Spiritual war: Controversial ideas stoke ministry fundraiser

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A local Minnesota youth ministry believes that the pope is the devil, that attention deficit disorder, depression and alcoholism are myths, and that their organization is involved in a spiritual war for the soul of America.

Support for those positions drew many Republican luminaries to the Minneapolis Hyatt on Saturday to honor You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. Former Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and Julie Quist, vice president of the conservative group EdWatch and the wife of former GOP gubernatorial candidate Allen Quist, all spoke at the group’s third annual fundraising dinner, and all strongly supported the ministry, which uses bait-and-switch tactics to preach its offbeat brand of conservative Christianity in public schools.

Kiffmeyer, who served as a master of ceremonies for the event, praised the work of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide and the group’s leader, Bradlee Dean.

“They’re not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, and their country, to preach it, and using that exercise of their freedom,” she said. “When you’ve got folks like this going right into that educational system, don’t let them stand alone.”

Moore, who was removed from his position after placing a granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building and then defying a federal court order to remove it, said the stakes were clear.

“We need to learn our history and our heritage. We need to take a stand like Brad [Dean] did in taking God back into our public schools,” he said.

“We’re in a war today,” Moore added, “and I don’t care if you’re white or black, whether you’re young or old, whether you’re male or female, every one of you children here remember this: We are fighting a spiritual war in America today. A war in which they’re trying to take away our basic right to acknowledge the God who created us, and we have to take a stand.”

Former Shorewood Mayor Tom Dahlberg also praised the group, saying, “The people of this ministry have the distinction of being kicked out of several high schools, and even one whole town, escorted by the cops. And let me tell you that when I heard that story, I knew I had to get involved.”

The group has been assailed in a number of states, including Arkansas, Iowa and Wisconsin, for signing on as an anti-drug motivational group and then preaching its conservative Christian message in front of mandatory school assemblies.

Although Moore was the headliner, the evening’s focal point was Dean, who gave a half-hour defense of his ministry. His speech compared the teaching of evolution to the ideology of Hitler, claimed that drugs to treat depression and ADD were “more potent than cocaine” and called the pope “a devil disguised as a minister of righteousness.”

Officials in multiple school districts have criticized the organization for hiding its religious affiliation until actually in the school. But Dean made no apologies for going into public schools or for crossing a line between church and state that he refuses to acknowledge.

“You don’t need to be locked down by saying what you’re supposed to say, and you can say this but you can’t say that,” Dean said. “That’s Communism, that’s not America.”

Over the next few days, Minnesota Monitor will be taking a look at You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, including in-depth coverage of this event, the lessons the group aims to impart and its history of using bait-and-switch tactics to gain access to taxpayer funds to support its ministry.