5 Things You Missed At the National Prayer Breakfast

For over 60 years, politicians and religious leaders have gathered in Washington for the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event held on the first Thursday in February. Presidents have spoken yearly at the faith-based get together, regardless of whether the majority of those in attendance embrace that leader or not (and, in the case of President Barack Obama’s terms, some took the opportunity to criticize their Commander in Chief openly).

This year, the breakfast had a special significance. In just the two short weeks that President Donald Trump has been in office he has made it clear that elevating the rights and advantages of Christians is his biggest priority. He has directly declared war on “radical Islam,” banned Muslims from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days while offering to prioritize Christian refugees, and most recently proposed to revamp a counter-extremism force to focus solely on Islam while no longer combating white supremacist groups, which are almost always Christian Identity based. The new President is a late-comer to this new found embrace of Christianity, although he appears to be an eager convert.

So how did the first National Prayer Breakfast go in this newly anointed Trump administration? Here are 5 highlights:

1) The special guest was Mark Burnett.

The breakfast always has a surprise guest, usually an international religious figure, a foreign leader, an inspirational philanthropist or a even an occasional pundit. This year, it was producer Mark Burnett. Burnett, who immigrated to the U.S. for a job decades earlier, spoke openly about his wife and his goal of evangelizing through religious television programing when they attended the breakfast a year earlier. This year Burnett apparently doubled down, telling the non-Christians in the room (including one Muslim foreign leader) that they were being “refreshed in Jesus.”

2) The president encouraged “praying” for Apprentice ratings.

It was only inevitable that with Burnett as the main speaker, President Trump would find a way to mention their television show “The Apprentice.” “When I ran for president, I had to leave the show. That’s when I knew for sure I was doing it. And they hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take pace my place, and we know how that turned out,” Trump said, according to Politico. “The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster. And Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again, and I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings, okay?” While the remarks were an obvious joke, it can’t be ignored that the President once again used his forum as Commander in Chief to try to boost a business endeavor that enriches his allies – like Burnett – and himself.

3) He will “destroy” the Johnson Amendment.

One of the biggest reasons that the religious right backed Trump for president was his promise to undo the restriction on church groups that forbids them from direct campaigning and political work. Now, just as he vowed, President Trump is reiterating that the ban – known as the Johnson Amendment – is on the chopping block. “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,” the president said Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast, according to The Hill.  “I will do that, remember.” If the Johnson Amendment is repealed, church leaders would be allowed to endorse politicians and campaign directly from the pulpit and through their churches, while still retaining their tax exempt status. In essence, the rest of the country will have a part in paying for their political “free speech.”

4) The Muslim ban is about “religious liberty.”

In one of the most puzzling aspects of the President’s speech, he explained that religious liberty will be best protected by extreme vetting to be sure only those with “our values” make it into the country. “There are those who would seek to enter our country for the purpose of spreading violence, or oppressing other people based upon their faith or their lifestyle, not right. We will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation. You look all over the world and you see what’s happening. So in the coming days, we will develop a system to help ensure that those admitted into our country fully embrace our values of religious and personal liberty. And that they reject any form of oppression and discrimination. We want people to come into our nation, but we want people to love us and to love our values, not to hate us and to hate our values.”

5) This religious leader thing is still pretty hard for him.

President Trump may well be the first prayer breakfast speaker to casually swear during his own remarks. After praising the earlier speech given by Senate Chaplain Barry Black, the President asked, “Is that an appointed position? I don’t even know if you’re Democrat or if you’re Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year, the hell with it.” Guess his conversion is no where near complete.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

115 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Sarah H
Sarah Hill3 months ago

#4. It's NOT a Muslim ban, it's only temporarily suspending allowing people from a few countries that do NOT have a functioning government so we can vet these people coming into our country so we don't have the same problems Europe is having.

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Amanda M
Amanda M5 months ago

As glad as I am that I'm Wiccan and therefore don't have to waste my Sunday mornings listening to the gobbledygook uttered by the CHINOs (CHristians In Name Only) who insist on using Jesus as an excuse for their close-minded, bigoted, venomous attitudes towards anyone who isn't a hetero Christian man, I now have to worry about Twitler and his minions deciding that his white supremacist, so-called "Christian" rhetoric gives them carte blanche to target ANYBODY who isn't a rich white hetero Christian MAN! Attacks against Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, LGBTs, and other minorities have already skyrocketed since the election-who's to say they won't start going after agnostics, atheists, Wiccans, Pagans, and others now too?

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S6 months ago

noted

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Philippa P
Philippa P6 months ago

That "prayer meeting" was really just a place to push more Trump propaganda.

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Margaret G
Margaret G6 months ago

Speculating about the consequences of getting rid of the Johnson amendment.

Non-profit organizations that don't have tax deductible contributions will figure out how to become "religions". Possible examples (colon)
Church of the Abortion Rights (nee NARAL)
Divine Civil Liberties (nee ACLU)
Holy Mother Earth (nee Sierra Club or Greenpeace or League of Conservation Voters)
Sacred Voters (nee League of Women Voters)
Sanctity of Civil Rights (nee NAACP)

Be careful what you wish for.

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Magdalen B
Magdalen B6 months ago

Thanks Roberta. I just looked it up. Brilliant. Spam flagged x 3.

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S6 months ago

noted

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H6 months ago

Mary B , Brian de Castro, Ron B - just to appreciate a few of the good comments. The Johnson Amendment has been under attack for several years and Rump has just stated the obvious - that he will give more power to the rollers. We have lost many rights already because of them and the few we have left will be gone. Rump loves money and power - not the country. Churches love money and power - not the country. Match made in heaven. HUH - maybe heaven is a corporation...

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