WASHINGTON – On the street outside a hotel,a giant chicken was crossing the road while a group of religious supporters was dancing to the beat of the drums.
The National Prayer Breakfast was taking place inside the Washington Hilton Thursday morning. President Barack Obama,first lady Michelle Obama and the Dalai Lama were among those attending.
While the guests were having breakfast inside,the crowds outside took their corners and held up signs that addressed different issues.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals paraded a giant chicken – a person dressed as one – which urged people to go vegan. The group of supporters greeted the breakfast crowd with signs that read: “Blessed are the merciful: Go Vegan.”
Sarah Withrow King,PETA director of Christian outreach and engagement,said PETA was asking people at the National Prayer Breakfast to make a difference every time they sit down to eat by keeping meat,eggs and dairy products off their plates.
Obama spoke inside about the importance of freedom of religion and how it goes hand-in-hand with freedom of speech.
Outside,supporters of the Dalai Lama exercised their First Amendment right by playing drums and chanting to welcome their religious leader.
Across the street from them,the International Shugden Community was accusing the Dalai Lama of religious persecution.
The group’s spokesman Nicholas Pitt said that,while the Dalai Lama preaches about religious tolerance,he is not a symbol of it in his own community by banning the people who profess the Shugden faith.
When the event was over,the Dalai Lama’s supporters acknowledged the Shugden groups’s presence by looking across the street and banging their drums louder. The stare-down lasted until the police opened the street again after the president’s motorcade left.
Reach reporter Alicia Alvarez at [email protected] or 202-408-1489. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.