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posted Friday, February 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 05
Breakfast Without Bigotry protests National Prayer Breakfast and The Family
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Breakfast Without Bigotry protests National Prayer Breakfast and The Family

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Sixty activists protested the National Prayer Breakfast outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on the morning of February 3.

The protest, Breakfast Without Bigotry, was called by the LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, and supported by several other organizations, including the NGLTF, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and Soulforce.

A tradition since 1953, the National Prayer Breakfast is sponsored by members of Congress and organized for them by The Fellowship Foundation - better known as 'The Family.'

President Obama attended this year's Prayer Breakfast, as he did last year. No U.S. president has declined an invitation to attend.

In past years, the Breakfast has been picketed by the American Atheists organization and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

What made this year's Breakfast particularly controversial - and what drew the attention of LGBT rights activists - was the report that Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati would also be a guest.

Bahati is the sponsor of Uganda's infamous 'Kill the Gays' bill. Like Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni, Bahati is a protégé of The Family.

Not the innocuous prayer group its sponsorship of the Breakfast might suggest, The Family is a secretive Christian-right group that wields enormous influence through its many powerful members, including many congressmen and senators.

Through contacts with foreign leaders like Museveni, it has also run what amounts to its own foreign policy - a policy decidedly unfriendly to LGBT people in other countries.

GetEQUAL charged that The Family was using the positive image of the Prayer Breakfast to disguise its responsibility for anti-Gay campaigns abroad.

'While its organizers would have you believe the National Prayer Breakfast is an ecumenical gathering absent a policy agenda, it is in fact the signature event of the year for the clandestine operation 'The Family,' GetEQUAL said in a statement issued on January 30.

'This fringe group uses the visibility and support from the National Prayer Breakfast (attended by many politicians and business leaders) and other events to further its world-wide campaign against LGBT individuals. Associates of The Family continue to promote a proposed law in Uganda that would imprison for life and murder LGBT people - just for being who they are - while also criminalizing knowing an LGBT person without reporting them.'

GetEQUAL's D.C. organizer Charles Butler said that the brutal murder of Ugandan Gay activist David Kato on January 26 added to the urgency of the protest.

'It demonstrates why this is important,' he said. 'It really highlights the situation in Uganda is really dire for people like us.'

Gay philanthropist Mitchell Gold agreed. Holding a sign that read 'End the harm from religion-based bigotry,' Gold told reporters that religious fanaticism was responsible for Kato's murder.

'I'm here because too many of the people who are inside the National Prayer Breakfast don't understand the harm they are doing by trafficking their religion-based bigotry,' he said. 'David Kato's death shows the slippery slope of people who claim to interpret the Bible literally.'

As it turned out, Bahati did not attend the Breakfast.

According to reports first published by Family supporter and anti-Gay 'therapist' Warren Throckmorton, Bahati had been invited before his 'Kill the Gays' measure became public knowledge, and he was subsequently disinvited.

Prayer Breakfast organizers issued a brief statement distancing themselves from Bahati.

'The National Prayer Breakfast is an organization that builds bridges of understanding between all peoples, religions, and beliefs, and has never advocated the sentiments expressed in Mr. Bahati's legislation,' it read.

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