Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pandering and Posturing

What's up with the National Prayer Breakfast?

image from

Our republic was founded upon a constitution which explicitly specifies we be governed by secular institutions.  Since 1935 the (Christian) National Prayer Breakfast is organized each year by The Fellowship Foundation (variously known as The Foundation, The Fellowship, or The Family), a secretive evangelical organization with strong political ties and notorious influence inside the Beltway.  This is not an ecumenical gathering; it is not about prayer unless it is a Christian prayer.  This is not a government-sponsored event; it is a private gathering, but one our public servants dare not miss.  Jeff Sharlet has written extensively on the shadowy organization that organizes this gathering.  If his article "Jesus Plus Nothing: Undercover Among America's Secret Theocrats" doesn't scare the hell out of you I'm not sure what will.  If his early reporting makes you want to pray for the future of our republic then his recent book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, comes highly recommended.  Other than that articles about the The Family are scarce.  Much as I'd like to refer you to a source of information published by the Fellowship Foundation, the Foundation, the Fellowship, the Family does not seem to operate a website.

The Family always invites a surprise speaker to the breakfast.  Mark Kelly, shuttle astronaut and husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was the special guest today.  Discussing his wife's horrible injury at hands of a deranged gunman he said "maybe this event, this terrible event, maybe it was fate."  Maybe he should have admitted he was a fish out of water, a military officer and scientist summoned to a politically-charged Christian influence peddling session and evangelical litmus test.  President Obama, who by his own accounts was not a religious man until he became involved in politics, said "We are with them for the long haul and God is with them for the long haul."  Too bad their almighty God couldn't have reflected his long term interest in Ms. Gifford by arranging a mental health intervention for the shooter Jared Loughner, or even for Loughner to be struck by truck in a crosswalk, or for his pistol to jam, or for him simply to miss.  Nope, God's mysterious ways in Tucson required six dead, 14 wounded, and bullet shot through Gabrielle Gifford's head for the Lord almighty to forward His agenda.  The bigger mystery is why Christians think this way.