Getting To Know Brad Dacus

You may recall Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute for his activism on Prop 8 in California and especially for this video in which he proclaimed that failure to pass the measure was akin to failing to stop the Nazis:

Well, Rin Kelly profiles Dacus and PJI, which has opened a new satellite office in Oakland, for the East Bay Express:

The Oakland office represents an expansion of the institute’s efforts to fight what Dacus calls “intolerance” in the region. “The increase in requests for assistance that continue to come into our office is such that a Bay Area office we found was very warranted and needed,” he said in an interview. This could mean increased headaches for school districts — a favorite target in Dacus’s war for “parents’ rights” — and more lawsuits like the ongoing case in which the institute’s client, Faith Fellowship Church, alleges that the city of San Leandro is breaking the law by not rezoning to accommodate church expansion plans.

Religious convictions have compelled Dacus to take on such cases as a fight to allow Bakersfield students to opt out of a homosexual teacher’s class, a tussle with a Utah public school that he claims was peddling a book “promoting witchcraft” via the Scholastic Book Club catalog, and — while employed by the conservative Rutherford Institute — the defense of the family of a teenage Nebraska boy who, with his parents’ help, had his girlfriend arrested for seeking an abortion. For the courts to find in favor of the girl, Dacus told Time in 1994, would have had “a chilling effect” on free speech.

Such issues are of special interest to the institute and Dacus, who with his wife Susanne is the author of a book informing public-school teachers, students, and parents of “strategies to practically and legally evangelize your school.” Titled Reclaim Your School, the book calls separation of church and state “the big lie” and covers everything from pastor visitations to special school-hours Bible study through which, Dacus writes, “a large number of students … make commitments to receive Christ by the end of the year.” Another passage states, “because public school employees are cautious not to display their faith inappropriately or in a manner that might violate the law, it may take a few visits or conversations before you can determine the religious or non-religious views of the staff at your public school.”

Dacus is a man with strong religious convictions. “I’m a Christian,” he said in an interview. “My wife was in full-time youth ministry for ten years working with high-school kids. That book goes right along with my personal convictions and desire not just for religious freedom but ideally for people, for kids, to be able to come to Christ. So it’s evangelical. It’s a book with a definite evangelical perspective. I don’t have to apologize for that because we have a society where we have religious freedom.”

Kelly asked Dacus about his infamous “Nazi” statement, to which he replied that instead of criticizing him, the Anti-Defamation League ought to be thanking him for it: 

One group that has recently taken notice of the institute is the Anti-Defamation League, which released a statement last year condemning the Third Reich analogy he used in his Proposition 8 speech. “We are outraged and deeply offended that a spokesman for the Pacific Justice Institute has chosen to invoke images of Hitler and Nazi Germany as part of that organization’s campaign on behalf of Proposition 8,” read the press release.

Asked about his comments, Dacus told the Express, “Obviously I wasn’t trying to infer that anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area was akin to the Third Reich or in favor of any cause of the Nazis. That would be a ludicrous understanding of the point that was being made.” Instead, he argued, the speech was an exhortation that today’s church not be “silent on an issue they had a strong theological and moral conviction about.” But he added: “If the purpose of that organization is to stand up to anti-Semitism, they should be glad that I was once again reminding people of the importance of people to stand up to tyranny.”