Brian Dahle, a Republican, won a state Senate seat in a special election this month and was sworn in Wednesday. He held a "Faith and Values Town Hall" Thursday in the Northern California city of Redding.
His invitation on Facebook specifically said, "Christians from local churches" were invited, sparking criticism from some.
“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 invite 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.”
"Hmmm. I'm sure your non-Christian constituents are soooo happy about this," one person wrote in response.
Dahle's former opponent, Silke Pflueger, told Action News Now she was "disturbed by our senator-elect holding a town hall where only Christians are invited."
In response to his critics, Dahle told the news station "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."
He said he would continue to work for all his constituents on any issues they might have.