Gregg Easterbrook writes: “I’ll tell you what shakes my belief. Not natural selection; not the evil and injustice of the world; not the televangelist hucksters with their flashing 800 numbers; not the constant use of religion to create prejudice and hatred rather than brotherhood. No, what really shakes my faith is the National Prayer Breakfast.”

Writing in his New Republic blog, Easterbrook goes on to excoriate the annual ecumenical ritual of Washington, held yesterday, for bringing politicians, businesspeople, and military and world leaders together in empty prayer and hollow expressions of bonhomie. But what really bugs him is the fact that Jesus advised private prayer. Public expressions such as the breakfast, he says, are by definition hypocrisy.

If only that were the worst of it. Last year The Revealer attended the portion of the event open to the press. We’ll never forget Condoleeza Rice‘s bizarre mangling of the old spiritual,“Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” transformed by her interpretation into a call to invade Iraq. “Huh?” you say? So did we. But the American press sat there nodding, sure that the ecumenical nature of the day meant that all the religion on display must be hunky-dory; The Revealer traded glances with a Spanish reporter who rolled his eyes and whispered “Americans.” For once, we had to agree.

But there’s more to the Prayer Breakfast story than inane theology, as The Revealer wrote shortly after last year’s event in a feature about the event’s organizers for Harper’s.