Hundreds of teens surrounded by flashing lights, honking taxis and rushing pedestrians are staging a rally against U.S. pop culture Friday in the heart of urban America – New York City's Time Square.
Teens are waging a so-called "reverse rebellion" against a culture which they say is hurting their generation. The hundreds of young participants in the Recreate '08 rally represent some 400,000 teens of the Teen Mania movement, a Christian mission organization for the younger generation.
"I want my generation to understand how important it is to stand up and take action if you see something you don't believe in," said rally participant Brittany Serra, 14, in a statement.
The rally highlights teens' concerns about how today's pop culture is promoting harmful ideas of what is "cool," such as substance abuse, violence, premarital sex and Internet porn.
During the rally, teens are showcasing what they are doing to Recreate entertainment, fashion, the arts and the Web into products that "build up, not tear down" their generation. The rally features some of their generation's favorite products, including graffiti art and dance, in a positive way.
"We are fed up with culture telling us it's cool to be rebellious," said Zim Tahir, 17, a former gang member.
Former "cutter" Nina Ringely, 18, said, "I want to tell teens I've tried it all (drugs and alcohol) and nothing filled the void."
The teen ministry is also sending a list of eight questions to the presidential candidates that reflect Teen Mania teens' top concerns, including youth exposure to Internet pornography; the AIDS pandemic; human trafficking, media glamorization of drugs, sex and alcohol; abortion; and freedom to practice Christianity.
Following the rally, more than 10,000 teens will gather 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.
Teen Mania was founded by Luce in 1986 in his van. The former self-described "teenage party animal" was raised in a broken family and led a broken and reckless life abusing alcohol and drugs. At the age of 16, Luce became a Christian and committed his life to inspiring young people to follow Jesus. Luce has spoken to more than 12 million teenagers in more than 50 countries, according to Teen Mania.