For nearly 70 years, every American president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has gathered in Washington, D.C. for the National Prayer Breakfast. The event, which brings together religion and politics, has been a fixture in the nation’s capital since 1953.
But this year, the event is taking on a different form. Instead of being organized by a private religious group known as the International Foundation, the National Prayer Breakfast will be taken over by Congress.
According to The Associated Press, that’s because some lawmakers apparently had little idea about who was being invited, how the event was being funded, or the group behind it.
And those concerns are not unfounded. In 2018, one of the attendees turned out to be a Russian operative who later pleaded guilty to acting as a foreign agent for the Kremlin.
Since then, various groups have called for a boycott, citing those security concerns in addition to the overall religious nature of the event, which some view as divisive.
This year, in addition to the bagels, coffee and tea, the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, headed by former Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., will host Congress, the president and vice president and official guests, making for a more intimate setting with religion and politics on the menu.
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MAHMOUD BENNETT: FOR NEARLY 70 YEARS, EVERY PRESIDENT SINCE DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER HAS GATHERED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. FOR THE NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST.
THE EVENT, WHICH BRINGS TOGETHER RELIGION AND POLITICS, HAS BEEN A FIXTURE IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL SINCE 1953.
BUT THIS YEAR THE EVENT IS TAKING ON A DIFFERENT FORM. INSTEAD OF BEING ORGANIZED BY A PRIVATE RELIGIOUS GROUP KNOWN AS THE INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION, THE NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST WILL BE TAKEN OVER BY CONGRESS.
ACCORDING TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – THAT’S BECAUSE SOME LAWMAKERS APPARENTLY HAD LITTLE IDEA ABOUT WHO WAS BEING INVITED, HOW THE EVENT WAS BEING FUNDED OR THE GROUP BEHIND IT.
AND THOSE CONCERNS ARE NOT UNFOUNDED. IN 2018, ONE OF THE ATTENDEES WHO SHOWED UP TURNED OUT TO BE A RUSSIAN OPERATIVE WHO LATER PLEADED GUILTY TO ACTING AS A FOREIGN AGENT FOR THE KREMLIN.
SINCE THEN VARIOUS GROUPS HAVE CALLED FOR A BOYCOTT CITING THOSE SECURITY CONCERNS IN ADDITION TO THE OVERALL RELIGIOUS NATURE OF THE EVENT WHICH SOME VIEW AS DIVISIVE.
THIS YEAR, IN ADDITION TO THE BAGELS, COFFEE AND TEA OF COURSE THE NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST FOUNDATION WILL HOST CONGRESS, THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT AND OFFICIAL GUESTS – A MORE INTIMATE SETTING WITH FAITH AND POLITICS ON THE MENU.