CREW Asks C-Span Not to Broadcast National Prayer Breakfast
Washington, D.C. - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) sent a letter to C-SPAN Chairman and CEO Brian Lamb asking that C-SPAN either refrain from broadcasting tomorrow’s National Prayer Breakfast, or at least properly identify the sponsor as the religious organization known as “the Fellowship,” or “the Family,” and provide proper context of the event to make clear it is not government-sponsored.
The Fellowship has been cultivating an unorthodox brand of Christianity amongst the political, military, and economic elite of America and other countries for over 50 years, focused on meeting Jesus “man-to-man.” The group operates in secret, away from the “din of the vox populi.” Doug Coe, described as “The Stealth Persuader,” has led the group since 1969.
The one time of year when the Family emerges from the shadows is the annual National Prayer Breakfast, its signature event. This large-scale function serves as a recruiting tool for the group, but is often misconstrued by attendees as an official government event -- a perception reinforced by a presidential address at the breakfast, presidential seals strategically located around the room, and an organizing committee made up of members of Congress.
The Family, and its C Street House, have been linked to ethically troubled politicians including Sens. John Ensign (R-NV) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), and former Rep. “Chip” Pickering (R-MS).
Members of the Family have been behind efforts in Uganda to pass draconian anti-gay legislation that includes life imprisonment -- and in some cases the death penalty -- for anyone convicted of having gay sex. The legislator who introduced the bill, David Bahati, is a member of the Family. He was originally scheduled to attend the breakfast, but recently was disinvited.
On February 1st, CREW sent a letter to President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking that they decline to attend the breakfast and suggest that members of their caucuses also avoid the event.
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said, “The mere fact that C-SPAN, which is dedicated to political coverage, broadcasts the breakfast contributes to the notion that it is an official government event.” Sloan continued, “Viewers see images of a ballroom filled with presidential paraphernalia and high-ranking government officials, and the words 'National Prayer Breakfast' appearing on the bottom of their screens. By airing this, C-SPAN may be unwittingly contributing to the false perception the breakfast is government-sponsored and sanctioned.” Sloan added, “At a minimum, C-SPAN should label the event as sponsored by the Family and provide some context so viewers can fully appreciate what they are seeing: our top government leaders lending legitimacy to a shadowy, intolerant religious organization.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or email@example.com