Sorry to be a bit of a killjoy but why exactly was the socialist prime minister of Spain, José Luis Zapatero, giving an address at the ultra conservative, national prayer breakfast in Washington this week?
At a very big pinch his socialist party might purport to have agnostic leanings but in the main it has introduced sweeping reforms to clip the wings of the Catholic Church in Spain, embracing gay marriage and enthusiastically supporting abortion rights. Much as President Zapatero didn’t go so far as to massage the beads of a rosary while he faced the 3,500 strong crowd of Washington’s political and economic elite, he did piously quote from the bible http://www.elpais.com/articulo/espana/Zapatero/explotes/jornalero/vida/depende/jornal/elpepuesp/20100204elpepunac_7/Tes .
In the presence of President Barack Obama at this annual jamboree, he chose to read from Deuteronomy, chapter 24, verse 14 in which Moses underlines the importance of not exploiting workers, hired hands and immigrants who come to live in a foreign land. A good choice were it not for Spain’s lamentable economic state, spiralling unemployment and escalating property scandals which are directly affecting thousands of expats or should I say ‘immigrants’.
The powerful Christian Fellowship Foundation, known as ‘The Family’-oh pur-leese- has been holding crack of dawn breakfasts for America’s top brass since 1953 and is led by Doug Coe, a former adviser to President Eisenhower. Previous speakers have included Mother Teresa, Singer Bono of U2 and last year, our very own Tony Blair.
Perhaps having shakily taken the reins of the EU presidency, Spain’s beleaguered prime minister feels that a little profile raising is necessary at any cost but if he thinks he’ll get brownie points for this debut, he may be mistaken. Much as the Fellowship Foundation wields enormous political power in Washington it is under intense scrutiny by ethical groups in the States that describe it as unorthodox, secretive and cult like.
( http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/04/obama.prayer/ ) According to its critics, the Fellowship’s leader, Doug Coe, has praised the organisational skills of both Hitler and Osama Bin Laden so it’s not really surprising that President Obama himself was mauled heavily by American media for attending the event.
As Spain heads towards economic meltdown, it could be that José Luis Zapatero was hoping for a little divine intervention at the breakfast, but given the dubious image of the Fellowship Foundation, he might have been better leaving his rosary and religious fervour back home.
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