Update: On Oct. 24, the Rev. Brad Brandon issued an apology for using Nazism in illustrating his point. The apology can be read at the bottom of this article.
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As heated as the Marriage amendment debate has been, some say it recently crossed a line.
At a recent rally in support of the amendment, Minnesota For Marriage’s Director of Church Outreach, the Rev. Brad Brandon said, “How many of you are familiar with what happened in World War II under Adolph Hitler?”
In fact, at rallies in Woodbury, Bemidji and Brainerd, Brandon compared Hitler’s actions against Jews to what he says is happening to Christians now.
“What I’m simply saying is that Adolph Hitler took away two fundamental rights from a group of people in order to suppress them. Those two fundamental rights are the same rights that are being taken away from the Christian community,” said Brandon.
While he said no one side of the marriage debate represents Hitler, he didn’t stop the comparisons to those against the amendment. In Brainerd, he had a heated exchange with a Jewish audience member whose family was nearly wiped out in the Holocaust.
“He murdered them. There was no suppression. He murdered them,” said the audience member.
“Correct. He did murder them, but in order to murder them he had to suppress their rights,” Brandon replied.
Faith Director for Minnesotan’s United For All Families, Reverend Grant Stevens, said Brandon’s words are deplorable.
“To compare one campaign or another campaign or something that they’re doing to Hitler and to the Nazis,” said Stevens. “What a terrible idea.”
A spokeswoman for Minnesota For Marriage said the group doesn’t support Brandon’s statements, but acknowledges key staff members were present when he first made them at the event in Woodbury.
“We’ve since, very seriously, discussed this with Pastor Brandon, and explained the point that, yes, religious liberties are affected is absolutely valid, but drawing an analogy to Hitler and Nazi Germany isn’t the right way to go,” said spokeswoman Autumn Leva.
Minnesota For Marriage said Brandon publicly apologized for his statements. On Wednesday, Minnesota For Marriage posted the following apology from Brandon on its website:
My recent public comments that religious liberty is frequently the first casualty of those who seek to impose a political agenda are being taken out of context and used by opponents of marriage to make me, and our campaign to preserve marriage, seem to be extreme.
I never stated or meant to imply that those who oppose Amendment 1, the marriage protection amendment, are somehow equivalent to the Nazis who targeted communities of faith to suppress their voice, often through murder. In fact, I specifically made clear that nobody on either side of this debate was acting like Nazis.
Still, it was a terrible mistake to even mention Nazism in an attempt to illustrate my point, and I fully understand why many found it to be offensive. I sincerely apologize for making this very inapt reference. In no way was I attempting to equate the marriage debate with Nazism and I profoundly apologize to anyone who felt that was my objective.