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- which was roundly condemned by human rights groups - was scheduled to attend the breakfast but his invitation has been revoked, the group said.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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The breakfast is held annually on the first Thursday in February. The president, members of Congress and other dignitaries regularly attend.

    I'm confused. It appears that this group has been flying under the radar with it's 'nefarious' activities for QUITE SOME TIME. It also appears that it's become customary for Presidents to attend this breakfast event. So why are we making a big deal out of Obama attending? Why is he expected to do "the right thing" and NOT attend when every other president has? Again, I must be missing something.

    February 4, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  2. sara

    I only heard of the republicans that are involved with Uganda to jail or execute gays and lesbians while watching the Rachel Maddow Show. At the time she had the "family" main man on, and the exchange was informational.......hats off to Rachel Maddow as her research showed she was well informed. Too bad these kinds of stories are not reported in mainstream news or on the "fair" channel. If these republicans that includes Senator Ensign of Nevada feels that people should be executed and jailed for their sexual orientation, what do that say about these people that are sitting in Washington, representing the American people? Not Much!

    February 4, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. Francisco Cardenas

    Obama is unbelievable. He truly stands for nothing.

    February 4, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Tim

    Give me a break. Apparently, this group hasn't been listening to the president's calls to stop categorizing the 'other side' wholesale. Do I dare say that it is good statesmanship to care for your detractors even enough to pray for them? Thanks for this example, Mr. President, and I hope we as a country will be smart enough to see and follow.

    February 4, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. phoenix86

    Watching this adminstration is exactly like watching a reality TV show. You know it's fake, no matter how real they try to make it.

    Pretty pathetic. I can't wait for the "season" to end.

    February 4, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. Emilie

    Why does Obama go to these things - he went last year, right? Are they so powerful he has show up or else? If so, that's as repugnant a fact as the "Family's" involvement in Uganda!

    February 4, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  7. orion

    Is this the same "Fellowship" that Frank Lloyd Wright was involved with?

    February 4, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. James Klimaski

    Is there no rightwing group that President Obama won't pander to? Did George W. adopt him? What a disappointment.

    February 4, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. All the news that's fit to omit

    I expect the Obamabots to get up around the crack of noon, check the mailbox for a check, see if they have Dorito's in the pantry for Oprah later in the day and THEN LOG ON and find a way to blame everyone else for EXPOSING this from your president (no cap deserved).

    I'll help you Rahm retards out, It's Bush's fault, It's Palin's fault, it's the "teabaggers" fault, it's Fox New's fault, CNN is biased....

    There you go, you can just watch TV and wait for Oprah, your day is done.

    February 4, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. J.Crobuzon

    If Barack cured cancer, the right would say he should have worn a prettier shirt or done it with a Bible.

    February 4, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  11. Charlie

    This country was established on "In God we Trust" and prayer, not hope. I am glad to see Obama is following past presidents of "our" country and attending this prayer event.

    February 4, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. CitizenJP

    The president continues to show his magnanimity by not weighing in on the case. I am neither a democrat nor a republican but if I have to choose the lesser of the two evils, then democratic policies are the only ones that make any remote sense.

    February 4, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. John in Tampa

    I don't have a religion. I do not care if you do or do not, that is your business. But it is seeping into politics these days at an accelerated rate, and I don't like that. Christians! Christians in Uganda want to KILL homosexuals, with (and don't bother denying it) the backing of American Christians.

    I had 12 years of specifically Christian education, and what I did learn is that this behavior could NOT put a smile on the face of God.

    As for Obama, he should just go to the National Cathedral or something. This Fellowship thing is too suspect.

    February 4, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. John in Iowa

    '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. '
    And yet the guy was still originally invited to attend, until they started getting bad press about it.

    February 4, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. T'SAH from Virginia

    I guess now President Obama will continue to be called HITLER and/or Bin Laden if he attends!!!

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

    Was this event protested in the past???

    February 4, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  16. Wmscot

    Here we go again ! Some people just cannot let it go. What is the problem with allowing people to love who they want. What is with all this hate for a portion of the population ? I am a older man that loves women and I feel all people have the right to be with whom ever they want as long as the other person feels the same.
    Ethics is just that !

    February 4, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. Spacinator

    It's ok for all the past President's to attend this but it's not ok for President Obama to attend? Give me a break – enough already with the double standards!!!

    February 4, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  18. pdavis

    Leave the President alone for crying out loud!! I don't see anyone else volunteering to lead the country. Give the man a break and stop criticizing his every move. This country was founded on Christian principals and freedom. If he wants to attend a prayer breakfast, its none of anyone's business. This country should have freedom OF religion not from religion. If Obama wants to be a muslim, Christian, jew, or whatever, that's his right. Stop suffocating the man. Let him do the job that the people elected him for.

    February 4, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. CT in CT

    this is THE FAMILY, the same group who believe the laws do not apply to them, man's laws as well as God's laws can vbe violated because they are the chosen ones to lead the world

    Sen. Ensign as well as S.C. Gov. Sanford are part of that group as well as many orthers, all seemingly ethically challenged

    Women are to be subservient to men and do those menial tasks at places like the C street house and their other larger domains

    February 4, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  20. TG

    This is so absurd. Every president for the last 50 YEARS has attended these "prayer breakfasts". I guarantee you the news has never so much as mentioned these meetings before. To call out Obama on doing so is the height of hypocrisy. You guys are the worst, seriously.

    Look at them try to play the "guilt by association" game:

    Obama goes to meeting! –> Meeting held by "The Family" –> The family has ties to a group in Uganda!

    February 4, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. mike

    there is just another way for these bible idiots to think that if we stop
    having sex and gay people would just go away everything would be
    fine but history has proven differently and as more and more
    people are leaving the church they are now becoming desperate to
    get back there financial base back remember GOD is not in the 700
    club but in your heart its the simple things that you do that makes
    a difference in everyones lives so remember action do speak
    louder then words and you do not need some big church for that

    February 4, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. independent_josh

    We know liberals and homosexuals are anti-christians. It is not a surprise. But they will be defeated in November.

    February 4, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. maddogdad99

    There is no group or person in this country who does not have some aspect that others will disagree with. There is no group or person who has the total acceptance of everyone else. If the President only attended functions that no one disagreed with he'd never attend anything.
    I think rather than protest and name-call, the groups in opposition ought to put on their own meetings and invite the President. Take the positive role, instead of coming across as whiners.

    February 4, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  24. Mike

    The level of hatred and intolerence that some people in this country exhibit is quite alarming. These are the same people that claim to be "religious" whne in fact their very attitude goes against the teachings in the bible. They will al have to be accountable for these actions. There is only one judge.

    February 4, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. Anonymous

    I can't believe but on the other hand I can believe how some people can be so hardhearted, selfish, crooked, and down right outwardly mean and Sooooooo full of awful hate for people. These kind of mean spirited people are going to have to stand before GOD one day, for judgement. They should be ashamed of their heart' s makeup. I thank God for my kind heart and loving spirit , And much much LOVE to those who think as I do. And I do believe we will talk about this when our days on this beautiful earth that GOD so lovingly gave to us.

    God Bless us all and even the ones that don't believe.

    February 4, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
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