What happens when “cancel culture” infects the church?
Promise Keepers, an evangelical organization founded in 1990 that holds men’s rallies in stadiums nationwide, has seen several scheduled events at churches and other venues canceled in recent months.
As recently as June, Belmont University, a private Christian university in Nashville, canceled a Promise Keepers event after the national Christian men’s ministry posted a blog criticizing LGBT pride month. The university accused the organization of “unnecessarily fanning the flames of culture wars.”
The event, which was part of the group’s “Daring Faith” tour, is one of several events that were later canceled by Christian venues, including Hope Church in Cordova, Tennessee, and The Fountain of Praise in Houston.
Despite Promise Keepers’ decades-old legacy challenging Christian men to live out God’s calling, chairman and CEO Ken Harrison says much has changed since the 1990s, when the group first launched.
While some have cited concerns about offending people with “biblical truth,” said Harrison, others were less clear in their reasons.
“One venue was worried that we would offend people by expressing our belief, rooted in Scripture, about gender and sexual identity,” he told The Christian Post via email. “Others said they didn’t want to draw protesters or simply didn’t give us a reason.
Harrison said the cancellations were “disheartening” given that they came not from secular groups but overtly Christian ones.
“It’s disheartening to us that churches don’t want to ‘offend’ people with the truth of the Word, something we’ve come to expect from the culture, but which dismays us coming from Christian institutions,” he said.
As part of its mission, Promise Keepers offers guidance to men on how to respond to the current gender identity crisis in our society.
And despite the rash of cancellations, Harrison says he won’t be deterred by Christian cancellation culture.
“We are optimistic that our events will be held because other churches and organizations have contacted us after hearing about the cancellations,” he said. “They’d be happy to host an event that champions helping men grow stronger in their understanding and application of God’s truth.”
Promise Keepers has drawn both praise and criticism for its bold message of biblical masculinity, especially at a time when complementarianism is losing influence among even some of the more conservative evangelical ministries.
In 2021, a USA Today editor called on the Dallas Cowboys organization to bar Promise Keepers from holding a men’s conference at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, over Harrison’s views on men competing in women’s sports.
So why does Harrison believe this pushback is happening now?
“The spirit of the age we live in is fear—of being criticized, disliked, or cancelled. As Promise Keepers, we refuse to give into that fear,” he said. “We choose pursuing and sharing God’s truth over being liked by all—as if that were even possible.
“We make no apologies for boldly declaring God’s truth to a culture—and a church—that needs to hear it.”
Local churches and other ministries who may be interested in hosting a Promise Keepers event can contact the group at (303) 964-7600 or visit their website.