By Andrew Harmon -
A group of religious leaders including the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, are calling on organizers of Thursday's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. to honor Uganda gay rights activist David Kato, who was murdered last week.
"We're asking that prayers be said for David Kato and his family and friends in Uganda, who continue to face this hostile climate," Robinson told The Advocate.
That the Fellowship (also known as The Family), the influential conservative group that has hosted the annual breakfast since 1953, has extensive ties to African leaders like Anti-Homosexuality Bill sponsor David Bahati in Uganda, continues to be of great concern to Robinson, the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop.
"They need to know that we are watching this very closely," said Robinson, who will not be attending the event.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with people getting together to pray," he continued. "As you know when I said a prayer at the opening inaugural event [for President Obama], I was careful not to make it a Christian prayer or one associated with any particular belief. It's walking a thin line. I think what's of greater concern to me is Obama's attendance at an event sponsored by a group like The Family."
Last year Robinson was among several religious leaders who, along with advocacy groups like Truth Wins Out, helped to organize the American Prayer Hour as an alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast. The coalition also urged President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended the prayer breakfast, to speak out against draconian legislation in Uganda commonly referred to as the "kill the gays bill” (both did so in their remarks).
"We may disagree about gay marriage," Obama said at the 2010 prayer breakfast, "but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it is here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda."
Robinson called for a prayer in commemoration of Kato along with Auburn Theological Seminary in New York. "We're here to urge powerful, influential spiritual leaders to underscore that prejudice and violence against any group goes against our faith traditions," said Auburn executive vice president Rev. John Vaughn.
GetEqual, the direct action group launched last year, plans to protest the National Prayer Breakfast (details can be found here).