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Legislative firestorm erupts over Bradlee Dean's prayer

A serious fire-and-brimstone storm dropped on the Minnesota House this morning.

Bradlee Dean
Bradlee Dean

Conservative minister Bradlee Dean, who has talked of jailing gay people and even worse, was allowed to give the opening prayer at today's House session.

This, on a day when a gay marriage amendment was expected to be debated at the Legislature and as those in favor of gay marriage assembled at the Capitol.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers this afternoon wouldn't disclose if the House will vote on the amendment this session. "We're not saying yet," he said. "We're not sure yet."


Zellers said the GOP will talk about their options in caucus today.


Dean's prayer caused outrage. Normally, the opening prayers in the legislative chambers are nonsectarian.

Dean concluded his rambling prayer asserting that President Barack Obama is not a Christian, with these words: "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. 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."

Rep. Terry Morrow
Rep. Terry Morrow

Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, rose to vigorously object, saying: "Mr. Speaker, I've always thought of the house prayer as an opportunity to contemplate together to come together before the heated battle of what can sometimes be partisan politics. It was an expectation, it was a hope that I thought was fulfilled every day I came into this chamber today.

"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.

"Mr. Speaker, I do have a hope. I have a hope that the members of this chamber will join me, that we will be able to unite in a commitment and an understanding that all Minnesotans regardless of their faith, regardless of their beliefs and regardless of their lifestyle are indeed Minnesotans and deserve this chamber's respect and this chamber's commitments."

Zellers apologized in a statement about an hour later:
 
"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."

Speaker Zellers
Speaker Zellers

Minutes later, Zellers apologized on the House Floor. Meanwhile, MPR reported that Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, invited Dean to give the prayer

Two gay lawmakers — Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble — reacted.

"In my 30 years in the House, I have never seen such a hateful person be allowed to deliver the opening prayer," Rep. Clark said. "Bradlee Dean has a documented record of hate speech, and has suggested that extremists who call for the execution of American gays are morally justified. The decision by GOP leadership to allow his intolerance, fear and outright bigotry into the 'people's house' is reprehensible. Minnesotans are a peaceful, loving and caring people. It's this spirit of togetherness and shared hope that the House of Representatives should strive to embody. The Republican leadership should be ashamed of themselves. It reveals the underlying hateful nature of the anti-gay constitutional amendment movement."
 
Said Dibble: "In this time of divisiveness, it's disgraceful and appalling to see the Speaker of the House of Representatives  the body that is supposed to represent all Minnesotans  invite hatred into the opening prayer. Instead of providing a message of inclusion and hope, the House began this day with hate and discrimination. Mr. Dean has a long and well-known record of intolerance, something that should have no place in the legislature, let alone in a prayerful blessing. This morning's action is a sad commentary on House Republican leadership's apparent ambivalence for supporting the equal rights and beliefs of all Minnesotans."

Transcript of Dean's prayer
Here is the entire transcript of Dean's prayer, as supplied by the DFL Caucus media department:

"When I arrived at the Capitol today I noticed all the writings upon the inside of the walls. On the Supreme Court Chambers you have Moses awaiting the Ten Commandments, God's divine law. You have George Washington quotes, Thomas Jefferson quotes speaking of unalienable rights given unto us by our creator. And when I looked at that I thought what an awesome building and those in this chamber are very privileged to be here and I'm honored to be here as well … And if I can give a small preface to my prayer so my prayer has meaning. I remember when I was a young man. I had a friend who founded a company in Fridley, Minnesota. This man built this company from the ground up as he blueprinted everything in great detail. He put his sweat, tears, everything into it until he established a great company. Nobody understood what sacrifice he put into his company except those that helped him along. The company grew in such a proportion that he could now sell the company and he did. On the sale of his company the buyers agreed to keep him on to run the company for them and in the process the company sold. And when it was sold the buyers went against the contract and fired the founder. How foolish could they be? They thought once they had control of the company they could run it their own way and still prosper. And they failed miserably. [Excuse me]

"And it sounds much like America today. America has the longest standing Constitution in the history of the world. And might I remind everyone here that we have one Constitution so let us come together and unite ourselves under its directives. Because we all know the problems didn't come into our country in 1776, they came when we wandered from the founder of the company and tried running it our own way.

"So let us pray.

"Father God I just thank you Father for what you have bestowed upon us and through the sacrifice of our brothers and our sisters. Father God to ratify the Constitution of the United States. Father God, the fight, the bloodshed, and the sacrifice. From World War One to World War Two to Korea, Father. To Korea and Iwo Jima and Vietnam. And Father God, Iraq and Afghanistan. And I think about their sacrifice when I go, Father God, to Arlington Cemetery and I think that's the reason I that fight. That's the reason that I stand, that I encourage my brothers to do the same thing. They died so we could have the freedoms that we have today. And they ratified that Constitution and sacrificed their all for it. And I end with this. 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. 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. "

Rep. Morrow's response
And here's a transcript of Rep. Morrow's full remarks in response:

"Mr. Speaker, I'm trying to take time to be deliberate and to express a deep level of concern of what occurred in this chamber this morning. Mr. Speaker, I will start by acknowledging that you did restart and that you did invite the house Chaplin to speak and I take that as acknowledgment that there is a legitimate cause for deep concern among the members, among the staff, and among the people of Minnesota.
 
"Mr. Speaker, I've always thought of the house prayer as an opportunity to contemplate together to come together before the heated battle of what can sometimes be partisan politics. It was an expectation, it was a hope that I thought was fulfilled every day I came into this chamber today. Within the last hour this hope has been crushed by a single person's words.
 
"Mr. Speaker, I do trust and I do hope that every member of this chamber understands the gravity and the severity of the offense that had been given to many people within this chamber and out. It has been my understanding that part of the justification, part of the explanation for starting our sessions with a prayer was that those prayers would never exclude, never marginalize a Minnesotan on the basis of their faith, on the basis of their beliefs, on the basis of who they are and those expectations have been crushed today.
 
"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. Mr. Speaker I do have a hope. I have a hope that the members of this chamber will join me, that we will be able to unite in a commitment and an understanding that all Minnesotans regardless of their faith, regardless of their beliefs and regardless of their lifestyle are indeed Minnesotans and deserve this chamber's respect and this chamber's commitments.
 
"Mr. Speaker I could yell. Mr. Speaker I could bang the table in anger right now, but I don't think that would be fruitful. Some of you who are standing near me can see I'm shaking right now because I'm mad. I thank you for restarting, I thank you for listening, I thank you all as we move forward and renew a commitment that this cannot happen again."

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Comments (35)

It's time to bang on the table with anger.

And I hope Rep. Leidiger is banged out of office ASAP.

Nothing short of human sacrifice would surprise me this session with the collection of Republicans extremists that were elected last fall. This should have been a no-brainer, but apparently the Republican leadership doesn't qualify in that department.

He said what many in the legislative majority think and converse among themselves about.

Am I shocked? No, arrogance breeds contempt.

Am I offended? Yes, absolutely.

Does the guy even understand what
"non-denominational" mean?

...or any other denomination but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus...

Another quote for you:

“When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

Sinclair Lewis

This makes me very sad. I am actually appalled, I have no words.

In my mind, it's not that there was a prayer. What bothers me is that Bradlee Dean spews hatred, and because of that I don't think he's the one to look to for Christ's message. Anyone who associates with Bradlee Dean brings themselves down, in my eyes. I'm ashamed of his behavior.

Thanks,

What the... At this point, between WI politics and now MN politics, I am beginning to wonder whether I live where I thought I lived. A good housecleaning is in order. The invitation of this man into a building of governance of this state, in this country, is a slap in the face and it clearly shines a light on the hatred emanating from (at least) the "leaders" "representing" us.

I understand the complaints from the Dems, but - what the hey - is there anyone who better represents the repugnant and hateful state of the Republican Party than Bradlee Dean? I don't think so. Don't forget that the voters of Minnesota are ultimately responsible for this state of affairs - they elected the Republicans to majorities in the house and senate. As the former archbishop said, notions of racial superiority underlie the concept of "Minnesota Nice." Minnesota is fast on the way to becoming a cold Arizona.

Aside from everything else, this guy's history is whacked, from Korea to Iwo Jima to Vietnam? This whole statement is a testimony in ineloquence. Guys like this simply don't comprehend not-partisan non-denomination, it's like asking a dog to play the violin.

Since it appears that our politicians can not even agree to disagree, it is no wonder that a certain segment would invite such as person to present, not a thoughtful bi-partisan prayer, but a partisan lecture. One that is incendiary; rather than insightful. We have reached the bottom of the barrel in Minnesota--all because of a lack of tolerance and will to get along. I too wonder whether Minnesota is at a tipping point in civility, balanced discourse, fairness and compassion for all of its people.

Wow. Seems to me that the democrats were the "divisive" ones. The adult thing to do when you disagree with the speaker would be to turn your back or leave the room. Banging the table in anger seems kind of childish.

Where's YOUR tolerance for other points of view?

Thank you, Mark Dayton and everyone who worked for your election.

Can you imagine where we'd be if Tom Emmer had won?

Even Wisconsin would be laughing at how fast we'd launched ourselves over the cliff.

Dennis, he was not banging the table. His exact words follow.

"Mr. Speaker I could yell. Mr. Speaker I could bang the table in anger right now, but I don't think that would be fruitful."

My tolerance ends at hate speech, and with those who defend it.

Yeah Dennis, its the Democrats who were divisive. In the words of Republican House Speaker Zellers:

"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 thanks for bringing out old the intolerance of intolerance argument. Sorry, but when a "point of view" is unvarnished hate and bigotry, its not intolerant to call that out. Gays and lesbians don't want anything from you. They just want to get married and have the same civil rights. You are the one who is trying to take rights away from them.

Wow, Dennis, talk about getting the facts completely wrong in order to attack the other side.

Meanwhile, a Facebook group has been started with people boycotting Minnesota District 34A until Rep. Leidiger is removed from office for inviting Dean to speak: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_199077533470462

Rep. Leidiger's SD34A district includes Watertown, Waconia, New Germany, Norwood Young America, Hamburg, Cologne, Carver, Victoria, and his town of Mayer. Is he not familiar with a member of the clergy of any of these communities that he could feel comfortable enough to ask to offer a prayer in the People's House? Maybe someone that doesn't wear a jogging suit when they're performing duties of their profession at the State Capitol?

From MPR today: We didn't know he was that controversial, certainly I didn't," Leidiger said. "That was not my intention to bring a controversial figure like that in before the House. This is an honest mistake."

Leidiger apparently would like us to think he has never heard of something called "the internet," much less Google.

Google Bradlee Dean. It takes about five seconds to figure him out.

What cannot be found is any evidence that this individual has any credentials that would qualify him to offer a prayer at the Legislature (e.g., a theological education in an accredited institution) or that he has any qualifications to make presentations to high school students about the U.S. Constitution.

What a shameful day in Minnesota. What kind of people are running the chambers?

Rep. Ernie Leidiger, who invited Bradlee Dean to open the session with a prayer, now says Dean's thinking reminds him of Nazi Germany. That's quite a change....how could he have been so clueless? I doubt Dean's "good presentation" 6 months ago was the only reason for the invitation. But Dean's well-known relationships with Emmer, Pawlenty, and Bachmann certainly helped validate Dean among Republicans. Republicans have been duped into believing they are not supposed to think or listen to voters. They simply parrot the party line, copy the party legislation, and follow the leaders. I hope this is a wake-up call to Republicans. MN needs you to listen to all of your constituents and begin again to engage with Democrats for the good of Minnesota. Take a critical look at who you are following and what the destination really looks like. (And if adults are so easily fooled by Dean what chance do kids have when he gives presentations in schools, on Sat. morning TV, and on a radio show. He's such a cool guy..... What are your kids listeng to?)

Credit to Zellers for a very direct, forthright response. Restarting the session with another prayer was appropriate.

Now the spinmeisters are saying the Rep. Leidiger invited Dean not because of views on gays but because he was impressed with Dean's past work educating students on constitutional issues. One can only imagine the constitutional perspective he was teaching.

Dennis

The adult thing to do is not break the rules in the first place, which is what Dean and his sponsor Rep Leidiger did. The adult thing to do is to call out those who break the rules.

It is a sad truth that both parties have their nut jobs!

Oh my, the left is offended. Warning, gnashing is dangerous to aging hippy capped teeth and please, no rendering of garments in public.

I believe that this is part of the politics of distraction. I am a 67 year old political science grad from the U of M. Back in the 1960's, the conservative theoretical political theory was that the Republicans could get the middle and lower classes to vote against their own economic interests by using social issues ... abortion, religion, gay rights,etc. to distract the lower and middle classes from economic issues. I think that we must credit the Republicans with having successfully implemented the theory of distraction.

I was up at the Capitol this morning - not only was Bradlee Dean's prayer (?) creepy, but Representative Zeller's response/apology was weird to say the least. In part Rep Zeller said "that type of person will never be allowed" on the House floor again. That type person? Would that then include Representative Michelle Bachmann? Bachmann and Dean appear together, if not regularly, at least on numerous occasions. Bachmann has raised money for Dean's "ministry," You Can Run but You Can't Hide. As much as Dean attack's the President, he compliments Bachmann. And of coarse Representative Bachmann has said some things attacking the President that were/are far more outrageous than what Dean implied about President Obama (the presidents before 2008 believing in Jesus).
So one has to just what statements and beliefs (specifically) of Mr. Dean do they disagree with? And one has to ask Speaker Zeller if "people like" Rep Bachmann would be kept of the MN House floor because of her vitriolic attack speech?

As a Democrat who is also grateful that Mark Dayton, and not Tom Emmer, is our governor and who was also horrified by the hate-speech of Pastor (really?) Bradlee Dean, I would like to acknowledge the words and actions of Speaker Zellers, a Republican, in apologizing to the Legislature and to the citizens of Minnesota that such a travesty occurred on his watch.

I would think the Republicans would have remembered Bradlee Dean from Emmer's race for Governor.

I give thanks every day Mark Dayton won that race.

Democrats intolerant? Their response was calm and rational to an emotional invocation of God to take sides with hatred and bigotry on the House Floor. Not only that, he lied about Obama's religious evangilism. Not since Jimmy Carter has their been such a Fundamentalist, Jesus centered, Christian in the White House. Obama is a Christian politician in truth, not just a sham, like many recent Presidents and candidates who wear a fake cloak of religion to ingratiate themselves to the religious right. Bachamann loves this guy, as you might guess. The problem, Dennis, is that there is no place for politics in the morning invocation at the legislature. The prayer is a way to diffuse divisive political discussion, not intensify it with name calling by using a preacher advocating hatred and violence against a particular group of people. This was not an accident on the day of House debate over Gay marriage. Disgusting.

Not all of our presidents believed Jesus was the head of our "denomination," by which it sounds he means government. Starting with the presidents, George Washington did not acknowledge any religious beliefs and appointed a Universalist as army chaplain. Thomas Jefferson once wrote: "I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian." John Adams was a Unitarian as was his son, John Quincy and both men and their wives are buried in First Church Parish in Boston. In fact, almost all of the founders and early leaders were Deists and Unitarians or Universalists.
My guess is there were others who could no longer admit their deist and/or Unitarian beliefs considering the political climate. Certainly they could not even run now. Adlai Stevenson, a Unitarian, was defeated in the 1950s, not only because of his religion but that was a factor (he was also divorced).

And why the heck does the U.S. government and the state have a chaplain opening legislative sessions at all? Couldn't they just call it to order and have a moment of silence, a noteworthy quotation (maybe by Jefferson or Thomas Paine, another skeptical founder), a nonreligious poem--or nothing at all as is the case in most meetings?

Why dignify this guy by using a 20 year old professional head shot? Show a photo of him from his rude and hateful rant yesterday-- show his current ugliness.

While Bradlee Dean’s controversial prayer is not a surprise, since he has a long track record of offensive rhetoric, what followed was dismaying in a different and incompetent way. It was extremely unfortunate that the current House Chaplain St. Dennis fumbled and failed to respond to this ludicrous prayer. If clergy, rabbis, and imams refuse to challenge the ideas of one of their own, perhaps someone like Rep. Terry Morrow might consider adding Chaplain to his responsibilities.

I've begun referring to the gay marriage ban amendment as the "Bradlee Dean Amendment". Hang this hatemonger around GOP necks like the literary albatross.

In #21 above, David Willard refers to aging hippies "rendering their garments." Hmmm Isn't the correct word "rend" Or perhaps Mr. Willard is so deeply immersed in scripture that he recalls reading in Mathew 22:15-22 Jesus Christ's instruction to "render onto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and onto God the things that are God's."
So who does Mr. Willard think that the aging hippies should render their garments? Caesar? God?

Where to start with Bradlee Dean? Great outfit. It showed a lot of class to wear his very best clothes to such an occasion.
I did come out wondering if:
A) Does Dean think that Iwo Jima is in Korea?
B) Does he think that the War of Independence was fought under the Constitution? Does he know that the last battle of the war was fought at Yorktown in 1781, and the treaty ending the war was signed in Paris in 1783. The Constitution did not go into effect until 1787?
C) Does he know that Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Tyler were all Deists? This system of belief explicitly rejects the divinity of Christ, or God's involvement in the day-to-day operations of the Earth (to say nothing of the Republican Party).
John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Taft were all Unitarians, a religion that does not include the divinity of Christ as an article of faith.
Hoover and Nixon were Quakers, which is not a Christian religion.
Eisenhower was brought up as a "River Brethern," and later as a Jehovah's Witness. He did not become a member of a Christian church until AFTER he was elected president.
Which means that a quarter of our presidents were not affiliated with a church that Bradlee Dean would consider to be "Christian" if he were to spend a little time on study.

"Normally, the opening prayers in the legislative chambers are nonsectarian"

to those of us who's faith excludes dieties, any prayer to a diety in the people's house is sectarian ...

and it doubles down as insult when that prayer is used as a weapon of sectarian criticism of a political figure,President Obama, who had publicly declared his faith in Jesus, as the prayer-maker claims to do as well.

it wears on the social fabric to have religiously motivated people so comfortable wearing their bigotry on their public sleeves, and proclaiming it as the Christian view.

This "prayer" was Speaker Zeller's "Reverend Wright" moment but even worse - made so because Zeller invited the bigot Dean to address the . Of course, Zeller is the same misinformed fella who thought MnSCU faculty had gotten 20-30% pay increases when in reality they were on pay freezes. And he is LEADER of the Republicans - the best they have to offer.

Disqualified ?

sorry I missed the reason for the offence.The point Bradley makes is the soul reason we are here .....and the legistlature and the usa....Jesus is Lord.
Do some take offence ? And is it because of Deans record ?
Spit out a knat and swallow a camel. (see Bible)

PS; thank you,O, for the history lesson that has .......to do with .... The fact that....inspite of our founding forefathers denominations... Doctrines.......and there personal bias and hangups....They still put fourth the greatest effort to build the USA and the constitusion based on Bible morals and principles of Jesus Christ the maker of all.

Why do you wish to kill the messenger ? Let Dean be Dean.
No one disqualifys you from driveing a car because you speed a little.
And we all speed.