Gay Controversies Tempered as National Prayer Breakfast Returns

President Obama will offer his first major remarks to America’s faith community since he announced his support for gay marriage last May

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Official White House Photo / Pete Souza

President Barack Obama speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Feb. 2, 2012

Religious and community leaders will gather Thursday in Washington for the 61st annual National Prayer Breakfast, where President Obama will offer his first major remarks to America’s faith community since he announced his support for gay marriage last May. Obama usually shies away from policy at the breakfast — in his first four, he only briefly mentioned health care, immigration and the fiscal crisis. His only mention of sexuality was a quick aside in 2010. But many of the 3,000-plus guests will be wondering if his new position finds its way into his remarks.

The National Prayer Breakfast’s organizer, the Fellowship Foundation, has historically held conservative evangelical positions and was linked to legislation in Uganda that would make being gay a capital offense. The breakfast is not a White House–sponsored event — the National Prayer Breakfast leadership and congressional offices handle the invitations, and the President just goes to speak. But this relationship has drawn criticism from marriage-equality advocates in recent years. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent letters to congressional leaders urging them to boycott the breakfast in 2010, and that same year, gay-rights activists organized competing prayer events in 17 cities. Last year, Occupy Faith held a countering People’s Prayer Breakfast with gay-rights groups.

The controversy over the breakfast organizers is a perennial one, but this year protests are scarce. Get Equal, a co-sponsor of last year’s People’s breakfast, expects to release a statement and focus instead on countering anti-gay legislation in Uganda. CREW did not send letters, but executive director Melanie Sloan told TIME that they still urge lawmakers to boycott the event. Overall, the urgency appears mitigated.

That does not mean all controversy has been eliminated. Earlier this year, Obama’s Inaugural organizers invited Pastor Louie Giglio to deliver the 2013 benediction, but after a two-decade-old comment condemning homosexuality of his resurfaced, Giglio was replaced with an Episcopal priest who supports gay rights. It was a pointed shift from four years ago, when the newly minted Obama Administration invited evangelical dynamo Rick Warren to deliver the Inaugural invocation even though it was widely known that Warren opposed gay marriage. The shift is particularly notable given that at last year’s Prayer Breakfast, the President even mentioned Giglio’s ministry by name when he called attention to the fight against sex trafficking.

Neither Giglio nor Warren is scheduled to attend the event, but hundreds of other prominent evangelicals are. Other topics certainly could lead the President’s list — guns, immigration and climate change, to predict a few. And perhaps Obama will not mention gay rights in an attempt to mend bridges the Inaugural Giglio snafu damaged. But if Obama does discuss marriage equality, it will not go unnoticed.

37 comments
ValerieTylerSharpe
ValerieTylerSharpe

I hope that President Obama gets rebuked, chastised, corrected by GOD and those who twist scripture and go against GOD's word...and not the Country as a whole.  I hope GOD shows the evil ones their ways.


JohnSmith7
JohnSmith7

I choose to not rape, not murder, not steal, and not commit hoe moe acts, its all choice. I was not born to do any of these things. I have a choice.  Will I choose to do right or not. I was born that way is a lie and an excuse to be weak.

JohnSmith7
JohnSmith7

You are pretty good at lying to yourself. Do you really believe your own bs?  Speaking of psychology, lying to yourself is a primary way of excusing yourself from your behaviors.  Being a butt poker is a learned behavior as well as all other perverted actions.  You were not born that way, you chose to pack that fudge!! Dumdum.  Sorry, I choose to be hetero, you can't have my number.  Dumdum

JohnSmith7
JohnSmith7

Obama tempers his comments on butt pluggers because he is with a conservative audience.  Another example of his hypocrisy.  He is a 2 faced liar and performs the worste kind of evil, deception. We can see what he is doing and he will also answer to those evil actions.

JohnSmith7
JohnSmith7

God did not make anyone straight or gay just as he doesn't make anyone rape, steal, lie, commit adultery, murder etc...  Every action we take is a choice.  We can't blame anyone for our behavior or use the foolish lie that we were born that way.  We are all born with opportunities to choose and we all have consequences for those choices.

BillCourson
BillCourson

Perhaps the problem of President Obama's participation could be addressed  and the potential for wider participation in this event realized if efforts were made to make it a truly 'national' prayer event, rather than one specifically geared to evangelical orthodox Christians.  I am curious as to how many Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, pagans, neo-pagans, Wiccas, adherants of Native American and Earth religions - inter alia - will be in attendance.  Can we expect a Thelemite priest or priestess to offer an opening invocation hastening the arrival of the Aeon of Horus?  Will there be a Shinto or a Taoist or a Buddhist presence?

Until there are, or is, I think of this event as nothing more than the Christianity Today editorial staff with bacon and eggs on their faces.

jgorl804
jgorl804

thought we were a nation of law..not religion???

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

Religion - " Do as I say , not as I do " .

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Okay, it's a Prayer Breakfast, and is obviously meant to invoke God.  God does not approve of homosexuals and homosexuality, and it would be wrong to pretend that He does.

President Obama has to accept that he can't have it both ways, and he had better not try to upstage whoever is conducting the prayer by advocating "tolerance" for things which religion deems sinful.

TyPollard
TyPollard

in a few years gay marriage will be a non issue except to a small minority. Progress.

ValerieTylerSharpe
ValerieTylerSharpe

"IF" The government decides to allow homosexuals the right to be married...so what?  But don't say it is morally correct just to TRY to be PC.  Call it what it is.  Even what you think of it...but don't say GOD condones it...not the GOD of The Bible.


rcl1213
rcl1213

@JohnSmith7 You are so wrong in so many ways. Gay people didn't choose to be gay. You think "committing hoe moe acts" is just weakness? I'm sure if given the choice, gay people would have chosen to be "normal" and to be straight rather than to be criticized and ostracized like close minded bigots like you. Please learn how to use correct grammar and then maybe I'll take your argument seriously. 

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

youre an idiot-hes a politician who represents all americans-even the stupid, rednecked bigoted ones

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

since theres no god your point is moot (ps orientation is innate dumdum so yes, youre born that way)

NormanDostal
NormanDostal

you dont get it, dumdum-being gay is psychological-it has nothing to do with behavior. Are you straight because you have sex with the opposite sex? no-you are straight because you are ATTRACTED to women-now stop being a coward and post with your real name

MrObvious
MrObvious

@mrbomb13 

Feel free to point where Jesus (God manifest) ever talked about homosexuals and abortion. You'd think Christians who named their (mine) religion after the Jesus (Christ) also felt like living like the man. You know, humble, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, cure the sick. And not be so obsessed about things and wealth. But if you look at some of the homophobic mega churches you'd think otherwise.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@mrbomb13 "Advocating tolerance for things which religion deems sinful"?  Like cutting one's beard?  Or eating pork or shellfish?  How about working on the Sabbath?  All are equally sinful, why pick on gay folks so much?  Religion was used as a weapon to subjugate women and entire races of people (slavery) for hundreds of years.  Sometimes it still is.  How about we stop using religion as a weapon to justify our personal prejudices, huh?  How about everyone who is bigoted just owns it, and stops hiding behind God?  If it's justified to feel that way, then there's no problem in just admitting it, right?   

Besides, waxing sanctimonious on what God does and does not approve of screams of throwing the first stone, and  no one is without sin.  We are fools to think God is on our side.  We can only humbly hope that we are on the side of God.       


Why are we conflating religious marriage with civil marriage in the first place anyway?  Gay marriage does not have one single thing to do with churches.  They can disapprove all they want; they already have the right to marry and not marry any couple for any reason now.  I have two marriage certificates--one from the church, and one from the courthouse.  No one is forcing churches to provide the former for any couple, gay or otherwise, but courthouses should be providing the latter for any pair of legal adults.  Legal marriage is the only marriage anyone should be talking about, and it's high time all adults get treated equally in the eyes of the law.  Religion doesn't have a single thing to do with it.  

 

rcl1213
rcl1213

@mrbomb13 Are you God? Do you know what God approves of or does not approve of? I myself am a practicing Catholic and I manage to find both an appreciation for prayer as well as an appreciation for equal rights. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@TyPollard 

And that small minority will slowly wither away and be forgotten, or only remember with contempt.

JohnSmith7
JohnSmith7

@rcl1213 @JohnSmith7 It is like a rapist who says, "I don't want to rape, I want to be normal, but I can't help it.  Rapists need equal rights.  Your excuse for your perversion might temporarily relieve your guilt that you are doing wrong, but you know in your heart that this is a behavior issue.  You don't need to convince me, keep trying to talk yourself into it. If you believed it, you would not be talking to me.  Hoe moe.  Or is that  butt poker?

JohnSmith7
JohnSmith7

@NormanDostal Even if you take God out of the picture, every action we take is through a conscious decision.  You do have control over your behavioral choices don't you, or is another force controlling you?

Sue_N
Sue_N

@rcl1213 @mrbomb13 I have a feeling there are far more of us with that view than the church would like to admit.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@TyPollard @mrbomb13 

I'm not pretending to know God's Will.

Instead, I am merely citing the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, Judaism, and Islam.

In all three religions, homosexuality is viewed as a grave sin, and that is founded on the religions' interpretation of God's Will.

So, please "don't shoot the messenger," sir.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@DonQuixotic @TyPollard 

There will always be haters and we should never forget that fact. We have seen on this blog that there are still those that haven't gotten over the Civil War.

rcl1213
rcl1213

@JohnSmith7 It's actually nothing like that. Rape is a crime and a horrendous attack on another person. Homosexuality is neither of those things. Also, the last three sentences of your comment do not make sense.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@Paul,nnto @Sue_N @rcl1213 @mrbomb13 The ishops are definitely on the losing side of this one. And the reason is simple: Catholics, just like everyone else, have gay sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. It's one thing to think and talk about "the sanctity of marriage" in the abstract, but it's another thing entirely to look at your family members and friends and try to figure out how they're a threat to that. What makes them less deserving of the joys and blessings (and, yes, the irritations) of marriage than me?

It's also pretty hard to square the church's teaching that "every life is sacred because we are made in the image and likeness of God" with "God created you as a gay person and he loves you … he just doesn't think you should get married. Because you're gay. Which he made you." There's just a huge disconnect there.

And people aren't buying it. In particular, young people aren't buying it. The bishops can continue trying to sell it, but they'd best prepare themselves to lose a generation.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@Sue_N @Paul,nnto @rcl1213 @mrbomb13 In 2010 the Archbishop here, Nienstedt,  mailed dvds to 400, 000 Catholics in Minnesota to put the anti-same sex marriage Amendment on the ballot.

The republican legislature did indeed put it on the ballot for last November. The measure failed and the republicans lost their majority.

The message sent was pretty clear. The message received...not so clear. 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@Paul,nnto @Sue_N @rcl1213 @mrbomb13 As a Catholic in the South, I have been appalled for years to see my church more and more co-opted by the religious right and the Republican evangelicals down here.

We've got 2,000 years of very clear, very strong teachings about care of the poor, more than a century of teaching on the rights of workers to organize and receive fair wages, at least half a century on health care as a right. The church has done a complete about-face on war, serving as one of the strongest anti-war voices out there, two popes have warned stridently and repeatedly about the dangers of unrestricted capitalism and income inequality … and down here it's crickets. All we hear about, all that matters, is abortion.

My priest, who is from Northern Ireland, says some of the angriest mail he gets is when he preaches on the social doctrine, on our communal responsibility for each other and the obligation of a society to care for its most vulnerable. He has most recently been appalled by the whole gun thing.

He has a parish full of people who simply do not understand and will not tolerate anyone pointing out that the church's social teachings are totally incompatible with the GOP platform. It's mind-bending.

rcl1213
rcl1213

@Paul,nnto @Sue_N @rcl1213 @mrbomb13 Couldn't have said it better myself. Isn't there supposed to be a separation of church and state? Politicians and citizens should be able to practice religion without interference of political views, and get involved in politics without being imposed on by religion. Things are going in the wrong direction politically, but believe it or not, it's still possible to have moderate views.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@Sue_N @rcl1213 @mrbomb13 As my late, great, life long Mass going father used to say "They are starting to think they are the Catholic Church of the republicans"

His saying that brought him no pleasure, it did me though. 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@mrbomb13 @TyPollard You know that at one time the Catholic Church taught that slavery was okay, right?

Also, I have no idea about Judaism and Islam, but the church does not view being gay as a grave sin. Or being any sin at all. Acting on it, yes. But simply being gay? No.

You might want to get your facts right if you're gonna pose as God's mouthpiece.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@mrbomb13 @TyPollard "I'm not pretending to know God's Will." Then someone must have hacked your account because this person does little but.


"God does not approve of homosexuals and homosexuality, and it would be wrong to pretend that He does."

"God did not make anyone "gay" or "straight."

"Well, since the act of homosexuality is a sin, I would think that God would like the people who speak God's Truth more (i.e. the people who speak Christian doctrine)."