The Freedom From Religion Foundation expresses its disappointment over President Biden’s participation this morning in the National Prayer Breakfast.
FFRF had called on the president and members of Congress to boycott the event, warning that the Christian nationalist organizers are exploiting their presence to further anti-democratic and anti-LGBTQ aims. Sen. Tim Kaine and several other past regulars did not attend this year’s gathering.
“We are disturbed that President Biden nevertheless chose to address an event that has become a hotspot for Christian nationalists and theocrats, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and influence-peddling,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president and co-founder of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The annual shindig, which is privately hosted but sounds as if it is an official governmental function, has been mired in scandal after scandal, including the FBI’s arrest of a Russian agent with ties to Vladimir Putin.
Biden ended his remarks with a story he likely intended as charming, but which many nonbelievers and non-Christians may find dismaying. Biden recounted that when his grandfather would tell him to “keep the faith,” his grandmother insisted, “No, spread the faith.” Biden concluded his remarks by saying “Let’s go spread the faith,” knocking on the podium and then striding off the stage.
“Hearing the President of the United States tell the highest members of our government to go and spread his faith was jaw-dropping in its exclusion to nonbelievers,” adds FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
FFRF also objected to remarks made to Christian Broadcasting Network by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who attended the prayer breakfast, in which Coons argued that he wanted conservative members of Congress to know he’s a “decent Christian.” Coons claimed the event is unifying and celebratory, but should understand that nothing is more divisive than religion in politics.
According to TYT, Democratic participants have helped legitimize fundamentalist prayer breakfasts around the world that are supported by the Fellowship Foundation, the organization that puts together the National Prayer Breakfast. The Fellowship Foundation uses the events to build right-wing networks and make mainstream activists and policies opposed to LGBTQ and reproductive rights.
More members of Congress are getting the message about how destructive the National Prayer Breakfast and the Fellowship Foundation are. “Each year, the public finds out more and more about the National Prayer Breakfast, and they don’t like what they see. More and more elected officials continue to walk away from the event,” says Andrew Seidel, FFRF director of strategic response.
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., distanced himself from the breakfast a year ago. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., “who was a host for the event last year is not on this year’s invitation.” Other past “hosts” withdrawing themselves from the gathering this year include Reps. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., Grace Meng, D-N.Y., Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Juan Vargas, D-Calif.
Late last year, the state-church watchdog sent letters to every member of Congress who sponsored the event that year — calling on them to stop lending the theocratic shindig their imprimatur.
More information about the National Prayer Breakfast is here.
Photo via Shutterstock by lazyllama