Guess who's coming to breakfast? The breakfast in question would be the high-profile National Prayer Breakfast set for Feb. 4 at the Washington Hilton ballroom. And the guessing game concerns David Bahati, the Ugandan MP with close ties to the conservative Christian politicos who sponsor the annual breakfast -- and who have been cited as inspiration's for Bahati's notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a.k.a. the "Kill the Gays Bill" because of its draconian criminal penalties on homosexual acts, including life imprisonment and the death penalty.
"I intend to attend the prayer breakfast," Bahati told Ugandan media over the weekend.
If he does, he'll come face to face not only with President Obama, who spoke at the breakfast last year and is expected to be there this year too, but also with his erstwhile conservative Christian allies in the United States -- who are now not so keen on being seen with Bahati.
The National Prayer Breakfast
has been held since 1953 and is a don't-miss appointment for any pol hoping to burnish his or her bona fides as a person of faith. In recent years the breakfast, which is attended by some 3,500 Beltway denizens and is officially hosted by members of Congress, has been organized by a secretive network of conservative Christians known as the Fellowship Foundation, or more commonly as The Family.
The Family has endured a year of high-profile headlines, however, thanks to serial infidelities by boldface members like Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who lives at the group's C Street residence when he is in Washington, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who also relied on the network for spiritual counsel during his extramarital affair.
But ties between The Family and other leading U.S. Christians and conservative Ugandan Christian politicians like Bahati also made headlines at the end of last year -- as we reported here
-- when details of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill became public and the influence of American evangelicals on the bill became known.
Perhaps that is why, according to the Box Turtle Bulletin
, which has been on the Ugandan story from the start, Family members are now saying that Bahati has NOT been invited to the National Prayer Breakfast and will NOT be attending.
BTB points to a blog post from Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical Christian and former promoter of "gay conversion" therapies to make homosexuals straight, who was one of the first American Christians to sound the alarm on Bahati's anti-gay bill last year. Throckmorton is citing
officials and sources in The Family as saying Bahati was going to come . . . but now he isn't . . . and even if he does, he won't be allowed in. Throckmorton writes:
"[A]ccording to Bob Hunter and others with the Fellowship Foundation, Bahati was invited months ago to come to Washington DC only as a volunteer and not to attend the NPB event. According to these sources, Bahati declined the invitation prior to introducing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to Mr. Hunter, the Monitor
[of Uganda] article and Bahati's statements came as a complete surprise to the NPB officials here. However, in the event the article was accurate, the NPB officials and Congressional leaders were taking action to assure that Bahati did not come to any of the meetings."
Just as interesting as these convolutions is what role Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might be playing. As Mark Silk notes
, Clinton -- who is one of the few Democrats associated with The Family and who has attended private prayer groups since she was first lady in the 1990s -- has praised Family leader Doug Coe as "a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship to God."
But in December Clinton also voiced her objections
to the Uganda anti-gay bill as "a very serious potential violation of human rights."
Perhaps Bahati will be a victim of a rare display of bipartisanship.