With Election Day drawing near, it’s probably a good time for a solid reminder of exactly how scary the agenda being pushed by the Republican party is. And I have just the book for that, Jeff Sharlet’s follow-up to his bestseller The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power called C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. While The Family, often called The Fellowship, is sort of bipartisan, it is more in name than in practice. For instance, Democrat Bart Stupak was a resident at the C Street house owned by The Family, and he was clearly doing the hardcore social conservative bidding of his Republican fellows in the house, especially Joseph Pitts, who was really the author of the Stupak-Pitts amendment that has been such a disaster for abortion access in this country.
On the podcast this week, I interviewed Jeff, and I highly recommend checking it out. His first book ended up getting him on TV a lot, but it was almost solely because so many members of The Family got tangled up in sex scandals involving their own adulteries. In the book, he expresses frustration that it’s this and not their political machinations that got so much attention, so I asked him about it on the interview. His answer is great; check it out.
This election season, the narrative has all been about how those nutty Tea Party types are throwing mainstream Republicans out and taking over the party. What has largely gone undiscussed is how the mainstream Republican party has been controlled by the nuts for a long time. They’re just more genteel, more elitist nuts, but they’re just as fundamentalist. In a lot of ways, they’re even worse, because their “religion” is adaptable to their needs in ways that would make even the most O’Donnell-like hypocritical goober blush. The way they coddle each other’s adulteries while pushing a kind of “family values” that is, naturally, about as misogynist as you get is just the tip of this. It’s the way they blatantly bend their beliefs to justify their naked power-mongering that I found most alarming. For instance, Jeff found that they bring Muslims into the fold, so long as said Muslims have power and resources they wish to exploit. Even though The Family consider their fellowship to be all about Christianity, they justify this by calling the Muslim fellows “followers of Jesus”. It’s all just a gloss of religious faith on the reality of what they’re up to, which is creating an extra-governmental, worldwide power brokering alliance, one that’s in service of creating iron fist theocratic powers that just so happen to have lots of natural resources to exploit for their own personal gain.
A recent example of this is The Family’s interest in Uganda, where members of their fellowship have worked to pass harsh anti-homosexuality laws that would result in the death penalty for anyone caught being a “serial offender”, i.e. someone who has sex twice with someone of their same gender. You can read about some of that from Jeff in Harper’s.