Burundi National Prayer Breakfast Features Anti-LGBTQ+ Attacks

An article in the Burundi news outlet Region Week reported on Pres. Evariste Ndayishimiye's remarks targeting homosexuality and abortion.



The African nation of Burundi last week used its 14th National Prayer Breakfast to rally against homosexuality and abortion, according to local reports.

Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye told attendees that, “The world is moving in the opposite direction to that established by the Almighty. We observe wars, natural disasters, bad morals including the promotion of homosexuality, abortion, etc.,” according to a government website.

Ndayishimiye’s wife and a special adviser to Ndayishimiye reportedly were both guests last month at the National Prayer Breakfast Gathering held by the Fellowship Foundation, also known as The Family, at the Washington Hilton. (The Burundi site mistakenly referred to the event as the National Prayer Breakfast, which has spun off into a separate event held on Capitol Hill, as TYT first reported.)

At the Wednesday prayer breakfast in Kigobe, Burundi, Ndayishimiye reportedly said, “God never planned homosexual marriages. We cannot accept that our country is cursed as a result of homosexuality.”

He also said, "Any Burundian who indulges in homosexuality will be cursed by his nation."

Ndayishimiye reportedly is a born-again, evangelical Catholic who took office in an election marked by accusations of widespread fraud. His stances against LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights were flagged by Human Rights Watch in a letter to him when he took office.

Opposition to reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights has been a hallmark of prayer breakfasts around the world. Prayer breakfasts typically lean, in public, to the right of whatever constitutes the political center in their host country or state.

As TYT and others have chronicled, anti-LGBTQ+ bias tends to be expressed in more explicit terms behind the scenes at The Family’s prayer breakfasts. In video of one such side event at Ukraine’s 2019 National Prayer Breakfast, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), the co-chair of this year's National Prayer Breakfast on Capitol Hill, credited prayer breakfasts for helping move the political needle toward “marriage between a man and a woman [and]... life from conception to natural death.”

Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast last year was an explicit rallying cry against western calls for tolerance. European organizations have warned about the role prayer breakfasts play in anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns.

It was journalist Jeff Sharlet’s reporting on The Family’s ties to Ugandan lawmakers pushing an LGBTQ+ death penalty that most notably brought the secretive organization into the spotlight. Family leaders denounced the Ugandan bill, but the organization continues to bolster the work of LGBTQ+ opponents around the world.

It’s not known publicly who invited Ndayishimiye's wife and advisor to the new National Prayer Breakfast Gathering last month, or how closely the Burundi event is tied to The Family. But the special advisor who accompanied Burundi’s first lady to The Family’s NPB Gathering has ties to both The Family and to longtime Family insider former Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

That adviser, Albert Nasasagare, is listed on internal Family documents obtained by TYT and related to past National Prayer Breakfasts in the U.S., showing that he chose guests to invite from Burundi. Nasasagare was in the U.S. last month addressing a Christian event and reportedly attended the National Prayer Breakfast. The breakfast was limited to domestic guests, however, so it appears likely that he actually attended the Family’s NPB Gathering.

(Asked to confirm that Nasasagare was not at the actual National Prayer Breakfast that Pres. Joe Biden addressed, White House spokesperson Becky Farmer told TYT, "We’d refer you to our Congressional colleagues and the event organizers." Neither a Family spokesperson nor the board members of the Family-affiliated board that runs the new event responded to an email requesting comment.)

The Family documents indicate that Nasasagare attended the 2015 and 2016 NPBs, and that in 2018 he was allowed to invite three Burundian guests. His own invitations in 2016 and 2018 came from politically connected conservative Americans.

One of them was Mark Powers, a longtime minister of the Assemblies of God, which holds that “homosexual behavior…is immoral and comes under the judgment of God.” He was also the longtime African Affairs director for Inhofe, an unusual position for any legislator, let alone an Oklahoma senator. In his Senate farewell, Inhofe called Powers “arguably my closest friend” and discussed their many Africa trips.

Inhofe named other Senate allies of The Family – including Walberg – as co-travelers. Inhofe also said his Africa work “all started with Doug Coe,” the late leader of The Family, who pushed Inhofe for eight years to go to Africa.

Reportedly, Inhofe was one of the biggest supporters of Ndayishimiye’s predecessor, also a born-again evangelical, whose widow was present at last month’s NPB Gathering. Nasasagare served in that prior administration as deputy chief of state protocol.

The other Family insider – a former board member, in fact – who invited Nasasagare was Edward “Ward” Brehm, who delivered the National Prayer Breakfast keynote speech in 2008. Brehm’s interest in Africa was kindled by World Vision, a group with close ties to The Family. Brehm was appointed in 2004 by Pres. George W. Bush to the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) board and in 2018 by Pres. Donald Trump to an advisory board of the U.S. Agency for International Development, along with fellow Family insider former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).

The USADF did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Ndayishimiye’s wife, Burundi’s first lady, reportedly met with a USADF official while in the U.S. The USADF was said to have pledged to work with her foundation.

An uncredited picture showed her at the NPB Gathering with a Family insider who, according to Family documents, has submitted National Prayer Breakfast guest names in conjunction with fellow insider David Beasley, Trump’s appointee to run the World Food Programme.

A photo published by Burundi news outlet Region Week shows Burundi's First Lady Angeline Ndayishimiye at the Feb. 2, 2023, National Prayer Breakfast Gathering held by The Family, speaking with Family insider Sameer Petro.

(Uncredited photo/RegionWeek.com)

Other Burundi attendees at the NPB Gathering reportedly included House Speaker Daniel Gelase Ndabirabe, who last year said, “If we allowed girls and women to inherit, it would bring more problems.” Also there was party leader Révérien Ndikuriyo, a vocal opponent of human-rights groups, and Justice Minister Aimée Laurentine Kanyana, who made headlines blocking the International Criminal Court from investigating war crimes in Burundi.

Jonathan Larsen is TYT’s managing editor. You can find him on Twitter @JTLarsen.