"Whatever the fanciful theories about its organizer, the National Prayer Breakfast is a mostly admirable tradition." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President
Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- As President Obama and much of official Washington, D.C. gather on Thursday for the 59th National Prayer Breakfast, religious voices aligned with "Occupy DC" are hosting their own rival "People's Prayer Breakfast."
Their dislike is partly owing to the organizer, the sometimes mysterious Fellowship Foundation. According to Occupy Faith DC, the National Prayer Breakfast-sponsoring Fellowship is a "secretive conservative group" that "explicitly cultivates the wealthy and the powerful for political influence."
"While the 1% attend the National Prayer Breakfast, the 99% will '...reflect, pray, and draw attention to the suffering and marginalization of millions of U.S. citizens languishing in economic distress, uncertainty and poverty,'" explained one organizer of the People's Prayer Breakfast in the Huffington Post. Besides their own breakfast at a United Church of Christ (UCC) congregation near Dupont Circle, the rival group will also convene a "Silent Witness"
outside the upscale National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton.
"Who is going to be represented in the other event are the representatives of the one percent," complained the UCC pastor of Church of the Pilgrims, who called for religious people to "be the revolutionaries that our spiritual traditions call us to be."
A Muslim representative, Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey of the Muslim American Society, was more aggressive: "As Jesus said in the temple, sometimes righteousness requires a little butt kicking."
IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
"This rival event mostly appears to be older religious left clergy who are parasitically attempting to harness the dissipating energy of the occupiers.
"The National Prayer Breakfast is primarily about schmoozing, not 'butt kicking.'
"Exposés like Jeff Sharlet's 2008 book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, have imagined The Fellowship as a high octane push for Christian theocracy.
"Whatever the fanciful theories about its organizer, the National Prayer Breakfast is a mostly admirable tradition that provokes politicians into at least momentarily expressing high minded religious principles."
The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church's biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.