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Anti-gay organization among Gov. Rauner breakfast hosts
by Matt Simonette
2016-05-15

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After an initial postponement for this year, the Illinois Governor's Prayer Breakfast, which has been an annual event since 1963, will take place May 26, according to reports. Among its hosts is an organization that opposed marriage equality.

The event was postponed because of the state's ongoing budget crisis, though it does not receive state dollars. It was reinstated at the behest of Rauner's office, according to the State Journal-Register, which also reported that hosts include Abundant Faith Christian Center in Springfield; One Nation Under God Foundation in Chicago; and the Illinois Executive Mansion Association.

One Nation Under God Foundation ( ONUG ) promotes voter education and registration amongst Christian religious communities, according to its website.

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, ONUG embarked on an awareness campaign about the supposed legal dangers to religious communities, which Chairman Robert Vanden Bosch announced in conjunction with conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. The website warns that, in order to maintain internal cohesion about the issue within church communities, church leadership should teach "the pathology of [the] homosexual lifestyle"; teach that "God can and will help people change"; and "teach people of the danger to our children of gay adoption, custody, or foster care."

Vanden Bosch, who is also president of a group called Concerned Christian Americans, wrote accounts of the 2010 civil union votes on the website of the anti-gay group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. He told Journal-Register that the breakfast "is a faith initiative. It's not something that's political. ... I believe that prayer could be used by the state of Illinois right now."

Activist Rick Garcia said that he has been trying to speak with Rauner administration officials to make sure that there is, at the very least, a broad reflection of religious personnel present at the breakfast.

"I found out about this and I was concerned," Garcia said. "Not one of our governors has used this prayer breakfast as a platform for anti-gay bigots. There are numerous religious groups throughout the state. Illinois is not just fundamentalist Christians. At previous events, there have been Jews, Muslims, Catholics and Protestants."

The Journal-Register said that the governor's office was trying to find additional hosts for the event.

The Journal-Register's article is at bit.ly/1UZcYM6 .


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