want to utilize vital family issues for their own agenda.
1st-Apr-2006 06:27 am (UTC) - Re: a few more things...
Teen Mania does absolutely pressure people towards having a "right wing" perspective. I picked up on it very quickly while at the base. I even saw a Bush sticker on Dave Hasz's desk.
GOD uses the organization, but there are things that are off there for sure.
1st-Apr-2006 07:22 am (UTC) - Re: a few more things...
So, in other words, you're insinuating that an individual in leadership having a political preference equates to the entire organization pressuring people to have a right wing agenda? Hardly. It simply means that Bush is Dave Hasz's political choice. Leaders are allowed to have political leanings too. Just because an individual within the Ministry has a political preference doesn't mean they're cramming it down peoples' throats or pressuring people to vote Bush, nor does it mean that it's the viewpoint of the entire organization. Not only that, but it's just plain illegal, as a non-profit organization, to promote one political party over another.

It's one thing to say a leader has a political preference or bias. The fact is, everyone has a bias of some sort. But it's quite another thing to automatically conclude that the entire organization is biased that way, or that it pressures people that way. Not only is that jumping to conclusions, but it's completely untrue; I know a number of individuals on staff who vote democrat.
1st-Apr-2006 04:14 pm (UTC) - Re: a few more things...
Sometimes they do push it on you. Even in some of the classes at HA Dave and Ron would talk about political issues, and it may make you feel uncomfortable if you lean left.

Also, the teenage bill of rights, honestly anything political should not be in a confrence like ATF, these are young people who are just trying to find their identity in Christ. It shouldn't be in any pulpit at all for that matter. So for them to say stand up for these issues which are right winged isnt right, because there are those people who are left winged christians as well...like us.
1st-Apr-2006 04:51 pm (UTC) - Re: a few more things...
So it's not right for them to affirm the morals taught in the Bible, just because the political right embraces those morals too?

A Christian worldview encompasses everything; including politics. If, by teaching Biblical morals, Teen Mania is teaching viewpoints that are embraced more by the right side of the political spectrum, so be it. It's not about politics; it's about Biblical morals.
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