California lawmaker criticized for only inviting Christians to town hall

A Republican lawmaker recently elected to the California state Senate sparked criticism this week for only appearing to invite Christians to a town hall, Action News Now reported Friday.

Brian Dahle, an assemblyman and farmer from Bieber, won a special election for a California Senate seat earlier this month and was sworn into office on Wednesday.

He scheduled a “Faith and Values Town Hall” on Thursday, moderated by Mayor Julie Winter.

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

“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,” the Facebook page for the event stated. “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.”

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

Dahle’s former opponent, Silke Pflueger, told the outlet that she was “disturbed” that the newly-elected senator would host a town hall where only Christians were invited.

"I am wondering what this says about who he truly represents," she added.

Others reportedly criticized the event online.

“A ‘Christian-only’ town hall???” one commenter wrote on Facebook Saturday. “So this is what passed for democracy in your district? You only represent Christians? SHAME ON YOU. America is NOT a theocracy. Keep your religion out of our government.”

When asked about the critics of this event, Dahle told Action News Now, "Halleluja! 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," said Dahle. "So, I applaud it, I think it's great. That's what I love about this country."

Both Dahle and Winter insisted 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 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."

The Hill has reached out to Dahle for comment.