ROCKERS WITH MESSAGE DEFEAT CITY’S BLACKBALL ATTEMPT
By: Bob Unruh – WND – July 11, 2012
A rock band with a powerful message to teens about making the right choices in their lives has overcome an Iowa town’s blackball attempt, and now is announcing a return to Dunkerton later this month.
The controversy erupted earlier this year when Junkyard Prophet, whose leader, Bradlee Dean, has the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide ministry, appeared at the local school.
WND reported at the time the resulting furor included a warning from the fire chief that he would close the town’s roads down in order to keep the band from returning.
Dean told WND the controversy erupted when media started reporting on the band’s visit. He contends that he and his band performed, presented their message of making good choices, visited with students and then left, without hearing any concerns.
He said complaints, like that from a mother who said, “They told these kids that anyone who was gay was going to die at the age of 42,” were based on distortions.
In fact, Jake MacAulay, a spokesman for the band, had said that the average age of death of a homosexual male is 42 years.
Now, according to a statement from the ministry, Dean will return to Dunkerton for a speaking event at the city’s library during the Dunkerton Days fest on July 28.
The event will begin at 2 p.m. and space is limited.
The discussion was scheduled after the city tried to ban members of the ministry team from returning.
“After inquiry by a national First Amendment/religious freedom organization, cooler heads prevailed, and the city agreed not to censor Bradlee Dean,” the group has announced. “The past distortion will be dealt with at a speaking event to take place during the Dunkerton Days celebration at the Dunkerton City Library on July 28th, 2012.”
“Agree with Bradlee or not, it matters to everyone when all government-sponsored speaking venues in an entire town, including the school district, refuse to rent meeting space to a group because of its beliefs and message,” said a statement from the ministry.
The city reversed its position when officials with Liberty Counsel wrote the city, pointing out that the law did not allow officials to censor someone based on their opinions or perspective.
“Religious speech is not a First Amendment orphan – it is just as protected as any other speech,” said Richard Mast, an attorney with Liberty Council, in a statement. “When a government entity creates a forum ostensibly available to all, it can’t suddenly retract the welcome mat because it disagrees with the speaker’s message.”
He said what Dunkerton had done was “a clear-cut case of viewpoint discrimination.”
When Dean decided to book the library for a followup community event to clear up misunderstandings about the school event, which touched both on homosexuality and abortion, he found that the city initially agreed to rent to the library space available to the public.
But when a representative of Dean’s ministry drove to the library to sign the use agreement, the city officials said they had changed their minds and the offer of the library was withdrawn.
That’s when Liberty Counsel got involved and suggested the city make the facility available on a basis that did not include viewpoint discrimination.
The messages presented to the Dunkerton students included that from the following video about homosexuality: