Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

“The Family – The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart of American Power

Book by Jeff Sharlet

Review by The David

It is by far the most frightening book I have ever read, yet, it is also one of the most compelling. For those who believe in the separation of Church and State, for those who believe that a take-over by any religious group is a danger to us all, “The Family” provides a look at what is really happening not only in Washington DC, but all over the world.

What do Dwight Eisenhower, General Costa e Silva, Billy Graham, General Suharto, Park Chung Hee, Doug Coe, James Baker, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, Richard Lugar, Mark Hatfield, John Stennis, Sam Brownback, Charles Colson, Ted Haggard, Conrad Hilton, Bill Nelson and Dan Quayle have in common? They are all members of The Family, prayer cells established by The Family or, politician or despot, they all received the benefits of The Family’s Influence. There are many, many more. Like a giant octopus, the tentacles of this monster have invaded the world over. This influence had its start with the first President’s Prayer Breakfast, this annual politico/Christian assembly that later became known as the national Prayer Breakfast where power is blessed and worshipped along with the “American Jesus.”

The Family’s Influence extends into the halls of Congress, and, as in the case of the last President Bush, into the White House itself. The members of the Family have influenced and assisted such dictatorial governments as, among others, those that existed in Somalia, Indonesia, Ethiopia and South Korea. They are responsible for standing by and watching while the men they supported murdered thousands, if not millions, of people in their quest for additional dictatorial power. The Family has extended their influence into Nigeria, it’s members assisting in the authorship of the Bill that would make homosexual relations punishable by imprisonment, and even stoning.
The Family worships power. The concept of Jesus Christ is not as the loving, compassionate man most Americans have come to know, but rather He is seen as an all powerful strong being. He is seen as a man of great might, this “American Jesus.” And it is in that powerful guise that He is worshipped by this group. That is the key to what is worthy of support. Power is to be obeyed and not questioned. If a Despot was not “right,” God would not have given him the power he holds. Power makes him right, and it is power that must be obeyed if we are to be “good” Christian men. Women are relegated to a second class status and there they are likely to remain. Children are educated in home schooling where they are taught a version of American History that rewrites and changes the roles of the Founding Fathers, and changes the happenings to fit a preconceived mold. Christ is put as a central figure in the writing of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution of the United States. He is depicted as the inspiration for all of the important American Documents. To some adherents to the program inspired by The Family, the American Documents are as inspired and as holy as the Bible itself. Still further, these kids are being taught that the United States is truly a Christian Nation and it is the duty of Christians to continue the fight to “take it back.”

The schools inspired by The Family can fairly be characterized as a kind of Christian Madras. Since power and might are to be a part of what one worships, then violence in the name of Christ is not only permissible, but laudable. What a frightening world we are leaving to our children, where heroes are chosen for their ability to kill those with opposing views.

Up until the fall of the Soviet Empire, members of this group supported any and all philosophies that opposed Communism. Now, that villain is pretty much off the stage, and the effort goes toward suppressing homosexual men and women, and to increasing the influence of the American Christian Right in governments the world over. If there be anyone who does not believe that this influence is strong in the United States, witness the fact that the “Faith Based Initiative” is not only a reality, but is stronger than ever as more and more tax money is being funneled to religious (mostly Christian) organizations in this country, and the church recipients are allowed to proselytize those that receive the benefits from the charity. One can also witness the organized efforts to sway the voters in such places as diverse as California and Maine in an effort to win the culture wars and prevent the gay population from securing equal rights.
The Family does much more than just run the now notorious house on C Street.
This book is a must read for anyone who cares where their government is being taken. The infiltration by Christian Rightists has already occurred and it will get stronger unless those of us who oppose a Theocracy take up our pens, raise our voices and use our votes to stop its progress.

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6 thoughts on ““The Family – The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart of American Power”
  1. These are frightening times, a time when everyone needs to gain an awareness of a very real threat to our value as a humanitarian society. Thank you for introducing this theme, The David, which stirred up so much controversy and continues to be a resounding debate.

  2. I just started the book, thanks again David for sending it to me, and already I am scared and furious at what the sheep in the land of the free and the home of the brave, accept as business as usual. I suppose, in the long line of history, we were doomed to failure because of how this republic was started. You cannot enslave and slaughter people and then justify the actions by throwing manifest destiny and “white man’s” burden and God and Jesus into the mix. We are fat and lazy and carry ourselves in such an entitled mentality that we allow ourselves to believe that we are the “good guys” when in fact, the history of the 20 century is totally our responsibility; we allowed repeated genocides because we never allowed a moral judgment, only “national interest” to rule our actions. We have invaded countries and bomb other countries in the name of fighting a terrorism that we fostered and criminally supplied all the component parts. We gave Saddam chemical and biological weapons, we supplied both the Israelies and the Palestinians with weapons, and the Iraqies and the Iranians when it suited our fear of a lack of control over oil. Since Darfur has no natural resources we stood by and allowed another ethnic cleansing to occur, leaving Hollywood personalities to express out “moral” outrage. We allowed, and still allow, someone like Dick Cheney to justify our systematic breaking of the Geneva Conventions .. and we allow television pundits to control the debate on every issue. We are trapped by our lack of understanding of “what and how” America really is … we are, and maybe always have been, the people we always feared. Big banks control foreign policy. Institutions that are “too big to fail” get aid as children all over this country die. We have the highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized country, how is that possible and not be a “judgment” and risk that is acceptable to the powers behind “our” actions. This book should be required reading …. I’ll bet you Fox News has read the book …. and Dick Cheney … and they are laughing their asses off, that even exposed, such actions and programs and agendas can proceed, unabated, because the country is too busy worrying about Ellen replacing Paula on American Idol, to ever think about anything else. After all, we are AMERICA. God’s chosen people … right?? Thanks David for bring this book to everyones attention.

  3. I can’t help thinking that we as an American whole have spent a lot of time spreading fear and antilocution (not that it isn’t deserved in some cases) about “fundamentalists” in Islam and yet it is somehow okay if your fundamentalists are Christian. Doesn’t anyone get that this type of thinking is bad for everyone including Christians? Think about Muslims around the world affected by the zealotry and hijacking of a beautiful and ancient religion which is Islam.

    Somehow people need to rearrange their thoughts. This train ride to Theocracy is bad for Christians too. After all, how long will it be if a true foothold is established and a banner unfurled before they start targeting “bad” Christians?

    And yes, thank you for beginning a conversation which continues and for making me think, really about what can be done, the time is past for mulling things over, something really needs to be done. For the benefit of every person of every faith.

  4. Remember — it’s not Fascism when WE do it.

    Jeff Sharlet is a giant – he’s had the courage to write (if you’ve never read his article in Harper’s Magazine entitled “Jesus Killed Mohammed – the Crusade for a Christian Military”, you should) about this subject for some time, and is one of the nation’s experts regarding the infiltration (that’s the only word which fits) of America’s political and military institutions by the Christian Right.

    A sad, scary, and excellent book – a companion piece to “Kingdom Coming” and “Republican Gomorrah”.

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