The National Prayer Breakfast Lives On
Over the next few days, major news outlets will undoubtedly dedicate coverage to the National Prayer Breakfast. The annual event, a Washington tradition since 1953, draws thousands of attendees to the nation’s capital on the first Thursday of every February. This year’s guest list includes members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, and President Barack Obama — who attended all four years of his first term. Notably, every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has turned out for the event.
While attendees and the public await the president’s remarks, few seem to question who is behind the event. The answer is not nearly as wholesome as the nation's leaders sharing a breakfast devoted to prayer.
The annual breakfast serves as a meeting and recruitment event for the Fellowship Foundation, also known as “The Foundation,” “The Fellowship,” or “The Family.” The shadowy group’s leader, Doug Coe, has served as a spiritual adviser to government officials and uses the organization to push his unorthodox brand of Christianity within government circles. The organization operates under a veil of secrecy, concealing the sources of its funding, its financial holdings, and its political goals.
The group operates the infamous C Street House, a tax-exempt boarding house and former home to scandal-ridden former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV). Mr. Coe’s group also supported Laurent Gbagbo, the former president and dictator of the Ivory Coast, and pushed for anti-gay legislation in Uganda that made homosexuality a capital offense. At past breakfasts, organizers have even facilitated meetings between foreign dignitaries and U.S. politicians — well outside the reach of the State Department.
Despite frequent presidential addresses, the placement of presidential seals at the event, and an organizing committee made up of members of Congress, the breakfast is in no way a government-sanctioned event. By attending the breakfast, both the president and Congress lend legitimacy to the Fellowship Foundation, and assist it with networking and fundraising. As in past years, CREW urges lawmakers to boycott the event.
Instead of spending several hundred dollars to attend, lawmakers would be wise to steer clear of the Washington Hilton on Thursday. Prospective attendees shouldn’t have a hard time finding an alternative place to grab the most important meal of the day and avoid bolstering the credibility of a shady religious association.