Mayors Prayer Breakfast Seeks Unity, Draws Ire
The ninth annual Mayors Prayer Breakfast is once again coming to Santa Clarita on May 2, when it will be hosted by the Hyatt Regency Valencia.
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The event, one similar to tens of thousands that are held throughout the country each year, is meant to offer up a prayer of support for elected officials and the community, said organizer Joe Messina, chairman for the 38th Central Republican Committee and host of “The Real Side” on AM-1220 KHTS.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Brad Dacus, founder and president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which takes on cases involving religious freedom and parental rights, the group’s founder said Friday.
“Our goal, uniquely, is to make sure that everyone gets help -- that no one is left on the side of the road when it comes to religious freedom and the fundamental rights of parents,” Dacus said.
“I’d like to share briefly my story regarding my background, and what faith has meant to me, and, in particular, some of the stunning experiences of God’s grace and power that I’ve had in my life,” Dacus said.
“I always like to refer to some of the challenges we have, as a nation, to maintaining our freedom and liberties for all to be able to live their faith and practice their faith,” he added.
A few local voices have criticized the choice of Dacus, calling his commentary “divisive” for a diverse community such as Santa Clarita.
“The Dunamis Group invites a large amount of elected officials, including those from school districts, as well as city officials,” said Jeff Wilson, a local resident and longtime community blogger in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“As Santa Clarita is a diverse community, home to people of all faiths and even sexual orientations, I'd hope that our elected officials would recognize that Brad Daucus' message is divisive and hurtful and would refuse to attend the breakfast as a result,” he wrote in an email.
Messina made it clear the event is not city-sanctioned, supported or funded, it’s paid for by The Dunamis Group, a local Christian business group.
“I’ve been doing this for the last nine years,” Messina said. “It’s been a bone of contention because we use the term ‘mayor.’”
The term mayor is used because traditionally, most local governments hold the mayor as the highest ranking member of office, Messina said.
Messina, who’s also board president for the William S. Hart Union High School District, said with many important issues facing parents in regard to education, Dacus was a particularly apt choice.
“Even though he’s a conservative, he’s a Christian conservative. If you look at the cases that he’s taken on, he’s defended Christians, Muslims, Jews and Atheists,” Messina said. “He wants to make sure parents retain their rights to guide their children and their education, and that their kids have a right to express themselves on campus.”
Some of the criticism surrounding the choice of Dacus has to do with comments he made in 2008 at a pro-Proposition 8 rally, which supported a controversial ban on gay marriage that was approved by California voters and is now being considered by the Supreme Court.
(Here’s a video of with Dacus’ remarks at the Proposition 8 rally.)
Dacus said his words were not meant to be divisive, they were meant “to exhort the Christian church not to make the same mistake of complacency that it had made in the past when it comes to issues that God's word has resolutely defined.
“Just as the church should not have been silent against the ongoing holocaust, the church is not to remain silent about what God's Word says about marriage,” he said. “No matter how unpopular a Biblical truth may be, the church has a duty to boldly share that truth both lovingly and constructively.”
“I have deep compassion and respect for all those dealing with same-sex attraction and recognize that God's love and hope extends to all who receive it,” he said.
Dacus served as legislative assistant to Sen. Phil Gramm and has a law degree from the University of Texas
Dacus has also spent five years coordinating religious freedom and parental rights cases throughout the West Coast
In 1997, he founded the Pacific Justice Institute, where he serves as president
Dacus has appeared on a number of national news programs such as “Dateline NBC,” “The Today Show” and “The O’Reilly Factor.”
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