NPR, Fresh Air, Nov 24, 2009
With all the affairs and scandal lately with Ensign and others in The Family, Jeff Sharlett was on NPR again.
I may not agree with Sharlett on religion (he's Jewish, for instance) and all of his writings and opinions, but he highlights very nicely some of my concerns with our political system and the intermingling of religion with politics and vice versa.
I have long wondered about the right and Christian right and the contradictions of being against abortion and gay marriage and pressuring constantly for aggressive legislation on these, but being strongly against other legislation and programs with Biblical support, for example, to help the poor or to promote peace as opposed to war. Why be against gay marriage and all things gay and let heterosexuals off the hook who have extra-marital affairs and premarital sex? Another issue for me has been the so-called Biblical capitalism (the belief in and defense of capitalism as though it comes from scripture). I don't understand why some Christians on the right cling so tightly to capitalism and regard anything less than free market fundamentalism as socialist and hence 'of the devil'.
I have to wonder what kind of influence this group has had on the Christian right and these contradictions. The Family can appear to be a defender of Christian values in America- against abortion and gay marriage- and many would- and do- get behind it. The Family may start with good Biblical intentions (though I doubt it), but the message is obviously twisted in the end. Power absolutely trumps love- as in the case of the Ensign affair when Doug Hampton went to The Family for help since Ensign is a "key man", but they paid him off instead of holding Ensign accountable for his actions and promise to keep persuing Hampton's wife. Instead of valuing people like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Teresa, they hold up Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot next to Jesus.
Video of Coe - "Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler. Think of the immense power these three men had.”
Doug Hampton on The Family:
The Family, it's not what they say it is. And if I can just quote him, he puts
it very succinctly: He says they - the C Street group, The Family - they think
the consequences don't apply. Those need to be dealt with differently, because
of the responsibility, because of the pressure. Meaning that congressmen have
sort of special rules for them, because of the work that needs to be done. This
is about preserving John, preserving the Republican Party. This is about
preserving C Street. These men care about themselves and their own political
I am suprised that the party that is so willing to paint Obama as a socialist and any government "help" as evil, un-Biblical, un-American, etc is so willing to embrace this group that uses Hitler, Geobbels, and Mao as role models. I guess, though, it's unfair to paint Republicans as the bad guys. The Family's prayer cells reach across the aisle. As a Democrat quoted in the interview said, "Jesus didn't come to take sides; he came to take over." There is plenty of blame to go around.
There is a description of how the Family looks at David. They garner lessons so different than I think were intended. Their emphasis is that David was chosen and God chose to use the imperfect tool; they apply this to politicians, not all people. They think the real gospel is for the powerful and the goodness will trickle down to us nothings.
Besides the theological problems I have with the group, they may be violating our laws about diplomacy as well. Their key men cozy up to dictators and become point men for the US when the US officially stops dealing with them. They then use "prayer cells" to influence everything from social to economic policy. If genocide results, it's "God's will." Simple. Right?
Here's one example from the interview:
Uganga- 'aggravated homosexuality'- proposed law, not yet law
One might say yes, it's great that homosexuals, who are sinning like murderers and the like do, are getting the death penalty. But if homosexuals get the death penalty, why not heterosexuals for sexual sin? Why not drinkers? Gossips? If sin carried the physical death penalty, wouldn't more people think twice before sinning? Even if you agree with that last statement (I don't), you should think twice.
Many will contend, myself among them, that the Bible doesn't forbid the death penalty, but I still don't think we should go nuts with it- even aside from the fact that we in the US have probably executed many an innocent man due to racial prejudice and lack of technology. It's true that nations don't have the accountability that individuals do, but this accountability is what is taken away when you legislate such that all sin gets the death penalty. It completely gets rid of the very Biblical concept of repentance and forgiveness. So, no, I don't want to go down that road.
This is Sharlett quoting Inohofe talking about his 20 missionary trips paid for by US taxpayers. Besides the government paying for missionary trips, "as taught to him by Doug Coe" should be worrisome to all.
And he says what he's there to do is to, quote, promote the political philosophy
of Jesus as taught to him by Doug Coe.
Sharlett's comments on this freelance diplomacy are right on target:
It's - I mean when you take your personal religious convictions or political
convictions, even, and claim to represent the United States, but, in fact, are
representing an organization like The Family as Senator Coburn was in Lebanon,
as Senator Ensign has in Jordan and Israel, as Senator Inhofe has in Uganda, you
are steering foreign policy away from democratic accountability.
I've said this before, but this is the stuff nightmares and crazy conspiracy theories are made of. But it's real.
Link to a blog post about a right wing organization that investigated The Family some: