Lonsdale Priest Says Keep Out Muslims

Grove Church (from website)

The other day a friend responded to a post of mine in Facebook about a news article I read on how the Methodist church leadership wants to revive a church in Cottage Grove, Minnesota and their first step is to ask all of the current members, most of whom are 60+, to go away.  She said:

I went to the catholic church in Lonsdale a few weeks ago for a family baptism and the priest said from the pulpit that we should not let Muslims into the country. He said other disturbing things, but that was the kicker.

I couldn’t believe this, although I guess I’m not sure why I shouldn’t believe it. Such a statement is no longer a surprise in this country – but I guess if this was going to come from a church pulpit I expected it to be an evangelical “Christian” church pulpit, not one at a Catholic church.

From church website

So I had to try to find the church and see if there was any reference to the statement. The church is the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Lonsdale, Minnesota. Lonsdale is located about 40 miles south of the Twin Cities in Rice County. It is a fast growing community that since 1970 has gone from a census population of 622 to an estimated current population of 4,000. This includes a friend of mine from work and her husband and daughter. She loves it there and raves about what a great place it is. She also thinks this is a bullshit.

Father Nick VanDenBroeke (from church website)

Yet Lonsdale apparently is not a great place for a Muslim family to reside. One of those people is Father Nick VanDenBroeke (pictured here looking like a man who just learned his pants are on fire). Father VanDenBroeke has been the pastor of Immaculate Conception since July 1, 2017. In his January 5, 2020 homily VanDenBroeke spoke on immigration. You can hear the entire homily here, but I am focusing on the “second particular issue” he wanted to address which starts at around 10:00. VanDenBroeke said:

Who should be allowed into the country? Both as Americans and as Christians we do not need to pretend that everyone who seeks to enter into America should be treated the same. I believe it is essential to consider the religion and world view of the immigrants or refugees. More specifically we should not be allowing large numbers of Muslims asylum or immigration into our country. Islam is the greatest threat in the world both to Christianity and to America. Of course there are peaceful Muslims, absolutely, but the religion as a religion and as an ideology and world view it is contrary to Christ and to America. I am not saying we hate Muslims; I am absolutely not saying that. They are people created out of love by God just as each one of us is, but while we certainly do not hate them as people we must oppose their religion and world view. And if we want to protect our country not only as a Christian nation but also as the land of the free then we most oppose the immigration of Muslims. That’s an example of keeping bad ideas out of the country that we have a right to do as a sovereign nation.  I’m not a hater for saying this. I’m not saying something antichristian because their religion is antichristian. I’m simply a realist to acknowledge that fact they are the greatest threat to Christianity and to America and we need to recognize that and our laws of immigration need to reflect that.

I wasn’t speechless when I heard it. In fact I responded by sending VanDenBroeke an email (frvandenbroeke@holycrossschool.net):

Photo by Lori Nickel Lonsdale News Review

I have listened to your homily on immigration and am appalled at your anti-Islamic rhetoric. The only thing more appalling is your “I don’t hate Muslim” mea culpa. It reminds me of when I’d hear my parents and their friends say “I don’t have anything against those people” when talking about people of color when you knew they had everything against “those people.”

Ever heard of the Catholic crusades? Shame on you for furthering hate in your church, community, and worst of all your own heart. Your xenophobia about Islam is as sad as the xenophobia that this country had against Catholicism not so very long ago. They protested the immigration of Catholics from Ireland, Italy, Poland, Québec, and Mexico usually focusing on the pope’s control of bishops and priests. I wonder how Pope Francis would feel about your words.

I have not received a response as of today. Googling Father VanDenBroeke I found he has a channel of videos including a homily about how Brett Kavanaugh (spoiler alert – he likes him).  I don’t expect he and I would agree on many issues – for instance I think immaculate conception means you don’t leave a wet spot – but I do not think it is right when a pulpit becomes a political soapbox in any religious entity.


When I did some research about Lonsdale I found that the hatred of Muslims was an issue there not that long ago. In September of 2016 when Dan Ruedinger, the owner of a local Lonsdale restaurant Treats Family Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor, placed a sign outside the restaurant that said “Muslims Get Out.”

Ruedinger said it was in response to the stabbings inside a St. Cloud mall on September 18, 2016. Police said the suspect, who was killed, made references to Allah and asked at least one victim if they were Muslim. Some people in the area supported Ruedinger and some rebuked him. The story made national news. It was certainly a source of division and the restaurant went out of business a year later. It reopened in November 2017 to new owners under new name but that restaurant also closed despite no evidence that the new owners were connected with the hate spewed a year earlier.

And now, only a few years later, the ugliness of racism and Islamic xenophobia is back in Lonsdale.

Pope Francis prays with Istanbul’s grand mufti during visit to Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Turkey (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters) See POPE-ISTANBUL Nov. 29, 2014.

At no level do I believe Father VanDenBroeke, or anyone else who has assumed a place of authority, has the right to single out any group and spew the crap-o-la he spewed on January 5, 2020. Pope Francis (the POPE) said that Catholics and Muslims must not be afraid of differences because God has allowed this, but “we must be frightened if we do not work in fraternity, to walk together in life.”

What say you Father?


9 thoughts on “Lonsdale Priest Says Keep Out Muslims

  1. I am appalled and disgusted by this “so called” priest. You do not represent the church, Catholics and are not even a shepherd of your own pope! I am
    Catholic and if you spoke politics or banning anyone from our country, I would do everything in my power to get you “reassigned “ as the Catholic Church likes to do. You and your homily need to be reported to your bishop and you need to be removed from the priesthood. This will be sent to archbishop Hebda.

  2. Great article, Mary! I, too, am Catholic and get asked all the time why I stay with a church that has sheltered abusive priests and that relegates women to subservient roles. My response: if moderate voices like mine leave, what is left. Here is a perfect example of a priest who spews and foments hatred. This is NOT Catholic teaching – it was not so long ago that Catholics and Jews were also considered “dangers” to America. Priests like this are not shepherds of the flock but dangerous purveyors of bigotry. I also intend to write to Archbishop Hebda.

  3. As a priest he must ask himself if he is following the foot steps of Jesus. If he is to practice personal agenda of religious hatred,then he must first take off the clergymans role. What would Jesus do in this situation?

  4. There are people who hear statements such as those made by Father Nick VanDenBroeke and react with horror and disgust, seeking to bring shame and approbation onto the speaker. Then there are others who ask themselves why he would say such things and then do a deep dive into the ideology and beliefs of Islam, as well as the history of Christian clergy “talking politics” from the pulpit (think Civil Rights/MLK), in order to become better educated and build bridges of understanding with those who say things with which we initially disagree. Such people might even reach out and have a conversation with said speaker.
    It seems pretty obvious which one you are.

    • Jeff — Thank you for taking the time to send me a comment. I emailed Father VanDenBroeke and called to try to talk to him (as did CityPages). I also contacted the Catholic Diocese prior to posting and they did not respond until after I posted the blog. I wanted to include anything either the Father or Diocese had to say in response but I had nothing to include.

      I realize we will disagree on this and probably many other things but I never intended to bring “shame and approbation onto the speaker.” I did want to start a conversation about what I believe is not correct. This is a blip on the screen in all that is going on in the news and it will disappear soon. I have learned, however, that I will try harder to talk to anyone before I write about what they have said or done because I have seen how quickly a news story can spread.

  5. This article is completely out of line. Attacking this good man for speaking the truth is a disgrace.

    The Catholic Church today – as well as other Christian Churches and Synagogues around the world and in America, need more brave souls who are willing to shepherd their flock accordingly.

    1,400 years of barbaric history, which continues today, proves that his warning is sound. Just look at present day Western Europe, The UK, parts of Australia, parts of Canada, and the United States as well.

    The present day torture and massive killings of Christians around the globe is at an epidemic proportion. And, this anti-human and barbaric behavior is not being perpetrated by crazed Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Jews, Buddhists, or LDS worshipers either. Just look at present day Iran, Turkey, East African nations, the Philippines, Indonesia, and so on. How about Dearborn, Michigan?

    Since 2012, 13 Christian Churches have been burned to the ground in Minnesota alone, and not a whimper of outrage or condemnation coming from our MN Attorney General, MN Governor, or CAIR Minnesota’s executive director, Jaylani Hussein, or others.

    Meanwhile CAIR Minnesota boasts of 360 law suits filed in Minnesota in 2017 alone. They are not playing a game here folks. This is all a part of ‘Civilization Jihad’, while they claim ‘VICTIM status’ every day of the week.

    Cities and towns all over Minnesota are becoming increasingly dangerous, and unlivable (St Cloud – Willmar – Minneapolis – and more).

    Bizarre forms of crime and violence, previously thought to be unthinkable just 15 years ago, are becoming commonplace, and our new normal. …Incest – serial child rape – stabbings – robberies – mob riots [ MN State Fair this past year – Valley Fair in September of 2018 – Mall attacks – gun and knife violent attacks – murder – polygamy – Female Genital Mutilation – and much more – human trafficking – school riots [ St Cloud Tech High School ] and more than once ..

    This is not the Minnesota I moved to 48 years ago. Not even close.

    Wishing all this away, or engaging in some sort of group hug to persuade all of this to go away, and stop, will most assuredly not do the trick. Telling the truth is the answer. And, this brave Catholic Priest is telling the truth. If the Western Europeans and The UK had done so sooner, they would not be facing the horrors they now face daily. Per example, Sweden is a complete train wreck, where no woman is safe any longer, and the indigenous population are hiding in their homes in Malmo, Stockholm, and elsewhere for safety.

    So, blaming and shaming this good Catholic Priest, just to make yourself feel warm and fuzzy, and ‘a good person’ is not the answer, and makes YOU a part of the problem, and not the solution.

    This is so sad..

    • Anton I appreciate your well-thought out, civil comment. I don’t agree but having received crude and nasty comments it is refreshing to get one that is written by a person that wants to express his opinion. My blog wasn’t meant as an attack, it was meant to shed light on what was being said in a church in our community. The fact that it spread across the state and country was a surprise to me. I wanted to talk to Father VanDenBroeke and the Diocese but they would not respond to my emails or phone calls so I could not include their comments. Based on the Diocese’s response they also do not agree with VanDenBroeke’s homily.

      Either way, thank you for responding and adding to what I hope is a conversation not an argument.

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