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Bah, humbug: Atheists celebrate Democrat senator skipping National Prayer Breakfast

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate, said he has no intention of attending the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event during which members of both sides of the political aisle gather for prayer and reflection.

“Sen. Kaine has not been to the National Prayer Breakfast since 2016 and has no intention of attending,” the senator’s press secretary said.

Many atheists, secularists and others see this moment as a victory, with Kaine’s decision not to participate standing out. Kaine follows other Democratic members of Congress in distancing himself from the annual gathering which has been a tradition for years.

Atheist activists at the Freedom From Religion Foundation heralded the news and offered thanks to Kaine for not taking part in the “inappropriate event.”

“Government officials who attend the event in their official capacity send a message that their office endorses the religious message in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” it said. “This alienates the 30 percent of Americans who are non-Christians, the one in four citizens who are not religious and the 44 percent of millennials and younger Americans who are non-Christian.”

“We’re thrilled that Sen. Kaine has opted not to attend this pay-to-play political event that alienates nonreligious Americans, tramples the constitutional separation of state and church, and has a disturbing history of anti-LGBTQ bigotry,” co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said. “The FFRF has long opposed the breakfast and had recently asked Kaine not to participate.”

The organization and others in recent months have petitioned members of Congress and President Biden to boycott and sit out of the annual prayer event. In October, it reportedly reached out to every member of Congress who sponsored the 2021 event and urged them to abandon future plans. A subject line on at least one copy of the letter sent to members of Congress read, “Please stop sponsoring and attending the National Prayer Breakfast.”

The National Prayer Breakfast dates back to 1953, when the tradition was launched by then-President Dwight Eisenhower. It has expanded over the years and remains one of the most popular annual events in Washington.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice