Friday, August 14, 2009

The Fellowship of The Family

I caught an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night and happened to see his interview with Jeff Sharlet who wrote the book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

This book is, to quote publisher Harper Collins, "A journalist's penetrating look at the untold story of christian fundamentalism's most elite organization, a self-described invisible network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerful." And definitely reason to be scared. I know I was so I dashed home to Google this new group. ( Wikipedia has a good background article with history.)

My first surprise is that this powerful group is not new. In fact it has been around since 1935 and is responsible for the National Prayer Breakfast at which every United States president, including Barack Obama, must speak when asked. It has been known in the past as The Fellowship and The International Foundation and the C Street Group. It seems to eschew any one name in an effort to not be pinned down and examined. It has even officially changed its name from time to time. The Family generally eschews publicity. Core members and associates have denied that the Family exists. It has been caught in the spotlight lately because of South Carolina's governor Mark Sanford's affair and his declaration of the right to have that affair.

The Family's leader, Douglas Coe, has said that the group aims to create a worldwide "family of friends" by spreading the words of Jesus Christ to powerful men and women. Coe and his followers teach that these elite are chosen by God and must learn to wield power according to the divine plan. They are chosen by the Family and groomed and supported to positions of power.

All sounds rather nice and innocent into you look into their teachings in more depth which Jeff Sharlet did by going undercover in the group. First they believe that women should be subservient to men. And they believe that the New Testament does not speak to the poor and downtrodden but to the powerful. It is a message, they say, to the powerful to pick up the reins of leadership and rule. The tout Hitler, Stalin and Mao as the three world leaders that most understood the TRUE message of the New Testament of the Bible. Even the Christian Fundamentalists are becoming alarmed at this religious right group. And so should we all because they want to change America into a theocracy and control the world through the "teachings of Jesus" as they define them.

The only problems with the word of God is the use to which men put their less than divine interpretations.