There’s No Decorum and Dignity Left May 22, 2011

There’s No Decorum and Dignity Left

While you were busy not getting Raptured, Reverend Bradlee Dean was invited to give the opening prayer for the Minnesota House of Representatives on Friday.

It gets interesting at the 2:41 mark:

I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this chamber. It’s not about the Baptists, it’s not about the Catholics alone, or the Lutherans, or the Wesleyans, or the Presbyterians, 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.

That’s a long-winded way to say “Obama is a Muslim.”

Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers apologized for Dean’s appearance and said he had failed to live up to his responsibility to uphold the “decorum and dignity” of the House.

Zellers denounced Dean and said “that type of person will never ever be allowed on this House floor again as long as I have the honor of serving as your Speaker.”

Anytime you invite someone to preach before a government function, you’ve already sullied the “decorum and dignity” of the House. To make things worse, the Republicans then debated and voted to let the people of Minnesota decide whether gay marriage should be banned.

As if civil rights should be subject to the whims of the people.

The Republicans have no leg to stand on when it comes to decorum and dignity.

(via Roger Ebert)

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  • Steve

    Implies. Not infers. Grrr. :p

    “non-denominational prayer” is a joke. It means the Christians pause for a few seconds to kill and hate each other over the correct way to worship their god in order to jointly exclude non-Christians. It’s still clearly respecting an establishment of religion. Just not a particular sect.

    Also, a “House Chaplain”. WTF? How is that possibly constitutional? (unless per “judicial activism” of fundamentalist SCOTUS judges)

  • Erp

    Well he might have also been implying that Obama was an atheist or a Unitarian (both of which are at least somewhat plausible). However as Obama has consistently stated he is a Christian then the pastor was outright lying when he stated Obama hadn’t acknowledged this. Given that several US presidents have been Unitarian, I’m not sure the other bit of his statement is correct either.

  • Kevin S.

    Not surprisingly, the only Republican who can claim any dignity coming out of that vote was one of the four who dissented:

    Freshman Republican Rep. John Kriesel, an Iraqi war veteran, broke with his party early this session by clearly, publicly and passionately proclaiming the amendment was wrong.

    On the House floor Saturday, GOP Rep. Tim Kelly, who also opposes the amendment, pressed him for his story. Kriesel, who has become a hero among amendment opponents, told his colleagues that he lost his legs in an explosion during combat patrol. He wanted to defend his country and help the oppressed, he said.

    Hours later, he returned to stand on his prosthetic legs to tell his colleagues of Andrew Wilfahrt, whose photo Kreisel distributed. Wilfahrt was a Minnesota soldier, killed in Afghanistan. He was gay.

    “I cannot look at this picture … and say ‘you know what, Corporal, you were good enough to fight for this country and give your life, but you were not good enough to marry the person you love,’” Kriesel said.

    “This amendment doesn’t represent what I went to fight for,” Kriesel said.

    “Hear that out there?” he said of the cheers that arose when he and other opponents spoke. “That’s the America I fought for and I’m proud of that.”
    He said he would have pressed a “Hell No” button if he had one.

  • Claudia

    The pastor shouldn’t have been invited at all of course, but I think that the Speaker should get some praise for unequivocally denouncing his words and taking responsibility as Speaker for what happened.

    Looks like the lede was actually buried. This is all about using your religion to oppress the minority, again. Don’t miss the Republican double amputee pleading for what’s right.

  • Claudia

    Damn, ran out of time on the edit. Anyway read Kevin S.’s link. Apologies.

  • Jayne Cravens

    I really expected more from Minnesota. I would expect this kind of thing out of the South – where I’m from – but not Minnesota.

    Obama is a long-time United Church of Christ adherent. And if you are at all familiar with UCC, then you can hear so much of what Obama says laced with their teachings. I’ll leave others to debate whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But I wish freaks like this minister would at least get the criticism of Obama’s religion right.

  • Cthulhu

    I don’t even know how he got invited to there in the first place to give a prayer. This guy disguises his fundamentalist proselytizing as being a motivational singer and once a school hires him he starts singing about jesus and how you are going to hell if you have sex before marriage. He has praised muslims saying they are more holy because they execute gays. Also he is friends with nut bachmann.

    As a side note on this about the gay marriage ban it should actually work out well. The majority in Minnesota have stated that they support same-sex marriage. Although I do agree that it shouldn’t be put up to vote. Just imagine it though if this gets voted down the evangelicals can’t complain about judicial activism.

  • At least, as a political activist, he not getting tax exemptions.

  • meh, color me unsurprised. this shit goes on all the time, all over the country’s legislatures. when i worked at the state capitol, i was invited to a “prayer breakfast” sponsored by the state’s congressional black caucus. it was disgusting. they had some crazy, and i do mean CRAZY woman speaking “in tongues” and talking about jeebus coming home soon and i was for everyone in the room that day. and yes, your taxdollars paid for it all; the food, the lights and air conditioning, the room, the preacher’s speaking fee (cause you know she wouldn’t have come if she didn’t get paid). we live in a semi-theocracy and that’s just a sad fact.

  • Roxane

    Apparently “non-denominational” includes every flavor of Christian, but nobody else.

  • Jon Peterson

    That’s one helluva ponytail.

  • Nice of pastor Dean to dress up for the occasion with such a sharp-looking track jacket.

  • After denouncing the “prayer,” the Republican Speaker of the house declared a redo, including with a new invocation from the chaplain and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance (complete with “under god”).

    As of today, they have expunged the fact that Bradlee Dean appeared from the record so they can pretend it never happened.

  • pjb863

    If a same-sex marriage ban is going to come to a popular vote, Minnesota is a good place for it to happen. There is a good likelihood for it to fail, especially in a high-turnout presidential election year. It’s only going to take one or two times for these referenda to fail before the religious right abandons the tactic altogether. They apparently didn’t get the memo that the momentum on this subject has shifted against them.

  • grazatt

    Unrelated question: What has happened to

  • Every time I hear “Obama is not a Christian,” the first thing I think is “big deal, so what if he isn’t.” I judge people on their actions and behaviors. I cannot wait until the day when our sex lives and religious (or non) beliefs are left in our personal lives and not accounted for in our public lives. Of course, that would also mean that our politicians would quit dragging their superstitions into our laws and public policy, which also would be grand.

  • Stardrake

    Jayne Cravens: Sadly, my home state has gone way downhill since the Reagan years. Remember, this is the state that gave the country Michele Bachmann! She’s the worst thing Minnesota’s done for the country since Rep. Andrew Volstead (R-MN, 1903-1923), the man who pushed through Prohibition.

    (They have somewhat in common….)

  • Alan Rustwater

    “As if civil rights should be subject to the whims of the people.”

    Of course it should. The US is supposed to be a democracy, and neither it nor its constituent states can be considered a democracy if precedent is allowed superiority over the democratic will of the people.

    If the people of Minnesota vote to ban gay marriage, they they are acting immorally as far as I’m concerned. But in a democracy they have the right to do so.

    If you take the stance that pre-existing law (in this case, civil rights legislation) cannot be altered by the democratic will of the people, then you have to be consistent and defend every out-of-date relic that’s also left in the statue book- including DOMA.

    Law, in a democracy, can be changed by the will of the people. If the will of the majority of people is on the immoral side, then it is the duty of the moral person to educate and attempt to enlighten that majority. In the meantime, you must abide by the decision of the majority.

    The moment you start questioning the validity of a decision made by a democratic vote, then you’re on the same level as the Tea Party and the other nutjobs who want to impeach (or worse) Obama simply because they disagree with him.

  • Kevin S.

    “The US is supposed to be a democracy,”

    Incorrect. The US is a constitutional republic. The “will of the people” can edit the constitution, but it requires more than a simple majority – the specific means for passing an amendment are laid out. If you were right, we’d still have separate water fountains for black people and white people in the South.

  • @Kevin S.,
    Thanks for sharing. That made my day.

    “Hear that out there?” he said of the cheers that arose when he and other opponents spoke. “That’s the America I fought for and I’m proud of that.”

    That makes me want to cry tears of joy.

    Yes, definitely.

    @Alan Rustwater,
    What about court cases that stopped the ban on interracial marriage and stopped segregation in schools?

  • Alan Rustwater

    The issue boils down to the messed up confusion between state and federal law, quite frankly.

    If you had a sensible system- a nationwide democracy, with no such thing as “state’s rights”, then it’s simple; the will of the people, expressed through national ballots either directly or by employing representative democracy, would apply nationally and without exception.

    Problem is that you don’t. With the idea of state’s rights comes the idea of states making their own laws, and as long as that exists then the people of those states have the right to vote for and enact laws that are as morally abhorrent as you can imagine.

    The court cases mentioned essentially imposed the will of the *American* people, through the Supreme Court, onto the people of certain states. That was, undoubtedly, the moral thing, but the right of those states to make those laws before they were struck down is what makes America democratic.

    Do not get me wrong; my criticism is directed at a completely looney federal system. The problem simply wouldn’t exist if you had a nationwide democracy instead.

    I will try to elaborate this a little more clearly when it’s not five in the morning.

  • Kevin S.

    Yeah… I think you’ve got the federal system a little wrong. “State’s rights” only apply to those rights not granted to the federal government by the constitution – there’s a lot of arguments over how broad or narrow the federal jurisdiction is, but a state can’t just have a popular vote to re-define what qualifies as illegal search and seizure. When you talk about the courts striking down those rulings, they weren’t imposing the will of the American people upon those states. They were imposing, or rather enforcing, the supremacy of the constitution on those states. The Supreme Court needs constitutional justification to overrule a state law, otherwise the Tenth Amendment protects it. When the civil rights rulings came down, the justification was often, for example, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Nothing, other than a constitutional amendment repealing that clause, gives any state the right to ignore it.

  • Hypocrytes

    it sounds like everyone here is more “Anti-Christian” than atheist

  • Larry Meredith


    That makes me want to cry tears of joy.

    I actually did cry a bit after reading it. Had to take my glasses off and hold my face for a second. That’s some powerful shit.

  • man, they have TWO opening prayers? WTH.. i couldn’t sit thru that…

  • Steve

    Democracy doesn’t mean that the government can just make whatever laws it wants. Or for the people to vote on whatever it wants. That’s closer to anarchy. When America was founded, there was a blank slate to do what they wanted. But they were afraid of unchecked powers and very well aware that minority rights would be vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority. That’s why there is a co-equal judicial branch to protect them.

    And a Bill of Rights. Generally, the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses prevent just voting away minority rights, and courts increasingly apply both to gay rights. You can’t just do that away with “state rights” because the federal constitution also applies at the state level and a court can easily decide that a state constitution violates the US one. Unfortunately, such votes constantly happen in both legislatures and referendums. But that doesn’t make them right. It just takes a lot of work and time to undo them in courts.

    Also this:
    “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitud­es of political controvers­y, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamenta­l rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections. ”
    — Robert H. Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette”

    That case ruled that children can’t be forced to salute the flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

  • As if civil rights should be subject to the whims of the people.

    Ah, Hermant, all rights are subject to the whim of the people, regardless of anything else. Anything that must be codified in law is a whim of the people, even the “people” is a despot of one stripe or another. If they weren’t, all rights everywhere on the planet would be identical.

    You think if the Republicans decided to enact a law enabling recognition of same-sex marriage themselves rather than passing it off to the voters that isn’t the whim of the people? You think there are truly any inalienable rights that aren’t subject to the whim of the people?

  • Kevin S.

    Except, again, the process to overturn constutional protections requires far more than an up-and-down vote based on the whim of the people. The constitution exist in part to guarantee the tyranny of the masses doesn’t rule the land.

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