Minn. Lawmaker Apologizes For Pastor Invite

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — House Speaker Kurt Zellers apologized in a rare floor speech Friday after the House session opened with a prayer by a central Minnesota pastor who took a veiled swipe at President Barack Obama and has previously made derogatory remarks about gay people.

The prayer came on a day when the House was scheduled to possibly debate a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

“Earlier today there was a prayer given by a man I personally denounce,” said Zellers, a Maple Grove Republican. He was speaking from the House floor, which speakers rarely do.

“Members, I can only ask for your forgiveness,” Zellers said. He said he failed in his responsibility to ensure “the decorum and the dignity of this body.”

The pastor, Bradlee Dean, leads an Annandale evangelical ministry known as “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International.” In an interview last year, he called homosexuals predators and molesters. In his prayer Friday, Dean made numerous direct references to Jesus Christ and Christianity, in violation of House custom on prayers.

Prior to Dean’s prayer, the House had been expected to debate and vote Friday on an amendment that would put the question of whether to ban gay marriage in the state Constitution to a statewide vote in 2012. The House vote is the amendment’s last stop before the ballot, and the possibility of a House vote had in recent days drawn loud protests outside the House chamber on both sides of the debate.

The House must adjourn its regular session by midnight Monday, and social conservative groups have been lobbying the Republican majority to act on the amendment before then.

A spokeswoman for Zellers said after the prayer flap that she didn’t know whether the gay marriage vote would still happen Friday.

Any of the 134 House members are able to invite religious leaders to deliver opening prayers. Zellers spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said that Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, invited Dean and that Zellers and House staff did not vet the choice.

Boyne also distributed a copy of a letter to Dean from the House Chief Clerk’s office asking that opening prayers be “interfaith and ecumenical” and that they should not be “advocating a political position on issues or ideologies.”

Dean’s prayer openly flouted that request. “I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this chamber,” Dean said in his prayer. He then recited a litany of Christian denominations, and said he was not advocating any of those faiths “but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus. As every president up until 2008 has acknowledged.”

After the prayer, Zellers instructed the regular House chaplain to pray again. Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, rose to bemoan the contents of the first prayer. “Some of you who are standing near me can see I’m shaking right now because I’m mad,” Morrow said.

Dean did not immediately return a call seeking comment left at his ministry’s office. Leidiger did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

It’s the second time in the current legislative session that the content of an opening prayer has been contentious. In March, several Senate Democrats objected after a St. Cloud-area evangelical minister delivered a prayer with numerous direct references to Jesus.

Watch the YouTube video here.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Ridiculous Fanatics

    He probably thought he could get away with anything in his prayer since he’ll be raptured tomorrow.

    • Michael Clark

      LOLOL I’ll believe the Rapture when I feel it

  • Dave

    Where is the seperation of state and church???
    First its discrimination against one class, why not try to establish
    slavery again? Seems like it’s the path your on.
    Time to clean HOUSE and start over next election.

  • smb

    These are exactly the type of people Republicans support with their push for the amendment.

    Even as Republicans claim it has nothing to do with religion, Dean and people like him see it as validation of their hateful message.

  • Dave Campbell

    What ever happened to separation of church and state? Have these people never heard of the US Constitution? In this day when they are representing people of so many different cultures, perhaps they should ban prayer from the legislature.

    • Ryan

      The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the US Constitution. The First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….”, while Article VI specifies that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It is saying that the government can not make a law forcing someone to follow a specific religion. It is not saying that religion can not be part of government. People need to read the Constitution before they attempt to quote it to promote their own agendas. This country was founded as one nation under God, stop trying to take God out of this country.

      • melvin

        “One nation under god” did not show up in the pledge of allegiance until the 1950s. Likewise for “in god we trust.”

        • sherryl

          The preamble to the Minnesota State Constitution states: We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty and desiring to perpetuate its blessings and secure the same to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution. This was adopted October 13, 1857. Our founding fathers knew that we owe our liberties to God and they desired His blessings. It is about time those who try to remove God from everything acknowledge that our forefathers got it right – and we the people, if we truly want to live in the blessings of the Lord rather than under His judgement should do all we can to assure the laws and constitution of this state are in alignment with what God will bless.

          • Andy

            “GOD” may not be the problem. The definition of or therefore interpretation of or therefore the MY GOD rammed right down the throats of those who may have a different thought of what a higher power may be is the problem. The republicans knew exactly what they were doing right down to the apology pre-rehearsed. It’s all about their christian fundamentalist views and the fact that they want to legislate how the rest of us live our lives as they stand up and call for smaller government. Keep your laws off my money but please shame us for how we live our lives. Hypocrites hiding behind a mightier than thou agenda. The founding fathers intended to have no religion be apart of law. That’s what the revolutionary war was all about, the escape from such righteous rule provided by the Empire of Great Britain.

          • Libbyinyoface

            And for goodness sakes we’d better hurry because we have less than 8 hours before the end of the world!

          • Amanda

            Yes we need the blessing and protection of GOD… that does not mean we need the BIBLE to make laws…

          • Nigel

            Then the founding fathers of the state strayed from the framers of the constitution of the United States.
            Two. How do you know which god they were referring to? It could have been Sagarmātha or maybe Unktahee?
            If you truly want the blessing, shut up. You talk the talk but not walking the walk makes your comment BS.

      • unbelievable

        You have no idea what you’re talking about. So you’re tell ing us that the amendments aren’t a part of the constitution, is that right?

        • Jim

          The Constitution doesn’t specifically say that people can’t pray in a government building, I guess is what Ryan’s point is. But that doesn’t make it right to do so.

          • John

            Then it doesn’t make it wrong either. No members are required to be present during the prayer.

            • Stephanie Levasseur-Duszynski

              Do you understand the kind of backlash that would occur for anyone who stood up and left during the prayer?

              • john

                Yes, very little. It happens quite often. Representatives know when the prayer takes place, and many of them aren’t in chambers when it takes place.

                • Jim

                  It’s wrong because I don’t believe in the supernatural and should not be beholden to the beliefs of others. There’s a public place for religion and that place is church.

          • tomwal

            or to flout the laws that have been passed since the Constitution was written.

      • Mike


        If Muslims were allowed to behave in the legislature as the godless Christian pastor was today on the house floor, you would be frothing at the mouth. Republican Representatives, Zellers and Limmer are pushing a hate filled Christian agenda and attempting to ratify the Constitution based on those principals. It clearly is unconstitutional and their legislation will be thrown out when it is finally argued before the supreme court. You can not discriminate and deny rights to individuals on behalf of religion when the state is in the business of sanctifying marriage.

        PS. God is a figment of your imagination.

        • John

          Wow, did you not see that Zellers denounced the hate-filled prayer?…

          • Mike


            Would you accept an apology if I allowed my dog to bite you in the testicles?
            He allowed this to take place on the House floor, when he should be busy legislating on behalf of ALL HIS CONSTITUENTS! This is a problem he created by letting it take place the grounds of the state capital, not some divisive Sunday school session.

            • John

              Did you just compare words from a nut-job to actual physical harm? Seriously? Sticks and stones, man, sticks and stones…

              Zellers immediately requested another prayer from the chaplian after the guy referenced Jesus more than once.

              Do you understand the number of DFL leaders that have led state and federal houses with prayers? This isn’t some conspiracy. A mistake was made, Zellers made amends, move on.

              • Mike


                Are you seriously saying that words don’t have consequences?
                Prayer should be left at church and not taking place in public office unless religious fascism is now an acceptable standard. Christianity is not the state religion, at least not until Republicans control all levels of government.

          • JR

            Totally insincere apology, you mean. It was all a masquerade — feed the hate of the right wing nutjobs and then “apologize” for having allowed it. Nothing new here. Same old political bs — running for re-election while our state budget continues to tank.

          • Frank

            @ John. If insincere behavior is repeated over and over again, at what point is an apology worth anything?

      • James

        Ryan, Is that the Muslim, Hindu, Buddish, Cathlic, Mormon, or Pagan God? Please clarify. I bet you think it’s your God.

      • Roy

        Well then stop using God as an excuse for your bigotry.

      • tomwal

        Is that a request or a demand? You act like anyone else’s ideal of God must coincide with yours. This reverend broke the rules, the request to follow certain guidelines, and made political and religious statements, Are we to allow any radicals free rein in our political foundations?
        How can you defend this?

  • gardengurl

    Absolutely appalling. Shame on the legislator who invited this hateful “minister” to speak in the first place.

    • Andre

      The person in the video who claimed that Dean said he wants to “kill the gays” was lied to, and now anyone who listened to her is believing that lie too. Bradlee Dean is famously misquoted; this misquote comes from a statement he made on a radio show where he was talking about radical muslims that want to execute gay people.

      So don’t get too excited, he may oppose redefining marriage from what it always has been defined as, but he is not a person who wants to kill gay people. He is trying to do what is best for you in the way that he knows how, and that is love you as he sees God wants to love you and that is to free you from evil so that you can be happy forever in heaven with the God who loves you so very much.

      • Mark

        i love it when people say they know what’s good for me better than I do because they claim they are closer to their god. Guess what, I don’t like your god and this is a free country. Also, if there were any real religious freedom in this country I would be free to practice my beliefs, not what you believe is good for me. What if my god is cool with being gay, or what if I don’t think there is a god. Why does your god still get to order me around? This isn’t a Christian nation, even if it is a nation with lots of Christians. That’s the whole idea of being free.

        • kc

          right on, mark!

        • Stephanie Levasseur-Duszynski

          Here, here!

        • Andre

          I’m just trying to explain to you the truth about Bradlee Dean. The point is that he is trying to love gay people the best way he knows how. He doesn’t want to kill gays, he wants what he believes is best for them. Do you in turn want what you believe is best for him and his family?

      • James

        Bradlee want us to be illegal, and thrown in jail. However, he also attaches many negative mythical stereotypes to bring out the fear in people. He has free speech, and that’s his right. But his version of love is ranting and hateful and smugly self righteous. He is a stumbling block for those who might believe.

      • Alan

        Even if the comment was a misquote it would take less than 5 minutes to find out what Bradlee Dean is about.The Republicans should not have him anywhere but a private function.

  • So what, let them

    Praying is one thing, getting an ear is yet another.

  • Pavel

    Cache – You are sick!

    almost forgot to say…..”and stupid”.

    • Cache

      @ pavel & Jim .—Morons!

      • Jim

        Cache, I consider a bigot like you calling me a moron a badge of honor. Honestly, thank you.

        • Cache

          With your mental reasoning capacity I can understand why. Your name calling every one a bigot is empty headed logic. Gays are mental cases so if i or others have a problem with mental cases such as you and your ilk..it is not bigoted. it is classification. You and yours want to feel good about and condone aberrant behavior…well you can but down’t try to force others to comply with bullying tactics. You fools are vacant and lost in hooey!

          • Jim

            Cache, I’m not calling everyone a bigot, just you. Because you are, in fact, a bigot. Your brand of hatred is on the way out in this country. I’m sure it seems like a big, scary world out there for you, but don’t worry. Allowing gays to get married won’t harm you in any way.

            • Cache

              I rest my case.

              Judgement ….further degradation of society by idiots!

              • Jim

                “Judgement ….further degradation of society by idiots!”

                Rapture tomorrow? LOL. If giving all people the same rights under the law is “degredation,” then I’m all for it. And again, thanks for the compliment.

  • irv

    To Cache,
    Really!?!? You really think that because someone is gay makes them a predator. Why don’t you go back and find out how many times we have seen a gay pedophile/stalker/predator arrested and sentenced in MN. I’m straight but can at least recall history. They aren’t the predators, they just have a different prefference than you or I.

    • yes really

      A predator is the one that caused the person to chose to be gay to begin with! People are taken advantage of when they have certain characteristics like men being shorter or smaller, and some “predator” comes along and tells him that something is normal that is NOT normal (according to God and the truth.

  • Stephanie Levasseur-Duszynski

    Let’s stop praying in the House chamber altogether! SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!

  • Stephanie Levasseur-Duszynski

    And this is why such bigotry made it into the state’s legislature in the first place.

  • Donkey Hotey

    While the ministers comments are despicable, his stance is apparently well known. Which means that the Representative who invited him needs to be made known so that people have a chance to unelect a Representative with such poor taste and common sense. IDENTIFY THE INVITOR!!!

  • Libbyinyoface

    This is obviously a trend toward rightwing extremism in the state legislatures across this once-great nation. It is the beginning of the demise of democracy as we know it. That is,,,,,IF the American people for once refuse to be duped and bamboozled by the lies from FOX.

  • Mike

    Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers needs to do more than apologize. Who allowed this minister of hate to spread his vile message on the House floor? That person should receive condemnation from the entire chamber and sanctioned. How about passing a constitutional amendment against this type of advocacy?

  • Libbyinyoface

    Excuse me, but….with all the anti-women’s-health, anti-worker, anti-public education measures…um, WHERE ARE THE JOBS, PEOPLE?????!!!! Weren’t these folks elected to work on getting more JOBS in Minnesota??

  • Guy Staymartk

    The article states that the bigoted “pastor” made “controversial” statements about gay people being pedophiles and predators. The statements are FALSE, they are not “controversial”. No educated person who relies on facts and statistics would consider the “pastor’s” statements true.

    • Jim

      Republicans are providing lots of opportunities to anti-gay bigots, that’s for sure.

    • Nigel

      Then there are a lot of uneducated people out there

  • Jim

    I usually don’t post remarks like this, but Cache and that pastor are both bigots.

  • Nancy

    Why is Speaker Zeller upset now? appologizing now? because someone poo pooed on HIS floor?
    welcome to my world Speaker. Tryi hearing it all the time….fun hu?

  • Crystal Charley

    Isn’t it amazing how many Christians spout so much hate, particularly from ignorance?

    The Republicans pushed through “In God We Trust” and “One Nation Under God” during the withch hunt for Communists during the 50s. That was a time when many innocent people’s lives were ruined, some committed suicide, and President Ike did not condemn it. That was also when Reagan went from liberal to conservative and testified how the Reds were infesting Hollywood.

  • katydid

    Who the hell votes for a bozo like this guy? Wake up people!!!!!

  • katydid


  • Victim Du Jour

    1st Amendment says religious freedom and expression.

    Separation of church and State doesn’t even exist in the constitution.

    The 1st amendment says the government isn’t allowed to pass laws respecting a religion, like forcing people to pay a church taxes, arrest people for not attending church or saying bad things about religion.

    Socialism is religion too, so church people can say things to bother socialists on purpose.

    • Mike


      You’re partially correct, but your overlooking the fact that the Republican house majority house is deliberately passing laws respecting religion. When the state sanctifies marriage, or establishing law based on religious ceremony and tradition, then outlawing the rights of all other citizens regardless of their right of individual religious freedom and expression, is a direct assault on their constitution rights.


    If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry a gay.

  • James

    I accept Zeller’s apology. No hate here. I will also accept his apology for hurting me during the election cycle when he realizes what he is doing, or has done. I will not hate back.

  • Dave Campbell

    This is just one more reason that this amendment should not make it out of the legislature. The GOP is creating an atmosphere of hate and bigotry in our state and should be ashamed of themselves!

  • Dee

    Read your constutution. Seperation of church and state is to keep the state out of the church.

    • Amanda

      Sure it is… educate your self a little bit more…

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