Teens fed up with being bombarded with media that promotes sex, drugs and violence fought back Friday in New York City to reclaim and "recreate" pop culture.
Some 300 young Christians gathered in Times Square for the first Teen Mania event this year, the Recreate '08 rally, to reject the mainstream culture that they say is destroying their generation.
"Times Square is the vortex of media in terms of so much of the advertising, the icons, MTV, all different kinds of networks. It is the media center of the world," Teen Mania founder Ron Luce told The Christian Post immediately after the rally, explaining why Times Square was chosen to launch the ministry's 2008 tour.
"And a lot of that media is destroying kids and putting horrible values into them," he said. "So we met down there with these hundreds of young people … to let them know that there are young people that want to reshape the culture with positive values and use their creativity as their voice."
This year's theme, Recreate, is different than previous years in that it encourages teens to use their talents to reshape the culture with their gifts in photography, writing, web design, etc.
"With the internet at your fingertips you don't need a multimillion dollar broadcast facility to get your message out to the world," Luce said. "So go, do that, and shape your generation rather than basically being a culture zombie doing what the culture tells you to do."
Teens during the rally showcased how they plan to "recreate" entertainment, fashion, the arts, and the Internet by featuring original graffiti art, dance, art mosaic, and videos they created that send positive messages.
In addition to the mini-expo, teens also tried to change the culture by sending a list of their top eight concerns to all the presidential candidates after the rally. The concerns were compiled from the response of hundreds of thousands of teens who take part in Teen Mania events each year.
"There is so much at stake in this next generation of young people with media that is destroying them and polluting their minds and hearts," Luce said.
"The future of our nation is at stake and our political candidates they need to be called upon and asked, 'What are you going to do to help protect young people from the onslaught of media that is destroying kids?'"
This is the first time since the ministry began in 1986 that it has contacted U.S. presidential candidates.
As solution to the problem, Luce urged greater regulation of media and presented a challenge to the candidates. "If we wouldn't let our 12-year-old go into a XXX porn shop, why would we let them go to a XXX porn site?" he stated.
"They are so bombarded with media that some are saying that they are the first generation ever to be more influenced outside the home than inside the home.
"People outside the home don't love our kids," Luce continued. "They just want to sell stuff to them no matter the price. So we are saying to these candidates, 'What are you going to do to help protect this younger generation?'"
Among the top concerns of Teen Mania teens are: youth exposure to Internet pornography; the AIDS pandemic; human trafficking, media glamorization of drugs, sex and alcohol; abortion; and freedom to practice Christianity
The Teen Mania founder ended his statement on an encouraging note, saying that over the past year or two he has noticed churches and whole denominations trying to reclaim the younger generation from pop culture.
"We are seeing thousands [of churches] jump on board saying 'we want to double the size of our [youth] group,'" Luce said about the movement to "rescue the next gen."
"It's not just the cool youth pastor, but the whole church," he pointed out. "Where the grandparents are loving the kids and baking them brownies and mentoring them. Mom and dads are getting involved and business people are getting involved. So if the youth pastor has a plan to double the size, the whole church is an advocate – they pray more, give more, they volunteer more."
Luce, the self-described former "teenage party animal," said excitedly: "So come on, let's jump on board and show this nation that the people of God love young people more than MTV does, more than the drug dealers do. We love them and we are going to go after them."
Following the rally, more than 10,000 teens gathered at New Jersey's Izod Center for a two-day Recreate '08 event featuring New York Yankees' pitcher Mariano Rivera, six-time Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin, the David Crowder Band, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Teen Mania founder Ron Luce.