Would President Obama speak at a prayer breakfast organized by the KKK? Would Jim Wallis and other "progressive" Christians attend?
Then what will they be doing on Thursday Feb 3 at the National Prayer Breakfast founded and sponsored by the notorious gay-bashing "The Family" fringe far right group? (I ask this as a practicing progressive Christian and repentant former religious right leader).
Yes, that's the same folks who's key members here and in Africa are mired in the Uganda kill the gays legislation!
Yes, that's the same folks who long ago used their US government/hard right contacts to try and get the US Government to cozy up to fascist dictator-for-life Franco of Spain.
Yes, that's the "C-Street" adulterers club in Wash DC that coddles far right philandering Republicans and protects them when they cheat on their wives, not to mention on their country by using their senator and congressmen members to export the worst of American fundamentalism abroad using quasi-governmental auspices.
These are the folks that the evangelicals and others have been in bed with for years at the National Prayer Breakfast.
It's about access to power, stupid! And this nefarious and shadowy group can put you in the room with power and money. They are also part of scandals involving John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford which has placed a spotlight on The Family.
Enough is enough. Yesterday I was a speaker at a press conference in Washington DC
As part of an activist group sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to call attention to the activities of The Fellowship, or The Family, the secretive fundamentalist powerhouse we met to not just protest but to offer an alternative: The American Prayer Hour. (see link below)
"Prayer is a good thing, and Americans ought to gather to pray, but we better be careful what we pray for," said one of our presenters, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire and the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal church, speaking at the National Press Club Tuesday morning. "We have a duty to confront those who are praying for those things that would break God's heart."
"I call upon our president to make himself known to be in opposition not just to the death penalty but to this violation of human rights for all of God's children in Uganda and beyond," Robinson added.
President Obama is scheduled to speak at the NPB -- despite calls for him to boycott it.
We speakers at Tuesday morning's launch of The American Prayer Hour noted that the Ugandan bill would cause a genocide of LGBT people in that nation. Moses, a gay man from Uganda seeking asylum in the United States, gave a detailed account of the harassment and terror he withstood growing up there -- even before the bill.
Moses, who addressed reporters with a paper bag over his head to conceal his identity, spoke of how in Uganda, "one would rather die than come out of the closet."
I spoke as did Bishop Carlton Pearson, whose questioning of the concept of hell several years ago caused all of his evangelical friends to abandon him.
I condemned Doug Coe, The Family's leader, for not publicly speaking out against the Uganda bill, saying that "it is stunning" that Obama would speak to the group. (I have been outspoken in my support for Obama, both during the presidential campaign and since he took office.)
I also noted that even back in the day when I was a religious right leader along with my late father Francis Schaeffer -- I describe why I got out in my new book Patience With God--Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism) -- neither of us would participate with anything to do with the Family. Even then in the 1970s and 80s though my father was asked twice to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast by the President he refused. Dad quite properly described The Family as; "A weird cult."
David Bahati, the man behind this legislation, is deeply involved in The Family's work in Uganda, that the ethics minister of Uganda, Museveni's kind of right-hand man, a guy named Nsaba Buturo, is also helping to organize The Family's National Prayer Breakfast. And here's a guy who has been the main force for this Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda's executive office and has been very vocal about what he's doing, in a rather extreme and hateful way. But these guys are not so much under the influence of The Family. They are, in Uganda, The Family.
After I got home I got this letter. It proves that not all evangelicals let alone other religious people are hate-filled bigots.
Being an evangelical pastor who works with severely emotionally and spiritually wounded gay evangelicals thank you for your support. It seems that for years no one in the evangelical community spoke in terms of compassion and mercy in reference to those with Same-Sex Attractions. I understand evangelicals desiring to support and promote traditional concepts of marriage and family. I just never understood why they believe they needed to destroy people with Same-Sex Attractions with judgment, condemnation, shame, and damnation to do so. I guess in reality I do know the reason why they do it. There is a lot of money to be made in gay bashing. Playing the Gay Scare game brings in a lot money to coffers of different ministries. Unfortunately, while they make money denouncing gays in the Name of Christ some of us in the evangelical community end up having to pick up the emotional and spiritual wreckage that results from their irresponsible, inflammatory rhetoric. Thanks again for supporting the human and humane treatment of those with Same Sex Attractions. I appreciate you very, very much.
Shame on the religious leaders who attend this year! For years you've been able to pretend that you didn't really know what The Family is. You do now.
There is an alternative now called "The American Prayer Hour," the event on Feb. 4 is being held in protest of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality bill. The American Prayer Hour events will affirm inclusive values and call on all nations, including Uganda, to decriminalize the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Join us and pray for the religious world and its leaders that have aliened themselves with hate. It is time that religion bring light not darkness. It's time to for religious men and women of good faith -- including President Obama -- to publicly disassociate themselves from The Family once and for all.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism)