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Prayer, protest at annual breakfast event

Posted: May 2, 2013 10:17 a.m.
Updated: May 2, 2013 10:17 a.m.

A portion of a group of about 50 protesters hold signs as they stand at the entrance of the Hyatt Regency Valencia as attendees arrive at the Mayors Prayer Breakfast held in the grand ballroom Thursday morning. Most of the protesters were objecting to the choice of keynote speaker. Signal photo by Dan Watson

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Bearing signs that read “Coexist,” “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world” and “They’ll know we are Christians by our love,” about 50 people turned out Thursday morning to protest the annual Santa Clarita Valley Mayors Prayer Breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.

Many turned out to protest the keynote speaker of the event, Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus, for past remarks he has made regarding homosexuality and gay marriage.

Those include a comment he made in 2008 in support of California’s Proposition 8. He said apathy by German religious leaders contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party and cautioned that the American church could not take the same attitude regarding gay marriage.

Though Dacus has the right to speak his mind, his words create a viewpoint that could lead to intolerance down the line, said Malcolm Blue, a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Valencia.

“And that attitude leads to bullying — or even worse things,” Blue said.

Speaking before the event, Dacus said he had met with several of the protesters to see if he could address their concerns.

“I believe dialogue leads to understanding, and understanding is more constructive when you want to move ahead,” Dacus said.

Dacus also apologized to anyone who may have been offended by his remarks.

Much of Dacus’ speech focused on the power of prayer, including his own experiences after suffering a severe head injury in a car accident.

The injury required surgery to relieve swelling in his brain, Dacus said, and some doctors were concerned his brain would be permanently damaged as a result.

Dacus eventually ended up graduating from law school.

“God loves taking something the world throws away and making something new,” he said.

Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar also offered up brief remarks and expressed his hope that the event would be unifying rather than divisive.

“We come together and pray for America and we pray for each other,” Kellar said.

About 315 people attended the annual prayer breakfast, according to Joe Messina, president and chairman of The Dunamis Group that organizes the event.

The Dunamis Group is an organization that aims to promote Christian values in business.

The name of the event itself was also a source of some concern at the event.

Saugus resident Ethan Jewell was among the protesters Thursday morning. He said he was there because he thinks the name of the event should be changed to make it clear that it is not sponsored by the city.

“If they changed the name of the event, I probably wouldn’t be here this morning,” he said.

Speaking after the event, Messina said there are no current plans to change the name of the prayer breakfast, which is scheduled on National Day of Prayer.

“There are 65,000 of these (events) around the country; we’re not the only one,” Messina said. “And personally, I see nothing wrong with lifting up prayers (for) mayors.”

David McEachern, president of the local chapter of the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays organization, said events such as the prayer breakfast are divisive and do not reflect the diversity of the people in Santa Clarita.

“We are a complete city,” McEachern said, “and we need someone to represent us as a complete city.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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