A multi-hour speech at a Brainerd church that mocked and decried the religion of Islam and its adherents drew dozens of interested attendees-and devolved into a shouting match as some of them called out the speaker for bigotry.
The presentation was put on inside Oak Street Chapel by Usama Dakdok, who leads The Straight Way Ministry and travels the Midwest, lecturing about what he feels are the encroaching dangers of Islam.
The talk, entitled "Lies in the Textbooks," was supposed to focus on the "lies and deceit of Islam."
Todd Wooden serves as pastor of Oak Street Chapel, a nondenominational Christian church. He said his church was facilitating the event free of charge. Daryl Bahma, a member of the Oak Street Chapel, approached Wooden on behalf of a local group called "Defenders of the Constitution," sponsoring Dakdok's presentation in Brainerd, Wooden said.
In past presentations, Dakdok has termed Islam as "barbaric," and "savage" and said that Muslims try to use school curriculum to brainwash children.
Interviewed earlier Thursday, Wooden wouldn't say if the other church leadership members had approved of Dakdok coming, saying church workings were "confidential."
"That's none of your business," he said. "If you're on the board, or if you're on the ministry team or something like that, that'd be different. Or if you were a member of the church, I could divulge that information."
Bahma, as a member of the church, has a right to use the facility, Wooden said.
The Defenders of the Constitution has been in existence for nearly two years and has about 20 members, Bahma said. Its leader is Bill Dian, but Dian wouldn't be attending Thursday's talk, he said. Previously, Dian invited a speaker critical of refugee resettlement in the Midwest, Ron Branstner, to speak at a church in Baxter.
The Defenders of the Constitution was formed in response to untruths by the government and schools, Bahma said.
"A good example of that is the teaching of the Muslim religion in their history classes in the high school," Bahma said.
Islam is the religion of more than 1 billion people in the world making it the second-largest faith after Christianity. Muslim refers to people who are adherents of Islam.
Bahma maintained that Islam isn't a religion, but a theocracy.
"How can you believe in a book that was written by a man, instead of our Lord Jesus?" he said.
Wooden said it wasn't his place to judge people, rather, provide biblical perspective.
"If you are of the Christian faith, the Bible says, 'if it is not of God, then it is not right,'" he said. "That's like when I have homosexuals-members of the gay community-that kind of thing, come to me and say 'I suppose you're going to tell me I'm going to hell.' It's like, no, I'm not here to tell you that. I'm not here to put judgment on anyone. But, I am here to present truth from a biblical point of view if you asked me. Big difference."
But when asked if he thought Islam was not "of God," Wooden replied, "How could it be?"
"They call God 'Allah' in Islam, and we call God the father of Jesus Christ," he said.
Still, Wooden insisted if Dakdok began injecting personal views rather than facts into the talk, Wooden would intervene. If Dakdok directly alleged Brainerd schools were trying to push Islam on students, Wooden said he would challenge him to provide proof.
"If he brings personal opinion into this, I'm going to be right there to stop it," he said.
'Lies in the textbooks'
Thursday's talk had about five protesters standing outside the church holding signs saying things like "Reject anti-Muslim bigotry" and "Say no to fear-mongering." Several of the 50 or so Dakdok attendees confronted them. There were heated arguments, but no violence.
Dakdok did some yelling too, often raising his voice in the throes of describing how Islam was infiltrating the news media and politicians and school systems, how Muslims will make war and rape.
"We need to shut them up" by refusing to consume mass media that took a favorable view of Islam, he said.
School boards weren't receptive to Dakdok's message, he said.
"They look at me like I am a crazy guy, they look at me like I am a hateful guy," he said.
The attendees were mostly older people although one man did bring a small child who appeared to be 8 or 9. They listened to Dakdok describe how Allah was actually Satan and there were two secret pillars of Islam-chief practices of the faith-in addition to the five actual pillars. Muhammed was a "child molester" and "sex offender" Dakdok said repeatedly.
Minnesota's leaders were leading its citizens to be slaughtered by the Muslims, he said. The schools were indoctrinating kids to be sympathetic to Muslims. Americans were stupid for letting so many Muslims in, he said.
"They are Muslimizing your children," he said. "They make them fall in love with Islam."
He didn't provide any specific examples that purported to show Islam in textbooks until a man in the audience, Cody Robertson, 22, Fort Ripley, got up to interrupt him, and challenged him to provide some.
When Robertson asked whether the point of Dakdok's speech was to incite hate against Muslims, Dakdok shouted him down, calling him "stupid." He said Robertson was "brainwashed by the stupid liberals." Dakdok asked Robertson if he had read the Quran, and Robertson said he hadn't.
"Then shut up," Dakdok said.
Some of the audience in the church applauded.
"When a Muslim kills you and rapes your wife ... come talk to me," Dakdok told Robertson.
A woman at the meeting tried to get Robertson to leave. Dakdok said Robertson could stay.
The man with the little girl with him also called out Dakdok during the exchange on textbooks.
Activist Robin Hensel of Little Falls video-recorded most of Dakdok's speech. After she confronted Dakdok, she yelled "Get thee behind me, Satan!" and stormed out of the church.
Another one of the protesters, Gayle Nielsen of Fort Ripley, also came inside and watched part of the presentation. She did not disrupt the proceedings, though.
Interviewed after the speech was over, Doug Kern, chair of the Crow Wing County Republicans, said he was disappointed it didn't focus more on Islam in the textbooks as it was billed in advance. He didn't like the behavior of either side of the shouting match, he said.