Faith’s Battlefield

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San Francisco Chronicle

TeenMania is a $23 million-a-year nonprofit that stages three huge “BattleCry” rock concerts and 35 smaller “Acquire the Fire” events around the country each year to energize youth about evangelical Christianity and open their eyes to what its founder, Ron Luce, calls the “depravity” of popular culture. But many parents, teens and members of the clergy say the spectacles – complete with $55 tickets, merchandizing, combative language and an emphasis on cultural and spiritual “warfare” – divide believers and fail to instill real, lasting faith in youth.

“What really matters is parents, family and other adult relationships,” says Christian Smith, the author of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. March 8,