The Washington National Prayer Breakfast will no longer be managed by Christian group “The Family” in favour of an in-house group.
Instead, the gathering will be hosted by the newly-created National Prayer Breakfast Foundation in order to give the event more transparency.
Lawmakers have previously admitted they knew very little about the organisational side of the event, including who would be invited.
After years of discussions, the group has committed to organising the event themselves, saying they are taking the breakfast “back to its roots”.
Previously, the event has been managed by Christian group The International Foundation, commonly referred to as “The Family”.
However, earlier this year the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) called for a boycott of the breakfast due to concerns about the organisers.
“For decades, FFRF has protested the appearance of the National Prayer Breakfast being a quasi-governmental gathering, which pressures the president and Congress to put on a display of piety that sends a message that the United States is a Christian nation,” wrote Annie Laurie Gaylor, the FFRF co-president.
Author Jeff Sharlet – who previously worked with the International Foundation – published a tell-all bestseller titled “The Family – the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. In the description for the book, Sharlet claims “congressmen of both parties describe [The International Foundation] as the most influential religious organisation in Washington.”
The book inspired a Netflix documentary.
The annual breakfast is scheduled for the 2nd of February.
In previous years, hundreds of guests have travelled from all four corners of the world, but the new organisers are keen to limit future events to Congress, “plus one’s spouse, family member, or constituent guest”.
Those in attendance will be invited to pray for the President, his family and the wider US Government.
The event has hosted every president since Dwight D Eisenhower in 1953. Last year, Biden used the breakfast to suggest Congress work to improve their inter-personal relationships.