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Old Aug 26, 2007, 05:57 PM   #1
Esmirelda
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Default Teen Christians campaign against pop culture

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/22/gw.teen.christians/

Teen Christians campaign against pop culture
Note: This is part of a series of reports CNN.com is featuring for "God's Warriors," a documentary hosted by CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

(CNN) -- At one point in Jared Hutchins' young life, the Beatles were a big problem.
The rallies, which draw mostly teens, are one part concert, one part Christian revival.

"I had to stop listening to them for a while," said Hutchins, who lives in Cumming, Georgia, and plays the piano, guitar and harmonica. He said the group's world view "had a negative effect on me," and made him irritable and angry.

"God owns my life, not the Beatles," he said simply. Although Hutchins said he enjoys a wide range of music -- from Pink Floyd and Arcade Fire to Christian bands such as Hillsong United -- he said he has to be careful of what music he listens to, for the same reason he temporarily turned off the Beatles.

Hutchins, a 16-year-old graced with poise and thoughtfulness, is one of many teenagers who say that some part of popular culture, with its ubiquitous references to sex, drugs and violence, has harmed him.


Last year, Hutchins and his Christian youth group attended an Acquire the Fire rally in Atlanta, Georgia, he said. Acquire the Fire -- regional rallies held across the country -- and BattleCry -- the larger rallies held this year in only three cities -- are the products of the evangelical Christian organization Teen Mania. Video Go behind-the-scenes with CNN's Christiane Amanpour at a BattleCry event

One part concert, one part Christian revival, the rallies seek to "stage a reverse revolution" against secular popular culture. They have the pull of headlining rock concerts, drawing thousands of people regardless of the region of the country, the month of year or the day of the week. The audiences are nearly always predominantly teenagers and young adults.

From 2006 to 2007, a total of 127,830 people attended the 34 Acquire the Fire rallies, and 71,414 people attended the three BattleCry events held in San Francisco, California; Detroit, Michigan; and Bristow, Virginia, according to Teen Mania. Watch flags, fireworks and teens at rally Video

For Hutchins, who said he struggled in his early adolescence to fit in and be cool before having a personal experience with God about four years ago, the organization's message is exactly right.

"We don't have to be branded by the culture, we are branded by God," he said. "Be who God created you to be."

But the glossy, glamorous appeal of popular culture too often obscures that path to God, Teen Mania followers say.

And so, Ron Luce, the 46-year-old founder of the organization, has waged a modern-day crusade against "purveyors of popular culture," whom he has condemned as "the enemy." More than two decades old, Teen Mania estimates it has reached more than 2 million teens with its message "of living completely for Christ."

The organization is sprawling. In addition to its live stadium rallies, there are BattleCry shirts and hats, mobile screen savers, books and a television program. There are international mission trips -- Hutchins attended one in Tijuana, Mexico, this summer. There is even a Teen Mania internship, a one-year program called the Honor Academy, based in Lindale, Texas.

In the live events, Luce couples the earnest appeal of a young father with a preacher's ability to mobilize a crowd. He weaves disturbing statistics about teenagers amid his gospel.

Today's teenagers are in crisis, he says.

"We're fighting for those who don't know they have a voice, that are being manipulated by our pop culture indulging in things that, really, they're not mature enough to be thinking about yet," Luce told CNN.
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"Kids are hurting," he said. And of those who he feels inflict these moral wounds, Luce said, "We call them terrorists, virtue terrorists, that are destroying our kids."

"They're raping virgin teenage America on the sidewalk, and everybody's walking by and acting like everything's OK. And it's just not OK."

To some, Luce's rhetoric is off-putting, hateful and divisive. Opponents point to his views on homosexuality -- not "in God's plan" -- and abortion -- the "ending of a precious life" -- and say Luce is imposing conservative values on vulnerable teenagers. Explore Americans' views on religion

It is this criticism that Luce and his followers confronted head-on in March at BattleCry San Francisco.

There, in arguably the most liberal city in the United States, protesters, armed with megaphones and poster board signs, rallied against BattleCry on the steps of City Hall as the Christian teenagers circled and prayed in a demonstration of their own.

"Ron Luce is a liar!" one protester shouted. "Let me hear you say Christian fascist," another yelled.

Luce and the youths, some as young as 11, also raised their voices.

"God, I ask that as we do this BattleCry, Lord, that you would reveal yourself to the teenagers, God, here, God," Mindy Peterson, shouted. Peterson is a member of Teen Mania's Honor Academy. Afterward, Peterson railed against what she said was the protesters' mischaracterization of BattleCry.

"These people think that our war is against other people. They think that our war is against man. And our war isn't. Our war's against ... the pain in teenagers' hearts, like depression, alcoholism. Those things that -- that are, like, tearing our teenagers apart," she said.

While much milder in his terms, Hutchins agrees. "We're a generation that is kind of troubled," he said. Luce wants to "rescue the hearts of our generation," he added.

And of the critics' contention that the rallies, the organization, the message is neo-conservatism wrapped in Biblical verse? Hutchins smiles, nods patiently. "I don't go because I have a political agenda," he said, adding that his friends don't, either.

"Mostly, what we're concerned with is Jesus."
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Old Aug 26, 2007, 06:05 PM   #2
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Yes, because as society crumbles under gun crime and drug abuse the thing they obviously have to attack is the music...

I'm not sure who said it, but I think the following quote is rather apt for this article...

"Personally I'm all for God, but it's his fan club that I can't stand".

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Old Aug 26, 2007, 06:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbidge View Post
"Personally I'm all for God, but it's his fan club that I can't stand".
That's a great quote, Harb!

Yeah, I watched all those CNN "God's Warriors" presentations. A lot of freaks - enough to go 'round for the entire world, for sure!

What makes me laugh about the Christian side of things is that they ultimately use Rock and Roll to reach the youth. "The Devil's music" to preach the word of God. Hmmmm.... the word "hypocrite" comes to mind.
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 08:20 AM   #4
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I guess I wouldn't come down too hard on this kid. I'm a Christian, and I don't think that the Beatles music is evil at all. However I can relate to his attempts to remove things from his life that get in the way from his relationship with God. Every person is different, and for this kid, maybe he was too obsessed with it all, or something. I don't understand how the Beatles could make him angry, as their music most of the time has the complete opposite affect on me (they make me feel happy and comforted), but if that's how he felt then he has a personal right to not listen to them if he chooses not to. I really think that our Georgie at the very least would support him in his opinion, because George would probably say "absolutely, put your relationship with God first".
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 09:05 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by erinluv182 View Post
I really think that our Georgie at the very least would support him in his opinion, because George would probably say "absolutely, put your relationship with God first".
I don't understand how listening to pop music can stand in the way of a relationship with God. No it's a very radical point of view that shouldn't be suported. George did make pop music, loved the good clasic rock and roll songs, but it didn't stand in the way of his relationship with God.
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 09:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by erinluv182 View Post
I guess I wouldn't come down too hard on this kid. I'm a Christian, and I don't think that the Beatles music is evil at all. However I can relate to his attempts to remove things from his life that get in the way from his relationship with God. Every person is different, and for this kid, maybe he was too obsessed with it all, or something. I don't understand how the Beatles could make him angry, as their music most of the time has the complete opposite affect on me (they make me feel happy and comforted), but if that's how he felt then he has a personal right to not listen to them if he chooses not to. I really think that our Georgie at the very least would support him in his opinion, because George would probably say "absolutely, put your relationship with God first".
I am a Christian, as well... although I'd not consider myself a "practicing Christian" (whatever that is!). I was raised a Christian, is basically what I'm saying..... and I've been listening to The Beatles since I was a youngster in his pre-teens. I turned out ok, and never had to question listening to The Beatles for fear of being corrupted or lead astray. No, I had a multitude of other things available to corrupt me and lead me astray in my formative years. On the contrary, The Beatles were a "sanctuary" for me - and still are.

But to each his/her own!
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 09:51 AM   #7
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Proof positive that most Xtians are mushy headed antisocial nincompoops.
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 10:08 AM   #8
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care to explain that a bit?
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 10:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by PepperlandFrog View Post
Proof positive that most Xtians are mushy headed antisocial nincompoops.
Doesn't prove anything, we are just discusing this case. It's not fair to upset every christian, even those who disagree with some radicals point of view.
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 10:17 AM   #10
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Radicals is the word I was thinking of when I read the opening post. Scarey. Makes me think of schools and guns.

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Old Aug 27, 2007, 10:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esmirelda View Post
He said the group's world view "had a negative effect on me," and made him irritable and angry.

This is the part I'd actually like to hear more about. How the Beatles music could make anybody irritable and angry baffles me. The rest sounds more like drama-queeny teen angst...oh those poor poor children in anguish because they're being destroyed by pop culture.
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 11:29 AM   #13
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This is the part I'd actually like to hear more about. How the Beatles music could make anybody irritable and angry baffles me.
Man, when I hear songs like "All You Need Is Love" and "Let It Be" it makes me want to grab a baseball bat and go out to crack some skulls!
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 12:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FPSHOT
care to explain that a bit?
Yes i would be happy to. It's the bit where these teen Xtians, in particular, pretend that they are speaking for an omniscient and omnipotent god, when there is no logical proof for the existence of one, beyond the belief in biblical scripture, is what bothers me the most. Furthermore they don't offer any further proof of the existence of a god or gods, just take the opportunity to malign modern music and the youth culture, as if that is all that is truly wrong in the world.
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 02:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PepperlandFrog View Post
Yes i would be happy to. It's the bit where these teen Xtians, in particular, pretend that they are speaking for an omniscient and omnipotent god, when there is no logical proof for the existence of one, beyond the belief in biblical scripture, is what bothers me the most. Furthermore they don't offer any further proof of the existence of a god or gods, just take the opportunity to malign modern music and the youth culture, as if that is all that is truly wrong in the world.
Granted... but there are loads of Christian teens who see things a lot clearer, and are less given to brain-washing, than these kids.
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 04:03 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 62hofner
Granted... but there are loads of Christian teens who see things a lot clearer, and are less given to brain-washing, than these kids.
No doubt, and Christian beliefs can fill a spiritual gap that exists in peoples lives. And as you have noted these children are not religious icons or true believers but brainwashed individuals, themselves willing victims of the very same pop culture that they blindly criticize and condemn. But the saddest part about this story is that the only reason that it is newsworthy is because cnn is playing it up, adding bias to the story.

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Old Aug 27, 2007, 04:21 PM   #17
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As a Christian, I was extremely perturbed by the 3-part series by Christiane Amanpour (Jewish, Moslem and Christian). I was perturbed by the way extremists use religion to justify cruelty, bigotry and hate.

"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another." -- Jonathan Swift, 1711

That is a gross MISuse of religion - Luce and his Teen Mania seem very extremist to me. As a Christian, I feel that acceptance of other faiths, values and beliefs (and for those who do not believe in God, per se, but the core values and beliefs of those people) is crucial. I don't feel right about prosletyzing or pushing my beliefs onto others. There is room for all opinions, but the radical factions and their extremist behavior is what terrified me.
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Old Aug 27, 2007, 06:16 PM   #18
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I agree beatlebangs1964. The danger comes from not being able to separate ones own opinions from ones religious beliefs, and being careless in expressing ones own personal biases which can rightfully be interpreted as either bigotry or extremist behavior.

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Old Aug 31, 2007, 05:34 AM   #19
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Well I wouldnt go grouping most Christians together like that. Anyway, yeah, I guess I can see how he'd want to focus on God and all that, but I too dont understand how the Beatles music made him feel irritable and angry. I feel nothing but happy when I hear the Beatles. They actually pick me up when I'm feeling bad.
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Old Aug 31, 2007, 07:13 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lennonluvr9
Well I wouldnt go grouping most Christians together like that.
Well i did and i'm glad i did. Xtians seem to be on the order of thick and ordinary, and not much else.

Last edited by PepperlandFrog : Aug 31, 2007 at 07:23 AM.
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