Bradlee Dean Interview, Part 2: Taxes, Michele Bachmann, and the Capitol Prayer Debacle
In late May, pastor Bradley Dean Smith, the subject of this week's feature, launched himself into the public eye by delivering a controversial prayer on the floor of the Minnesota Legislature.
Bradlee Dean on Kurt Zellers: "He's a liar. He straight up lied."
Smith, better known as Bradlee Dean, was originally invited to deliver the morning prayer by Rep. Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer). After Smith used the opportunity to accuse Barack Obama of being the first president to not believe in Jesus, Leidiger denounced Dean, telling reporters the invite was an "honest mistake."
Though the Capitol prayer has received the most media scrutiny, it's not the first time Smith's ministry has been called controversial.
Smith has also been criticized for performing at public schools assemblies on the tax payer dime (read more about that and Smith's path to God in part 1 of this interview).
City Pages sat down with Smith at his Annandale headquarters in July and spent several hours discussing his ministry and the controversy surrounding it, including his relationship with Glen Stoll, an attorney who was served with a federal injunction in 2005 for giving bad tax advice.
CP: There's this organization that you had gotten a license from, the Embassy of Heaven--
BDS: You know what, I brought forth a judgment on that individual. I had nothing to do with that individual.
CP: You're talking about Glenn Stoll?
BDS: That's right. I bought two trusts. As a matter of fact, they didn't even set the trusts up. And what happened was we were operating as a church, because we were a church, in north Minneapolis on Broadway. And then what happened was, we started to find out that it was - for what little that I did know of Glen, Glen promised us the world... and then judgment was brought against him by an attorney. That's the gist of that.
CP: Ok, I knew he had some affiliation with the Embassy of Heaven, but I thought that they were separate from his law firm?
BDS: I have no idea. I have no idea. I never got involved to know a thing about him. It's not even really worthy of comment. It never has been.
One [blogger] took my judgment and he turned it upside-down on its head. So in other words, instead of saying Bradlee did the right thing by doing what he did, he turned it like I did something wrong. Well, the fact of the matter is, irregardless, did Bradlee Dean pay his taxes? Yeah. So what's the issue? There isn't one. Because that's what anybody would bring up the issue to be anyway.
Here's a good question: Do you think I would do what I do and say what I say if I thought I was doing anything wrong? No way. No way. I'm trying to right the wrongs and look out for posterity. Because no one ever took the time to do that for me.
Smith says he barely knows Bachmann, but is glad she's doing well in the polls.
I've been accused of everything under the sun. And it's like, I've told people, I should almost put it online, "I'll give you a thousand dollars if you can prove that."
Again, these articles that you've written, nobody bothered calling me. They just went and started affiliating me with everyone under the sun. If I shake someone's hand, I'm his best friend going door to door in his gubernatorial candidacy. Give me a break! What's scary about it, is that it's the grown ups doing this. This isn't like a bunch of kids hanging out doing what they're doing, and if I can be so bold as to say this, man, bro, we're in this together. You know it was Martin Luther King that said we're going to go down in history as fools unless we can come together on this.
And just, it's hurtful crap people say. And they say, well, you're a public person. But then you think about Jesus Christ up on the cross being crucified, and what was he crucified for? He was crucified for their sins. That's a hard lesson to learn, man.
CP: I get that you feel like you've been treated unfairly by the media.
BDS: Can I interject? Some of these people, even the guy who has attacked me the hardest, every year he'll call me and say, "Can I come to your gala?" And the first couple years, I said, "Yeah come on out."
And he used to come out. And every single time he'd come out, he would take what I - I got some of this stuff on film, where I directly went after him, and said, "Tell the homosexual communities that we're called to love on them."
My heart towards the homosexual community is not one of hate. I'm trying to tell people, and nobody ever told me, and guess what, it's hard for everybody. And it's not just the homosexuals. It's the adulterers, it's the fornicators, it's the liars, it's the thieves. For some reason, I've spent more time on this one individual, and it just got to the point where I said I can't even answer the guy anymore. And the reason I don't answer him, because no matter what I say, I already see what he's going for.
CP: I can't guarantee that this article will come out and that you're going to love it.
BDS: I'm not saying that. That's fine.
CP: You kind of alluded to Tom Emmer. I know that Emmer and Michele Bachmann are people who have been affiliated with you.
BDS: No, no, no. I never affiliated myself with them, nor did they affiliate with me.
Tom Emmer came to one of our gala events, just like 500 other people did.
CP: Do you know him personally?
BDS: I never met him, I never talked to him. I'm out in the front in the ministry, so a lot of this stuff I don't do. Like when we do, for example, the premieres, I'm not making calls, I'm doing the videos.
I shook hands with Tom Emmer at the State Fair...and after I shook his hand, we became best friends, according to the press. What I know of Tom, I think he's a cool guy.
CP: What about Michele Bachmann? Do you know her personally?
BDS: I'm glad Michele is where she's at. Look at me, that's it. Do I know her on a personal note? If she was to walk down the street, would she look at me and say, "That's Bradlee Dean?" She doesn't even know me that way.
A couple years ago, she did a video at one of her events. She did a video for us. And then, when we were a baby ministry, I think we had 145 people come to it, and I actually shook Michele Bachmann's hand. That's my extent of knowing Michele Bachmann.