Yesterday, this space carried a story about the Good News Clubs, an effort to preach the Gospel to children that enters public schools throughout Minnesota through the front door, its evangelizing mission proudly front and center and a stack of federal court decisions in one hand.
Today, we refer you to a side-door approach being used by Bradlee Dean, the controversial combination hard-rock shock-jock whose opening prayer last year at the House of Representatives sparked widespread outrage for asserting, among other things, that President Barack Obama is not a Christian.
In case you missed that moment of notoriety, Dean is the head of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International and the subject of headlines for asserting that gays should be jailed, were responsible for the Holocaust, molest dozens of people before being caught and that Rep. Keith Ellison is using support for gay marriage as a gateway to enacting Islamic Sharia law in the United States.
He is also the head-banging front man for the metal band Junkyard Prophet, with which he travels to schools around the country to deliver “shock treatment” performances. Thinking they are getting a bargain-priced anti-drug rally kicked off with a kid-enticing concert, school administrators routinely accept his offer to stage rallies in high schools.
What they actually get is a blistering diatribe about the dangers of alcohol, drugs, abortion, pornography, “impure thoughts” and, of course, homosexuality. After forking out up to $1,500 for a service that’s sometimes portrayed as a $15,000 value, administrators find themselves apologizing to students and parents.
Superintendent Jim Stanton of Dunkerton, Iowa, is the most recent occupant of this particular hot seat following a three-hour Dean-led assembly held in the community’s high school two weeks ago.
According to the television station KWWL, “Students say the assembly started well. The band played some great music and most students agreed with their message.
” ‘They were a rock band, and they talked about music that had bad influences on kids,’ said high school junior Kenzley Ricklefs.
“But then things took an unexpected turn. The group switched their message from music, to negative opinions about the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community.
“’They started talking about homosexuality, and that’s when I really got offended,’ Manahl said. ‘I got a little emotional. I wanted to walk out. But I’m like – keep your calm, listen to what they have to say.’
“Then they split into smaller groups – girls, boys, and teachers. The guys got a lesson in the constitution and Christianity. The conversation in the girls group was very different.
“’I’m a Christian, so I believe in most of the things that they said. Like, they talked about if you’re unpure in your past, it’s your past. You can create a new future for yourself,’ senior Ashley Satterlee said.”
A second assembly
Stanton held a second, unplanned assembly last week to take responsibility for what he called “a poor decision” and to clarify the district’s stance on some of the topics raised:
“’We work hard to teach tolerance in our classrooms,’ [he] told students at a second assembly Thursday afternoon…. ‘That’s not what we were anticipating, and when we called the other schools where they had been, why wasn’t this mentioned?’”
Dean, too, held a second Dunkerton gathering at a local church at which he defended his performance.
Before Dean’s supposed surprise performance at the Capitol last spring, most of what had been written about him existed only in the blogosphere, posted there by folks with pretty clear, critical opinions. Minnesota’s own DumpBachmann.com, has the most exhaustive archive of Bradlee Dean writings, video and audio from his radio show (as well as the habit of sending same Learning Curve’s way).
And an intelligent dissection of Dean’s recent appearance can be found at “Off the Record,” a blog about religion, politics and equality maintained by Iowan Andy Kopsa.