Today was an interesting day for the faithful, or at least the prayerful.
The National Prayer Breakfast took place in Washington, DC, and the American Prayer Hour took place in various cities across the country, including Birmingham. Here is a little bit about both.
The differences between the two prayer groups was the subject of this article, in fact, the American Prayer Hour was conceived as an alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast because of its link to the "kill the gays" bill currently being considered in Uganda.
President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, upholding a tradition of presidents attending the event. He may have surprised some of the more conservative people in the group when he said:
“We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”
Here is both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at the breakfast.
Immediately after the Prayer Breakfast, Cliff Kincaid, president of the American Christian group, defended Uganda's proposed bill as necessary to stop "foreign homosexuals" from "targeting Ugandan children for sexual abuse."
Because of irrational beliefs like that, the American Prayer Hour was announced earlier this week. Here is Moses, a gay Ugandan, speaking at the announcement.
The video that follows is of Moses as well.
At the event in Birmingham (mentioned in the New York Times), God was presented as an inclusive Deity, one who urges us to build community rather than dividing ourselves.
The Rev. J. R. Finney said that "building community does not include tearing people down."
The community in Birmingham prayed that we could come to a place where our faith builds bridges and creates places for healing, and lifted up places like Uganda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Haiti and Darfur.
The event began with a quiet time of meditation where thoughts were centered on peace and justice for all of God's people everywhere, especially the LGBT people who are so often victimized.
The closing prayer ended without "Amen," because the prayer continues until peace and justice become a reality.