National Prayer Breakfast

This morning was the National Prayer Breakfast, which CREW urged the president et. al. not to attend so as not to further lend legitimacy to The Family. Of course, Obama did attend (as did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, among others; we'll come back to Clinton). The president's full remarks are here, and a few things really jumped out at me:
I thank God every day for being married to Michelle Obama.
Well, while you're thanking people, you should thank the good people of the great state of Illinois, who see fit to extend marriage rights to opposite-sex couples.
God's grace, and the compassion and decency of the American people is expressed through … the efforts of our Armed Forces, through the efforts of our entire government.
Separation of church and state is for losers! At the end of this section cataloging all the many ways in which "God's grace, oh yeah, and some stuff that isn't totes religious" is expressed, he adds, "By Americans of every faith, and no faith, uniting around a common purpose, a higher purpose." So, let me get this straight: God's grace can be expressed by Americans of no faith (we'll come back to that phrase) uniting around a higher purpose? Okay, well, I've just got one question, Mr. President: How the fuck does that make any sense?!

Atheists—who, for the record, may have a secular "faith" in things other than god-belief, but it's always fun to be described as having "no faith" as opposed to "no belief in god"—have quite rightly requested acknowledgment from their government and its leadership, but awkwardly inserting oblique references to our existence into your remarks at a prayer breakfast isn't necessary. In fact, it's insulting.

Not attending prayer breakfasts would, however, be a swell idea.
[Erosion of civility in the public square makes us] lose sight of the children without food and the men without shelter and the families without health care.
Hmm. I wonder what it is that made him lose sight of women altogether during that sentence.


Clinton, in whom I'm disappointed for attending yet again for aforementioned issues of credibility-lending, did, however, do something very interesting during her remarks: She first of all didn't pretend she was anywhere else but at a gathering of religious people; she spoke about her own faith and how it acts in her life, rather than making vague pronouncements about how faith acts in other people's lives; and, most extraordinarily, she spoke about how religion is misused:
Religion, cloaked in naked power lust, is used to justify horrific violence, attacks on homes, markets, schools, volleyball games, churches, mosques, synagogues, temples. From Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan to Nigeria and the Middle East, religion is used a club to deny the human rights of girls and women, from the Gulf to Africa to Asia, and to discriminate, even advocating the execution of gays and lesbians. Religion is used to enshrine in law intolerance of free expression and peaceful protest. Iran is now detaining and executing people under a new crime – waging war against God. It seems to be a rather dramatic identity crisis.

So in the Obama Administration, we are working to bridge religious divides. We're taking on violations of human rights perpetrated in the name of religion. And we invite members of Congress and clergy and active citizens like all of you here to join us. Of course we're supporting the peace processes from Northern Ireland to the Middle East, and of course we are following up on the President's historic speech at Cairo with outreach efforts to Muslims and promoting interfaith dialogue, and of course we’re condemning the repression in Iran.

But we are also standing up for girls and women, who too often in the name of religion, are denied their basic human rights. And we are standing up for gays and lesbians who deserve to be treated as full human beings. (Applause.) And we are also making it clear to countries and leaders that these are priorities of the United States. Every time I travel, I raise the plight of girls and women, and make it clear that we expect to see changes. And I recently called President Museveni, whom I have known through the prayer breakfast, and expressed the strongest concerns about a law being considered in the parliament of Uganda.
Did you get that? Hillary Clinton stood at the podium at The Family's National Prayer Breakfast and told them that she thinks that legislation in Uganda is bullshit. Told the sponsors of that legislation that it's bullshit.

I'm not going to mince words: I still wish neither one of them had gone. I wish both of them had stayed clear of that fucking prayer breakfast like it was radioactive.

Sometimes, though, I read something that makes me feel like there is a game of 12-dimensional chess being played in Washington. But it ain't Obama at the board.

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