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Fallout continues over anti-gay minister’s prayer at Minnesota Capitol

The decision to allow anti-gay preacher Bradlee Dean to give the opening prayer before the Minnesota House on Friday sent shockwaves through the Legislature, and the reverberations from that decision continued over the weekend. Democrats filed a complaint on Sunday after House Speaker Kurt Zellers moved to strike Dean’s name from the official record. Meanwhile Dean, after skipping his own press conference on the matter, took to the airwaves to slam Zellers for not defending him.

Dean said he didn’t understand why people thought he targeted President Obama in his prayer.

“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,” Dean said in his invocation in the Minnesota House. “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.”

Zellers, R- Maple Grove, restarted the House session and brought in a chaplain to redo the prayer. He also condemned Dean’s prayer in a floor statement.

“Members, I can only ask for your forgiveness. That type of person will never ever be allowed on this House floor again as long as I have the honor of serving as speaker,” Zellers said.

“If Speaker Zellers does not stand for the Constitution, our veterans, the Founding Forefathers and the Christian God to whom he swears by an oath to uphold these very things, then I would say Mr. Zellers is not fit to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Minnesota,” Dean wrote on his website Friday. “Today Speaker Zellers exemplified a point I have made many times over in past years. When a little heat comes for taking a stand, diplomatic people immediately bend to the opposition. They fall all over themselves to apologize for something that they claim to stand for when speaking to their constituents. But when it comes to actually putting what they said into practice, they denounce the Constitution’s laws and the people’s principles who voted them in. How hypocritical.”

Dean then devoted his entire two-hour radio program to the prayer flap. He denied mentioning President Obama and compared himself to Martin Luther.

“I went into them chambers with total respect,” Dean told his listeners. “I feel like Martin Luther, innocently nailing the 95 theses on the wall, and I’m not even Catholic.”

“I didn’t say we weren’t a Christian nation, Obama did,” Dean said. “If you want to point the finger at someone denying Christianity in our country, you might want to talk to Obama about it, because I didn’t say it.”

Here’s audio of Dean saying he didn’t mention Obama:

Dean was poised to give a press conference on Friday afternoon to respond to the controversy, but instead he sent his sidekick in the ministry, Jake MacAuley, who also goes by the name Jake McMillian. Reporters noted that just before the press conference was called, Dean met with Tom Prichard of the Minnesota Family Council, a group that is pushing the anti-gay marriage amendment, as well as Republican Sens. Dan Hall of Burnsville and Paul Gazelka of Brainerd on the sidewalk outside the Capitol.

DFL Complaint

DFLers filed a “protest and dissent” complaint on Sunday after Zellers had Dean’s controversial prayer stricken from the record. Zellers said that since the House didn’t have a quorum when Dean said his prayer, that technically the House wasn’t in session.

DFL Rep. Michael Paymar of St. Paul initiated the complaint which was signed by DFL members of the House. The complaint — instead of Dean’s prayer — became a part of the House record.

The DFLers wrote:

“Pursuant to Article IV, Section 11 of the Minnesota Constitution, we the undersigned members register our protest and dissent regarding the selection of Bradlee Dean as Chaplain for the Day on May 20, 2011. Mr. Dean, by his own admission during the invocation, intentionally violated the House policy on offering nondenominational prayers. Mr. Dean has a history of making inflammatory, extremist, and prejudicial public comments about the gay and lesbian community.

In his conduct, Mr. Dean offended many in the House of Representatives and the public with his invocation. His reference to President Barack Obama and his religious views was misleading and disrespectful. While the Speaker of the House apologized to the body, we the undersigned protest and dissent the selection of Bradlee Dean as Chaplain for the Day. His actions brought dishonor to the Minnesota House of Representatives.

America and Minnesota’s greatness comes from a tradition of religious tolerance and respect and the pursuit of civil and human rights for all oppressed peoples. We forcefully protest and dissent the selection of Bradlee Dean as Chaplain for the Day. Furthermore, we the undersigned protest and dissent the action of the Speaker of the House in expunging from the Journal of the House any and all reference to Mr. Dean’s actions as Chaplain for the Day.

We request that House Leadership examine the process for vetting the Chaplain for the Day so that prayers offered on the House floor are nondenominational and consistent with the values of religious tolerance and respect for all Americans regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This protest and dissent shall serve as the official recording of Bradlee Dean’s actions as Chaplain for the Day in the Journal of the House.”

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