The Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling on members of Congress to abandon the National Prayer Breakfast.
The state-church watchdog has sent letters to every member of Congress who sponsored this year’s event asking them to stop lending the theocratic shindig their imprimatur. As many as 22 senators and representatives co-sponsored the gala get-together, held in February.
“Are we really still doing this in 2021?” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Year after year, scandal after scandal, and still not a single prayer has been answered. All they’re proving is that they don’t respect the separation of state and church and that their god doesn’t give a fig for their mimosa-driven pleas.”
The event has been plagued in recent years with scandals.
“Russian spies, Christian nationalists and theocrats, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, influence-peddling, and a shadowy religious group known as The Family,” says FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew L. Seidel. “The National Prayer Breakfast contains all of this.”
Every new record that comes to light reveals another serious issue. The FBI caught Maria Butina, an unregistered foreign agent with ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, using the event to illegally “back channel” with American officials who attended. Butina pleaded guilty and was convicted in 2018. New records show that Rev. Franklin Graham is the primary financial backer of the event, which he admitted is meant to buy access: “They’re wanting to be able to rub elbows with somebody that they normally couldn’t rub elbows with.” Graham justified this by pointing to “the gays, they do everything they can to get their politicians into office.”
Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is a long tradition for the event and its organizers. Recent stories have documented how the foreign officials who have joined the event are often less than official and sometimes virulently anti-LGBTQ. European LGBTQ groups like Forbidden Colours have objected to America shipping this Christian bigotry overseas.
The secretive Fellowship Foundation organizes the event. The organization has had troubling relationships with dictators around the world and actively exports anti-LGBTQ legislation and policy. Originally founded to oppose the New Deal, the event is now the sole, public networking event for the shadowy group. The event is becoming so political and troubling that even the conservatives that once ran the Moral Majority have argued, “It might be time to suspend the National Prayer Breakfast.”
“I wish they’d get off their knees and get to work,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker (a former preacher), invoking an FFRF maxim written by founder Anne Nicol Gaylor. “Imagine if they spent that time debating Supreme Court reform or ending the filibuster instead of engaging in the hypocrisy their savior condemned in his Sermon on the Mount.”