The NY Times shines a light on ‘The Family’ and its ‘National Prayer Breakfast’

Our nation’s leaders are having breakfast today, courtesy of “The Family.” It purports to be a “Prayer Breakfast,” but it’s much more. It’s a political event for “The Family” and a way for them to network and accrue power. From today’s NY Times:

For more than 50 years, the National Prayer Breakfast has served as a prime networking event in Washington, bringing together the president, members of Congress, foreign diplomats and thousands of religious, business and military leaders for scrambled eggs and supplication.

Usually, the annual event passes with little notice. But this year, an ethics group in Washington has asked President Obama and Congressional leaders to stay away from the breakfast, on Thursday. Religious and gay rights groups have organized competing prayer events in 17 cities, and protesters are picketing in Washington and Boston.

The objections are focused on the sponsor of the breakfast, a secretive evangelical Christian network called The Fellowship, also known as The Family, and accusations that it has ties to legislation in Uganda that calls for the imprisonment and execution of homosexuals.

The Family has always stayed intentionally in the background, according to those who have written about it. In the last year, however, it was identified as the sponsor of a residence on Capitol Hill that has served as a dormitory and meeting place for a cluster of politicians who ran into ethics problems, including Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, and Gov. Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, both of whom have admitted to adultery.

More recently, it became public that the Family also has close ties to the Ugandan politician who has sponsored the proposed anti-gay legislation.

This is not who Barack Obama, his wife, members of Congress and the cabinet should be dining and praying with today — or any day.

Writing at Huffington Post, CREW’s Melanie Sloan also gave this background on the Prayer Breakfast:

At past breakfasts, the Family has facilitated meetings between its foreign allies and the president as well as members of Congress, outside the reach of the Department of State and traditional U.S. diplomatic protocol. Past prayer breakfast attendees have included General Eugenio Vides Casanova of El Salvador, later found liable for the torture of thousands of civilians, and General Alvarez Martinez of Honduras, later linked to secret death squads in that country.

This is one of those times when I really do wonder WWJD? Unlike many who choose to speak for him, I don’t. But, these don’t seem like his kind of people.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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