This morning five old white men spread out and cased my neighborhood before going door to door to peddle Jesus. It put me in a foul mood. I have reacted negatively in a strong way for most of my life, but today it may have been partly due to my writing this post.
The Family by Jeff Sharlet is reviewed by ZP Heller of Alternet in a piece titled The Family’s Values: America’s Most Influential (and Secretive) Religious Organization. This crowd uses the pretense of Christianity to play out fascist or worse schemes to influence governments around the world. But, there isn’t anything resembling Christ’s teaching in these practices.
"the Family's long-term project of a worldwide government under God is more ambitious than Al Qaeda's dream of a Sunni empire."The National Prayer Breakfast, which every US pResident has presided over since its inception is just one example of how closely this group is entwined in US government. In fact, it was at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1993 that Hilary Clinton first became involved in the Family.
Even more startling than the Family's relationship with Clinton, however, is its support of brutal dictators. Not only did Family members in Congress push for the United States' proxy wars against the so-called threat of Communism, but they also reached out to some of the most ruthless mass murderers of the 20th century. Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier impressed Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee (Family members) so much that they pushed an alliance that offered foreign aid and sugar tariffs exemptions. Gen. Park Chung Hee of South Korea used the Family to channel illegal funds to Nixon's congressional candidates.I learned more about the Family from Sharlet being interviewed by Lindsay Beyerstein who posts at AlterNet, but also has a blog named Majikthise.
Perhaps most disturbingly, Coe personally helped Gen. Suharto of Indonesia create his own Indonesian National Prayer Breakfast to commemorate the decree by which Suharto took power and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Indonesians.
The dictator list goes on and on: Somalia's Siad Barre, Angola's Jonas Savimbi; Brazil's Costa e Silva, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni. In defending his friendships with these dictators, Coe said in 1997, "They come to me. And I do what Jesus did: I don't turn my back to any one. You know, the Bible is full of mass murderers." [snip]
And it was Suharto's Family connections that garnered him President Ford's blessing (and U.S. bullets) for seizing East Timor and slaughtering hundreds of thousands in 1975.
The Family was founded 70 years ago by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant evangelist based in Seattle. In 1935, Vereide said, God appeared to him in a vision and revealed where Christianity had gone wrong: preoccupation with the poor, the weak and the suffering. [snip]The interview itself is filled with tidbits like this:
His new plan was to target men who were already powerful and turn them to God -- and wouldn't you know it, God hated unions, too.
Through personal relationships and small group encounters, Vereide united captains of industry and politicians as a Biblical bulwark against the increasing power of organized labor.
In the late 1940s, the Family helped roll back key pro-labor provisions of the New Deal. Later, the Family did its part for the Cold War by cultivating anti-communist strongmen around the world, including repressive leaders like Suharto of Indonesia and Jonas Savimbi of Angola.
The empire that is America is ugly when explosed. Democracy has barely been an experiment and daily we are seeing what is still there being eroded.
Lindsay Beyerstein: What did the Family have to do with a B-movie called "The Blob"?
Jeff Sharlet: The best illustration of the Family's involvement in the Cold War was something that I stumbled on by accident: The 1958 film "The Blob." It began at the 1957 National Prayer Breakfast. "The Blob" was a famous horror movie that was a metaphor for Communism. This is their imagination of how Communism spread. At the time, the American imagination couldn't grasp ideology, so it had to be an actual goo that globs more and more people and grows and becomes expansive. As I recall, they have to blow up the town at the end. The logic of "The Blob" is that we must destroy the village in order to save it. That's the logic of Vietnam. [snip]
It's just as true now, when I look at what the Family does today in the Central Asian Republic. The 1999 Silk Road Strategy Act, sponsored by Sam Brownback, and Rep. Joe Pitts renewed it in 2006. Combat militant Islam in Central Asia by pouring American aid into dictatorial regimes. This same kind of top-down aid.
Lindsay Beyerstein: In "The Family," a lot of subjects explicitly state their admiration for Hitler and other authoritarian political figures. How much of that is admiring their style, and how much is admiring their substance?This interview, this book review is something that really affected me. The artifice, the façade of freedom, justice, happiness, health and good will that surround this culture while the citizenry and peoples around the world are under attack by an elite class that could care less that people are struggling, drowning and dying for someone else’s greed. And, I just want to slap those around me and say, snap out of it! Can't you see what is being done here?
Jeff Sharlet: I'd argue that there isn't a hell of a lot of difference. I spent a lot of time living with thes e guys, and I remember at one point asking them, "What's the deal with all this Hitler talk?" And they'd say, "Oh, it's not the ends, it's the means." But to most of us, the means seem pretty bad, too. The means are authoritarianism.
It's pretty close to the substance because it grows out of this very broad movement in the 1930s of elites concluding that democracy has run its course, that democracy was a temporary phase in world history. And so, these people were experimenting with all sorts of different alternatives. And remember, before World War II it was considered a perfectly legitimate and acceptable position to endorse fascism.