Bradlee Dean, a pastor based in Minnesota, has frequently drawn the ire of critics. As The Blaze reported earlier this month, Dean and his band Junkyard Prophet came under fire for a speech and performance that was delivered at Dunkerton High School in Dunkerton, Iowa.
Now, Dean is coming forward to defend himself against allegations that he is "anti-gay" and that his ministry, You Can Run International, is inappropriate for public school settings.
In an e-mail interview, The Blaze gave Dean the opportunity to respond to these allegations, among others. When asked to provide more information on You Can Run International's purpose, he presented the group's mission statement:
"To reshape America by re-directing the current and future generations both morally and spiritually through education, media, and the Judeo-Christian values found in our U.S. Constitution."
Here's the Christian ministry's promotional video, which further expounds upon these values:
As for his band, Junkyard Prophet (which is one of his outreach mechanisms) Dean described it as "the tool to reach this generation that speaks their language, bringing MTV to their front door with a moral standard."
When asked how he would respond to critics who claim that he and his group are "anti-gay" and "anti-abortion," Dean responded by saying that the band is "pro-family and pro-life." Often times, when discussing both issues, it is semantics that those on opposing sides find themselves debating.
"We are not about attacking a particular people, we are about protecting a particular group of people that are under attack, namely America’s students in public schools," Dean wrote. "This has always been our mission since our inception in 1998."
Below, see a video that explores another incident (video was uploaded last year) during which Dean faced controversy while presenting at a different school. In it, the rocker and preacher defends himself and his message:
When it comes to the negative reactions purportedly illustrated by some students and faculty at Dunkerton, Dean's explanation is somewhat different from what some critics have alleged (although it is entirely possible -- even likely -- that Junkyard Prophet was not made aware of the uncomfortableness some claim they were experiencing).
"There was no negative reaction we were aware of with the students whatsoever," he claims. "We were made aware of one teacher who had an issue with the abortion picture who didn’t feel it appropriate to show the aftermath of something she advocated."
Here is the abortion portion of the address, which covers infanticide, Planned Parenthood and offers some other graphic themes and pictures. Watch for yourself (caution: graphic images):
Additionally, the faith leader made it a point to highlight that this wasn't the group's first time at Dunkerton. In fact, he provided documentation from 2003 that shows the school's principal at the time, Jim Moeller, providing a glowing recommendation following a performance:
Dean maintains that it wasn't until the media "got involved" that some of the more negative statements about the most recent performance "seemed to ensue." In the faith leader's view, the group's presentation was relatively benign.
"We do a piece in the assembly reflecting the beliefs and reporting of the contemporary media on both [abortion and homosexuality]," he said. "We reference what it was like in our country before 1962...and the values Americans had regarding the two topics. We are there to serve the communities values and not to change them."
At the end of March, Dean and his group went back to Dunkerton and spoke at a local church in an effort to respond to criticisms waged against them. Watch a news report with more about this follow-up event, below:
At the community forum, residents and students did, indeed, speak out on behalf and in support of Dean and the band:
Dean believes that schools should be "educating, not indoctrinating" and he says that this is exactly what he and You Can Run International are trying to instill.
"[The media] made it out to be what it was not. How many of these people that were covering the event were there? Not one. They seem to strain at the gnat and swallow the camel," Dean said. "They intentionally overlook the thousands of responses in favor of our message and instead they focus on the few who speak against our message."
Read our original coverage of this controversy here. What do you think? Was the coverage overblown or were critics right to be taken aback? Let us know in the comments section, below.