Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) has taken at least 20 "missionary" trips overseas since he's been in office, allegedly paid for by U.S. taxpayers,
using military transport. He is especially fond of Uganda, boasting that he has "adopted" the East African nation. In fact, he is so fond of
Uganda, he has invited its leaders to become members of the not-so secret, secret society known as the Family in D.C., according to Jeff Sharlet,
whose new book, "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power" exposes just that.
You may have heard of the Family because of the book, which is currently a bestseller. Or you may have heard of the Family because of recent sex
scandals involving members Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who is facing 37 ethics charges for abandoning his job to visit
his mistress in Argentina.
But the Family is much more than sex scandals - it is large and powerful, with tentacles that reach every corner of the world. It's members include
several high-ranking Congressmen such as Republicans Inhofe, Sen. Sam Brownback (KS), Sen. Jim DeMint (SC), Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA), Sen. John Thune
(SD), Sen. Joe Pitts (PA), and several others. It is a bipartisan organization - Democratic members include Sen. Bill Nelson (FL), Sen. Mark Pryor
(AR), Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), co-author of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which would ban federal funding for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest,
or danger to the life of the mother.
Since 1953, the group has led the National Prayer Breakfast at the White House, which is attended by the President and his Cabinet, along with
dignitaries from across the globe. The Family coined the term "prayer cell", which is an "invisible believing group" who get together and talk
with world leaders about what God wants them to do in their leadership capacity.
According to Sharlet, Inhofe took David Bahati under his wing, making him a core member of the Family. Bahati is the author of Uganda's
Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The Bill creates a new crime called "aggravated homosexuality" in Uganda and imposes automatic life imprisonment or the
death penalty for its offense. "Aggravated homosexuality" is defined by the Bill as sex with a disabled person, having HIV/AIDS, use of drugs or
alcohol that leads to gay sex, knowing a gay person and not reporting it, or speaking positively about same-sex marriage.
Bahati is head of the Family-sponsored Africa Leadership Forum,. It's likely the "Bahati Bill", as it is commonly known in Uganda, will become
law, because of the Family's financial support, power, and influence in country. Sharlet says the Family has poured millions of dollars into the
Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality campaign, and considers Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni as the "key man" for the Family in Uganda. Sharlet says
Musevni can go to Brownback or any other Family member if he wants money for arms or anything else, and stays at the Family-owned Cedars House when
he's in D.C.
Sharlet, who lived with the Family in its C-Street House near Capitol Hill and became close to it's current leader, Doug Coe, told NPR the Family
believes in "Elite Fundamentalism" - that is, that Jesus had one true message for a core group of elite and powerful, another for those in a
somewhat "outer circle," and the most common one known to the masses, who "couldn't handle the truth."
Sharlet says the group's founder, Abraham Vereide, claims God appeared to him one night in April 1935 and told him Christianity was focused on the
wrong people - the poor, the suffering, the down and out - and told Vereide to be a missionary to and for the elite and powerful; thus, the Family is
dedicated to the cultivation of "King Men" who are chosen by God to use his "tools", using King David as a model.
The Family's main tenet is, "Jesus didn't come to take sides, he came to take over." Sharlet says the core rhetoric of the Family is that
Christ's message wasn't about love, mercy, or forgivness as most of us believe. It was about power. Coe was quoted as saying Hitler, Stalin, and
Chairman Mao understood this message. He was quick to admit these were evil men, but he said they understood power. Coe was labeled a fascist
sympathizer after his remarks.
Sharlet is quick to point out, "Doug Coe is not a neo-Nazi, but he fetishizes strength, looking to build a fellowship of absolute strength. This
happened in Somalia, which is now a haven for Al Qaeda, terrorism, and piracy, all of which the Family regards as 'God's plan'."
An article in today's Guardian UK by Xan Rice reveals that U.S. Evangelists are the main activists behind Uganda's "Bahati Bill". Both opponents
and supporters agree that the impetus for the bill came in March during a seminar in Kampala to "expose the truth behind homosexuality and the
The main speakers were three US evangelists: Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge. Lively is a noted anti-gay activist and president of
Defend the Family International, a conservative Christian association, while Schmierer is an author who works with "homosexual recovery groups".
Brundidge is a "sexual reorientation coach" at the International Healing Foundation.
The seminar was organized by Stephen Langa, who runs the Family Life Network (sound familiar?) and has been spreading the message that gays are
targeting schoolchildren. "They give money to children to recruit schoolmates – once you have two children, the whole school is gone," Langa
said in an interview. Asked if there had been any court case to prove this was happening, he replied: "No, that's why this law is needed."
"After the conference Langa arranged for a petition signed by thousands of concerned parents to be delivered to parliament in April. Within a few
months the bill had been drawn up," reports Rice.
It's unlikely at this point that anything can be done to stop Ugandan leaders from passing the Anti-Homosexuality Law. According to Rice's report,
LGBT Ugandans are already making plans to leave the country.
But the involvement of the U.S.'s elected representatives and evangelists should not be ignored. Human Rights Watch has condemend the bill as
threatening basic human liberties and human rights defenders in Uganda, as well as progress on the eradication of HIV/AIDS in the region.