Evangelical Youth Rally Fires Up City
March 12, 2007 2:03 PM
An evangelical rally aimed at teenage Americans swept into San Francisco on Friday, drawing flocks of protestors and onlookers as they shouted from the steps of City Hall.
“Our voice needs to be heard in San Francisco,” said Jodi Williams, who came with a youth church group from Hillsboro, Ore. “God will prevail in San Francisco, we’re praying for them.”
With a following of hundreds, comprised largely of children and their parents or church groups, Battle Cry arrived in energetic, outspoken fashion. The gathering on the front steps of City Hall was the first part of a two-day event intended to excite youth about Christianity, with concerts and speeches taking place late Friday and all-day Saturday at AT&T Park.
Banners flapped in the breeze as the crowd cheered Ron Luce, the leader of Battle Cry and loudly proclaimed “we have a voice!”
“We’re not trying to aggravate, and we’re not condemning,” said Aaron White, a youth pastor from Southside Christian Center in Oregon. “It’s a reverse-rebellion to energize the youth and grow closer to God.”
Battle Cry’s purpose in holding the event at City Hall was “to show America in a very visible way that there are young people that love God,” according to an informational pamphlet available on the group’s website.
While the organization’s proclaimed goals were met with roaring approval from its traveling members, it did not win everyone‘s admiration.
“All their religious righteousness tries to make them into zombies,” said Nick Jones, who came from Oakland to hand out political information papers at the event. “They try to get them all whipped up with militaristic performances to get them into the armed forces.”
Chris Merrigan, who moved from New Jersey to San Francisco 15 years ago, doubted the effectiveness of the group’s message in the city, and suspected a more devious reason for the youth event.
“I don’t think that they’re going to be that effective, this is a pretty liberal town,” said Merrigan. “It seems like a little brainwashing going on. The Christian Right really scares me.”
Kathy Smith, who traveled to the event from Tulare, Calif. with her husband Bobby, cited the media as a mostly negative influence on children today. She saw the weekend events as a way of asserting Christian influence in the lives of kids.
“A lot of people think that this lifestyle is okay.” Smith said. “Every one of us can be led wrong.”
Smith did not hesitate to make a bold apocalyptic proclamation. “But the end of time is close, so get your life right with God.”
Though the group made their presence known, even surprising a few tourists and residents alike, they were not completely embraced by everyone in attendance.
“Supposedly they’re fighting the moral decay of society, but this is the moral decay,” said Alanna Suen, a 16-year-old resident of San Francisco. “We have the right to live the way we want and they do too. They just shouldn’t push it on us.”
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