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Private Prayer Breakfast Led By International Extremists

The National Prayer Breakfast which will be attended this morning by Barack Obama is in no sense national. It isn’t a governmental event organized by the nation as a whole. It’s a solely Christian event that represents only part of the American nation. The secretive group that organizes the event isn’t a national organization either: It’s called the International Foundation, and it has branches in countries all around the world.

The International Foundation is the legal name under which the organization does business in the United States. However, members of the International Foundation often use other terms to refer to their group: The Fellowship Foundation, National Fellowship Council, National Leadership Council, or just The Family. (For a good review of the work of the organization, check out The Family, written by Jeff Sharlett.)

One of the branches of the International Foundation is in the African nation of Uganda. A member of the International Foundation, David Bahati, organizes the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast there. Bahati is a member of the Ugandan national legislature, where he proposed a law that, if passed, would make homosexuality a crime that could be punished by death. Bahati’s legislation would also allow the Ugandan police to put people in jail merely for the promotion of homosexuality. It isn’t a purely Ugandan effort, though, given the way that the International Foundation provides substantial financial support to Bahati’s group.

As the Ugandan campaign illustrates, the International Foundation is not a politically-neutral organization that merely promotes general religious worship. It attempts to use its connections to leaders in the federal government to promote Christianity above other religions, while advancing a consistently right wing political agenda in every nation where it has operations. As David Bahati is attempting to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death in Uganda, members of the International Foundation are working to preserve the criminalization of same-sex marriage here in the United States.

Barack Obama’s participation in the International Foundation’s meeting this morning is particularly troubling given his continued support for a government program begun by George W. Bush to funnel government money to religious organizations. President Obama has expanded Bush’s office of “faith-based” (religious) initiatives, and preserved a loophole that allows organizations receiving government funding to discriminate against employees on the basis of religion.

That’s a position that the International Foundation supports. Is Barack Obama seeking to gain admittance as a member of this extremist organization, or is he merely building a political alliance with the group?

Whatever Obama’s intentions, he is providing the International Foundation with the implicit support of the White House by attending the National Prayer Breakfast this morning. Obama’s presence helps the organization create the illusion that it is part of the United States government, when it is in fact registered as a tax exempt religious organization. The mixture of Church and State created by the National Prayer Breakfast’s pose as a governmental institution is so disturbing that the non-partisan group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has written letters to Obama and top congressional leaders this year, asking them not to participate in the theocratic event.

Postscript: The New York Times says of the International Foundation, “The Family has no identifiable Internet site, no office number and no official spokesman.” It seems that the New York Times isn’t able to do basic research: Manta lists the following information for the International Foundation:

204 Mount Oak Pl
Annapolis, MD 21409-5868
Phone: (410) 757-7115

The FEC has records of campaign contributions by employees of the International Foundation as well, providing us with the names of three employees:

Timothy Coe
Tara Jo Mann
Marty Sherman

Tara Jo Mann appears to be a close relative of Republican congressional candidate Tracey Mann.

13 comments to Private Prayer Breakfast Led By International Extremists

  • ReMarker

    Poo poo our President if you must. You say, “Is Barack Obama seeking to gain admittance as a member of this extremist organization, or is he merely building a political alliance with the group?”

    I suggest there is a 3rd reason for his attending for considering. It is, our President is once again going into a lions den (as he recently did by visiting the Republican caucus) to make the case for the value of fact and reason being more important than petty political or extreme religious views.

    I am currently watching his speech on C-Span and will post a link when it is available so anyone interested can hear him with there own ears and make their own decision about our presidents motives.

    Thanks for your opinion. It is good to know how you feel about our president.

    • Jim

      He did NOT make a speech about the importance of “fact and reason.” He did NOT make a speech about how “religious views” are unimportant.

      He made a speech about how important it is for everyone to pray and have faith and keep their mind on “God.” He made a speech agreeing with the attendees that religiosity is crucial.

      Barack Obama, our preacher in chief.

  • ReMarker, it’s not just about what Obama says when there. It’s like appearing on Fox News – he’s giving the International Foundation an endorsement of legitimacy just by showing up.

    Also, aren’t you at all concerned with Obama’s invitation of powerful religious groups to the cash trough of the faith-based initiatives? Many of those same groups are allies of the International Foundation. He’s not just going into the lion’s den. He’s throwing steaks to the lions, making them stronger.

    • Jacob

      So he should instead treat that entire group of the United States as if they have no voice? Seems to be against what the country was based on…

      • Jim

        By that logic, Barack Obama has a duty to speak at the next meeting of the National Man-Boy Love Association.

      • No, Jacob, this group already has a voice, and it’s an inappropriately powerful voice.

        They’re like tobacco company executives. Should Obama go to big tobacco meetings at which people talk about how great it feels to smoke cigarettes?

        • Jacob

          Would it be bad if he did? As long is a group is a legal group I dont think the president should ignore them. Every citizen has a voice and I cant believe you are really saying there voice is too big. There is a level where they should be cust back down again? Is that Stalin talk? What is the size limit before you are cut down? Has the NAACP reached it, they seem pretty big with a pretty powerful voice. What about the AARP, there voice is really powerful? This list can go on. Please share the criteria for too big, my civics and government classes have failed me, this is all so very new to me.

  • ReMarker

    Do we really care if people are religious or not? Don’t we simply want our president to be willing to go into different venues, friendly and unfriendly alike (much progress is possible by making fact-based reasoned points in unfriendly or enemy venues).

    The most important point is, our president needs to be a fact-based reasoner and I think Pres. Obama is. I was glad to hear Pres. Obama discribe many alternate points of view to the most ultra-religious views expressed by many in power (mostly Republicans).

    Personally, I don’t care who anyone prays to, or if they pray at all, as long as their actions help progress toward good things happening.

    Pres. Obama’s remarks begin about 1 hour 15 mins. into the video and last about 15 mins. Here is the C-span link: http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2010/02/04/HP/A/29222/National+Prayer+Breakfast.aspx

  • ReMarker

    For those that question or have questioned if the POTUS is doing things that help the progress toward good things happening for our country, please consider the info. in this Rachel Maddow news clip, link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show#35248822

    I share the dissappointments of those that want more done but I trust this POTUS more than ANY Republican and most Democrats and continue to support his efforts to move our country toward the goals he has defined.

  • Anonymous

    Another Maddow news clip that directly addresses those that question the wisdom of the POTUS attending the National Prayer Breakfast. Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show#35249084

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