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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Promise Keepers Founder Apologizes for Anti-Gay Comments Made Two Decades Ago

By Kilian Melloy -

Bill McCartney
The founder of Christian men’s group The Promise Keepers has apologized for anti-gay comments from the early 1990s, Boulder newspaper the Daily Camera reported on Dec. 1.

Bill McCartney, 70, the former football coach for the University of Colorado, made the apology after his comments came back to haunt him in his quest to return to his former post at the University of Colorado. In 1992--two years before he left his position as coach at CU-- McCartney delivered a speech at the university in which he declared that gays were "an abomination against almighty God." The remarks were made in support of an amendment to the state constitution that banned local ordnances from being enacted that would extend anti-discrimination protections to sexual minorities. That amendment--Amendment 2--was passed by Colorado voters, but later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

McCartney established The Promise Keepers in 1990. The group purports to guide heterosexual Christian men who wish to improve their family and community ties. The group’s slogan is "Men of Integrity," and its "mission is to ignite and unite men to become warriors who will change their world through living out the Seven Promises," according to text at the group’s website.

The organization’s adherents hew to a core group of guiding principles referred to as the "Seven Promises," which include "honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer and obedience to God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit," "practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity," "building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values," and "reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity," among others.

The Promise Keepers are up-front about their belief that gays are "sinners." The group’s website states in the FAQ section that, "Promise Keepers shares the same historic stance taken by Evangelicals and Catholics: that sex is a good gift from God to be enjoyed in the context of heterosexual marriage. We believe that the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality violates God’s creative design for a husband and a wife and that it is a sin." Gay men are, however, welcome to be "included and welcomed in all our events," the text adds.

Talks between McCartney and the university about his possible return met with excitement, but also with controversy. McCartney’s words about gays being "abominations" worried some who feared that his views would not make for the best match.

"The Bible says the whole gospel is found in the first two commandments, and those commandments are love God and love your neighbor as yourself," McCartney said. "What I regret is that I did not communicate that. I don’t judge the gay community, and anybody who gets the impression that I do, that’s just not the truth. I didn’t communicate that well that day, and I regret that. I ask the forgiveness of anyone who thinks I judged them or look down on them. I don’t."

McCartney is no longer being considered for the position, the Daily Camera reported, though his long-ago comments were not specifically cited as the reason. The article added that the chancellor of the university had gotten many letters in support of McCartney, along with 15-20 letters expressing misgivings about taking him on as coach. Those letters came from university employees who said they recalled McCartney’s tenure at CU. The letters accused McCartney of having "used his position to push anti-gay and sexist agendas," the Daily Camera reported in a separate article on Nov. 29.

"I regret that I gave the impression that I would in any way judge somebody else; I don’t," McCartney told the Daily Camera. "I don’t judge anybody. But I can see how that was interpreted, and I’m sorry for that."

Added the former coach, "Looking back on it, I regret that I said what I did from a university podium wearing a university shirt," McCartney said. "I wish I hadn’t done that. It was inappropriate to say that at that time."

A Dec. 2 Daily Camera article said that the university was considering Jon Embree for the job. If hired, Embree, who played on the university’s football team from 1983-1986 would be CU’s first black coach.
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

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