She may be the biggest act in music at the moment, but Britney Spears isn't No. 1 with the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (CPYU). As the 18-year-old stages a sold-out world tour, the Christian parent-teen organization has warned that the singer is sending out all the wrong messages.

Although she talks about her Baptist faith and nightly prayers, Spears' "verbalized commitment doesn't mesh with the sexual messages of her visual image," says the CPYU in an essay addressing "The 'Spiritual Inconsistency' of Britney Spears."

Photos: Rolling Stone

The Elizabethtown, Pa.-based group, which helps churches and community groups support families through the challenges of adolescence, issued a two-part analysis because of the singer's massive following among young girls and widespread acceptance by many parents for the lack of overtly sexual content to her songs.

But the former "Mickey Mouse Club" member who sang "Jesus Loves Me" at the audition that won her recording contract presents "a confusing postmodern mix of spirituality and teasing, schoolgirl sexuality," and "apparently sees little inconsistency between her faith and her view of sexuality," says the CPYU.

While acknowledging the talent that has racked up more than 12 million U.S. sales of her first album, "Baby One More Time," and 5 million of the follow-up, "Oops...I Did It Again," since its release in May, the organization questions whether Spears' music is "nothing but innocent fun," and suggests that parents, educators, and youth workers should be concerned about her "music, image, and influence."

The article cites Spears' reaction to criticism for seductive poses in a Rolling Stone magazine photo shoot--which she dismissed as harmless--as indicative of her mixed messages. It says that her music is "laced with subjectivity," with the songs about love celebrating feelings above all else.

But while Spears is "a relatively simple and innocent performer" whom few parents would prevent their children from listening to "when music stores are stacked with CDs...sporting 'parental advisory' stickers," the CPYU says that adults should learn some important lessons from the teen sensation.

For her music can play "a powerful role in shaping the world and life view" of children and also provide an opportunity to talk about emotional and relational issues. More important, the Spears phenomenon should drive parents to try to understand the impact of postmodernity on young people.

Spears' defining marks are also those of the postmodern world, says the CPYU. "First, she emphasizes feelings as the authority for determining right and wrong in all matters. Outside authority is denied, and the self becomes sovereign.

"And second, Spears' feeling-oriented self has determined that there is no inconsistency between speaking out about her Christian faith while immodestly celebrating her sexuality in an ungodly manner...conversations with most Christian kids indicate they are moving in the same direction. It's an issue we must face, understand, and address."

The essay in the CPYU quarterly newsletter says that young people need to be warned about the dangers of relying upon emotions and that "life in a fallen and sinful world often does not 'feel good.'" And her popularity and "postmodern brand of spirituality should serve as a catalyst to aggressive youth ministry that promotes the integration of faith into all of life."

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