Prof. Decries `Promise Keepers'

* Syracuse Professor speaks at the Barker Center about her upcoming book

When the right-wing Christian men's group called the Promise Keepers held a two-day event at her university, Syracuse University Assistant professor of English Rosaria M. Champagne said she felt uncharacteristically speechless.

Indignation soon helped her find her voice, though, and she is currently writing a book criticizing the men's organization, Champagne told an audience of about 15 at the Barker Center in a speech titled "True Believers: Psychoanalysis and the Religious Right."

"The Promise Keepers are not run by a decent bunch of family-oriented white guys trying to revive their faith in Jesus Christ," Champagne said.

She said that as an academic leftist, a feminist and an out lesbian, she felt compelled to speak out against what she saw as the repressive philosophies of the men's group.

Champagne said that the group's members have a strong male-dominated view of the world that represses the rights of women.

"The Promise Keepers' vision of gender relations within the family looks like this: men submit to god and women and children submit to men," she said.

Champagne criticized her university's decision to allow the Promise Keepers to use the Syracuse campus for a weekend.

Suggesting that her university's decision was financially motivated, Champagne said that allowing the Promise Keepers to use Syracuse facilities "tacitly condon[es] the manipulative practices and repressive thinking of the Promise Keepers."

Champagne said that the Promise Keepers have extensive resources that permitted them to organize and pay for an event of that scope.

"With a $115 million projected annual operating budget, a staff of over 400 full-time employees and additional sponsorship from Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition, the Promise Keepers are hardly just a bad idea," she said.

Champagne said she expressed her disapproval of the organization to the administration of Syracuse University, where she is currently seeking to be tenured.

Champagne's previously published book, The Politics of Survivorship, discussed incest in the context of feminist and queer theories and psychoanalysis, her three main fields of study.

She said that her critique of the Promise Keepers is very much an extension of her previous research.