Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not My Family


The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power
by Jeff Sharlet

Dang, I just do not have the energy for conspiracies - especially ones that drag on for decades and decades. Sharlet's book goes back over a century, outlining in meticulous detail the plans of fundamentalist Christians to infiltrate the highest levels of government. "The Family" is a shadow organization that forms individual relationships between its members and people in power (some Democrats, but mostly Republicans) here in the United States and in other nations throughout the world. Some of the history of the movement gets a little tedious, but the research is thorough and Sharlet is able to show a deliberate pattern of fundamentalists building their own power by cozying up to the the people who have official, publicly granted power. These were the people who behind the scenes started and continue to orchestrate the National Prayer Breakfast, an event that most pols attend and pay homage to Doug Coe, the group's current leader.

However, these people are not like the biblical literalists, homophobic, politically conservative fundamentalists I have met over and over throughout my life. The Family's unofficial motto is "Jesus plus Nothing," and they avoid taking stances on controversial social issues. That makes it unclear exactly what their agenda is, beyond what they see as saving souls. As far as relationships with foreign countries, they would buddy up to the worst human rights violator in the world if he claimed to have Jesus in his heart. Especially during the Cold War years, "Jesus + Nothing" seemed to really mean "Jesus plus unfettered capitalism. Once again it all comes down to the dollar and pursuing our own economic superiority over the common good. It's just all the more sickening when it is done with such hypocrisy.

I have no doubt that some people in the Family are sincere and believe they are advancing Christ's gospel through their shadowy manipulations. I just happen to think that their tactics leave no room for other Christian perspectives (and that that is their aim), and they certainly do not leave open the possibility that any other faith tradition could possess a kernel or two of truth.

It sounds trite, but I just wish people could learn to trust and love each other. But then you have people out there like these jokers who don't care a thing about love and trust - it's all about their viewpoint winning and subjugating all others. The comforting thing, though, is that they have been at this for a long time. When I get spooked by the attempts of the Religious Right to run the show today, I realize that this is nothing new, and there is a Power greater than they will ever be who will see that love and truth ultimately carry the day. The fundies have no doubt influenced a major number of policies and national stances. But we are still a democracy, not a theocracy, and the voices for justice and truth are not going to shut up.

Reverent Reader

1 Comments:

At 9/11/10, 8:13 PM , Anonymous Susan K. Dwyer said...

Read this book a while ago; the home where I grew up in Arlington happens to be a hotbed of The Family organization---including one of their headquarter meetings places--- a huge mansion at the end of a very secluded street next to federal civil war parkland. Sometime... we'll talk more about this... I think I'm more spooked than you.... but I like your optimism!

 

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