The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of


The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power 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 powerfulThey are the Family fundamentalism s avant garde, waging spiritual war in the halls of American power and around the globe They consider themselves the new chosen congressmen, generals, and foreign dictators who meet in confidential cells, to pray and plan for a leadership led by God, to be won not by force but through quiet diplomacy Their base is a leafy estate overlooking the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia, and Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have reported from inside its wallsThe Family is about the other half of American fundamentalist power not its angry masses, but its sophisticated elites Sharlet follows the story back to Abraham Vereide, an immigrant preacher who inorganized a small group of businessmen sympathetic to European fascism, fusing the far right with his own polite but authoritarian faith From that core, Vereide built an international network of fundamentalists who spoke the language of establishment power, a family that thrives to this day In public, they host Prayer Breakfasts in private, they preach a gospel of biblical capitalism, military might, and American empire Citing Hitler, Lenin, and Mao as leadership models, the Family s current leader, Doug Coe, declares, We work with power where we can, build new power where we can t Sharlet s discoveries dramatically challenge conventional wisdom about American fundamentalism, revealing its crucial role in the unraveling of the New Deal, the waging of the cold war, and the no holds barred economics of globalization The question Sharlet believes we must ask is not What do fundamentalists want but What have they already done Part history, part investigative journalism, The Family is a compelling account of how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power, a story that stretches from the religious revivals that have shaken this nation from its beginning to fundamentalism s new frontiers No other book about the right has exposed the Family or revealed its far reaching impact on democracy, and no future reckoning of American fundamentalism will be able to ignore it ☉ [PDF / Epub] ☆ Book Lover By Jennifer Kaufman ❤ – 9facts.co.uk a self described invisible network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerfulThey are the Family fundamentalism s avant garde ❮Epub❯ ➣ Secret Delivery / Her 24-Hour Protector ➢ Author Delores Fossen – 9facts.co.uk waging spiritual war in the halls of American power and around the globe They consider themselves the new chosen congressmen [BOOKS] ⚣ Kholodovs Last Mistress Author Kate Hewitt – 9facts.co.uk generals ➿ Wicked Sinner (Regency Sinners 7) Gratuit ➶ Auteur Carole Mortimer – 9facts.co.uk and foreign dictators who meet in confidential cells ❮Read❯ ➪ If the Stiletto Fits... Author Wendy Etherington – 9facts.co.uk to pray and plan for a leadership led by God [PDF] ✑ What Phoebe Wants (Harlequin Flipside, By Cindi Myers – 9facts.co.uk to be won not by force but through quiet diplomacy Their base is a leafy estate overlooking the Potomac in Arlington [Download] ➵ Ruthlessly Royal (Self-Made Millionaires Author Robyn Donald – 9facts.co.uk Virginia [PDF] ✍ An Amish Family Christmas ✸ Marta Perry – 9facts.co.uk and Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have reported from inside its wallsThe Family is about the other half of American fundamentalist power not its angry masses ❰Read❯ ➭ Interrupted Lullaby Author Dana R. Lynn – 9facts.co.uk but its sophisticated elites Sharlet follows the story back to Abraham Vereide [EPUB] ✷ Gift-Wrapped Governess By Sophia James – 9facts.co.uk an immigrant preacher who inorganized a small group of businessmen sympathetic to European fascism [Read] ➬ Vows of Revenge ➵ Dani Collins – 9facts.co.uk fusing the far right with his own polite but authoritarian faith From that core ❰Read❯ ➵ Not a Fairy Tale Author Romy Sommer – 9facts.co.uk Vereide built an international network of fundamentalists who spoke the language of establishment power [PDF / Epub] ✅ The Midwife and the Single Dad By Gill Sanderson – 9facts.co.uk a family that thrives to this day In public [Reading] ➷ Small-Town Billionaire ➭ Renee Andrews – 9facts.co.uk they host Prayer Breakfasts in private ❰Read❯ ➲ A Convenient Marriage Author Maggie Cox – 9facts.co.uk they preach a gospel of biblical capitalism ➵ [Read] ➱ A French Pirouette By Jennifer Bohnet ➿ – 9facts.co.uk military might [EPUB] ✻ The Doctors Courageous Bride Author Dianne Drake – 9facts.co.uk and American empire Citing Hitler ➳ [Reading] ➶ The Demure Miss Manning By Amanda McCabe ➩ – 9facts.co.uk Lenin ➹ [Read] ➵ Her Christmas Guardian Protective Instincts By Shirlee McCoy ➼ – 9facts.co.uk and Mao as leadership models ❰PDF / Epub❯ ☃ The Singalong Society for Singletons Author Katey Lovell – 9facts.co.uk the Family s current leader ❰Read❯ ➲ The Bodyguard Author Rhonda Nelson – 9facts.co.uk Doug Coe ☄ [PDF / Epub] ☃ A Doctor for the Nanny By Leigh Bale ✓ – 9facts.co.uk declares [PDF] ✪ Sex, Lies and Designer Shoes By Kimberly Van Meter – 9facts.co.uk We work with power where we can ❧ Cinderella And The Ceo free download ➛ Author Susan Meier – 9facts.co.uk build new power where we can t Sharlet s discoveries dramatically challenge conventional wisdom about American fundamentalism ❴BOOKS❵ ✬ The Single Dads Marriage Wish Author Carol Marinelli – 9facts.co.uk revealing its crucial role in the unraveling of the New Deal ❴KINDLE❵ ✿ Savage Courtship (Harlequin Presents, No 1744) Author Susan Napier – 9facts.co.uk the waging of the cold war ➥ [Epub] ➟ The Deserving Mistress By Carole Mortimer ➯ – 9facts.co.uk and the no holds barred economics of globalization The question Sharlet believes we must ask is not What do fundamentalists want but What have they already done Part history ➶ [Reading] ➸ Pierre By Primula Bond ➫ – 9facts.co.uk part investigative journalism [PDF / Epub] ☉ The Golden Locket (Unbreakable Trilogy, ❤ Primula Bond – 9facts.co.uk The Family is a compelling account of how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power ❮Read❯ ➲ The Marriage of Inconvenience Author Nina Singh – 9facts.co.uk a story that stretches from the religious revivals that have shaken this nation from its beginning to fundamentalism s new frontiers No other book about the right has exposed the Family or revealed its far reaching impact on democracy [EPUB] ✻ Tycoons Delicious Debt ❀ Susanna Carr – 9facts.co.uk and no future reckoning of American fundamentalism will be able to ignore it


About the Author: Jeff Sharlet

I m a contributing editor for Harper s and Rolling Stone and I also write about music for Oxford American, politics for The Nation, and media for The Revealer, a review of religion and the press published by the New York University Center for Religion and Media, where I m an associate research scholar I m the author of The Family The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power Harper, 2008 , coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha A Heretic s Bible Free Press , named by Publishers Weekly one of the top 10 religion titles of 2004, and the author of The Hammer Song, a short history of American protest music to be published by Basic Books in 2009 I live in Brooklyn with my wife, Julia Rabig, and a fascist cat named Richard.



10 thoughts on “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power

  1. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    This is a must read In the same way that Naomi Klein s The Shock Doctrine mapped out a process that has been going on in plain sight for a long time, Jeff Sharlet shows us a process that has been going on stealthily for many, many years As the Shock Doctrine sheds light on an appalling abuse of power, so The Family sheds light on some very creepy goings on, primarily at home The notion one might have in approaching The Family is that it is primarily a tell all about the people who live at C S This is a must read In the same way that Naomi Klein s The Shock Doctrine mapped out a process that has been going on in plain sight for a long time, Jeff Sharlet shows us a process that has been going on stealthily for many, many years As the Shock Doctrine sheds light on an appalling abuse of power, so The Family sheds light on some very creepy goings on, primarily at home The notion one might have in approaching The Family is that it is primarily a tell all about the people who live at C Street in Washington D.C., the grown up frat house for mostly Republican elected officials and others involved in business and government While there is some of that here, Sharlet isinterested in offering a historical perspective, not only exposing what underlies this ice berg, but showing how it came to be.Jeff Sharlet from his site He traces a path from the 18th century fire and brimstone of Jonathan Edwards to the 19th century revivalist evangelical, Charles Finney, to the pulpit pounding Billy Sunday of the 1920s through Abram Vereide, the major personal force behind what Sharlet and its members calls The Family Vereide began his work in the 1930s, handing off eventually to Doug Coe, today s leader and a familiar face and source of connections and financial support to many of our elected officials.Underlying all is this group s vision of the natural order as being the divine right of the wealthy and powerful to rule The working man is seen as having no rights at all, and in fact, any attempt to organize to better his lot is seen as not only secularly seditious, but an affront against God, who has placed the worthy in their positions of ownership and power Perhaps a better term for this might be Deo Fascism It will come as no surprise that major funding for this movement has always been found among the corporate elite of the country, and a major effort by this movement, throughout its history, has been to do all in their power to defeat organized labor.I learned some new, alarming things in reading this I always knew that many of the sci fi films of the 1950 s were subliminal, or not so subliminal attacks on a perceived red menace Sharlet tells of the genesis of the film, The Blob, and how it was directed by a fellow specifically intending to mainstream his fundamentalist Christian notions, and how the elements that led to the production came together at one of Abram Vereide s gatherings.A red menace indeedWhile one can use the Blob image effectively to portray how this movement functions, and the visible tip of the iceberg shielding the unseen nine tenths, what works best for me is seeing the movement Sharlet describes as prionic in nature Prions are infectious proteins that can lie low for extended periods of time, or stealth infections The proteins that make them up are present in all people but the special ones that become prions are, ultimately deadly Prions are what cause Mad Cow Disease and similar, awful diseases The Family, The Fellowship are doing their best to spread their particular brand of infection throughout the body politic In particular the spreaders of this worldview are interested in people in power It is certainly possible to sell to working people an ideology based on the privileges of wealth Just look at the anti healthcare reform screamers at town hall meetings But a likelier medium in which to plant those seeds is with those who already have a large wedge of the pie These supposedly religious people would have us believe that they are submitting themselves to the will of god, of Jesus in particular But there is only one thing before which they really fall to their knees, power It does not matter how many tens, hundreds, thousands, even millions of people die at the hands of their members, friends and sympathizers It does not matter to them how many lives are ruined by their steering of government towards wealth and away from work It does not matter to them how much of mother earth is raped and plundered by their corporate supporters What matters is power, getting it, keeping it, wielding it for their private gain, and doing all this under the guise of submitting to will of the Lord This movement is an infection in our nation, one that will, if left unchecked, lead to the destruction of our country, and possibly , by making ours a leadership ridden with a prionic madness These are people who are not afraid to nuke the world in order to save it Be afraid Be very afraid.One aspect of the book is that it is a rather slow read Be prepared to take your time accumulating all the information Sharlet has unearthed There are many players in this enterprise I found that I often came across a name that was unfamiliar and had to backtrack to check his or her mostly his role in the goings on I was disappointed that there was not a list in the back of known members, and others who had less than full membership in The Family I was a bit surprised to find Hilary Clinton referenced But do read it, please Everyone needs to know what is going beneath our political wet rocks.Review posted August 2009Updated and reposted June 5, 2015 EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Twitter and Instagram pagesThe Revealer, a site Sharlet started to report on media coverage of religion The work here is mostly by othersCall Me Ishmael Jeff s on line journal, not his paying gigSharlet s interview with Jon Stewart is worth checking outAn article Sharlet wrote for Harper s in 2009 on religion in the military, Jesus Killed Mohammed, Scary, but must read May 26, 2018 NY Times A Christian Nationalist Blitz by Katherine Stewart Where activist faith meets fascism June 20, 2018 NY Times The Christian Right Adopts a 50 State Strategy by Katherine Stewart The danger spreads December 31, 2018 NY Times Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus by Katherine Stewart a very frightening look at how the evangelical right views Trump and justifies his many crimes August 29, 2019 Vulture What The Family Reveals About White Evangelicals, Donald Trump, and the Wolf King by Sarah Jones This is a great interview with both author Jeff Sharlett and Jesse Moss, the filmmaker responsible for the Netflix series that was based on it Check it out Pretty alarming stuff QUOTESp 35 Regarding a talk given by David Coe, son of Doug Coe, the Family head, at Ivanwald, a Family home in Arlington, VA The subject is how God can forgive King David for all the atrocities he committed He turned to Beau Beau, let s say I hear you raped three little girls And now here you are at Ivanwald What would I think of you, Beau Beau, given to bellowing Ivanwald s daily call to sports like a bull elephant, shrank into the cushions Probably that I m pretty bad No, Beau David s voice was kind I wouldn t He drew Beau back into the circle with a stare that seemed to have its own gravitational pull Beau nodded, brow furrowed, as if in the presence of something profound Because, David continued, I m not here to judge you That s not my job I m here for only one thing Do you know that that is Understanding blossomed in Beau s eyes Jesus he said David smiled and winked.P 43 they take the same approach to religion that Ronald Reagan took to economics, says a Senate staffer named Neil McBride, a political liberal with conservative convictions that puts him at odds with the Family s unorthodox fundamentalism Reach the elite, and the blessings will trickle down to the underlings P 44They view themselves as the new chosen and claim a Christian doctrine of covenantalism, meaning covenants not only between God and humanity but at every level of society, replacing the rule of law and its secular contracts P 44 In documents provided to members it is explained that The cell has veto rights over each member s life, and everyone pledges to monitor the others for deviation from Christ s will A document called Thoughts on a Core Group explains that Communists use cells as their basic structure The mafia operates like this, and the basic unit of the Marine Corps is the four man squad Hitler, Lenin, and many others understood the power of a small core of people Jesus, continues the document, does not relate to all souls equallyp 181 One Irvin Yeaworth, a director of Christian education films was looking to broadcast his message into the mainstream The result was The Blob p 43 Rights, the Family taught, are the product of an arrogant mind an infringement on God s authorityp 90A rich man may have little hope of getting into heaven, but an envious one could turn to violence and lose all hope for this world or the next Abram had to help such creatures, the derelicts, the failures How By helping those who could help them the high and the mighty that they might distribute the Lord s blessings to the little men, whose envy would be soothed, violence averted, disorder controlled Abram would coin a phrase for this vision the new world order p 216Contrasting American fundamentalism to secularismin 1962, Bill Bright who founded Campus Crusade, one of the biggest popular fundamentalist groups in the world, put it succinctly We worship a person, they worship ideas That was American fundamentalism s Christ a person, purged of the ideas that defined him, as if what mattered most about Jesus was the color of his eyes and the shape of his beard.p 254 Doug Coe the chief honcho of The Family cites one of his favorite scripture verses, Matthew 18 20, When two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of thtem Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler were three men Think of the immense power these three men had, these nobodies from nowhere Actually emotional and mental problems Prisoners From the street But they bound themselves together in an agreement, and they died together Two years before they moved into Poland, these three men had a study done, systematically a plan drawn out and put on paper to annihilate the entire Polish population and destroy by numbers every single house he bangs the podium, dop, dop, dop and every single building in Warsaw and then to start on the rest of Poland It worked, Coe says they killed 6 million Polish people p 269A Kansas businessman who calls Senator Sam Brownback his friend and has known him for years told me that the de facto price of doing business with the senator the cost of admission for a single meeting was, last he checked, 2,000 p 274 Hillary Clinton once said she regretted that her denomination, the Methodists, had focused too much on Social Gospel concerns that is, the rights of the poor to the exclusion of personal faith and growth the spirit, conservative Christians believe, mattersthan the flesh, and the salvation of the former should be a higher priority than that of the latter In worldly terms, religious freedom trumps political freedom, moral values matterthan food on the table, and if might doesn t make right, it sure makes right, or wrong, easierp 276For all The Family s talk of Jesus as a person, he remains oddly abstract in the teachings they derive from him, a mix of free market economics, aggressive American internationalism, and leadership as a fetishized term for power, a good in itself regardless of its ends p 386Fundamentalism wants to ease the pain, to banish fear, forget loneliness to erase desire Populist fundamentalism does so by offering a certainty, a fixed story about the relationship between this world and the world to come elite fundamentalism, certain in its entitlement, responds in this world with a politics of noblesse oblige, the missionary impulse married to military and economic power The result is empire Not the old imperialism of Rome or the Ottomans or the British Navy, that of a central power forcing weaker groups to pay tribute Rather, the soft empire of America that across the span of the twentieth century recruited fundamentalism to its cause even as it seduced liberalism to its service presents itself not as a historical regime originating in conquest, but rather as an order that effectively suspends history and thereby fixes the existing state of affairs for eternity

  2. Chris Coffman Chris Coffman says:

    This book was given to me by my father in law, a retired Church of England minister who had numerous clashes in his career with narrow minded Christians in and out of the Church hierarchy He has understandable concerns about what he reads about the Religious Right in the US, and given the book s uniformly excellent reviews in Australia, he gave me Sharlet s THE FAMILY I was riveted from the first chapter Sharlet was welcomed into the core of an organisation devoted to extending the influenc This book was given to me by my father in law, a retired Church of England minister who had numerous clashes in his career with narrow minded Christians in and out of the Church hierarchy He has understandable concerns about what he reads about the Religious Right in the US, and given the book s uniformly excellent reviews in Australia, he gave me Sharlet s THE FAMILY I was riveted from the first chapter Sharlet was welcomed into the core of an organisation devoted to extending the influence of evangelical Christianity throughout the United States and the world, and he lived at their headquarters, which has the sinister name Ivanwald Sharlet s reporting talent is apparent from the opening sentences with their vivid depiction of typical American suburban and ex urban communities and their earnest, basketball playing, but possibly unconsciously intolerant residents His thesis is that Doug Coe, the leader of a shadowy and pervasive organisation called The Family gives pep talks comparing his methods to those of Stalin and Hitler It is all deeply disturbing, esp since Coe s supporters include many prominent Republican and some Democratic politicians So I settled in for a good read on a vital current issue, ready to start writing cheques to the Anti Defamation League and any other organisations I could identify, once I had finished the book, that might be on the front lines of stopping this scourge in American political life But starting with Page 56, Sharlet called his own credibility seriously into question He begins a long discussion of Jonathan Edwards, the great eighteenth century New England minister to whom Sharlet traces the phenomenon of The Family And Sharlet s discussion of Jonathan Edwards is unrecognisable Puzzled, I went to the footnotes, where Sharlet writes that despite the great many biographies of Edwards, my method of research for this account of his life was to rely primarily on original sources, which I tried to filter through my own half secular mind and as I imagine a Family man might On the evidence of his interpretation of Edwards, Sharlet is one sick puppy I actually took down from the shelf my copy of the most recent biography of Edwards, by the Notre Dame hardly a centre of the Religious Right scholar George M Marsden, as well as my copy of Patricia J Tracy s JONATHAN EDWARDS, PASTOR RELIGION AND SOCIETY IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY NORTHAMPTON Sharlet s grotesque description of Edwards is really shocking, and I wanted to confirm that my understanding of Edwards was founded on something other than my failing memory of these books It was with relief that I can report that Sharlet is basically free associating in his discussion of Edwards, and that the lurid and disturbing claims he makes about Edwards in THE FAMILY come from the part of his psyche responsible for what Sharlet imagines , rather than what he reads.I returned to reading THE FAMILY with new scepticism, and then I came across Sharlet s discussion of Richard Halverson, who apparently was once in line to lead The Family before its current leader Doug Coe was appointed Given the late Halverson s private and public record, Sharlet has to struggle to criticize him, but his patronizing innuendoes about Halverson offer a good example of his entire method in THE FAMILY Halverson would help to build one of the world s largest relief agencies, World Vision, a Christian outfit that supplies food for the starving and medicine for the wounded and gospel tracts only to those who ask Although it has been plagued by accusations of serving as a CIA front, World Vision s verifiable record is admirableHalverson, in other words, was an imperialist of the old school, bringing light to the natives and clearing the way for other men to extract a dollarThe text offers plenty of clues to the alert reader about the presence of some agenda in Sharlet s book But in the case of Halverson, as in the case of Edwards, I have my own independent information When I was a child, my family attended Fourth Presbyterian Church in the DC area, where Halverson was the minister, and he was a family friend I saw him last in 1991 when he was Senate chaplain Halverson recounted at that meeting how he and his colleague, the rabbi working with him in a pastoral capacity to the US Senate, had become very close, and that when the rabbi expressed astonishment some years before that their religious outlooks were so similar, Halverson responded I ve never heard you say anything I didn t completely agree with This is the man whom Sharlet paints as a sinister senior leader of a totalitarian, anti Semitic organization plotting to take over America I know that allegation to be false In fact, THE FAMILY itself is an irresponsibly written book, one of those books whose good qualities its reporting of ordinary day to day facts that create the appearance of a vivid atmosphere, Sharlet s fluent prose, his catchy chapter titles, and so on all serve a negative purpose, creating unfounded fear and exacerbating the already excessive divisions in American social and political life today The number of works written out of either ignorance a phenomenon not uncommon in evangelical publications or out of bad faith and a willingness to fit the facts to one s personal agenda what Sharlet has accomplished in THE FAMILY is one of the chief obstacles in today s world to achieving world peace and understanding In the aftermath of 9 11 I had long talks with an Australian woman who is a Shiite Lebanese by origin Married at 12 and giving birth to her first child at 13, she never had the chance to pursue an education She is highly intelligent, however Our talks convinced me of how dangerous books such as THE FAMILY can be in this confused and hate filled world of ours She relied for much of her information on the Arabic language press and radio, and a portion of that media was devoted to insane, hate filled conspiracy theories and outright lies about the Israelis, Americans, and Jews in general She had no way of filtering that information except through her discussions with me, and that was when I realized that her intelligence, fueled with disinformation, was very dangerous The 20th Century was soaked in blood, we know understand, because highly intelligent intellectuals sincerely believed that their knowledge gave them the ability, and the right, to govern others, even when their decisions contradicted age old ethics and morality At their core, that is where Communism and National Socialism are essentially the same What we need to understand in the 21st century is how dangerous intelligent people with false information can be And we need to take a stand against those who recklessly spread falsehoods masquerading as the truth We need to speak and write the truth as we know it, so that others at least have the chance to consider both sides of an issue Sharlet claims to have uncovered an old form of danger to world peace and understanding the all powerful conspiracy In fact, he himself represents a new and powerful challenge to global understanding those who use their positions to pollute the ocean of truth How can my Australian father in law have any idea if what Sharlet writes about events in the Washington DC area are true or not Sharlet has broken faith with readers like my father in law, and millions like him around the world Alice Kaplan does an excellent job of discussing the issues surrounding reckless intellectuals who abuse their rhetorical abilities and media access in her book THE COLLABORATOR THE TRIAL AND EXCECUTION OF ROBERT BRASILLACH At the end of the day, THE FAMILY isn t even good value for those who remain truly worried that people like the late Richard Halverson will one day rule America Sharlet mainly repeats the same allegations made by David Cantor in the 1994 Anti Defamation League study The Religious Right The Assault on Tolerance Pluralism in America Cantor made the phrase The Religious Right famous with this 193 page study Midge Decter reviewed the study at the time in the magazine COMMENTARY, which has been one of the great ornaments of American intellectual life for two generations, and not coincidently one of the great outlets for American Jewish writing on a variety of cultural, literary, social, political and religious issues Decter wrote that the Cantor s study is intended to warn the country of the growth, in the words of Cantor s introduction, of an exclusionist religious movement seeking to unite its version of Christianity with state power Decter summarises the playbook Cantor attributes to the Religious Right, which Sharlet claims to have uncovered 14 years later Somewhere around 1990, the study notes, the decision was taken by the movement s leaders to engage in serious organizing and political activity at the grass roots, and by 1994 this decision has menacingly borne fruit CONT D BELOW IN THE COMMENT SECTION

  3. Richard Bartholomew Richard Bartholomew says:

    As Jeff Sharlet has been at pains to stress since The Family was published, the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power is not a conspiracy Rather, it is secret because it is discrete, and because it has been overlooked by journalists and the secular writers of American history Abraham Vereide s name is familiar enough if you know modern evangelical history or read Christian books Billy Graham describes him as a remarkable man , Corrie Ten Boom sought out his endorsement when As Jeff Sharlet has been at pains to stress since The Family was published, the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power is not a conspiracy Rather, it is secret because it is discrete, and because it has been overlooked by journalists and the secular writers of American history Abraham Vereide s name is familiar enough if you know modern evangelical history or read Christian books Billy Graham describes him as a remarkable man , Corrie Ten Boom sought out his endorsement when she arrived in the USA after the war, and Norman Grubb of the World Evangelisation Crusade wrote a popular biography for Zondervan in the 1960s but his political significance remains under appreciated and the motivation of his movement unscrutinized For Sharlet, Vereide stood at the vanguard of an elite fundamentalism that shaped the last half century of American and world politics in ways only now becoming visible This elite fundamentalism in contrast to the vulgarity of televangelists and mass revivalists works quietly behind the scenes to bring together decision makers and leaders in private fellowship and prayer under a simple or vacuous creed of Jesus Plus Nothing In public we see the Prayer Breakfasts, and in 2007 Al Gore s name dropping of Vereide s successor Doug Coe in debate with James Inhofe, but in private there are prayer cells and retreat houses where Family theology facilitates a back channel of influence and networking both in the USA and abroad.The Family is divided into three sections in Part One, Sharlet sets the scene with his own encounter with the Family before setting off on a background excursion into American revivalism, briefly exploring the worlds of Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney Sharlet s approach to these historical subjects is strangely and eccentrically gothic the straight historian may perhaps be annoyed by Sharlet s dark impressions of Edwards watching an anorexic starve to death or the way he portrays Finney s forest grotto religious experience as something almost Lovecraftian, but it makes forengaging read than a the usual potted biography we might find in any general history Throughout the book, Sharlet s research is interspersed with personal reflections and anecdotes, allusive references, striking turns of phrase, and unexpected diversions depending on your temperament or your reason for reading the book, you will find this thought provoking and original or slightly irritating.Part Two tells the actual story of the Family, and is informed by material which Sharlet found in the organisation s archives before public access was recently withdrawn We learn how Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant who became an executive with Goodwill Industries in Seattle, responded to labour conflict in his adoptive city with a plan backed by local businessmen Walter Douglass and William St Clair to use the Bible as blueprint to take back the USA from irreligion and the communist threat This meant a cooperative model of management labour relations, in which labour would understand its need to behave responsibly Sharlet notes Vereide s links to Frank Buchman, who was thinking along similar lines Sharlet describes Buchman a huckster , which I think is unfair his impression is taken from Tom Driberg s polemical writing against Buchman s Moral Re Armament, and there is no reference to Garth Lean s counter balancing sympathetic but serious biography.Vereide s aim would be achieved by ministering to the up and out bringing Christ to elites As this new Fellowship the earlier name of the Family developed, eventually reaching the elites of Washington DC, Vereide s associations became murkier Vereide had already made links with Henry Ford, who was trying to shake off his reputation for anti Semitism, and Charles Lindbergh became the leader of a Fellowship prayer group Merwin K Hart, a fascist sympathizer from New York, provided further Fellowship members, while a KKK Senator named Ralph Brewster helped Vereide run prayer meetings at the Hotel Willard in 1942 The only figure from organised labour was James Duncan, whose main concern was stopping black Americans from joining the workforce at Boeing Post war, Vereide lobbied on behalf of Germans with questionable Nazi era pasts Funding for Vereide eventually came from the William Volker fund, which also subsidised publication of The Road to Serfdom and the grim theonomy of Rousas Rushdoony Sharlet is particularly troubled by Fellowship complicity with Suharto s bloodletting in Indonesia Vereide described Suharto s coup as a spiritual revolution , and Indonesia went on to develop its own Prayer Breakfast.In the post Vereide era, under the direction of Doug Coe, the Fellowship chose to submerge as its influence becamepervasive, with politicians and dictators from around the world meeting discretely in a Fellowship property in Washington DC Sharlet tells us that as his interest in the group developed he wrote an article on the subject for Harper s in 2003 he came under surveillance Coe himself has a public profile most famously, he features in Charles Colson s autobiography one of those as told to John and Elizabeth Sherrill bestsellers Born Again playing a central role in bringing Colson to faith during the Watergate scandal, and Sharlet describes Colson as now being one of the leading theorists of American fundamentalism The purpose of the original American Prayer Breakfast, Sharlet shrewdly notes, was to lop oft the left end of the political spectrum and cauterize the wound , and today the Family enjoys influence across the political establishment in America it is far bigger than the Religious Right , and Hillary Clinton is a friend.In Part Three, Sharlet looks at what he calls the Popular Front , the broad network of popular conservative evangelicalism megachurches and home churches neo Pentecostal spiritual warfare anti abortion activists, approaches to sexuality, and Bush s Office of Faith Based Initiatives The Family largely disappears from view in this section, and instead we have thefamiliar topic of how evangelicals in the Bush years developed and enjoyed access to power only, in the last instance, to be used for electoral gain Underlying this apparent diversion is Sharlet s interest in the how elite and popular fundamentalism intertwines or contrasts.But what is the elite fundamentalism which inspired Vereide and the Fellowship Sharlet calls it the Idea a flexible faith for an expanding American empire which is so lacking in content that even the Muslim General Suharto can come on board Vereide valued submission to power rather than belief, and this concern with power , Sharlet suggests, motivates the Family s strategy One aspect of Sharlet s research which provoked particular journalistic comment is the incredibly crass way in which Family leaders speak in awe of the leadership abilities of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Of course, these men are reviled as evil, but each one in a grossly simplistic reading of history came from nowhere, and with the help of a small group of associates managed to change the world Apparently, they failed because their purpose was bad, not because the whole idea of realising a vision through putting trust in big men inevitably leads to disaster as Vereide put it, today is the age of minority control This control is extended through capitalism Vereide s British biographer Norman Grubb saw capitalism as a wedge to spread Christ abroad and exerted through management Sharlet traces the line from Bruce Barton s Babbitt cult of business friendly Christianity through to Rick Warren s Purpose Driven time management manual itself inspired by management guru Peter Drucker One critic of the Family Sharlet meets complains of a moral vacuum Although Sharlet avoids old school academic theorising, we can detect the spectre, not of Marx, but of Weber.Sharlet is not the first to detect power as the operative motive in fundamentalism Martyn Percy s Words, Wonder, and Power explores the concept as it relates to leadership in neo Pentecostalism this book also provides a rationale for using the term fundamentalist in a general way, a gripe that Randall Balmer has made against Sharlet The links between American political elites and fundamentalism also reminded me of Colby and Dennette s doomed epic Thy Will Be Done Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil, which, although a great read, fails to make a conclusive and direct connection inthan 900 pages.The Family highlights many areas that deserve further research, and the seam that Sharlet has struck is far from completely excavated what exactly was the role of the Twelve , a group which Vereide joined Why did missionaries stay at the Zurich home of Alfred Hirs, who ran the Bank of Switzerland, and link up with Baron Von Gienanth Who exactly was Wallace Haines, who stood in for Vereide in Europe when Vereide was ill, and who also features briefly in Stewart Dinnen s biography of Norman Grubb What did the Havana prayer cell get up to Many clues remain unpondered in archives, in long out of print popular Christian paperbacks a genre often overlooked , and in private reminiscences And of course, there is one question which Sharlet has asked but which we can never have a full answer to what exactly is the scope of the Family today

  4. Scott Rhee Scott Rhee says:

    This book was read in March April 2013 It is a fascinating book, chockfull of grand conspiracy theories that sound almost ridiculous, unless one watches the news or reads up on what is actually happening in the world.Jeff Sharlet is a better man than me As testament to either his objectivity as a journalist or hisevolved sense of non judgmentalism, Sharlet never once refers to the people he is writing about as fanatics , lunatics , nutjobs , whackos , Jesus freaks , or insane Nor This book was read in March April 2013 It is a fascinating book, chockfull of grand conspiracy theories that sound almost ridiculous, unless one watches the news or reads up on what is actually happening in the world.Jeff Sharlet is a better man than me As testament to either his objectivity as a journalist or hisevolved sense of non judgmentalism, Sharlet never once refers to the people he is writing about as fanatics , lunatics , nutjobs , whackos , Jesus freaks , or insane Nor does he call them fascists , bullies , or creeps Many of these words andfloated through my brain as I read Sharlet s phenomenally disturbing book The Family The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power , which is very odd, because ten years ago, I may have actually sympathized with and related to the people about which Sharlet s book is written.Ten years ago, I would have called myself a Born Again Christian , and I probably would have said it, if not with pride then without shame Today, I have a hard time calling myself a Deist, let alone a Christian, not because I denounce the teachings of Christ on the contrary, I try my best to live by them but because, in my humble opinion, a portion of the people who call themselves Christians are not I realize that this sounds extremely judgmental and presumptuous on my part, but I can t help the way I feel Christianity, as it is practiced by I would like to say a minority but I don t have any statistics on this, nor do I think any truly qualitative statement can adequately be made about this, as it is my opinion based solely on observation and experience, so I will simply say some, has subverted the true lessons of Christ Sharlet seems to think this as well, although he is a littleeloquent about it He is also a lotsympathetic towards the mostly men in the book, many of whom were and, I suspect, still are friends of Sharlet, when he was invited to live in the nondescript suburban house in Arlington, Virginia, called by its inhabitants Ivanwald This house is the central headquarters of the Family of Sharlet s title Also known as The Fellowship, this group is comprised of the Washington power elite State Representatives, Senators, Judges, lobbyists, and, yes, Presidents who use the home as a kind of Christian commune Nonpartisan although Sharlet admits that there are farRepublicans than Democrats and open to women although, again, Sharlet admits that there is only a handful of women involved , the Family has been, for decades, an organization of Christ centered they do not like to call themselves Christians people of political clout who come together for prayer and spiritual guidance Charles W Colson, the Nixon aide Watergate felon who converted to Christianity in prison, and a respected member of the Family, in 1979, once estimated the Family s strength at 20,000, although the number of dedicated associates around the globe is much smaller around 350 as of 2006 p.20 Looked at one way, these devout men could appear to be a harmless selection of the creme de la creme of Washington, D.C elite One could almost respect and admire them, and, for the most part, it seems, Sharlet does Looked at another way, however, The Family is a frightening organization, working within the shadows and under the guise of piety and religiosity, bent on accumulation of power and world wide domination It may sound melodramatic and off the wall, until one looks deeply at the history of this organization, an organization of men who, according to Sharlet, consider themselves a core of men responsible for changing the world p 3 The History It s not a stretch to say that America is probably one of the most religious countries in the world Religion is, after all, one of the main reasons that settlers from England first arrived on this country s shores Sharlet writes, America has been infused with religion since the day in 1630 when the Puritan John Winthrop, preparing to cross the Atlantic to found the Massachussetts Bay Colony, declared the New World the city upon a hill spoken of by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew p 2 The Pilgrims and our Founding Fathers spoke in the vocabulary of religion, and their many decisions that helped shape this country were decisions weighed by their religious convictions Our earliest literature is the sermons of the famous fire and brimstone preacher John Edwards From him, we see the embryo of American fundamentalism The fundamentalism of our colonial era, as compared to the fundamentalism of today, was, however, vastly different, according to Sharlet American fundamentalism s original sentiments were as radically democratic in theory as they have become repressive in practice, its dream not that of Christian theocracy but of a return to the first century of Christ worship, before there was a thing called Christianity p 4 Arguably, of course, our colonial government was as theocratic as one can get, but it lacked something that today s fundamentalists seem to have no lack of a lust for power over others.I have heard many Christians say that they oppose the concept of imposing their morality upon others, and I believe many of them when they say that It s the ultra conservative right wing fundamentalists who I worry about They don t say it because they don t oppose it Their goal is to impose their morality on everyone, and they aren t afraid to admit it Sharlet writes, Both populists and elites within the Family call their attempts to control the lives of others evangelism p.8 Whether it s an attempt to prevent women from having the choice of abortions or preventing gay couples from reaping the benefits of marriage, Christian fundamentalists clearly want to set the rules, and they cleverly attempt to do this using the Christ card If the Family had their way, Sharlet implies, abortion would be outlawed, gay marriage would be outlawed, homosexuality would be outlawed Divorce, adultery, pornography the list of things that they would most likely love to see abolished would be quite long So, why does therational minded liberal Christian and secular segments of the population not speak outOne of the reasons is that very few people even know the Family exists, not because they are secretive but simply because they do not talk about it The Family is Fight Club the first rule of the Family is Don t talk about the Family Second rule is Don t talk about the Family.As Sharlet explains, This so called underground is not a conspiracy Rather, it s a seventy year old movement of elite fundamentalism, bent not on salvation for all but on the cultivation of the powerful, key men chosen by God to direct the affairs of the nation p.7 In simpler terms, as the Family themselves describes in a confidential mission statement We desire to see a leadership led by God p 19 So, who started this Family, and why The answer begins with one man Abraham Veriede Known by most people as Abram , Veriede was a Norwegian born preacher who arrived in this country right before the catastrophic effects of the Great Depression devastated this country Somewhat annoyed by what he saw as an effiminization of Christianity, Abram longed for a faith made of sterner stuff Sharlet writes, For nearly 2000 years, Abram concluded, Christianity that is, the religion, the rituals, the stuff of men with their weak, sinful minds had bent all its energies toward the poor, the sick, the starving The down and out Christianity gave them fishes when it could and hope when it had nothing else to offer But what good had it done What had been accomplished between Calvary and 1935 p 89 In Abram s mind, the answer to that question was nothing Instead of preaching to the so called down and out , Abram shifted his focus on people who could, based on their own successes, get things done men of industry and power, the Carnegies and Rockefellers of the world This, in essence, was Abram s revelation To the big man went strength, to the little man went need Only the big man was capable of mending the world p 89 Sharlet describes Abram s theology as a religion for the elite the up and out, as he called them and called his trickle down faith the Idea, and it was really the only idea he ever had p 91 Abram envisioned a world ruled by powerful men who were themselves ruled by Christ, a perfect world, in his opinion He coined the phrase new world order to describe this brave new world The questions were, where and when to begin Thankfully, a dockworker strike in 1934 in San Francisco helped answer those questions This was the spark that lit Abram s movement E lite fundamentalism took as its first challenge the destruction of militant labor Destruction was not the word Christians used, however They called it cooperation p 108 Among the list of enemies of Abram s elite fundamentalists in those days were unions, communists, and Father Coughlin, the popular radio priest from Detroit, Michigan Coughlin was full of hatred for the capitalists who had lined their silk pockets Coughlin, as much as orthan the communists, seemed like he might call for blood one day, and soon p 115 This, Abrams could not allow In Abram s worldview, it was common people like Coughlin and the rest of the nation s poor who represented a blockade for the creation of Christ s Kingdom on Earth Money was the key, something that the poor obviously lacked, which therefore made them insignificant Ironically, Money was like power Those who had it should not speak of it, concern themselves with it, acknowledge its existence as a factor To do so was worse than bad manners it was blasphemy, an attempt to refute God s ordering of economic affairs p 115 Abram s theology clearly struck a chord in the minds of the rich men to whom he preached, a group of men whom, as Abram said, did not want to be preached at p.115 Who knew telling your audience exactly what they want to hear would work so well It wasn t long before Abram had his first key player Arthur Langlie A representative of the New Order of Cincinnatus, a group of young businessmen who were opposed to FDR s New Deal, Arthur Langlie became a city council member in Seattle in 1934 Langlie ran under a popular platform that had two solutions to economic malaise slash taxes and attack vice As councilman, Langlie purged the city s police department He then turned his ax toward the fire department poor moral specimens and public school teachers indoctrinating the youth with godless notions p 118 Strange how times haven t changed much Eventually, Langlie ran for, and won, the position of mayor Unions didn t stand a chance under Mayor Langlie Good government, as Langlie called his platform of budget slashing and punishing moral rectitude, trumped labor p 120 He promised to end political corruption , but he didn t so much end corruption as legalize it Langlie wasn t opposed to a government organized around the interests of the greedy he just didn t want to have to break the law to serve them p 120 Graft and greed for the glory of God was good So Langlie accepted the constraints of democracy as he found them He did what business asked purged welfare rolls, abolished guaranteed wage laws, denounced Democrats as un American In 1942, he investigated the possibility of using martial law to suppress organized labor, but when his advisors told him it would be unconstitutional, he settled for ordinary strikebreaking He governed, in other words, as a right wing Republican p 122 After Langlie, numerous other protegees and devotees of Abram began to surface around the country, coming into positions of power One of those students was Henry Ford Abram took Ford under his wing, who was naturally attracted to Abram s theology of biblical capitalism , which was, for Ford, a brilliant marriage of two of Ford s interests the Gospel and fascism While Abram himself never quite adopted the language and spirit of fascism, his theology was nevertheless conducive to some of fascism s attributes Nazi sympathizers like Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and Baron von der Rapp, a former German nationalist and a Christian preacher, were inevitably quite taken with Abram s fundamentalism Rapp taught that the poor, with their demands for government services which he understood as a failure to trust that God would provide were the adversaries of the church But not through their own doing rather, absent some modicum of prosperity, they were too bitter to properly appreciate Christ s providence p 173 He went on to preach that God is not the God of ethics, of morality God is great, God made this order and chose its leaders p 175 Sadly, this mindset God wants the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer has been carried over into the current fundamentalist worldview Power for its own sake is all that matters Perhaps this is illustrated best in the most powerful man currently in the Family Doug Coe David Kuo, a former special assistant to the president during George W Bush s first term and author of Tempting Faith The Inside Story of a Political Seduction soon discovered that Bush may have talked the talk in regards to his faith but didn t really walk the walk In Kuo s book, he recounts the story of how he and a few others transformed the Office of Faith Based Initiatives into the very Republican vote getting machine its critics had accused it of being from the beginning We laid out a plan whereby we would hold roundtable events for threatened incumbents with faith and community leaders, he writes In 2002, those roundtables contributed to nineteen out of twenty victories in targeted races p 383 Disillusioned by his experience in the political arena with Bush and his fellow elite fundamentalists Bush, by the way, is a member of the Family, as if there was ever any question , Kuo quit his position after Bush s first term Kuo writes, We were good people forced to run a sad charade, to provide political cover to a White House that needed compassion and religion as political tools p 383 Embedded in that last statement, though, is the question Could they honestly call themselves good people As Kuo said, The Fellowship s reach into governments around the world is almost impossible to overstate or even grasp p 25 The Family, according to Sharlet, has wormed its way into so many coups and revolutions throughout the world, resulting in millions of deaths, all in the name of furthering the great cause of global Christian fundamentalist totalitarian rule Yet they are immune from prosecution and blame How is this possible One reason is the dedicated work of one man Doug Coe Coe was personally chosen by Abram to be his successor, and he has been doing a phenomenal job ever since In 2005, Time magazine labeled Abram s successor, Doug Coe, the stealth persuader, a term that might just as easily have fit his mentor p 91 92 D Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist said, One in three of 360 evangelical elites interviewed mentioned Coe or the fellowship as an important influence Indeed, there is no other organization like the Fellowship, especially among religious groups, in terms of its access or clout among the country s leadership p 25 Coe normally a quiet man who does not allow himself to be interviewed or even photographed that often has gone on record, saying, We work with power where we can, build new power where we can t Among the many powers that the Family has worked with around the globe are dictators like Suharto and Duvalier, vicious monsters notorious for their genocide but also their Christianity Coe remains unapologetic It is, according to him and the Family, all for the glory of God They can get away with it because there is nothing to tie the Family to these dictators Everything is done through private channels, and no documentation exists That a group like the Family exists at all is terrifying, disgusting, but probably not that surprising That so few people know or even care is the shocking part Bewildering is the number of people who will probably read The Family and walk away thinking that it is ultimately a good thing what the Family is doing That is simply unforgivable Then again, if I still considered myself a born again Christian I may have walked away from Sharlet s book with a much different take away message, too

  5. Julie Christine Julie Christine says:

    3 for readability 5 for relevance The Family is known to most Beltway politicos and in the corridors of political powerhouses throughout the world Known well, but little understood This is an areligious, ultra conservative, tightly knit network of American political and economic power that operates on the basis of a single premise its members are directly chosen by Jesus Christ as special emissaries of his mission Of course, this mission is defined by the Family itself namely the expansi 3 for readability 5 for relevance The Family is known to most Beltway politicos and in the corridors of political powerhouses throughout the world Known well, but little understood This is an areligious, ultra conservative, tightly knit network of American political and economic power that operates on the basis of a single premise its members are directly chosen by Jesus Christ as special emissaries of his mission Of course, this mission is defined by the Family itself namely the expansion and concentration of political power that adheres to specific American conservative values Sharlet describes the phenomenon of the Family as American Fundamentalism a movement that recasts theology in the language of empire p.3 Sharlet s meticulously researched expose, published in 2008, is just now hitting mainstream America, thanks to a recent spate of headlines featuring the Family and its political machinations and missteps Perhaps now the secret will see the light of an average citizen s day I waited months for a copy from the Seattle Public Library after an interview with the author aired on NPR s Fresh Air with Terri Gross clearly, word has gotten out, but we re the choir who already sings the tune, you know The Family is not a religious movement Its members come from a variety of Christian faiths, though its links to organizations such as Young Life, Campus Crusade for Christ, Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers and Charles Colson s Prison Fellowship reveal it to be an advocate of fundamentalist movements and its political agenda show it to be aligned with the Christian Right It operates in a model that Sharlet notes mirrors that of religious cults, mafias, anti government terrorist organizations, etc a very small cell of power brokers, governed by spiritual leader Doug Coe, bestows its will on concentric circles of fellowship by the means of prayer groups As these rings grow larger, the connection to the Family becomesopaque the Family wants to be heard, its influence felt, not seen It cherry picks its most elite members for example, recruiting young men who demonstrate leadership on their college campuses and nurturing them through seminars and prayer meetings, such as those held in conjunction with the annual National Prayer Breakfast recent Breakfast keynote speakers include Tony Blair and U2 frontman, Bono President Obama addressed the gathering last month Some persons of interest, like the author Jeff Sharlet, are invited to reside for a spell at the Family residence in Arlington, VA., Ivanwald not to be confused with the C Street residence currently under investigation There are names of those who receive the thumbs up and the thumbs down from the Family that may surprise the reader Although the Family celebrated George W Bush s faith based political initiatives and his profession of Jesus Christ as his mentor, it appears they recognized his limitations as a player in an elite intellectual organization Hillary Clinton, by contrast, was embraced early on as First Lady and then as the junior senator of New York State here was a political machine worthy of attention and close scrutiny I m guessing Hillary played them for everything she could Sharlet devotes a considerable portion of his book to the history of evangelism in the United States, beginning with Jonathan Edwards in the mid 18th century We are led to the establishment of the Family s precursor the Fellowship founded, ironically, in Seattle by a Norwegian immigrant as a response to labor movements and the lawlessness of a young, rapidly expanding city The modern incarnation of the Family blossoms after WWII The Cold War becomes the Family s cause c l bre, the eradication of communism worldwide in the name of Jesus Christ becomes its driving mission Sharlet details the Family s involvement in Indonesia Suharto s slaughter of untold millions , Somalia Siad Barre s slaughter of untold millions , Haiti, Central America, Uganda the trail of blood goes on and on The Family, not unlike many US administrations, nurtures dictators when it suits their political agenda and turns a blind eye to crimes against humanity But enough about this already I ll spoil all the good bits Here s the thing about the book Sharlet s research is so meticulous, exhaustive, detailed, and intense, I fairly lost the forest for the trees It s as if he wanted to be so careful to avoid the Opus Dei conspiracy hysteria that made readers froth after Dan Brown s every fictional word that should have been footnotes become entire sections Sharlet s research into the Family began in 2002 after his stay at Ivanwald he is a longtime researcher and reporter of religious organizations and practices His knowledge base is vast and his skill with the written word very evident But I can t help to wonder if the power of his message is weakened by his encyclopedic rendering of the American Fundamentalist movement I lost track of the Family at several points along the way, particularly in the section dealing with the megachurches and Christian fundamentalists that seem to have overrun the city of Colorado Springs Fascinating stuff and worthy of a book in its own right, but I wanted to knowpractical information on the current influence wielded by the Family and the involvement of the people who appear on my ballots I haven t even touched the gross hypocrisy of the Family s sheltering of and excuse making for the recently scandalized slimeballs Gov Mark Sanford and Sen John Ensign, among others, while proclaiming cultural war against gays and lesbians and advocating for the death penalty for homosexuals in Uganda and family planning that includes birth control But these stories post date Sharlet s book I can only hope he continues bringing to light the shadow cult of personality of Doug Coe and the power elite of the Family that makes its own rules and has skillfully conned countless leaders into doing its will 3 1 2 stars need time to digest this, but impact was weakened by exhaustive exhausting detail, history and author s literary bent I ll probably need to ingest blood pressure medication while reading this book I m outraged and disgusted enough just listening to tonight s Fresh Air interview with the author disgust and outrage NOT with the author, but with his subjects of investigation

  6. Books Ring Mah Bell Books Ring Mah Bell says:

    The family a bunch of guys that build prayer cells around powerful politicians big deal who cares Let them do what they want to do The fact that they want to have their own little group and meet and pray is no big deal But it becomes a big deal when their belief system begins infringing on politics, not only in our country, but internationally For example, they influenced policy makers in Africa Uganda Shit, I forget to not teach safe sex That s right To hell with rubbers They don The family a bunch of guys that build prayer cells around powerful politicians big deal who cares Let them do what they want to do The fact that they want to have their own little group and meet and pray is no big deal But it becomes a big deal when their belief system begins infringing on politics, not only in our country, but internationally For example, they influenced policy makers in Africa Uganda Shit, I forget to not teach safe sex That s right To hell with rubbers They don t work Not like abstinence Because we all know you ll resist sex That works It becomes a big deal when they have huge homes everywhere and escape taxes because they are exempt due to being a church That s just crap I file my paperwork tomorrow to become a tax exempt church I ll be happy to pray for you, just send me your cash offering Not shocking is the list of folks that have had ties to the family, lots of good Washington folk, past and present I also like that there were people from a private defense contractor cough BLACKWATER cough involved with the group.And the scariest part is, these folks label themselves as Christians, but they are far from it my opinion

  7. Mark Mark says:

    The book is heavy going at times, and I felt as if I should have had a highlighter in hand to aid myself in remembering all the names and dates The overall result is a powerful journalistic expos that is an eye opening glimpse into backroom dealings of Washington and beyond I have always found myself on the left in the political spectrumto the left than mainstream Democrats so I am not surprised to read about America s manipulation of foreign governments, but I was surprised to lear The book is heavy going at times, and I felt as if I should have had a highlighter in hand to aid myself in remembering all the names and dates The overall result is a powerful journalistic expos that is an eye opening glimpse into backroom dealings of Washington and beyond I have always found myself on the left in the political spectrumto the left than mainstream Democrats so I am not surprised to read about America s manipulation of foreign governments, but I was surprised to learn of the direct influence of this one particular Christian organization Many well known politicians have directly benefited from and helped to push the agenda of the Family, including Tom Delay, John Ashcroft and others It was interesting to read of the involvement of such Democrats as Sen Bill Nelson and Hillary Clinton, but as Sharlet points out the Family isconcerned with one s total subservience to the power of Jesus as interpreted by the hierarchy of the Family than their particular political party Everyone in power becomes useful when they give themselves over to the ideas embodied by the free market Christian warrior that is idealized by the founders of the Family

  8. Erik Graff Erik Graff says:

    This is the product of years of journalistic research about and involvement in American fundamentalism as it pertains to U.S politics and the culture wars of today The author s thesis is that Christianity, founded as it is on notions of special, as opposed to natural, revelation, on the bible rather than on scientific investigation, has been an enduring feature of American history since early colonial days While perdurant, its character has been multifaceted and ever changing, some currents This is the product of years of journalistic research about and involvement in American fundamentalism as it pertains to U.S politics and the culture wars of today The author s thesis is that Christianity, founded as it is on notions of special, as opposed to natural, revelation, on the bible rather than on scientific investigation, has been an enduring feature of American history since early colonial days While perdurant, its character has been multifaceted and ever changing, some currents cynically manipulated for economic or political ends, others self consciously attempting to manipulate the decision makers, yet others retreating into their own backwaters The author s primary interest, however, is in the dialectics of power obtaining between elites, particularly as they ve played out since the Depression.While the book begins with an account of a loose knit organization, variously called The Family or The Fellowship , which, since the 30s has attempted to surreptitiously build and direct an imperially Christocentric network of the powerful, the account ends with stories of the troops, the contrast being that obtaining between the fundamentalist elites and their relatively unknowing followers which together constitute much of what passes for right wing populism in the United States A clear instance of this relationship is that of The Moral Majority and its various anti abortion, anti gay spinoffs and allies That relatively recent expression of politicized fundamentalism began with court decisions forbidding the federal funding of segregationist schools, prominent among them being Falwell s Liberty University Recognizing that racism might be a hard sell to the Christian masses, Falwell chose aattractive wedge issue, that being the rights of the unborn and, along with this, the natural i.e biblical relations that ought to obtain between men and women and within families This, riding the political realignments fostered by the Nixon administration s Southern strategy , has led now to the current identification of the Republican party with the religious right and to but beyond the purview of this book the Trump base.I found this book to be a page turner, stories about the hidden mechanics of power being intrinsically alluring and the phenomena of text based religious movements, be they Jewish, Christian or Islamic, being ever intriguing Besides this, the author writes very well

  9. AC AC says:

    I d been looking for some light reading something quick and thought this was an expansion of Sharlet s 2003 article on Ivanwald As I indicated, I had a personal interest in the topic, and had been putting off reading the book which I d never seen Instead, I ended up with this long, sprawling book on the whole structure of elite fundamentalism going back to the 17th cen.There is very little on Ivanwald here and Sharlet seems to think of hi I d been looking for some light reading something quick and thought this was an expansion of Sharlet s 2003 article on Ivanwald As I indicated, I had a personal interest in the topic, and had been putting off reading the book which I d never seen Instead, I ended up with this long, sprawling book on the whole structure of elite fundamentalism going back to the 17th cen.There is very little on Ivanwald here and Sharlet seems to think of himself as the James Michener of the genre The book is MUCH too long for my taste , and over written it reads for long stretches almost novelistically and he ain t no Faulkner So I found this frustrating I also should note that Sharlet himself is sympathetic to the project of faith He s just a bit uncomfortable with the fascistization of it that he is witnessing And I am not sympathetic to that either.On the other hand, there is a lot of material here of importance on the structure of American fascism What I found most useful was his discussion of the absorption of fascist elements and Nazi personnel into the Family during the 1930s and 1940s ch 5 , and his chilling account of Coe s 1989 lecture in ch 9 The rest of the book could have been reduced by at last 80% That said, the book terrified me Sharlet makes a strong case for the pervasiveness of Coe s influence at the very highest levels of government and business and the miltary something I can confirm from anecdote and private communication Coe s message or agenda, ultimately, is that the nations are made to bow, in obedience and loyalty, to an entrenched capitalist power elite sanctified and privatized that is, any countermanding State will be defanged in the centuries to come This elite will operate not through institutions, but through covenants of faith.It is hard to argue that this has not already largely come about.This is Jeff Sharlet is his father also shows how far into all this stuff Hillary Clinton has drifted.Having just read the book, I then caught this article just read the book I asked questions about this article I never would have asked before I have no answers Who precisely IS this organization she was speaking to is official, not NGO What, then, are the liberties they are trying to protect freedom of speech or freedom of religion Why are all the signatories or most of them from right wing countries And why is HIllary involved with such a group I have no answers but my nose is starting to twitch

  10. Jason Jason says:

    I would have given this 3 stars if only it were titled slightly differently This book is less about The Family a seemingly innocuous organizer of the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington that actually has deep political influence within the Republican party and even among some Democrats as much as it is an analysis of Christian fundamentalism as an integral part of America s past, present and future My previous sentence as well as this one which are interrupted almost as soon as they beg I would have given this 3 stars if only it were titled slightly differently This book is less about The Family a seemingly innocuous organizer of the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington that actually has deep political influence within the Republican party and even among some Democrats as much as it is an analysis of Christian fundamentalism as an integral part of America s past, present and future My previous sentence as well as this one which are interrupted almost as soon as they begin with lengthy clauses that would work better as footnotes or separate sentences also serve as examples of Sharlet s tedious writing style He also shows latent animosity against Christian fundamentalists This angst comes out most clearly in the mocking physical descriptions frequently employed to portray various Christians, both historical and present day, who have had a role in the fundamentalist movement To be fair, Sharlet is self aware enough to let his audience in on his personal struggle in dealing with the Christians among his friends and family In fact, he concludes this book with perhaps his most thought provoking assertion that both fundamentalism and liberalism are such strong threads of our culture that any analysis of American history is incomplete without both perspectives If you find these additional topics interesting, I would recommend this book If, however, you were only interested in an expose on The Family, you are in for quite a few off topic chapters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *