Faith and politics: Trio of events in nation’s capital underscore religious divide

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


Evangelical leaders, rabbis, lawmakers, and intercessors from diverse nations gathered in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for the National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance.

The sold-out event, which was held at the Museum of the Bible, was conceived by Tony Perkins, founder of the Family Research Council, and Dr. Jim Garlow, Founder and CEO of Well Versed

Perkins invited all Christians to come together in a spirit of humility and contrition, declaring that “Our nation needs God. Now.”

The gathering was not one of sermons and lectures, but rather one of sincere prayers of repentance for a nation that increasingly rejects God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Perkins said that many Americans assume that the nation will hold its place as the leader of the free world indefinitely. “It will not,” he said, noting that “a long train of events reveals weakness on every front and [a] historic level of division.” 

“As a nation, as a world that is in trouble, we turn to the Lord today,” he prayed. “We stand upon the promises of Your Word that if your people will turn to you, seek your face, repent of their ways, that Lord, you’ll hear from heaven and forgive our sins.”


House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), one of the event’s featured speakers, said: “In this time of great crisis and in this moment of cultural upheaval, in an era of completely divided government; it is incumbent upon us to daily seek God’s wisdom in our affairs.” Quoting directly from Scripture, Johnson spoke of King Solomon’s reign in Israel and how the Lord rewarded him for asking for wisdom to govern His people.

“That is what is on our hearts,” Johnson said. “That the Lord would give us discerning hearts to govern, to distinguish between right and wrong, to walk in His ways, and to obey His statutes and commands.”

Others took the stage one by one, seeking God’s forgiveness for the sins of the nation and the church, and personal transgressions.

Author, speaker, and filmmaker Donna Rice Hughes repented over America’s status as the world leader in pornography, child exploitation, and sex trafficking. 

Rev. Gary Hamrick, pastor of Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia, asked the Lord to forgive the church for allowing “the culture to influence the church instead of the church influencing the culture.”

“I repent for racial strife in our nation and the church,” Garland Hunt, Pastor of The Father’s House in Norcross Georgia, prayed. “We are called to be one in Christ Jesus.”  

Other notable guests included Rev. Jack Hibbs, Founder & President of Real Life Network, who acknowledged that “There is only one hope for this nation. It is not in the White House, it’s not in the state house, but it’s in your House.”


The National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance coincided with two other faith-themed events in the nation’s capital this week.

Hundreds of religious freedom advocates and lawmakers gathered at the Washington Hilton on Wednesday for the fourth International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit.

The event focuses on the importance of religious freedom in the U.S. and abroad. One lawmaker, however, used her time at the podium to chasten evangelical Christians.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), this year’s honorary congressional co-chair, declared that “Sadly, many have sought to impose their beliefs on others or abuse religious freedoms to justify oppression or prejudice” against the LGBTQ community and other “marginalized groups,” as reported by The Christian Post.

In marked contrast, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) spoke of “conscience,” which he referred to as “the most sacred of all property” and one in which the government has no place.

The Speaker said that “if governments shouldn’t steal your property, then they shouldn’t steal your conscience,” nor should they “prohibit you from acting upon it.”


Meanwhile, Thursday marked the 71st annual National Prayer Breakfast on Capitol Hill, where Joe Biden delivered remarks in keeping with presidential tradition.

Speaking to an audience of roughly 50 Congressional lawmakers, Biden described the gathering as a call “to stand against hate,” according to a UPI report.

“It’s the very idea of America, that we’re all created equal,” he said. “We are unique in the world, the only country based on an idea, we hold these truths to be self-evident that we are all created equal.” 

Until last year, the National Prayer Breakfast was organized by the Fellowship Foundation, a faith-based nonprofit whose mission is to build relationships with lawmakers and business leaders based upon the “principles taught and practiced by Jesus.” NPR described the organization as a “secretive Christian evangelical group” in an article published on Thursday. 

The event was commandeered by Congress in 2023 with the creation of the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation chaired by former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.C.).

Biden also discussed conflicts overseas, stressing the need for more aid for Ukraine’s defense against Russia and a peaceful resolution to Israel’s war against Hamas. The president called for “two states for two people,” referring to his support for an independent Palestinian state in Gaza.

“Not only do we pray for peace, we are actively working for peace, security, dignity for the Israeli people and the Palestinian people,” Biden said, adding, “I am engaged in this day and night.”