A controversial anti-gay preacher questioned President Obama’s Christianity Friday morning, when he delivered the morning prayer on the Minnesota House floor.
“I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this chamber and it’s not about the Baptists and it’s not about the Catholics alone or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans,” Bradlee Dean said, sporting a track suit and long ponytail, “or the Presbyterians, the evangelicals or any other denomination, but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus. As every President up until 2008 has acknowledged. And we pray it. In Jesus’ name.”
That sent the Legislature into a tizzy, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
The House session broke down as leaders huddled with their staff members to discuss what to do. Republicans huddled in a caucus meeting for more than an hour.
Immediately after the House came back to order, DFL Rep. Terry Morrow took to the floor to say the hope of peace in the daily prayer had been “crushed by a single person’s words.”
Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R) invited the regular House chaplain to give a second prayer, and the House recited the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call again.
Dean’s comments Friday certainly aren’t his first to spark some controversy. Dean — founder of the youth ministry You Can Run But You Can’t Hide, and drummer for the “second-best unsigned band in the nation,” Junkyard Prophet — has said that homosexuality is essentially against the law. He he hassaid there’s no difference between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden. And as TPM has reported, Dean calls Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D-MN) support of “homosexuals” part of a plot to implement Sharia law.
A slew of legislators released statements condemning Dean’s remarks, which happened to occur the same day a gay marriage amendment was up for debate and pro-gay marriage protesters gathered at the Capitol. While it’s not certain who invited Dean to deliver the prayer, Minnesota Public Radio reports Rep. Ernie Leidiger (R) invited him. Leidiger’s office did not immediately respond to TPM’s requests for comment.
Rep. Terry Morrow (D) expressed his concern over Dean’s comments, saying he views the morning prayer as a time for legislators to reflect before engaging in politics.
“Within the last hour this hope has been crushed by a single person’s words … I know that others will join me now or in the near future to express their deep concerns, reservations, comments, and suggestions on how we repair the fabric that has been torn today,” Morrow said.
Speaker Zellers released his own apology in a statement:
“I respectfully apologize to all members in the Minnesota House of Representatives and all citizens of this state for today’s morning prayer. As Speaker of the House, I take responsibility for this mistake. I am offended at the presence of Bradlee Dean on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives. I denounce him, his actions and his words. He does not represent my values or the values of this state.”
And two gay Legislature members also released statements. “In my 30 years in the House, I have never seen such a hateful person be allowed to deliver the opening prayer,” Rep. Karen Clark (D) said.
“Instead of providing a message of inclusion and hope, the House began this day with hate and discrimination,” Sen. Scott Dibble (D) added.
Watch Dean’s remarks below:
Read more here.