Today's assembly: Christian heavy metal and homophobia


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The Independent Culture

Whether Principal Mike Cooper of Dunkerton Community High in Iowa knew that the metal band his school had invited to play and talk at a school assembly last week were going to drive pupils to tears is unknown.

But a quick Google search for the band's drummer, the lank-haired Minnesotan Bradlee Dean – leader of the youth ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide – would have revealed that his message was likely to run into controversy.

Mr Dean's groups have courted controversy across the Midwestern United States by coming to school assembles, ostensibly to talk about bullying and other youth matters but actually following songs like "Enemies of the State" and "Meetin' Thy Maker" with a speech denouncing the morality of homosexuality and abortions. On several occasions, the school has claimed that the band misrepresented its Christian message beforehand.

The Dunkerton performance, which provoked angry responses from some parents, is available on the ministry's YouTube channels and includes sections that take an Elton John quote out of context to imply that sex with animals is nearly equivalent to two men making love; a statistic that the median age of gay males' death is 42 (an anti-gay myth); pictures of aborted foetuses and that the lyrics of Metallica's "Harvester of Sorrow" promote infanticide (also not true – another of Junkyard Prophet's myriad crimes against metal).

Mr Dean has been a subject of anger elsewhere, shocking the Minnesota House of Representatives when he was asked to say its opening prayer and proceded to use the tired "slur" that Barack Obama is Muslim. His group has also been cited as an "active anti-gay hate group" by US civil rights activists, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Principal Cooper has since resigned – for other reasons, insist local authorities – but next time, it may be less controversial to book Metallica themselves, instead.