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A secretive group known as The Fellowship, or “The Family,” is one of the most powerful Christian fundamentalist movements in the United States.
The Family’s devoted membership includes congressmen, corporate leaders, generals and foreign heads of state. Author Jeff Sharlet profiles the group in his book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.
AMY GOODMAN: We move on now closer to home. Senator John Ensign of Nevada, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and former Mississippi Congress member Chip Pickering—what do they all have in common? Yes, all three are Republican. All three have been embroiled in recent sex scandals.
Senator Ensign, a member of a male evangelical group that promotes marital fidelity, recently admitted to having an affair with a campaign staffer. He later disclosed that his parents gave almost $100,000 to the staffer and her family.
Governor Sanford’s wife recently moved out of the governor’s mansion, weeks after Sanford admitted to visiting a woman in Argentina and committing infidelities with several other women.
And last month, Congressman Pickering’s estranged wife filed suit against his alleged mistress, claiming the woman had ruined their marriage.
But these Republicans’ ties extend beyond their marital woes. All three have, at one time, lived in a former convent on Capitol Hill known as the C Street house, and all three are connected to a secretive group known as the Fellowship, or the Family.
It’s probably an organization you’ve never heard of, but it’s one of the most powerful Christian fundamentalist movements in this country.
The Family’s devoted membership includes Congress members, corporate leaders, generals, foreign heads of state, dictators. The longtime leader, Doug Coe, was included in Time Magazine’s 2004 list of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals in America.
Unlike other Christian right groups, they don’t really believe that you’re in power because you’re a good person.
They have no illusions about these guys. They believe that they are, as you said in the beginning, the “new chosen,” that you’re chosen for power by God. You’re not so much elected by the people as selected from above.
And when you’re in that position, it doesn’t matter what you do.
In a similar vein, the foreign leaders with whom they work, the dictators, about whom they have no illusions, are chosen by God for their countries, regardless of how brutal they are.
Suharto the long-reigning dictator of Indonesia, presided over I don’t know how many deaths, both of his own people in Indonesia, up to a million people, and the people of East Timor, hundreds of thousands.
The Family leaders called it a spiritual revolution and began sending delegations of congressmen, oil executives, over to meet with Suharto.
They then hosted Suharto, actually, in the United States Senate for a Senate prayer breakfast with their members, to which they invited the then-Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
They have that kind of access. And they were able to arrange that kind of reach for Suharto. And they effectively became his most persuasive champions within the US Congress, as the United States funneled, as we know, just billions of dollars toward his military regime.
AMY GOODMAN: But you’re Jewish. How did you fit in?
JEFF SHARLET: In fact, that was part of what was interesting about me to them. They do believe only in sort of recruiting an elite. They’re not interested the masses.
They think that Christianity has been misunderstood, that Jesus only wanted to select a few key people. You can only get in by invitation. I was invited.
But they also liked the idea of having Jews, of having Muslims around, because they believe that inasmuch as a Jew or a Muslim is willing to bow before Jesus, he is proving what they call the “universal inevitable” of Jesus’ power.
The Sanford and Ensign Scandals Open a Door On Previously Secretive 'C Street' Spiritual Haven. No sign explains the prim and proper red brick house on C Street SE. Nothing hints at its secrets. It blends into the street scape, tucked behind the Library of Congress, a few steps from the Cannon House Office Building, a few more steps to the Capitol. This is just the way its residents want it to be. Almost invisible.
But through one week's events, this stately old pad -- a pile of sturdy brick that once housed a convent -- has become the very nexus of American scandal, a curious marker in the gallery of capital shame.
Mark Sanford, South Carolina's disgraced Republican governor and a former congressman, looked here for answers -- for support, for the word of God -- as his marriage crumbled over his affair with an Argentine woman.
John Ensign, the senator from Nevada who just seven days earlier also was forced to admit a career-shattering affair, lives there.
"C Street," Sanford said Wednesday during his diffuse, cryptic, utterly arresting confessional news conference, is where congressmen faced "hard questions."
Originally posted by MikeboydUS
Where are the links between Hitler, Blackwater, the CIA, and the Fellowship?
I don't see any link between the Fellowship and more theofascist concepts from Dominion-ism.
By the end of the war, nearly a third of U.S. senators attended one of his weekly prayer meetings.
In 1944, Vereide had foreseen what he called “the new world order.” “Upon the termination of the war there will be many men available to carry on,” Vereide wrote in a letter to his wife. “Now the ground-work must be laid and our leadership brought to face God in humility, prayer and obedience.”
He began organizing prayer meetings for delegates to the United Nations, at which he would instruct them in God's plan for rebuilding from the wreckage of the war.
Donald Stone, a high-ranking administrator of the Marshall Plan, joined the directorship of Vereide's organization. In an undated letter, he wrote Vereide that he would “soon begin a tour around the world for the [Marshall Plan], combining with this a spiritual mission.”
In 1946, Vereide, too, toured the world, traveling with letters of introduction from a half dozen senators and representatives, and from Paul G. Hoffman, the director of the Marshall Plan. He traveled also with a mandate from General John Hildring, assistant secretary of state, to oversee the creation of a list of good Germans of “the predictable type” (many of whom, Vereide believed, were being held for having “the faintest connection” with the Nazi regime), who could be released from prison “to be used, according to their ability in the tremendous task of reconstruction.”
Vereide met with Jewish survivors and listened to their stories, but he nevertheless considered ex-Nazis well suited for the demands of “strong” government, so long as they were willing to worship Christ as they had Hitler.
The movement was founded in Seattle in 1935 by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant and traveling preacher who had been working with the city's poor. He opposed FDR's New Deal and was worried that socialist politicians were about to take over Seattle's municipal government.
Prominent members of Seattle's business community recognized his success with those who were "down and out" and asked him to give spiritual direction to their group who were "up and out." He organized prayer breakfasts for politicians and businessmen that included anti-Communism and anti-union discussions.
He was subsequently invited to set up similar meetings among political and business leaders in San Francisco and Chicago.
Vereide's principal collaborator in France was Edmond Michelet, five-time minister under President Charles de Gaulle.
By 1942, the organization had moved headquarters to Washington, DC, where it helped create breakfast groups in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
In 1944, the organization's name was changed to International Christian Leadership, then in 1972, to The Fellowship Foundation. It was at this time that the group's leaders decided to lower the Fellowship's public profile by decentralizing its leadership.
The movement's members have been active in reconciliation efforts between the warring leaders of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and many other similar conflicts around the world.
SP: Tell me about how Doug Coe admires Hitler.
JS: Vereide did too. In 1948, The Family is feeling good about themselves; Taft-Hartley was passed in 1947, which was part of their original goal. And Abram publishes a pamphlet for congressmen, for private distribution, called "A Better Way." He writes,
"We have entered an area where the masses of people are dependent on a rapidly diminishing number of leaders for the determination of their pattern of life and the definition of their ultimate goals.
It is the age of minority control." "The age of minority control" is something they believe in deeply. They do talk about what could go wrong if minority control got into the wrong hands.
As Doug Coe would say, Hitler and Lenin and Mao and these strong men of history understood the New Testament better than any other leader of the 20th century; they applied it to evil ends, but they behaved as God wanted. God wants a strong man to exert leadership in this age of minority control.
SP: Was Jesus a strong man?
JS: Oh, yes, Jesus was the strongest man of all, and if he was alive today, he'd be the greatest quarterback, he'd be the number one CEO, he'd be the head of General Electric. When you live in The Family, they sit around and wonder how awesome Jesus would be if he raced NASCAR.
SP: You were talking about how they don't like violence, but about the tendency of The Family to lend its hand to brutal dictators; this quote from Coe really stood out to me, "the Bible is full of mass murderers." So you're saying that they don't really advocate violence, but they acquiesce to violence.
JS: Yes. That's a nice example. Ted Haggard, later in the book says, you know, the Bible is a really bloody book.
SP: What do you think Barack Obama's relationship with The Family would be if he's elected?
JS: Obama's going to make peace with The Family -- you have to. He's going to go to the National Prayer Breakfast; he has to. How can you say, I'm opposed to prayer? They've set the terms up so you can't really go against it.