Due to fears that the meeting had grown too polarizing, the National Prayer Breakfast, one of the most prominent and long-running occasions that brings religion and politics together in Washington, is separating from the private religious group that has been in charge of it for decades.
The National Prayer Event Foundation, chaired by former Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, will be in charge of planning and hosting this year’s breakfast, which is set for Thursday. Sen. Chris Coons, a frequent attendee and head of the Senate ethics committee, said the decision was partly driven by worries in prior years that members of Congress were unaware of critical information regarding the larger multiday conference.
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The committee’s vice chairman, Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, and I previously voiced concerns about who was invited and how money was being solicited, according to Coons, a Democrat. According to Coons, the annual event “went over several days, had thousands of attendees, and a very vast and somewhat intricate organization.”
“It had been questioned to what extent we, as members of Congress, knew exactly how it was planned, who was invited, and how it would be sponsored. Many of us who had held leadership positions were unable to respond to those inquiries.” Legislators ultimately decided to take charge of planning the prayer breakfast itself as a result.
The COVID-19 stoppage, according to Pryor, president of the new organization, allowed participants an opportunity to revamp the breakfast and bring it back to its roots, a shift that he claimed had been considered for years. The goal, according to Pryor, was to “restore it to its roots,” when House and Senate members could join forces to pray for the president, his family, his administration, as well as for our country and the rest of the world.
The president, vice president, and members of Congress are among those invited to the ceremony on Thursday at the Capitol’s visitors center. Pryor estimated that 200 to 300 people would attend. The first president to attend was Dwight D. Eisenhower in February 1953, and every president who has since attended and spoken has done so.
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