“Remember the Promise Keepers?” queries a recent media story on the evangelical men’s movement that captured America’s imagination and generated intense controversy during much of the 1990s. This group of Christian men, who promoted adherence to a strict code of conduct that masculinized conservative religious and social values, now evokes little more than a hazy memory of football stadiums teeming with men whose tear-stained faces and clasped arms signaled spiritual transformation. What happened? What factors contributed to their demise? What broader insights can be gleaned from the rapid rise and fall of the movement?
John P. Bartkowski has written the first account scrutinizing the turbulent forces that contributed to the group’s wild popularity, declining fortunes, and current efforts to reinvent itself. He provides a broad and balanced portrait of the movement while evaluating its impact on the landscape of American religion. Bartkowski argues that there are many insights to be gained about the changing contours of American religion, culture, and social life through a study of the Promise Keepers. By carefully examining their character and contagious appeal, Bartkowski provides new insights about evangelicalism, gender, family, therapeutic culture, sport, and multiculturalism.