Do You Really Believe?

Leading the charge: Dr. Del Tackett heads up Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project.

Strategizing at Focus on the Family began in May 2004, mere months after the release of Barna’s survey. Two years later, the ministry had its answer: a multimedia production and coordinating DVD series called The Truth Project. These tools were part of a bold plan that they hoped would reach out to millions of errant sheep and lead them deep into an ideological Promised Land.

The Truth Project was introduced through an expensive traveling spectacle run by Del Tackett. A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, Tackett had reached the pinnacle of his secular career as the director of technical planning for the National Security Council under George H.W. Bush, then entered the sanctum of think-tank academia. Grandfatherly, well-groomed Dr. Tackett, as he’s billed (thanks to an honorary doctorate from the A
merican Christian College), teaches Christian Worldview studies at the Focus on the Family Institute.

Tackett’s Truth Project presentation includes snazzy, sophisticated video clips playing on an enormous multi-panel screen, and is supplemented with prayers and mini-lectures. He traveled with it to Anchorage, Honolulu, and to virtually every other state. In October 2006, 800 people showed up at Cedar Valley, a mega-church in Bloomington and paid $119 each ($149 per couple) to attend the two-day teach-in and take home their copy of the 12-disc DVD set. From Focus on the Family’s perspective, the Truth Project is an enormous undertaking, and they’re leaving nothing to chance. Says Fey: “We believe in this so much that we have thousands of volunteers in Colorado Springs praying for each participant by name.”

Since its launch, at least one hundred Minnesota churches have worked with the Minnesota Family Council, a self-styled non-partisan, pro-family nonprofit, to establish Truth Project study groups, according to council president Tom Prichard. (The number of churches or individuals who have started groups without the MFC’s partnership could be much higher.) Dave Eaton, an Excelsior resident who made considerable waves on the Minnetonka school board for pushing “intelligent design,” has helped facilitate dozens of Truth Project groups in schools and churches, sometimes signing up eighty or ninety people at a time. He and his wife Diane were so excited about the Truth Project that they didn’t even wait for the autumn training in Minnesota. The previous spring, they flew to Charlotte, North Carolina, to hear Tackett speak and get their hands on the DVDs.

Eaton says the Truth Project is different from the Christian study programs produced by the likes of moderate Christian authors like Rick Warren or Beth Moore. Basically, it cuts the crap. “It challenges people to ask the question: ‘If there are two different truth claims here, how can both of them be right?’ ” says Eaton. “There’s a professor on the DVD that says if Darwin is right, then mankind basically rose out of the evolutionary goo—then when you die, you’re dead, and there is no God. That’s one truth claim. The other truth claim is God’s perfect plan. I think for some people, this series is the first time they’ve ever had to examine material at that level.” The DVDs cover a range of topics, from evolution to ethics, philosophy to sociology, with a healthy dose of anti-feminist and anti-gay sentiment.

Throughout the series, Tackett (and by proxy, Focus on the Family), expresses plain disgust at how far Christians have fallen from the true path. In an e-mail newsletter introducing the program, the good doctor writes: “Do you want to peek into the home of a broken man who is experiencing the devastating consequences of an addiction to the lies of pornography? How about peering into another home, where a young father is struggling to raise two kids alone because his wife believed the lies that motherhood is a worthless task and that real significance comes from the corporate world? Would you like to slip into a child’s bedroom at night and listen to her silent cries because her parents believed a host of the world’s lies and are going through a bitter divorce? Would you like to follow me into a small room in an abortion clinic and watch the horror that results as a young woman acts out her belief in a lie? Should we speak of spousal abuse? Child abuse? Rampant sexually transmitted disease? Gambling addictions? Drug addictions? Homosexuality? The attack against marriage? Which direction would you like to turn? The weeping and the wailing are everywhere, testifying that believing lies results in heartbreaking calamities.”

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