Jeff Sharlet (of The Reveler blog, listed on this site in the "Good News" blogroll) writes in Rolling Stone (link to excerpt) about BattleCry, a project of a Christian fundamentalist, Ron Luce of Teen Mania, for radicalizing evangelical Christian teenagers through massive multi-media rallies and his Honor Academy. Luce "isn't just looking for followers -- he wants 'stalkers' who'll bring a criminal passion to their pursuit of godliness."
Luce calls his crusade a "counter-rebellion" or a "reverse rebellion" or sometimes simply "revolution." The Cleveland event, Acquire the Fire, only one stop in what is becoming Luce's permanently touring roadshow, is not meant to save souls...but to radicalize them. He's been doing this for two decades, but it didn't take off until days after the Columbine shootings of 1999, when Luce rallied 70,000 angry, weeping kids at the Pontiac Silverdome outside Detroit. In 2006, he brought his rallies to more than 200,000 kids. Overall, he's preached to 12 million.
They're the base. Of that number, Luce has sent 53,000 teen missionaries around the globe to preach spiritual "purity" -- chastity, sobriety and a commitment to laissez-faire capitalism -- in Romania, Guatemala and dozens of other "strongholds" that require young Americans to bring them "freedom" -- a Christ they believe needs no translation.
Sharlet's descriptions of the rallies are alone worth the price of this issue of Rolling Stone. But Sarlet also visits the Honor Academy for a week when it features special guest,
Rebecca Contreraas, a pretty, thirty-eight-year-old professional evangelist...who was a special assistant to President Bush in his first term. She was responsible for 1,200 presidential appointments, an impressive job considering she had not gone to college.
Sharlet continues, writing about the 800 annual interns who pay "$7,800 a year, plus mission fees, to attend Luce's Honor Academy." They
must log at least thirty-one hours a week working for the cause [of BattleCry]. Around seventy...learn how to produce visual media of sufficient quality that in the four years since Luce hired [former VH1 producer Doug] Rittenhouse, several of his proteges have started climbing the ranks in secular media, fulfilling Luce's "infiltration" dream. Most, however,...spend their days cold-calling youth pastors to sell them blocks of tickets to upcoming events or counseling would-be teen missionaries by phone on how to raise the funds to pay for a trip through [Luce's] Global Expeditions.
Sharlet's article is a must-read.
BattleCry was also the topic of an opinion piece--which while informed and interesting does utilize name-calling--on the website TruthDig.
Bush-Cheney campaign youth organizer Jordan Sekulow, speaking minutes before the Detroit "BattleCry" event on live television, described the political impact and eventual benefit his party gains from evangelical teens like those who participate in Teen Mania's programs.
Image: from The Brick Testament's depiction of Numbers 31:6.