Bradlee Dean's benediction

How a tracksuit-wearing homophobe became the MN GOP's favorite preacher

Smith sits in the conference room before a gigantic portrait of a bald eagle. Prints of the U.S. Constitution hang next to him on the wall, accompanied by the 10 Commandments, the crucifixion scene, and a table of You Can Run merchandise. A closer look at Smith's tattoos shows that his body is also covered in bald eagles and biblical art.

Smith points to the wall, where a map of the United States hangs pockmarked with blue tacks. He says there are 331, each representing a high school his ministry has visited. Smith tells the story of a kid who once approached him after an assembly and accused him of blurring the lines between church and state. Even thinking about the accusation makes Smith visibly angry.

"The reason they would ask that question is because you talk about moral issues like abortion, to the extent of homosexuality in public schools—" Smith pauses, realizing what he's about to say next requires some warning.

Scott Anderson
The rock 'n' roll life pushed Smith into the arms of the Lord
courtesy of YCRBYCHI
The rock 'n' roll life pushed Smith into the arms of the Lord

"This is probably going to shock you," he continues, "but all I ever did was cite the laws."

He goes into great detail about his interpretation of the law, particularly how it relates to homosexuality.

"Did you know it was illegal until 1961?" Smith bellows. "End of story."

When asked about his prayer at the Capitol, Smith says Republicans had no illusions about the nature of his ministry. Rep. Leidiger approached Smith after meeting him at a screening for Smith's documentary My War, which goes into great detail about You Can Run's mission.

"He sat and watched the whole program," Smith says of Leidiger.

Yet Smith won't let earthly politicians slow his holy crusade. He answers to a power greater than the Minnesota Republican Party.

"Do you think I would do what I do and say what I say if I thought I was doing anything wrong?" asks Smith. "I'm trying to right the wrongs and look out for posterity, because nobody ever took the time to do that for me."

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