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Author Topic: Evangelical Christian concert draws 25,000  (Read 909 times)
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« on: March 26, 2006, 02:21:13 PM »

 Evangelical Christian concert draws 25,000
Teens flock to hear rock 'n' roll that eschews sex, drugs

More than 25,000 teens converged on San Francisco's AT&T Park on a windswept Saturday for a daylong rock concert -- with none of the sex and drugs that go hand in hand with rock 'n' roll.

Kids screamed and swooned while smoke poured from the stage and electric guitars screeched. But the lyrics could have been ripped from a hymnal, and one rocker actually took a break to read from the Bible.

It was part of "Battle Cry For A Generation," an event to encourage evangelical Christian youth to fight back against a pervasive popular culture they say promotes sex, violence, drugs and alcohol. While anything-goes San Francisco may seem an odd place for a Christian youth rally, organizers said they have a great deal of support in Northern California. Similar events drew 7,000 youth to the Cow Palace three years ago and 9,000 to Sacramento's Arco Arena last year.

"We're in the middle of a spiritual battle but also in the middle of a cultural war," BattleCry leader Ron Luce, a Concord native who runs the Texas-based Christian group Teen Mania, told the crowd. "Your generation is being pounded with sexual messages. ... All the messages being sent through the movies, the Internet, point-and-click pornography. It's literally destroying your generation."

Nathanael Ramos, a 14-year-old Roseville (Placer County) freshman, admitted he does watch MTV, which Luce's organization says features nine sexual scenes and almost as many "unbleeped" profanities each hour.

But Ramos vowed to stop.

"It really isn't helping me out," he said. "I'm going to start watching better stations He (God) would want me to watch."

Lacey Runik of Cameron Park (El Dorado County) said she was initially drawn to the event to see some of the top Christian rock and rap acts including tobyMac and Jeremy Camp. But being surrounded by Christian peers and hearing BattleCry's message caused her to have a revelation.

Dressed head to toe in black, with dark eyeliner and a studded belt, the 13-year-old seventh-grader said she even plans to change the way she dresses.

"This isn't me. This is the way people want me to be," Runik said. "I gave in to this look."

The teens were greeted Friday at a kick-off rally at City Hall by an official city condemnation and protesters who called them anti-gay, anti-choice and intolerant. Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, suggested they "get out of San Francisco."

While youth did travel from throughout the Western United States for the two-day event, which cost $55, Leno may have been surprised how many live in the Bay Area, and even in the city itself.

No protesters were on hand Saturday, and the vibe was not one of condemnation, but of celebrating the fact that it can be cool to be Christian.

Crystal Lee, 14, a freshman at San Francisco's School of the Arts, said she wanted to be surrounded by the "incredible energy" of like-minded believers.

She was especially buoyed by the abstinence message of Lakita Garth, a 36-year-old former Miss Black California, who lost her virginity only after she got married seven months ago.

"Do you know what I do means? It means I do you, you do me, and we don't do nobody else," Garth told the appreciative crowd, peppering her talk with scared-straight statistics on teen sex and warnings that condoms don't prevent all sexually transmitted diseases.

Lee, herself a virgin, said casual sex at her school is rampant, with girls trading oral sex for CD players or even car rides.

"Already, half our class has lost our virginity," she said. "It's scary."

She said some of her friends are influenced by "rap, hip-hop and the booty shakers on MTV."

MTV isn't BattleCry's only enemy. The group says teens see 14,000 sexual scenes and 10,000 violent ones on TV each year. Ninety percent of 8- to 16-year-olds have seen pornography online, and many are exposed to violence and sex in video games, they say.

While Saturday's event -- which will be repeated in Detroit and Philadelphia -- was largely preaching to a choir of already converted Christians, BattleCry, and the teens themselves, have plans to spread their message.

Saturday night, Luce unveiled a new battlecry.com, which he called "My Space with God in the middle." Teens and youth organizers also plan to return to BattleCry cities this summer for service and other activities.

In addition, some 2,500 teens answered Luce's call to go on missions this summer to spread Christianity. They circled the Giants' playing field while the crowd raised their arms to pray over them, and then plunked more than $90,000 into passed buckets, with the proceeds counted on the spot.

Patrick Himenes, 18, of Fremont, said he was willing to take a break from a summer of houseboating and hanging out to join the crusade.

"I want to make a difference," said Himenes, sporting a black T-shirt reading, "The devil's a pimp. Don't be his ho."

Later, Emilio Bustos, 18, swayed and sang along with Jeremy Camp, his arms raised and eyes closed.

"This is Generation Y -- why bother?" said the high school senior and youth leader from Iglesia De Dios in Hayward. "The desire I have is creating a youth that is no longer apathetic about life. The only way to do that is through God."


Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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