Bieber farmer, newly elected lawmaker under fire for supposed Christians-only town hall

California State Senator, Brian Dahle. | Facebook

Brian Dahle, a newly elected Republican state senator and farmer from Beiber, California, has come under fire for conducting what critics say is a town hall that was advertised for Christians only.

The event held last Thursday in Redding, was billed the “Faith and Values Town Hall,” and moderated by Mayor Julie Winter and held at Little Country Church.

“So excited to be in Redding to talk about my faith and the role it plays in my public service. Thank you Mayor Winters and the Little Country Church,” Dahle wrote in a post on his Facebook page a day after the event.

The Republican was criticized, however, for how the online invitation appeared to only invite "Christians from local churches."

“As an interfaith minister I have to express my disappointment and disgust. Holding this in a Christian church is a slap in the face to your constituents that are Pagan, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Odinist and other non-Christian religions. This is a saddening blurring of the line between Church and State, and if your meeting were held in a Mosque there would be an uproar,” wrote Teresa Garcia in response to the state senator’s post.

“Faith is important, yes. Yours is Christian, yes. However your job is not to proselytize your faith. As a Senator of California in the United States, a country based on the separation of Church and State and religious liberty you MUST remember your MANY constituents of ALL and NO religion,” she added.

On the Facebook page for the event Dahle made a special appeal to Christians but also appeared to reach out to “all citizens.”

“There are particular values that those of the Christian faith care deeply about as they shape the society and culture of our cities, states, and nation,” he wrote. “Because it can be difficult to know who our elected officials are, and what policies and legislation they are voting for on our behalf, many Christians have chosen to simply pray for the nation. Prayer is vital, but in addition to prayer, all citizens—including those of faith—are encouraged to be informed as they participate in the basics of their civic duties.”

The invitation continued: “Whether you consider yourself Republican, Independent, Democrat, or unaffiliated, bring your questions or come hear the conversation at this unique and respectful gathering.”

Asked about the criticism of the town hall held at the church, Dahle told Action News Now: "Hallelujah! They are getting to use their constitutional right to say that they don't agree with what I'm doing but I have a constitutional right to also stand up here and say, 'Hey, I think people of faith should be involved. So, I applaud it, I think it's great. That's what I love about this country."

Both Dahle and Winter also noted that the event was open to everyone in the community.

"I want to say, for the record, that I wholeheartedly agree with the principle of the separation of church and state," Winter said. "That does not mean that people of faith should not be involved in government. We should all be involved affecting change in the world around us."

Democrat state lawmaker Steven Bradford recently told KRCR News that he considers the senator a close friend who is known for making “good decisions.”

"He was always a reliable, pragmatic legislator who understood the good of California and didn't let partisanship get in the way of making good decisions. I know he's going to bring that same levelheadedness to the senate, and he brings a wealth of knowledge as it relates to our environment, as a farmer, and the importance of protecting our air, our soil and our water. I heed a lot of his advice in those areas,” he said.

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