Hundreds of people of faith gathered on Thursday, February 4th in more than 20 cities around the country for the American Prayer Hour, an interfaith response to the National Prayer Breakfast, which also took place on Thursday morning. The National Prayer Breakfast is organized by the conservative and secretive religious group, The Family (also known as The Fellowship).
Members of The Family have been linked to the “Kill the Gays” bill, legislation proposed in Uganda that, if passed, could mean mandatory imprisonment or even the death penalty for anyone accused of being homosexual or protecting someone who is. The organization Full Equality Now, DC sponsored a Wednesday night protest at the Family’s headquarters on Capitol Hill that was covered on The Rachel Maddow Show.
Civil rights advocates had asked the President not to attend the Prayer Breakfast because of the Family’s ties the Ugandan legislation. Although President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did attend the event, they took the opportunity to speak out against the use of religion to justify violence and cruelty. The President decried the targeting of gays and lesbians anywhere in the world and expressed his disgust for laws that would do so in Uganda and elsewhere.
Back in Washington, D.C. a diverse group of religious leaders and people of faith attended the American Prayer Hour at Calvary Baptist Church. Imam Daayiee Abullah of the Al-Fatiha Foundation, which serves bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender Muslims, called the event a “rebuttal to cruelty and violence in God’s name,” and Rabbi Elizabeth Richman of Jews United for Justice declared that each one of us will not be safe, secure and valued until we live in a society where everyone is safe, secure and valued.
May that spirit of peace and dignity accompany all those in Uganda and around the world whose lives and families are endangered by those who would seek to silence and harm them.