WorldNetDaily founder and birther conspiracy theorist Joseph Farah will not be among the speakers at a right-wing Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast according to the event's organizer, who criticized his work and said he had been incorrectly listed as a featured guest. It's surprising that Farah is considered too toxic to speak at the event -- which his publication had promoted -- considering the history of its organizer and other reported attendees.
Rev. Merrie Turner, the conservative pastor who is hosting the event and says she has done so since 1993, told Media Matters, “It is against my beliefs to be openly targeting someone like the president of our country, we have enough enemies outside the country.”
Turner said Farah's name had been wrongly listed among the speakers headlining the January 21 event and would be removed: “It was incorrectly picked up by our staff, I am going to be correcting that.” Farah's website had also reported that he was a “distinguished guest” who was “scheduled to appear at the breakfast to lead prayers for the nation.”
Farah is the founder and CEO of WorldNetDaily, the conservative website that has been the driving force behind conspiracies about President Obama's birth certificate and a wide range of other outlandish and incendiary theories.
Prayer breakfast materials still list Rep. Michelle Bachmann and televangelist Pat Robertson as “Special Guests & Speakers” for the event. But Farah's name has been removed since Media Matters contacted the organization. His name still appears in a press release announcing the event, and a flyer linked to on the prayer breakfast site also features Farah's name and picture.
Asked if she was aware of Farah's past anti-Obama work, Turner said, “I was not, honestly.”
“He was not invited to be involved. He had permission to write an article about it and it's gone much further than that. That was the initial intent, I never met him before and I didn't know anything about his efforts,” Rev. Turner added.
Farah and Bachmann's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Asked if she will seek to keep Farah from being among the official speakers, Turner said, “Absolutely, this is not going to by any means be an event for anything being said negative about the president, that will not be allowed.”
Despite Turner's suggestion that Farah didn't fit the theme of the event due to his history of anti-Obama commentary, both Turner and other scheduled speakers have their own history of outrageous remarks.
In a 2009 article about President Obama's inauguration, The Hill reported that Turner joined other anti-abortion activists in protest and quoted her say that abortion is “fueling the bloodshed by Islam. We're going to see a lot more terrorist attacks until we right these wrongs.”
A WND article from December promoting the prayer breakfast explained that Turner believes there is “evidence of tribulation in America.” According to WND, “she cited the after-effects of 9/11, the economic troubles, superstorm Sandy and social holocausts such as abortion.”
Other reported attendees like Pat Boone also have a history of attacking President Obama with the types of offensive conspiracy theories endorsed by Farah. In 2011, Boone told the San Francisco Chronicle that he believed Obama's birth certificate was a “photo-shopped fraud” and that the president was really born in Kenya.
Nonetheless, Turner said her event is meant to be a spiritual approach to praying for the country. “It was always non-partisan,” she explained.
Turner said that Farah had initially been in touch with the prayer breakfast organizers to write an article about the event for WorldNetDaily focused on Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who is listed as the event's keynote speaker.
Cahn and Farah have a close relationship. WND has aggressively promoted Cahn's book, The Harbinger, featuring the book in numerous articles on the site. Farah and WND released a related documentary featuring Cahn about whether America is “under judgment for turning away from God as ancient Israel did.”
A WND article about the event published earlier this week discussed Cahn's involvement and included multiple links to WND's bookstore selling Cahn's book. While Turner said that Farah was never intended to have a lead role at the event, the WND article also listed Farah as a “featured guest” and among those who would appear at the breakfast to lead prayers for the nation:
Other distinguished guests - including Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Dr. Pat Robertson, Jan Crouch, Pat Boone, WND Editor and CEO Joseph Farah, Rosemary Schindler, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and others - are also scheduled to appear at the breakfast to lead prayers for the nation.
“The fact that [Farah] actually ended up on some of the literature so far was not run by me, it was, it came through Mr. Cahn, who is his friend,” Turner explained. “He is not on the speakers bureau... it was an error.”
Turner stressed that Farah or anyone who pays the $50 fee is invited to attend.
Asked about Farah's history of attacking Obama with ludicrous, offensive conspiracy theories, Turner said, “the nature of this gathering is to bring reconciliation with ourselves and the nation to God... and so we are going to be praying for the healing of our nation.”
Turner appeared on the January 10 edition of the 700 Club to promote the event with host Pat Robertson: