Editorial: State Prayer Breakfast Should Unite, Not Divide

February 17, 2006

Source: Idaho Public Television/Spokane Spokesman-Review


On February 17, 2006 the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported, "For a group dedicated to bringing people of faith together to pray for society and government officials, the Idaho Prayer Fellowship has stubbed its toe. Rather than focus on prayers and blessing, the group that sponsors the Idaho State Prayer Breakfast has stirred religious flames in the Boise area with its choice of a main speaker: the Rev. Hormoz Shariat, an Iranian convert to Christianity now living in California who has a ministry of proselytizing Muslims. Shariat, of course, has every right to promote the Gospel to whomever he pleases in this country, just as Muslims have the right to try to win converts here, too. But a figure as controversial as Shariat, especially in the Muslim community, is a poor choice to speak at an event that attracts different faiths and has Gov. Dirk Kempthorne's unofficial endorsement... A prayer breakfast is expected to establish friendships among those who are drawn to such events. It ought to unite hearts, not divide. Prayer should be the focus of the event, not personality, ministry or evangelism. Goodwill among differing faiths in a state that once banned Mormons from voting should be the undercurrent. Instead, the Idaho Prayer Fellowship has elected to stand by Shariat as speaker... As Idaho's top representative, Kempthorne should eschew the controversy and the appearance that he endorses Shariat's attitudes by avoiding the event."