On Thursday, February 3rd, thousands of religious and political leaders from around the globe gathered in Washington D.C. for the annual National Prayer Breakfast. Sponsored by the Fellowship Foundation (also known as the Family) since 1953, the breakfast has featured high-powered keynote speakers such as Bono, Tony Blair, and Barack Obama.
The Family, a private Christian organization with ties to many conservative politicians, has come into the public spotlight after Jeff Sharlet published two books on the group, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy.
The Family reportedly has ties to Ugandan MP David Bahati, author of a draconian and controversial anti-gay bill currently under consideration in Uganda. Angry at the Family's reported support of Bahati and homophobia in Uganda, LGBT advocates demonstrated on the day of the National Prayer Breakfast. GetEqual organized the Breakfast Without Bigotry demonstration outside the Washington Hilton, drawing attention to the murder of Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato. According to the Washington Blade, demonstrators held signs that read “If Christians Kill Kato, They’ll Kill Me” and “David Kato: Brutally Loved to Death by Christian Missionaries.”
Similar LGBT prayer events and demonstrations took place in seventeen cities, according to the New York Times. The American Prayer Hour organized prayer gatherings across the U.S., calling for justice in Uganda and accountability from the Family for its alleged ties to the anti-gay bill there.
Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, a government watchdog organization, urged President Obama and congressional leaders not to attend the National Prayer Breakfast. Bishop Gene Robinson and Rev. John Vaugh of Auburn Theological Seminary also beseeched the president not to speak at the event. President Obama did speak at the prayer breakfast despite these pleas.
Below is a Metro Weekly video on the Breakfast Without Bigotry. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)
This amateur video shows Darryl Moch of InnerLight Ministries speaking at the demonstration. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)
To watch C-SPAN coverage of the National Prayer Breakfast, click here. For additional news and commentary, visit these links.
Washington Blade: LGBT Activists Protest National Prayer Breakfast
CNN: Gay Rights Advocates Question Obama's Prayer Breakfast Appearance
The Guardian: Is This Secretive Christian Group a Threat to U.S. Church/State Division?
Truth Wins Out: Religious Leaders Call on National Prayer Breakfast to Say Prayer in Honor of Slain Ugandan David Kato
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Protests Loom Over National Prayer Breakfast
Politics Plus: Obama Was Wrong to Pray with Hatemongers