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Promise Keepers post over Pride Month at center of cancellation by Belmont University

NASHVILLE (BP) – A return to in-person gatherings for Promise Keepers this year will be delayed a month after Belmont University disinvited the men’s ministry group due to language in a post over Pride Month.

The May 30 blog post, titled “In Light of June Being Designated as ‘Pride Month,’” contained “comments that we believe unnecessarily fan the flames of culture wars and are harmful to members of our community,” the university said in a statement sent to Baptist Press.

Promise Keepers describes a series of upcoming meetings called “Daring Faith” as “An Event & Challenge for Men of Integrity.”

Though late September’s gathering at Belmont is now canceled, events are still scheduled for Oct. 27 in Houston, Nov. 9 in Memphis and Dec. 1 in New York. The New York event will also be simulcast for churches wanting to host a viewing.

“The events will discuss Biblical manhood and the difficulties of navigating the tension between our Christian identity and the often antithetical identities of the culture in which we live,” Promise Keepers said in a June 20 statement over the canceled event.

The statement added: “Surprised by the decision, Promise Keepers Chairman of the Board and CEO Ken Harrison reached out to Belmont leadership for a broader conversation about the influence of social norms and popular culture on the values of Christian Institutions. Promise Keepers is still waiting for a response.”

The Belmont statement asserted that Promise Keepers had “incorrectly state[d] why Belmont University decided to withdraw the campus’ Fisher Center as the potential venue” and further asserted that the group falsely claimed that the school had not responded, “when in fact University leaders have had multiple conversations with senior leaders at Promise Keepers,” including Harrison.

The blog post focused on the concept of identity. The result, it said, is children across the country “indoctrinated into intense inner turmoil about who they ‘really are’” due to a movement that seeks to separate biological identity from “gender identity.”

People have typically turned “to God, the church, and their families as starting points for identity,” it continued. “Now, our culture has decided each person must decide his or her own identity by looking inward – which leads to isolation, loneliness, and confusion.”

This gender ideology, the post said, “has damaged lives, mutilated bodies, and torn apart families in our own communities.”

Baptist Press asked Belmont what language in the Promise Keepers blog post was deemed problematic but did not receive a response.

At the Southern Baptist Convention last week, messengers approved a resolution On Opposing “Gender Transitions.”

Another resolution adopted in Anaheim in 2022 – On the Imago Dei and the Helpful Content Submitted in Several Resolutions – addressed “the value and dignity of every human being as created in the image of God and to the goodness of his design for every aspect of human life in accordance with his will.” That resolution included admonitions against gun violence as well as cultural opposition to “the beauty of the Christian sexual ethic.”

Describing itself as “an ecumenical, Christ-centered institution,” Belmont said it is “unequivocal in our belief in the value of each human being” regarding the Promise Keepers event.

The university added its commitment “to engaging in constructive conversations that demonstrate kindness and seek understanding. We will not knowingly provide a space for any group whose language we believe to lack that same respect.”

After a 20-year hiatus, Promise Keepers returned to live events in 2021 with approximately 30,000 attendees at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

Harrison told Baptist Press on June 22 that a strategy change from the organization is geared toward connecting men with a local church.

“We decided to do a national tour [this Fall] at churches rather than one big event so that more people would have the chance to attend,” he said. “A main focus of the events is to get men onto the app so that they can form friendships in cooperation with local churches.”

There are 55,000 men using the Promise Keepers app, Harrison said.

“We think the best way to see sustainable change in men is the daily discipleship that can come with the content on the app, the relationships formed and the churches using it to communicate with their men,” he said.

The Tennessee Baptist Convention purchased Ward-Belmont College in 1951 and changed the name to Belmont College, which became Belmont University in 1991. The 56-year partnership between Belmont and the TBC ended in 2007.