‘We Are Babylon’: Dozens of Congress Members Participate in Anti-LGBTQ Prayer Service

Dozens of members of Congress joined an audience of religious-right activists and Christian nationalists at the Museum of the Bible this morning for a “National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance.”

Sponsored by various anti-LGBTQ religious-right groups such as the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, and Pacific Justice Institute, the prayer gathering was emceed by right-wing activists Jim Garlow of Well Versed, who is associated with the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Both Garlow and Perkins were active promoters of former President Donald Trump’s stolen election lies, with Perkins and FRC actively working to overturn the election results via pressure on state legislators, members of Congress, and former Vice President Mike Pence.

The two-and-a-half-hour event consisted of a steady stream of penitents offering prayers on behalf of this nation covering everything from reproductive choice and marriage equality to foreign policy and the media.

The tenor of the prayer service was well encapsulated by Pastor Andrew Brunson, who became a right-wing celebrity after he was freed from detention in Turkey during the Trump administration. Brunson used his prayer to warn that the United States will soon face the judgment of God for having become “the primary corrupter of the world” by supporting LGBTQ rights.

“The Bible draws a picture of Babylon as the wealthiest, most powerful city-empire of its time; a nation that sets itself against God and uses its power and wealth to lead other peoples into immorality,” Brunson said. “This is us. We are Babylon. The United States is the Babylon of this generation.”

Brunson was followed by a panel featuring “ex-gay” activists who begged God to cleanse the nation of “the sins of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, and sex confusion.” They were then followed by multiple members of Congress, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Rep. Diana Harshbarger was among the members of Congress who participated in the event, praying that God will “put godly people in places of authority” and “remove people that are ungodly from places of authority. Put them out to pasture.”

“We are the remnant, the people who stand in the place at such a time as this, God, to do your will,” Harshbarger declared. “We’re the only thing that stands between prosperity and destruction.”

Rep. Randy Weber wept over marriage equality and reproductive choice during his prayer.

“Father, we think we’re so smart, but please forgive us,” he lamented. “Please, please put America back on the right path to worshiping you.”

Rep. Mary Miller asserted that this nation has “lost our way because we have rejected you as Creator, Lord, and Savior.”

“We are adrift and foolish, calling evil good and good evil,” she proclaimed. “And we are bankrupt, morally and financially.”

In all, more than a dozen members of Congress prayed during the event, including Reps. Steve Scalise, Rick Allen, Brian Babin, Michael Cloud, Robert Aderholt, Tracey Mann, Burgess Owens, Gary Palmer, Michelle Steel, Warren Davidson, Brandon Williams, Dan Bishop, Nathaniel Moran, and Mike Johnson.

Following their prayers, the members of Congress gathered around the stage where they were collectively prayed over by Tony Perkins and the audience.

“I speak a blessing upon these, your leaders, and I ask you to strengthen them and encourage them and to increase their number,” Perkins said. “And Father, I pray that we might be at a turning point in this nation of once again embracing you.”

The Family Research Council, American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Alliance Defending Freedom have long attacked LGBTQ and abortion rights in the name of religious freedom. Alliance Defending Freedom was central to the overturning of Roe and represented Mississippi in the Supreme Court case; its lawyers have previously bragged that they helped write the Mississippi law as part of their strategy to ban all abortions in the country. More recently, these groups have focused their efforts in attacking trans people.

In spite of their claims, the participants in this prayer gathering do not speak for all American Christians, as majorities of Christian groups other than white evangelicals support marriage equality, and believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, and many Christians oppose the claims and goals of Christian nationalists.