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- which was roundly condemned by human rights groups - was scheduled to attend the breakfast but his invitation has been revoked, the group said.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. Marlee Stone

    Not to worry. Even if Obama prays, he will pray to himself as he believes himself to be more intelligent that God.

    February 4, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. Ed

    As usual. He does not research ANYTHING before he makes a move.

    February 4, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  3. nancy

    it is about time someone spoke out against this group of religious nuts that control our government. I personally am sick to death of church and state working together IT NEEDS TO STOP!

    February 4, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  4. SIMP

    Sounds like a cult to me. Why would anyone especially the President even think about attending anything this cult is doing. These idiots praise the organization abilities of hitler and bin laden? What a bunch of idiots

    February 4, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  5. G;loria

    I am totally against the President having anything to do with a prayer breakfast that is only for certain religions – christian. Where are the rabbis, the imams, etc. This is a very divisive event. Religion should not be part of the government or quasi-government. President Obama, I implore you to never attend this again.

    February 4, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  6. Gaz

    I'm more interested to know how this Ugandan legislator was let into the United States.
    Smells like part set up/part crackpot photo op trying to get legitimacy.
    Whoever booked the President to attend should be reprimanded.
    All this prayer group nonsense and religious homage has to end. It always ends in tears. Religion & hatred are always bedfellows.

    February 4, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |

    Of course they do! Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.......

    They will object to ANYTHING this President does.


    February 4, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  8. I'll never go hungry again!

    Seems he can't do anything right these days. Oh, how the rock star has fallen from the sky!

    February 4, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. Smon

    Mr. Obama – stop trying to please everyone. The Fellowship Foundation is a fascist organization. Their objectives are completely incompatible with the Constitution. Not only should you not attend their prayer breakfast, you should have them investigated for sedition at home and terrorism abroad. "When Fascism comes to America it will come with a flag in one hand and a bible in the other". Please don't forget this. Your oath of office binds you to protect and defend The Constitution. Please honor it.

    February 4, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  10. Jane

    Obama is not the president he is constant presidental campaign artist.

    February 4, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co.

    What ethics group

    February 4, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is one of those fuzzy areas that could or could not be seen as supporting the group. If this group was the one sponsoring the breakfast in total and made it clear that its goal was this kind of legislation, then Obama should be staying away. Obama has to be clear as to why he is there and make remarks that legislation that severally condem a group like that which is large is never acceptable.

    February 4, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. Kevin

    This ethics group should wait and see what the President has to say at the event before they start passing judgement. He may take The Fellowship Group "to task". There's an old saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer".

    February 4, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. katiec

    Republicans, we, the American people, are getting so disgusted, upset, disturbed with your constant negativity about anything and everything, obstruction, hypocrasy and irresponsible behavior.
    With your actions you are well on your way to becoming our countries most dangerous domestic terrorists.

    February 4, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Jenny

    Oh, good grief. President Obama wants to have breakfast with like-minded men and someone has to get their knickers in a wad about it. Melanie Slaon of CREW needs to get a life and stop whining about Christian breakfast meeting the President wants to attend. He is allowed to dine where he wants you know.

    February 4, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. Jerry - Florida

    President NObama and his other moronic cronies and appointees continue their blunders unabashed. The worst part is that mainstream media continue to wear blinders and ignore the situation. If it wasn't for CNN and Fox, Most Americans would all be kept in the dark. And, basically told to shut-up and sit down.

    Not only do president NObama and his cronies lie, they continue to do it in very sneaky ways. This president has no shame, and of course, respect for the American people.

    Will President NObama's teflon ever war off? Will this slow learner ever engage his brains before he opens his big mouth?

    Stay tuned...

    February 4, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Grundoon

    These Fellowship people and their event should not be legitimized by the presidnet's atendanceor any member of the lgislative body. They are controlling, minipulative scumbags of the highest order.

    February 4, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  18. johnrj08

    I think it would probably be a good idea to wait and hear what the President has to say at this "prayer meeting" before condemning him for attending it.

    February 4, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  19. andy

    How predictable. Why don't I just give you guys a script:

    "President (current incumbent) was blasted today by (insert name of loud mouthed pundit, fringe group, random idiot, dubious think tank, shouting head) for (showing up at prayer breakfast, NOT showing up for prayer breakfast, color of tie, other partisan diatribe), according to (drunk on street, nameless "source," my grouchy uncle Bob, an inmate in lunatic asylum, vapid prettyface on news.)"

    February 4, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. Linda from Minnesota

    If President Obama didn't go, the repubs would criticize him. He's going so they criticize him. Their agenda is to discredit this president no matter what. How very sad that they don't want to work with him for what needs to be fixed in this country. They say "country first". Hypocrisy at the highest level. He extends a hand, they slap it. I will be working very hard to oust my republican congressman, Erik Paulsen (a Republican) unless he decides to represent the people who elected him instead of his party. I would hope that every American citizen takes a good hard look at their representation whether it be democrat or republican and vote in people who will work for the people, not for the party.

    February 4, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  21. sensible Cape coral FL

    Some people are determined to make a political statement about anything even the day of the week if possible. Get a life Guys!

    February 4, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  22. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    Somebody needs to tell these American Taliban that ancient folklore mixed with medieval superstition is not a rational basis for governance. Unfortunately, their minds are so polluted with religious nonsense that they honestly believe they're right and that they're on a mission from God. There's no reasoning with fanatics like that. Scary. The funny part is that their actions are so not what Jesus would do and they can't even see it. Have a nice day!

    February 4, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. Minnesotan

    Next story will be: "Obama eats lunch. Conservatives Protest in Droves." I'm sick of these conservative whiners trying to turn every little thing into a cataclysmic disaster. Yes, we have a black president. Get over it.

    February 4, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  24. larry

    Obama should have stayed away from this event until the organizers answered some questions.

    February 4, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  25. lwood

    I am amazed at things that get protested. If it is truly a 'prayer breakfast' then I am glad our President thinks prayer is important. I am tired of having defend prayer to the biggots of this country. Prayer has been a part of the American way since our forefathers founded this great nation. When you remove prayer then you are one step down from losing your greatness as a nation. Just read your history books and see how the great empires and nations went down in history.

    February 4, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
1 2 3 4 5