February 4th, 2010
09:47 AM ET
13 years ago

Ethics group objects to Obama prayer breakfast appearance

Washington (CNN) - An ethics group has protested President Barack Obama's plan to appear Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, raising questions about the event's sponsor.

"The breakfast, designed to appear as if government-sanctioned, actually serves as a meeting and recruiting event for the shadowy Fellowship Foundation," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said in a statement.

The organization, also known as "The Foundation" and "The Family," has ties to efforts in Uganda to pass an anti-homosexuality law that would punish sexual activity between persons of the same sex with long jail terms or death, the ethics group said.

A Ugandan legislator who introduced the bill - which was roundly condemned by human rights groups - was scheduled to attend the breakfast but his invitation has been revoked, the group said.

The breakfast is held annually on the first Thursday in February. The president, members of Congress and other dignitaries regularly attend. Obama is scheduled to speak at the event.

Members of the Fellowship Foundation could not be reached for comment Thursday morning. CREW did not divulge the source of its information.

J. Robert Hunter, a member The Fellowship who has spoken publicly about the group, told The New York Times in a story Thursday that it was unfair to blame the group for the Uganda legislation. About 30 family members, all Americans who are active inAfrica, conveyed their dismay about the legislation to Ugandan politicians, including the bill's sponsor, Hunter said.

The ethics group asked Obama and members of Congress on Monday not to attend the breakfast. On Wednesday, it asked television network C-SPAN to refrain from broadcasting the prayer breakfast, or at least to properly identify its sponsor as the Fellowship.

"The Fellowship has been cultivating an unorthodox brand of Christianity amongst the political, military and economic elite of America and other countries for over 50 years, focused on meeting Jesus 'man-to-man,'" CREW said.

"The organization operates under an intense veil of secrecy, staying largely out of the public eye and hiding its donors' identities." Its leader, Doug Coe, has led the group since 1969, according to CREW.

The fellowship operates a residence and meeting place on Capitol Hill that has been linked to "ethically troubled" politicians, including Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, the ethics group said.

"The president and members of Congress should not legitimize this cult-like group - the head of which has praised the organizing abilities of Hitler and bin Laden - by attending the breakfast," Melanie Sloan, CREW executive director, said in a statement.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Motive

    Don't go man.

    February 4, 2010 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  2. YBM

    We need the same kind of law here that they want in Uganda, make the homosexual lifestyle choice illegal in this country. Homosexuals should not be allowed to have anything to do with children.

    February 4, 2010 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. dragon8me

    What happened to separation of church and state?

    February 4, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  4. Steph

    "Ethically troubled" is such a nice way of saying they are complete scumbags. Why doesn't CNN do some investigative reporting on Doug Coe, his funders and the members of The Fellowship/Family/Foundation/whatever they call themselves.

    February 4, 2010 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  5. Tommy

    What is Obama not blasted for?

    February 4, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. Linell, former Republican, Winter Park, FL

    Aren't half of the Congressmen already members of or linked to"the Family" and their various locations in DC? You need to know your enemy.

    February 4, 2010 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  7. Emma

    Well, Obama is reaching out to all kinds of people. Some day the country will realize what a great president we have.

    February 4, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  8. Debbie

    They are creepy.

    February 4, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  9. Liberal wing nut

    Oh get over it. Its not like Obama follows religious values anyway.

    February 4, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Poor planning by O's administration. He can not afford any negative press.

    February 4, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  11. Kenneth Pennington

    Poor planning by O's administration. He can not afford any negative press.

    February 4, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  12. Rogue

    Give me a break!!! Nuts are falling out of the trees at a rapid rate these days.

    February 4, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  13. ProfBill

    Apparently, we have to worry more about the religious whack-jobs here, than we do about the religious nuts from abroad. Read the recently published book "The Family", if you want to have nightmares about self-righteous psycho's....

    February 4, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "The Fellowship has been cultivating an unorthodox brand of Christianity..."

    Do the details of their superstitious drivel really matter?

    The human races won't ever cease to amaze me, but one of it's most amazing characteristics is the tenacity with which it clings to the silliness of the gods of its own invention. Somehow people seem to be able to find some sort of philosophical distinction between, for example, the Tooth Fairy and the Christian god, chuckling indulgently at childish belief in the former but accepting with sometimes deadly seriousness a belief in the latter. Ridiculous...

    February 4, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. Michael G. Anderson

    Checking on Wikipedia I see that CREW is a "progressive" organization founded in 2003 to ferret out corrupt politicians and call for their prosecution. Your article makes no mention of CREW's background and emphasizes its "ethics" program but not its left-of-center political views. It really isn't news that CREW opposes the National Prayer Breakfast and presidential participation in same.

    February 4, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  16. Liz

    The 'Family' needs to be thoroughly investigated to find out how deep their tentacles invade our government. How nice of them to disavow a bill they helped inspire. I'm sorry Obama attended. Maybe he's not aware of this group's nefarious activities.

    February 4, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  17. Wayne

    If you listen to all of the special groups in the country, this guy just can't do anything right.

    So, W could give untold amounts of cash to religious, faith based groups, but Obama can't even go to breakfast.

    February 4, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  18. chaser

    Its so sad. This president said anything and everything to get himself voted into office and with so little to show for in the first year, he has opted to convince americans that pigs are birds. Its like watching a bad reality show with much of the news media playing cheerleaders now scrampling to figure out what to do with their pom pom. Lets vote experience next time folks where we ought to put actions ahead of soaring rehorics and speeches. As we have seen, all the little pretty words and images got us very little in terms of substance up to now.

    February 4, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  19. Ray Jackson, Ms

    I demand Obama attend a klan rally since he is willing to go to meetings held by hate groups like The Family.

    February 4, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  20. busyMOM

    who cares, this is not Sodom and Gomorrah

    February 4, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  21. r mack

    Last time I looked the presidency was for all the people, not a select few politically correct people.
    United we stand, dived we HAVE fallen! Get a grip work together.

    February 4, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  22. bravado in boston

    look back – every president since about 1969 have been attending this annual event. why not outcry and "blasting" when "W" attended?

    pick your battles, kids.

    February 4, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  23. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    My God, he talked to republican congressmen, and they are domestic terrorists. We need to move beyond Bush style politics.

    February 4, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  24. reality check

    The only way to get these groups out of the shadows is to shine a spotlight on them. I applaud President Obama and CREW for helping this to happen. The more people know about "The Family" the less they will tolerate their nonsense.

    February 4, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  25. tim nyc

    Can you guys give Barack a break please? You have one of the smartest and most decent gentlemen in the nation running this country and you have decided to trash him at every turn. The revolution eats its own....wait til you see what the Repubs give you next. We are doomed if we don't get together very quickly.

    February 4, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
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