The National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly event that first took place in 1953, when it was called the Presidential Prayer Breakfast. Every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in the breakfast.
The NPB is held in Washington, D.C., on the first Thursday of February, and is
a series of meetings, luncheons, and dinners that take place the week before
the breakfast. During this time, members of Congress hold private meetings
with individuals and groups, both American and international, to talk through
issues of interest.
The breakfast is attended by some 3,500 guests, including members of the U.S. Congress and Cabinet, the diplomatic corps and people from a variety of walks
of life, including international invitees from over 100 countries.
The Fellowship Foundation organizes the National Prayer Breakfast which is hosted by members of the United States Congress. The principal themes are peace and reconciliation, justice, and aid to the needy of the world.
Each year several guest speakers visit the various events connected with the National Prayer Breakfast. The Thursday morning breakfast, typically has
two very special guest speakers: the President of the United States and a
guest whose identity is kept confidential until that morning.
Some speakers at Prayer Breakfasts
1994 (42nd Annual NPB) Mother Teresa of Calcutta—Keynote speech.
2005 (53rd Annual NPB) Ambassador Tony P. Hall, U.S. Representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture—Keynote Speech.
2005 Ricardo Maduro, then president of Honduras, and currently Chairman of the Bank of Honduras.—Thursday lunch.
2006 (54th Annual NPB) Bono, Irish singer/songwriter and humanitarian—Keynote Speech.
In 2006, King Abdullah II of Jordan addressed the Thursday lunch.
King Abdullah II completed an advanced studies and research program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Jesuit Georgetown University.
In September of 2005, Abdullah’s speech at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law was entitled “Traditional Islam: The Path to Peace.” While en route to the United States, King Abdullah met with Pope Benedict XVI to build on the relations that Jordan had established with Pope John Paul II to discuss ways in which Muslims and Christians can continue to work together for peace, tolerance, and coexistence.
2007 (55th Annual NPB) Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute—Keynote Speech.
2008 (56th Annual NPB) Ward Brehm, a Minnesotan who chairs the U.S.-African Development Foundation—Keynote Speech.
History of the National Prayer Breakfast
The National Prayer Breakfast is put on by an organization called The Family, which through the years has been called, The Fellowship, The Fellowship Foundation, The International Foundation, National Committee for Christian Leadership, International Christian Leadership, the National Leadership Council, Fellowship House, the National Fellowship Council.
The National Prayer Breakfast is not the main work of The Family. It would seem the group is actually a very political group with a worldwide focus—not regional a US religious evangelical group that one might think at first. The Family is said to have no formal membership. Its relationships span from poor communities in developing countries to prominent members of the United States Congress.
The current head of the Family is Douglas Coe, named one of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in America in 2005 by Time magazine, has led the group since 1966. The Family has 20,000 members, directed by 350 leaders.
The Family was founded in Seattle in 1935 by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant and traveling preacher who had been working with the city’s poor, and who feared that “socialist” politicians were about to take over Seattle’s municipal government…
“The Fellowship maintains a three-story, 7,914-square-foot red brick townhouse at 133 C Street in Washington, D.C., near the United States Capitol. The townhouse used to be a convent. As many as six members of Congress, Democratic and Republican, live here while in Washington.
In 2003, these men paid $600 a month to live there:
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, Baptist, R-Tenn.;
U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak,, Roman Catholic, D-Mich.;
U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint, Presbyterian, R-S.C.;
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Roman Catholic, D-Pa.;
U.S. Sen John Ensign, Foursquare Gospel, R-Nev.;
U.S. SenSam Brownback, Roman Catholic, R-Kan.
The house, which was valued at $1.1 million in 2003, is owned by a Fellowship sister organization called the C Street Center. IRS records show that the Center received more than $145,000 in grants from the Fellowship between 1997 and 2000.”—Lara Jakes Jordan, “Fellowship finances townhouse where 6 congressmen live”, Associated Press, April 20, 2003
Books, articles, information links
The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power Harper Collins, 2008, Jeff Sharlet
From the bookjacket:
They are the Family—fundamentalism’s avant-garde, waging spiritual war in the halls of American power and around the globe. They consider themselves the new chosen, congressmen, generals, and foreign dictators who meet in confidential cells, to pray and plan for a “leadership led by God,” to be won not by force but through “quiet diplomacy.”
“…Sharlet follows the story back to Abraham Vereide, an immigrant preacher who in 1935 organized a small group of businessmen sympathetic to European fascism, fusing the Far Right with his own polite but authoritarian faith. From that core, Vereide built an international network of fundamentalists who spoke the language of establishment power, a “family” that thrives to this day. In public, they host prayer breakfasts; in private they preach a gospel of “biblical capitalism,” military might, and American empire. Citing Hitler, Lenin, and Mao, the Family’s leader declares, “We work with power where we can, build new power where we can’t.”
SourceWatch: The Fellowship
By 1985, The Fellowship had 150 individual ministries beneath it. This model continues to this day with countless ministries coming into and going out of existence depending upon the current needs of the organization and the initiatives it wishes to fund.
As Sharlet writes in his Harper’s piece, The Foundation believes that its mobile “cell” structure, which it likens to those organized by Lenin, Bin Laden, and Hitler, makes it far more efficient than a hierarchical organization. And just like Enron’s many shell corporations, their cell structure has the additional advantage of being able to move money around very quickly and in a way that makes it difficult to track or audit.
This information is for my post:
The Real Presence in the Eucharist: Evangelization of America through Politics