A Christian organization for men which enjoyed a groundswell of popularity during the 1990s in the face of considerable criticism from women's groups, the Promise Keepers were founded on March 20, 1990, by then-University of Colorado head football coach Bill McCartney and Dr. Dave Wardell. While attending a Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet in Pueblo, McCartney and Wardell envisioned a gathering of some 50,000 men assembled for the purposes of training and instruction to become God-fearing men. Declaring in their mission statement that "Promise Keepers is a Christ-centered ministry dedicated to uniting men through vital relationships to become godly influences in their world," the group quickly grew from humble beginnings to earn the support of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Focus on the Family's James Dobson, by 1996 counting a staff of 450 and an annual income of close to 100 million dollars. Famous for packing football stadiums with their emotional, men-only rallies, the Promise Keepers' growth was not without incident, however -- critics attacked the group's ties to the religious right-wing establishment, its championing of male-dominated family structures, and McCartney's advocacy of anti-gay legislation as well as his ties to the radical pro-life group Operation Rescue. Rumors of impending bankruptcy dogged the Promise Keepers in 1997 after a number of staff layoffs, but in the wake of McCartney's much-publicized appeal for donations from churches across the U.S., the group's financial ship appears righted. Another source of income remains a series of Promise Keepers recordings, including 1998's Live a Legacy and 1999's Choose This Day. ~ Jason Ankeny
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