Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bigots at it again with exclusionary "prayer breakfast" in Clark County

As just about every progressive knows, bigotry is a problem that we are forced to confront everywhere we turn. This last spring, we pushed back against the Rev. Ken Hutcherson of Kirkland, who is a bigot and doesn't like gays and lesbians. We pressured Microsoft to resume supporting Ed Murray's civil rights bill, which they did, although they were a bit tardy in doing so.

The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI for short) are trying to organize a "faith-civic" event in Clark County for October 5th:
This year’s event in Clark County is to take place Wednesday, October 5, 2005 at the Hilton in Vancouver. Participants will begin to arrive at befor 7 am. THe event is slated for 7-9:30. It is billed as the Clark County Prayer Breakfast in the heading, but you don’t have to read very far to find a “Mayor”. The first line of their article it refers to the “Clark County’s Annual Mayor’s and Community Leaders Prayer Breakfast”. The hosting Mayor is Battle Ground’s own, John Idsinga.
Now, about this group. The FGBMI believes, as many other bigoted "Christian" groups believe, that gays and lesbians are (among other things) an abomination, or perhaps just plain vile sinners because they could change if they wanted to. They also cannot allow Muslims to participate in their prayer breakfasts because "it's not in the spirit of the Judeo-Christian tradition".

Oh, and it's a "Men's" Fellowship, so women cannot be members.

Guess who the speaker at their 2004 event was? (From their own website):
The featured speaker was Jeff Kemp, former NFL Quarterback and now executive Director of Families Northwest. Based in the Seattle area, Families Northwest advances the Northwest Marriage & Family Movement, a cultural campaign aimed at increasing the rate of marriage success, enhancing family health and turning the tide on family breakdown so more children are raised in nurturing homes by their married mother and father.
Recently, the FGBMI was exposed for who they are and what they believe when they tried to organize a similar event in Oregon in April of 2004:
Organizers canceled a planned prayer breakfast Tuesday after learning that most of Washington County's mayors and one of two main speakers wouldn't attend the May 5 event because a Muslim leader was excluded from participating.

Uniting the community's pastoral, political and business people in prayer had been the purpose of the Mayors' Prayer Breakfast of Washington County, he said. Without the host -- Beaverton Mayor Rob Drake -- and other mayors, he said, that couldn't happen.

Shahriar Ahmed, president of the Bilal Mosque Association in Beaverton, along with Rabbi David Rosenberg of Portland, had been invited to the otherwise Christian breakfast at Drake's request.

Ahmed had been scheduled to give the breakfast's closing prayer from the dais before the fellowship informed him he couldn't.


A fellowship spokesman, Peter Reding, had said the invitation was withdrawn by the steering committee because Muslims pray to a God they call Allah and they aren't part of the fellowship's "Judeo-Christian tradition."

Religious representatives including Muslims criticized the reasoning, saying tenets of the Muslim faith intertwine historically with those of Christianity and Judaism.

Drake said Tuesday he had received about 600 e-mail and other responses at City Hall about his decision to skip the breakfast. "And you can count on two hands the negative comments," he said.
The problem here is that this group is trying to hold an event with mayors participating as mayors - not as private citizens. It's a "mayor's prayer breakfast", essentially. A prayer breakfast that is for "Christians" (certain types of "Christians") only.

Molly sums it up best:
This event represents intolerance, exclusivity and a refusal to reach out to all members of our community. Because of this the GOVERNMENT OF ALL THE PEOPLE must refuse to attend.If a government official does attend, it better be on their own time.
Mayors and other elected officials would be wise to boycott an event that seeks to highlight them in their roles as public officials, but doesn't allow for the whole community to participate. Either that, or they should attend discreetly as private citizens.

Bigotry and discrimination have got to be made unacceptable in our society. It's unfortunate that more people aren't willing to stand up and support civil rights for everyone.

<< Home