At the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, President Obama urged humility about “a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith” to the point where we commit atrocities, like slavery and Jim Crow, in the name of Christ. Critics quickly denounced Obama’s comments as un-American, while supporters defended their accuracy. But few have asked why Obama did not also link Christian conviction to the campaign against slavery and racial injustice. His theology is telling.
national prayer breakfast
Recently I did something for the first time: I attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC. Held annually since 1953, the breakfast is sponsored by the Fellowship (sometimes called “the Family”), a shadowy organization with connections especially to conservative members of Congress. I went with my crap detectors on high alert.
My problem with the National Prayer Breakfast isn't simply a secularist one, i.e. government officials should avoid any event with a smack of sectarianism. What I object to is the political exploitation of the importance of prayer in American life.