You may recognize these names from recent headlines: Sen. John Ensign, Rep. Bart Stupak and Rep. Joe Pitts. Stupak and Pitts have become familiar names through the media’s health care overhaul coverage; their abortion funding amendment introduced an 11th-hour twist as the House of Representatives approached a vote on a landmark health care bill.
Ensign was the focus of media attention over his affair with a campaign staffer. Just last night, a Nevada man disclosed that he found out about his wife’s affair with the state’s junior senator — his best friend — via a text message.
The common factor among these political players is their involvement with the Family, a secretive fellowship of powerful Christian politicians that centers on a Washington, D.C., townhouse. Investigative journalist Jeff Sharlet has written extensively about the influential group in his book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.
Sharlet returns to Fresh Air to talk to host Terry Gross about Ensign, Stupak and Pitts, and about new developments concerning the Family.
Since 2003, Sharlet has been an associate research scholar at New York University’s Center for Religion and Media, where he has taught graduate seminars in journalism and the history of American religion. He has also spoken on religion, politics and media at colleges and universities across the country. At NYU, Sharlet created TheRevealer.org, a review of religion and the media.
Doug Coe’s Vision for the Fellowship
The man behind the National Prayer Breakfast explains his original intent for his organization.
Warren Throckmorton | posted 5/13/2010 09:22AM
Doug Coe lives a quiet life, even though the Fellowship organization he founded appears often in the news. Last year, two politicians who confessed to adulteries drew attention to the Fellowship. Earlier this year, a group of pastors filed an IRS complaint over the tax-exempt status of the Fellowship’s C Street house, where a small number of politicians live. Coe, who rarely gives interviews, spoke with Grove City psychology professor Warren Throckmorton at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year. Throckmorton regularly blogs on sexuality issues and has reported on the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. What follows is Throckmorton’s analysis of the interview as submitted to Christianity Today.
In 2005, Time magazine selected Doug Coe as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in the nation. Coe provides spiritual leadership for the Fellowship Foundation, the entity that organizes the National Prayer Breakfast. This event brings together political leaders from around the world during the first week of February for prayer and networking. Attended by every President since Dwight Eisenhower, the event is the pinnacle of many smaller meetings involving thousands of world leaders and volunteers.
For more than a year, I have been writing about Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which, if passed, would make consensual homosexual intimacy a capital crime if one of the parties was HIV positive. Other same-sex intimacy would be punished with life in prison. People failing to report knowledge of others engaging in gay sex could also be jailed. Because the bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, has been involved in activities related to the Fellowship Foundation, some observers thought the American associates promoted the bill as well. Interviews with people connected to the Fellowship led me to believe otherwise. I was invited to explore the Fellowship more openly by attending the prayer breakfast, and Coe agreed to sit down with me to provide a glimpse into his organization.
Readers…just a note here on who David Bahati is, should you not recognize the name.
Ugandan MP David Bahati Wants to ‘Kill Every Gay Person’
Posted August 27th, 2010 by Evan Hurst
Unfortunately, we’ve been consumed with Mehlman fever (antibiotics should do the trick) the past twenty four hours, so I missed this. Jeff Sharlet has a new book, and a new piece in Harper’s, which unfortunately isn’t available yet, but an NPR interview with Sharlet drops a bit of a bombshell about the private ambitions of the sick, twisted, maniacal Ugandan MP David Bahati, the sponsor of that nation’s infamous “kill the gays bill”:
“Bahati said: ‘If you come here, you’ll see homosexuals from Europe and America are luring our children into homosexuality by distributing cell phones and iPods and things like this,’ ” Sharlet recounts. “And he said, ‘And I can explain to you what I really want to do.’ ”
Sharlet accompanied Bahati to a restaurant and later to his home, where Bahati told Sharlet that he wanted “to kill every last gay person.”
“It was a very chilling moment, because I’m sitting there with this man who’s talking about his plans for genocide, and has demonstrated over the period of my relationship with him that he’s not some back bencher — he’s a real rising star in the movement,” Sharlet says. “This was something that I hadn’t understood before I went to Uganda, that this was a guy with real potential and real sway and increasingly a following in Uganda.”
And he has connections to American leaders. Sharlet explains that Bahati is one of the Uganda leaders of an American evangelical movement called the Fellowship, or the Family — the secretive fellowship of powerful Christian politicians who wield considerable political influence, both in Washington and abroad.
Part of an interview by Global News Network:
GNN: What are the connections between the CIA and the Fellowship?
SHARLET: A lot of their key men in a country would be the intelligence officers in the American embassy. Throughout their correspondence, that’s the kind of guy they would like to have involved. They always had a lot of Army intelligence guys involved, Pentagon guys. Doug Coe in the early 70’s was touring the frontlines in Vietnam with intelligence officers and South Vietnamese generals. That’s the level of connections they are talking about, like the Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova [convicted by a Florida jury for the torture of thousands] and Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez [a minister also linked to the CIA and death squads]. They are the people who brought those people in. They said you need to meet this person. That’s how it works.
Their diplomacy can affect some good things, like the truce in Rwanda. They had a lot of connections with the South African [apartheid] regime, where they were generally a moderate, even a progressive force. But it’s kinda hard to name a nasty regime around the world that doesn’t have really well-documented connections to them. Franco was a hold-out. So they started winning over a bunch of ministers in the Franco regime and then they went to Franco and said this is a good group, we can do business with them.
GNN: Why hasn’t there been more mainstream press on this?
SHARLET: Lisa Getter of The Los Angeles Times, a Pulitzer prize winning investigative reporter, did a piece on it, but there was no follow-up. I got a little press out of it when my article came out. There is a big reason there hasn’t been a lot of press about it and that’s the war. On the other hand, and this isn’t a conspiracy theory, if they can’t see it then it’s not there. I mean if you read that your local congressman is sitting there saying Hitler is a leadership model, the local paper should at the very least call up and say, “Congressman Tiahrt do you believe Hitler is a good leadership model?” If he had said, “Noam Chomsky is a great philosopher” then there’d be an investigation in a minute.
Why they are not following up on it? I don’t know. Partly because it’s so crazy, and partly because there is this idea that religion and politics are separate and religion is a personal thing. The media has always been pretty dumb when it comes to religion. In the New Yorker profile of John Ashcroft they talk about his weekly prayer breakfast, Steve Largent, [former congressman from Washington] in The New York Times, same deal. I think they interviewed him while he was living at the house. The reporter never asked, “Hey, how did you get involved in this? Is this something that existed before you?” The reporter sort of implied it was Largent’s idea for the weekly prayer breakfasts. It hasn’t been that secret. The New Republic did an exposé in the late 60’s, early 70’s, and no one really followed up.
The Family is global. Their influence is felt on every continent on this globe. The rise of the Evangelical Right in this country is evidence of their rising power and the purpose and vision of the organization. Coe openly states that they work best, are at their most powerful, when they are in the shadows…when the are a secret. They are losing that protective anonymity due to their own success. Honestly…how many readers out their believed The National Prayer Breakfast was a governmental affair? Now that you know it’s merely one more Family activity doesn’t it give you pause? Doug Coe is the most powerful man on the face of the earth and the less you know about him the more he likes it. READ! This man is determining your future.