Bradlee Dean, a name you might find familiar, is the head of a Christian heavy metal band called the Junkyard Prophets. The Minnesota-based band travels around the country spreading its message and running the “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide” campaign.
“You Can Run But You Cannot Hide” is part of a Christian youth ministry that hosts assemblies in public schools, and last week one of those schools was Dunkerton High School in Iowa.
At Dunkerton High, the students and faculty had expected the band to discuss practices for good decision-making, drugs and bullying. Instead the band taught many “interesting” facts, which certainly I had never heard before, and judging from the immediate reactions, neither had the students or faculty of the school.
Some of these facts included the average life span of a homosexual man, which, if you’re curious, is 42 years old — at least according to the band’s spokesperson, Jake MacAulay, who presented at the assembly. Another interesting “fact” Mr. MacAulay presented: Planned Parenthood is the largest player in America’s industry of abortions.
The facts Mr. MacAulay presented rival statements made by Dean that homosexual men molest an average of 117 children before they get caught, Barack Obama is a Muslim set on the destruction of America and insinuations that homosexuality should be a crime punishable by death.
I watched a recording of the assembly online, and if you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to take 15 minutes to watch it. I did some fact checking after my 15 minutes, as I would encourage you to do as well, and I found nothing to indicate any truth behind the claims made by Mr. MacAulay.
What I found was the long and complicated reputation of Dean. Mostly it can be boiled down to a "controversial anti-gay preacher." For example, I found that last year he made headlines when he was invited to give a prayer at a House Republicans meeting in Minnesota. The prayer Dean gave was reportedly so “offensive to many legislators that House leadership brought in the chaplain to redo the prayer."
Judging from information I found, Dean isn’t exactly coy about his position as the head of the "You Can Run But You Cannot Hide" Ministry, which if you do a little digging, you’ll find it categorized as a hate group by multiple sources.
I found most all this information with relative ease and through a multitude of channels. Blogs, Web pages, media outlets — there is a proliferation of information online. That is why I’m surprised that the staff of Dunkerton High School was clueless concerning the message of the Junkyard Prophets.
If a college columnist could find the information through 30 minutes of surfing, then couldn’t the high school’s administration?
They failed to do their homework, and as a result the school is now scrambling to recover the money paid to the band. Due to complaints from parents and critics, they are also providing counseling to the students who attended the assembly.
I think the high school is making a legitimate effort to amend its error, and I’m glad to see the efforts. What concerns me most isn’t the failure of the school to check the background of the band, but Dean’s response to the event.
What unsettles me isn’t the initial assembly; even as false and malicious as I believe the message was, Dean’s reacting to criticisms concerning the event was worse. Dean’s response was that the controversy was created by the media; he contends that the band performed, provided its message and then left. There was no controversy in his opinion.
For Dean, the controversy began with a liberal media, with its agenda on the left, worked to attack the band, its message and its reputation. There was nothing wrong with the message and nothing offensive to students; there is, however, something wrong with the media coverage of the issue.
I’ve already said that I believe the message was offensive, and I believe the high school’s response, as well as reports from students, proves that it’s a real issue, not a media fabrication. However, unlike Dean, I admit that the possibility that I may be wrong.
Spend 15 minutes watching the assembly and make up your own mind. I’ll be excited to return from Spring Break and read all the letters in response.