Ministry booted from Walmart
NEW ULM – A controversial non-profit Christian ministry organization was removed from the New Ulm Walmart parking lot Saturday after they had run their fundraising booth for only a half an hour.
“You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” (YCRBUCH) is a non-profit Christian youth ministry based out of Annandale that was founded by preacher Bradlee Dean. The volunteers at the fundraising booths call themselves “street preachers” and have a 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,” according to the group’s web site.
Dean has drawn criticism and controversy for several years for his statements on homosexuality and abortion. He first received major media coverage in Minnesota after his opening prayer for the Minnesota Legislature in 2011. He broke with the tradition of offering non-political prayers and implied President Barack Obama is not a Christian.
He has also come under criticism for stating all homosexuals should be jailed, and more recently claiming there was a government conspiracy behind the Newtown, Conn., shootings in order to advance gun control legislation.
In March 2012, in Dunkerton, Iowa, Dean’s traveling speaking tour interjected graphic images of aborted fetuses at a school assembly aimed at anti-bullying. School officials denounced the incident, stating they had been unaware of the group’s history and had not been informed about what the speakers had intended to show.
Banned from Walmart
YCRBUCH was banned from setting up in front of Walmart stores after requesting the space under a false name, according to a Walmart statement at the time (citypages.com, May 2011).
Similarly in Newton, Iowa, a Hy-Vee store issued a public apology for allowing the group to fundraise in front of the store, (citypages.com, July 2012). The store’s statement said the store would not have allowed the organization to set up shop if the store had been aware of the group’s history and said the group had claimed its was a suicide prevention organization.
The New Ulm Walmart store would not provide comment on Saturday except that the organization was only allowed to set up due to a miscommunication. Further questions were referred to Walmart’s media relations, which did not immediately return calls on Saturday.
Krystal Leigh, one of the organizers at the booth, said she had only set up after getting approval from a store manager. She said the group was completely unaware of the Walmart policy and called the ban an infringement of free speech rights. She argued this was symptomatic of a larger trend of the United States going down the wrong path.
A spokesperson for the ministry also claimed to not know about the ban, but declined to comment further until he had time to research it.
The items being sold were various CD, video and graphic novel versions of Dean’s book “My War,” along with items related to Dean’s radio show, “Sons of Liberty.” The booths are aimed at preaching the organization’s ministry and operates as a major fundraiser for Dean’s organization.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com