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Concerns over prayer breakfast lead Congress to take over



Private religious groups who have overseen the longstanding tradition of “The National Prayer Breakfast” have expressed concerns that the process has become too divisive.

The National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, who are led by former Sen. Mark Pryor (D-ARK), are scheduled to host the event on Thursday and have also been charged with organizing it.

Sen. Chris Coons, who has regularly taken part in this event and is also chairman of the Senate ethics committee, said that this decision was partly prompted by recent convers that members of Congress were not given vital details about the event.

Coons said that in past gatherings, both he and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) the committee’s vice chairman, had raised questions about how money the event was raising and also who was being invited.

The annual event “went on several days, had thousands of people attending, and a very large and somewhat complex organization,” Coons said in an interview. “Some questions had been raised about our ability as members of Congress to say that we knew exactly how it was being organized, who was being invited, how it was being funded. Many of us who’d been in leadership roles really couldn’t answer those questions.”

Lawmakers then decided to seize control of the event and arrange it by themselves.

Pryor, who is president of the new foundation, said that COVID restrictions gave members a chance to “reset” the breakfast and take it back to its origins.  Pryor said that this is something that has been discussed for years.

“The whole reason the House and Senate wanted to do this was to return it to its roots, when House members and Senate members can come together and pray for the president, pray for his family and administration, pray for our government, the world,” Pryor said.

Pryor said members of Congress, the president, vice president and other administration officials and selected guests will be invited to Thursday’s prayer breakfast, which will be held at the visitors’ center at the Capitol. Pryor said he estimated the total attendance to be between 200-300 people.

Pryor also said that the new format will give the event a more intimate feel.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak at the event.

At last year’s address from the Capitol, Biden placed importance on members of Congress getting to know each other on a more personal level.

“It’s hard to really dislike someone when you know what they’re going through is the same thing you’re going through,” Biden said.

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