A press release from the “Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast“:
On Monday, January 21st, Inauguration Day ordinary Americans will gather with Pastors, Clergy, Lay Leaders, Congressmen, Senators, Ambassadors, and Diplomats to pray for the Nation and the Office of the Presidency. The Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast Committee, consisting of hostess Rev. Merrie Turner, Father Patrick J. Conroy, Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, Stewart Greenleaf, PA State Senator, 12th Dist., Mrs. Annette Lantos (wife of Congressman Tom Lantos, CA) John Stinson, Abby Abildness, Rev.(s) Mike & Rose Greer, Lex & Caroline LaMotte, is presenting the event. Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, best-selling author of “The Harbinger”, is the key note speaker whose topic is the prophetic destiny of America. Representative Michele Bachmann, Dr. Pat Robertson, Jan Crouch, Pat Boone, Joseph Farah, Rosemary Schindler, Senator Roy Blunt, Dick Simmons and other distinguished guests will lead prayers for the nation.
Inevitably, the event is billed as “non-partisan”, but it’s difficult to take that claim seriously judging from the platform. Joseph Farah, for instance, is a Birther, and his WorldNetDaily website has accused Obama of everything from masterminding the Sandy Hook massacre to sending a secret message to Muslims that he plans to continue the Jewish Holocaust.
The fact that Cahn is being given centre stage is also significant: Cahn’s religion is actually rather strange, involving esoteric “Hebrew mysteries” and such, but his Harbinger book, which claims that events such as 9/11 represent God’s judgement against the USA, is currently a top Christian paperback.
The Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast appears to be a neo-Pentecostal initiative; a second site for the event has more explicit rhetoric about how the organisers, “Ask for America (TM)”, are “a Gideon’s Army that God has raised up” and a “strategic prayer network”. It’s not clear how this relates to the “Committee” mentioned in the press release. The event was was founded in the 1980s by the late Ruth Ward Heflin; according to a blurb (it’s not clear who wrote it):
My friend and associate Dr. Ruth Ward Heflin was often priveleged [sic] to attend the Presidential Inaugurations in Washington DC as a young girl. She traveled in missions and was called to carry the Gospel to every nation. But in 1988 God called her to turn her attention to America. I will let her tell you the rest of the story from her book, “Harvest Glory, I Ask for the Nations.”
Heflin is perhaps best-remembered for revivalist events at which gold dust supposedly appeared on people’s hands and at which dental fillings supposedly turned to gold.
UPDATE: Farah’s involvement has become a matter of some controversy – and mystery: see here.
UPDATE 2: Charisma News has also written about the event, adding that:
…the prayer breakfast’s keynote speaker will be Suzan Johnson Cook, who Obama appointed as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom in May 2011. Cook is the principal advisor to both the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for religious freedom globally and is both the first African American and female to hold the position.
“Suzan will address issues of tolerance, unity, faith and the religious freedoms that are at risk at this time,” [Bishop Randolph] Gurley said. “She is very close to the president as an advisor, and she is an awesome lady.”
UPDATE 3: US News reports:
Senate Chaplain Rev. Barry Black will no longer attend an inaugural prayer breakfast being hosted by religious conservatives, after a petition criticizing the event garnered thousands of signatures online.
House Chaplain Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, however, will attend the event. His office says the Jesuit priest will deliver a quick prayer, and won’t “stay too long.”
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