Bradlee Dean’s Anti-Gay Metal Band Rocks Iowa School to Everyone’s Horror and Dismay

Bradlee Dean doesn’t seem to be at all interested in playing down his status as a “controversial anti-gay preacher.” He made headlines last year when House Republicans in Minnesota, Michelle Bachmann’s home state and the site of a gay marriage ban battle, invited him to give the morning prayer at their session. Even aside from Dean’s past history of problematic comments, like advocating jail sentences for gays and claiming that “gay men molest an average of 117 children before they get caught,” reports at the time said that “the prayer was so offensive to many legislators that House leadership brought in the chaplain to redo the prayer.” Head of the pointedly named “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide” Ministry, which is categorized as a hate group, Dean has implied that Barack Obama isn’t a Christian, and has also argued that Muslim nations that have a death penalty for out gays are more moral than the American Christian community.

None of this is difficult information to come by, which is why it’s surprising that the administration of Iowa’s Dunkerton High School seemed to have no idea what they were getting into when they invited Dean’s Christian heavy metal band, the Junkyard Prophets, to perform at their school.

In the aftermath of the apparently horrific “performance,” the school is now scrambling to not only recover the money paid to the Junkyard Prophets but provide counseling to the students who attended it. Portions of the performance/lecture/”assembly message” have been brought forward by Jeremy Hooper of Good As You. It seems to mostly contain wildly irresponsible and unfounded “facts” about homosexuality, such as claiming that the average life span of a gay man is 42. There was also reportedly some very upsetting rhetoric around premarital sex, the correct role for a wife in a marriage, and images of aborted fetuses displayed for the audience.

A number of attendees were reported to have walked out of the program, and were jeered and mocked. A number of others left crying. A petition from students is now circulating asking that this group and ones like it be banned from the school; another petition is allegedly circulating “asking the school’s gay community to stop complaining.” It is apparent that Dean and his group have performed at Dunkerton before, but “the message was mellower then.”

Dunkerton’s administration is now looking to “move forward,” and is developing an “action plan” to that end: “…a committee of students, teachers, administration staff and parents that will screen all performers before they are welcomed to the school. The school is offering counseling for students. And the district is trying to recover the money it paid the band.” Dean and the spokesman for his ministry, Jake MacAulay, are scheduled to react to the controversy on Monday night in a “community conversation.” MacAulay told Talking Points Memo that the negative reaction has been a “shocking surprise,” which is itself a shocking surprise.

The school appears to be deeply apologetic that this event was allowed to proceed, as they should be. It’s hard to know what to take away from this story other than that some people are deeply hateful and yet bizarrely positioned with some level of sociocultural agency, and that part of a school’s (or anyone involved in caring for children’s) job is to protect kids from those people. Maybe this can serve as a lesson to people who don’t understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to safe environments in schools and the gay suicide crisis: one way to tell there’s a problem is when you can’t even invite a mediocre band to perform at your high school assembly without first having to Google its band members to make sure that none of them have ever stood in front a state legislative body and suggest that gays be incarcerated or murdered.

And it’s not just about gay students, either — it’s about the right of all students to show up to a required school assembly and still leave feeling like an inherently okay person who is safe and worthwhile, without being told that “they would have mud on their wedding dresses if they weren’t virgins.” Because what those who want the “school’s gay community to stop complaining” should remember is that unhinged, hateful rhetoric is harmful and indefensible to expose all kids to, regardless of sexual orientation. The bottom line — and what Dunkerton hopefully has a newfound understanding of — is that we owe all children better than that.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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24 Comments

  1. This is crazy. How does a school invite any sort of guests without screening them first? They should know exactly what the students will be exposed to beforehand. So infuriating. Plus, I can’t even IMAGINE how some of these students felt. I can’t imagine myself at 16, when I was extremely confused about my sexuality and scared to confront it, being showed this material and told these things…

    The school is 100% responsible and SHOULD feel terrible.

  2. This whole story disgusts me, but also makes me proud to be come from Scotland, because I know that a group preaching such offensive, and frankly ridiculous opinions would not be allowed within 20 miles of my school.

    I’m going to leave it to wiser/more intelligent people than myself to articulate for me how I feel about this, because I cannot find adequate words myself.

  3. why do these people waste so much energy on this, i don’t understand? it must be terribly close to their skin (for example, they are gay) or else it doesn’t make any sense. oh well, another day in a weird world that never stops from astonishing me. :/

  4. I don’t understand why he was even allowed to speak. But why didn’t someone tell him to stop? It was obviously offensive and inappropriate, why didn’t the prinicipal or a teacher or somebody turn of the microphone and just stop the whole assembly. If someone like him came to my school, I would find the closest teacher and try to stop it from continuing on.

    • The key word here being “you don’t understand.” This is exactly why Bradlee is talking to young people, as I read through these comments as a 50+ adult I am deeply troubled that the young people today have been inculcated in only one side of a particular issue that being the current pop culture politically correct version of truth. 25 years ago the deviant sex activists categorically denied they had any interest in gaining access to schoolchildren fast-forward to today we now know that was a lie as today’s activists admit their goal was to recruit and they gained access chiefly through the vehicle of AIDS awareness and anti-bullying chiefly of sexually confused adolescents.

      I don’t know what kind of moral upbringing you kids have had but there is such a thing as right and wrong and the ultimate source of knowing what that is has been transformed into situation and private sexual ethics, if ethics are not founded an absolute truth they can be used for propaganda purposes. You kids have been immersed in a culture of death (abortion) and have been told that deviant and dangerous sexual practices are just a harmless sexually based alternative lifestyle. If you are a wise person you will listen to both sides of an argument and use your critical thinking skills reason and facts to discern but you kids have been taught to think with your emotions not your intellect. There is a book called “After the Ball” by Marshall Kirk you should read to understand the extent of the psychological and emotional hustle that homosexual activists have run on Americans, the most vulnerable to this psychological manipulation is you young people and they know it.

      Mr. Dean and his message like he said is sincerely given to you out of love he is not trying to trick you and what he has told you is true unlike the propaganda you been spoonfed. Shame on the irresponsible adult who have allowed what previous generations have endeavored to protect children from what was harmful and dangerous to them.

      Kendra, you ask why people like Mr. Dean are allowed to speak? My God girl have you ever heard of Hitler and Nazi Germany? Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of the American system, you kids have no idea the level that you have been indoctrinated, think for yourselves examine both sides of an argument and take your conclusions from facts, reason and logic never emotion!

      • Logic. Okay. What are your sources?

        Logically speaking:

        >People would not willfully choose to be abandoned by friends and family

        >Homosexuality, the attraction to someone of the same sex, is not a choice. It’s just as you can choose to find someone who looks repulsive to you suddenly attractive.

        >Love is a matter of psychological compatibility, and gender is just a physical facet that should not affect it. It is the same regardless.

        Source: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-brain.html

        >Homosexual acts do not cause anyone harm.

        Conclusion: Nothing wrong with homosexuality, no reason to preach against it. Also, the prospect of homosexuals having a shorter overall life is downright silly. Physically speaking, there’s no real difference. In terms of sexual lifestyle, only 61.2% of men actually perform anal sex (source: wikipedia article on the subject under the “prevalence” header, not linking it as it is somewhat NSFW) while oral and mutual masturbation is more common. The former is done commonly in heterosexual practices anyway (not to mention is linked to several health benefits, this is easily google’d), and the latter is linked to a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.

        Anal sex in itself is only dangerous because of the tearing that can happen if people aren’t careful.

        And no activists have admitted that their goal is to recruit. The homosexual “agenda” is /your/ group’s propoganda. Maybe you should look into the other side.

        There’s a certain level of hypocrisy to your post. First you state that homosexuals tried to gain access to schools to manipulate the children (again, not in the least bit true, this is homophobic propoganda), then you support what Bradlee said, which is essentially doing the exact same thing (manipulating children into being homophobic).

  5. My mind immediately blocked out the hateful BS coming from that guy’s mouth and I immediately zeroed in on the fact that he was wearing a baseball cap BACKWARDS inside the school. What image is he even trying to put on?

    What an asshole, and not just because of the hat indoors.

  6. I saw a video on facebook about this and several news stories considering I live in nebraska. However Omaha, NE passed the anti discrimination ordinance today which was so lovely. After bad things happen good things can magically appear 🙂

  7. Damn, and I thought it was fucked up when my middle school brought in a band that ended up singing “sexual healing” when i was in 6th grade. That is at least hilarious in retrospect. This just makes me want to punch things.

  8. Once my entire school (I think it was all of them, the auditorium held nearly everyone and seemed full) was taken out of their classes to watch a bizarro strongman bend a metal bar, tear a yellow pages in half, and show us how HIV molecules(?) fit through condoms by putting up a volleyball net and throwing ping pong balls through the huge holes. He even held five ping pong balls and fit them all through. And that’s why we should abstain from sex, because all of the HIVs fit through tiny holes in condoms! He had other lies to spread, but I can’t remember the rest. Probably a good thing.

    I don’t know why I didn’t do anything, I guess it seemed pointless since it was so obviously school-sanctioned and I had a terrible experience at that school in general. I wish I had, because by now it’ll be too late for so many kids who only had that and Health class to inform them. 🙁

  9. So typical of religious conservatives: either you do what they say–no matter how ridiculous or malicious–or they try to destroy you. Still better than the old days; modern secular governments do not permit their traditional responses to difference: torture and mass murder. This is a great comfort for those of us they are trying to destroy. Shame about the children they damage, though.

  10. I grew up in a small town in Iowa, and all I can do is shake my head in disgust that this happened. Teaching young people to be ashamed of who they are and what and how they feel is not going help promote a healthy lifestyle in the slightest. I have never understood that approach.

    Lastly, seriously dude, what sixteen year old reads the paper for pop culture? It’s called the internet. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

  11. I went to a girls Catholic school in Oz. Someone high up decided to invite a pro-life activist named Brita Stream (yes, I know, so ironic) and she came to talk to use eighth graders about the “link between breast cancer and abortion”.

    We were literally taken out of normal class to listen to this woman. We then had a discussion about it afterwards and I cringed as my classmates talked about how she was articulate and proved she wasn’t “just a beauty queen”.

    I spoke to a teacher about it later and she said she had walked out having just recovered from breast cancer. She was highly offended and upset. I still regret to this day not filing a complaint to the Catholic Schools authority.
    Sure, I have to respect the school’s ethos and values, but no way should I expect having to listen to a woman who was invited by a politician to Australia with the sole focus of her visit being to promote a conservative pro-life agenda.

    • Do you understand there is a link between breast cancer and abortion? Would you rather remain in ignorance of this fact? Have you ever actually witnessed an abortion? To witness a human being literally ripped limb from limb while they are alive is a ghastly thing! The way you talk about it you think it was like trimming your fingernails, you say you have respect for the schools ethos I’m having trouble believing you actually understand what that was considering your words.

      I work for the public school system and it sickens my heart to read comments here and listen to what students talk about, you public school kids are in for a rude awakening nationally in the near future, thank God for homeschooling.

      Do you understand the difference between ignorance and stupidity?

      Ignorance is a temporary condition alleviated by education and a willingness to accept truth.

      Stupidity is the desire to remain in ignorance and reject truth.

      • Excuse me. My school had NO BUSINESS inviting someone who was invited to Australia to push a religious POLITICAL agenda to speak at our school. I was taken out of normal classes to listen to shameless propaganda. There is no evidence of a link between breast cancer and abortion. Btw you’re talking to a pro-choice person here who is not going to change their mind. Sorry. I understand that the Catholic church is against abortion. I was respectful of that when I attended. But to jump from that to forcing us to listen to someone claim there is a link between breast cancer and abortion was an insulting move by whoever it was who invited her to my school.

  12. I’m genuinely surprised that one of the lgbtq kids at that school (or anyone for that matter) didn’t stand up and ask just what the fuck he thought he was saying because i think i would’ve ended up having to be arrested before that presentation was over if i was forced to sit through it.

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