The Fellowship (Christian organization), by Wikipedia

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The Fellowship (Christian organization), by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:29 am

Part 1 of 2

The Fellowship (Christian organization)
by Wikipedia



Fellowship Foundation
Formation: 1935
Legal status: 501(c)3[1]
Headquarters Cedars, a mansion in Arlington, Virginia[2]
Associate Director: Douglas Coe
AffiliationsChrist: ians in Congress

The Fellowship, also known as The Family,[2][3][4] and the International Foundation[5] is a U.S.-based religious and political organization founded in 1935 by Abraham Vereide. The stated purpose of the Fellowship is to provide a fellowship forum for decision makers to share in Bible studies, prayer meetings, worship experiences, and to experience spiritual affirmation and support.[6][7]

The Fellowship has been described as one of the most politically well-connected ministries in the United States. The Fellowship shuns publicity and its members share a vow of secrecy.[8] The Fellowship's leader Doug Coe and others have explained the organization's desire for secrecy by citing biblical admonitions against public displays of good works, insisting they would not be able to tackle diplomatically sensitive missions if they drew public attention.[8]

The Fellowship holds one regular public event each year, the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, D.C. Every sitting United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in at least one National Prayer Breakfast during his term.[9][10][11][12]

The Fellowship's known participants include ranking United States government officials, corporate executives, heads of religious and humanitarian aid organizations, and ambassadors and high-ranking politicians from across the world.[2][13][14][15][16] Many United States Senators and Congressmen have publicly acknowledged working with the Fellowship or are documented as having worked together to pass or influence legislation.[17][18]

In Newsweek magazine, Lisa Miller wrote that rather than calling themselves "Christians," as they describe themselves, they are brought together by common love for the teachings of Jesus and that all approaches to "loving Jesus" are acceptable.[18] Investigative reporter Jeff Sharlet wrote a book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,[3] as well as an article in Harper's[19] magazine, describing his experience while serving as an intern in the Fellowship. He opined that the Fellowship fetishizes power by comparing Jesus to "Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden" as examples of leaders who change the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their "brothers".[16][18]


The Fellowship Foundation traces its roots to its founder, Abraham Vereide, a Methodist clergyman and social innovator, who organized a month of prayer meetings in 1934 in San Francisco.[9] Vereide was a Norwegian immigrant who founded Goodwill Industries in Seattle in 1916 to assist the city's unemployed Scandinavian immigrant population. Goodwill Industries soon occupied a city block, where they repaired and processed discarded clothing and furniture and converted "waste to wages". The Fellowship was founded in 1935 in opposition to FDR's New Deal.[20] His work spread down the West coast and eventually to Boston.[21]

In April 1935, Vereide and Major J.F. Douglas invited 19 business and civic leaders for a breakfast prayer meeting.[21] By 1937, 209 prayer breakfast groups had been organized throughout Seattle.[9] In 1940, 300 men from all over the state of Washington attended a prayer breakfast for the new governor, Arthur Langlie.[9] Vereide traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest, and later around the country, to develop similar groups.[9] The non-denominational groups were meant to informally bring together civic and business leaders to share vision, study the Bible and develop relationships of trust and support.[9]

The Fellowship Foundation was incorporated by Abraham Vereide in Chicago in 1942 as Fellowship Foundation, Inc. It also acquired the names International Christian Leadership (ICL), Fellowship House, and International Foundation as venues of its global outreach ministry expanded.[9][22] The Fellowship Foundation, Inc. does most of its business as the International Foundation,[8] which is its DBA name.[23]

By 1942 there were 60 breakfast groups in major cities around the US and Canada, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington and Vancouver. That same year, Vereide began to hold small prayer breakfasts for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He also began publishing a monthly newsletter called The Breakfast Luncheon Fireside and Campus Groups that contained a Bible study that could be used by all the groups, as well as information about activities of different chapters. He also published a newsletter through the years under various names, including The Breakfast Groups Informer (ca. 1945–46), The Breakfast Groups (ca. 1944–53), International Christian Leadership Bulletin (ca. 1953–54), Bulletin of International Christian Leadership (ca. 1954–56), Christian Leadership (ca. 1957–61), ICLeadership Letter (1961–66), International Leadership Letter (ca. 1967), and Leadership Letter (ca. 1963–70).

In 1942, the Fellowship was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois forming Vereide's center of national outreach to businessmen and civic and clergy leadership. Vereide had moved the group's offices from Seattle to the more centralized location of Chicago, headquarters of the businessmen's luncheon outreach "Christian Businessmen's Committee", which Vereide led with industrialist C.B. Hedstrom. That same year the Fellowship Foundation established a delegation ministry in Washington DC on Massachusetts Avenue at Sheridan Circle named "Fellowship House". Vereide later described it as the nerve center of the breakfast groups.

In 1944, Vereide held his first joint Senate-House prayer breakfast meeting. He held another breakfast on June 16, 1946, attended by Senators H. Alexander Smith and Lister Hill, and US News and World Report publisher David Lawrence.

In 1946, Vereide wrote and released a book with Reverend John G. Magee, chaplain to President Harry Truman entitled Together(Abingdon Cokesbury). In the book, Vereide explained his philosophy of visionary discipleship and gathering together in what he termed spiritual cells:

Man craves fellowship. Most of us want an opportunity to make our feelings known, to relate our personal experiences, to compare notes with others, and, in unity of spirit to receive renewal, inspiration, guidance, and strength from God. Such groups as we are thinking of have characterized every spiritual awakening. Jesus began with Peter and James and John. He had the twelve and the Seventy. At Bethany he established a cell... there you have the formula... faith embodied the same close informal fellowship... one common practice—gathering together in the name of Jesus.

In January 1947, a conference in Zurich led to the formation of the International Council for Christian Leadership (ICCL), an umbrella group for the national fellowship groups in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Hungary, Egypt and China. ICCL was incorporated as a separate organization in 1953. ICL and ICCL were governed by different boards of directors, joined by a coordinating committee: four members of ICCL's board and four from the ICL's executive committee.

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower attended the Senate Prayer Breakfast Group. He was invited by fellow Kansan Frank Carlson. By that time, Vereide's congressional members also included Senators Frank Carlson, Karl Mundt, Everett Dirksen and Strom Thurmond.

By 1957, ICL had established 125 groups in 100 cities, with 16 groups in Washington, D.C. alone. It had set up another 125 groups in other countries. During 1958, a mentor from The Navigators, Douglas Coe,[24][25] joined Vereide as assistant executive director of ICL in Washington, D.C. After over 35 years of leading the Fellowship Foundation, Vereide died in 1969 and was succeeded by Richard C. Halverson as executive director. Halverson and Coe worked side by side until Halverson's death in 1995.

In 1972, according to the Fellowship archives, after consultations among leaders in the prayer breakfast movement (including Douglas Coe, Richard Halverson, Dr. Wallace Haines and Senator Mark Hatfield and others) the organization was reprofiled to be "even more low key". The Fellowship archives reveal that, "in effect, the group adopted an even lower profile, serving as a channel of communication and a catalyst" of global outreach in the spirit of Jesus. The goal was to be less institutional in bearing and more relational and relevant to the global cultures, so that each geographic area had its own identity of personal ministry, not strictly metropolitan, but relevant to ranchers, miners, people in jungles, deserts, villages and on remote islands. That they might experience fellowship in Christ in their own sphere of human identification.[9]


Prominent evangelical Christians have described the Fellowship as one of the most, or the most, politically well-connected ministries in the world.

D. Michael Lindsay, a former Rice University sociologist who studies the evangelical movement, said "there is no other organization like the Fellowship, especially among religious groups, in terms of its access or clout among the country’s leadership."[13] He also reported that lawmakers mentioned the Fellowship more than any other organization when asked to name a ministry with the most influence on their faith.[2]

In 1977, four years after he had converted to Christianity, Fellowship member and Watergate conspirator Charles Colson described the group as a "veritable underground of Christ’s men all through the U.S. government."[14]

Former Senate Prayer Group member and current Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has described Fellowship members' method of operation: "Typically, one person grows desirous of pursuing an action"—a piece of legislation, a diplomatic strategy—"and the others pull in behind."[26] Brownback has often joined with fellow Family members in pursuing legislation. For example, in 1999 he joined together with fellow Family members, Senators Strom Thurmond and Don Nickles to demand a criminal investigation of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and in 2005 Brownback joined with Fellowship member Sen. Tom Coburn to promote the Houses of Worship Act.[27]

The Reverend Rob Schenck, founder of the Washington, D.C. ministry Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital, described the Family's influence as "off the charts" in comparison with other fundamentalist groups, specifically compared to Focus on the Family, Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Traditional Values Coalition, and Prison Fellowship.[16] (These last two are associated with the Family: Traditional Values Coalition uses their C Street House[16] and Prison Fellowship was founded by Charles Colson.) Schenck also says that "the mystique of the Fellowship" has helped it "gain entree into almost impossible places in the capital."[8]

A talk from 1970 for college students encouraging mentoring and discipleship stated: "If you want... there are men in government, there are senators who literally find it their pleasure to give any advice, assistance, or counsel." [28]

Lindsay also interviewed 360 evangelical elites, among whom "One in three mentioned [Doug] Coe or the Fellowship as an important influence."[13]

The Fellowship also has relationships with numerous non-U.S. government leaders. Lindsay reported that it "has relationships with pretty much every world leader—good and bad—and there are not many organizations in the world that can claim that."[2]

"The Fellowship’s reach into governments around the world is almost impossible to overstate or even grasp," says David Kuo, a former special assistant in George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.[15]

Beliefs and theology

The Fellowship Foundation's 501(c)(3) mission statement is:

To develop and maintain an informal association of people banded together, to go out as "ambassadors of reconciliation," modeling the principles of Jesus, based on loving God and loving others. To work with the leaders of many nations, and as their hearts are touched, the poor, the oppressed, the widows, and the youth of their country will be impacted in a positive manner. Youth groups will be developed under the thoughts of Jesus, including loving others as you want to be loved.[23]

Newsweek reported that the Fellowship has often been criticized by conservative and fundamentalist Christian groups for being too inclusive and not putting enough emphasis on doctrine or church attendance.[18] NPR has reported that the evangelical group's views on religion and politics are so singular that some other Christian right organizations consider them heretical.[20]

David Kuo, staffer in President George W. Bush's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, who has been affiliated with the Fellowship since college, said of the Fellowship:

For all the hysteria about Christian organizations, the irony that the Fellowship is being targeted as a bad egg is jaw-dropping. This is so not Focus on the Family, this is so not the Christian Coalition. There are other Christian groups that are truly insane. Who purport to follow Jesus Christ and who I would submit do not. The Fellowship is a loosely banded group of people who have an affinity for Jesus.[18]

Current Fellowship prayer group member and former U.S. Representative Tony P. Hall (D-OH) said, "If people in this country knew how many Democrats and Republicans pray together and actually like each other behind closed doors, they would be amazed." The Fellowship is simply, "men and women who are trying to get right with God. Trying to follow God, learn how to love him, and learn how to love each other." When he lost his teenage son to leukemia, Hall says, "This family helped me. This family was there for me. That's what they do."[18]

Hillary Clinton described meeting the leader of the Fellowship in 1993: "Doug Coe, the longtime National Prayer Breakfast organizer, is a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship to God."[29]

Writer Jeff Sharlet did intensive research in the Fellowship's archives before they were closed to the public. He also spent a month in 2002 living in a Fellowship house near Washington, and wrote a magazine article describing his experiences.[19] According to his 2008 book about the Family,[3] he criticizes their theology as an "elite fundamentalism" that fetishizes political power and wealth, consistently opposes labor movements in the US and abroad, and teaches that laissez-faire economic policy is "God's will." He opines that their theological teaching of instant forgiveness, has been useful to powerful men, providing them a convenient excuse for misdeeds or crimes and allowing them to avoid accepting responsibility or accountability for their actions.[30]

Sharlet's book was endorsed by several commentators, including Frank Schaeffer, once a leading figure of the Christian right, who called Sharlet's book a "must read... disturbing tour de force," and Brian McLaren, one of Time's "25 most influential evangelicals" in the U.S., who said: "Jeff Sharlet [is] a confessed non-evangelical whom top evangelical organizations might be wise to hire—and quick—as a consultant."[31][32] Lisa Miller, who writes a column on religion at Newsweek, called his book "alarmist" and says it paints a "creepy, even cultish picture" of the young, lower-ranking members of the Fellowship.[18][33]

Leadership model

Jeff Sharlet stated in an NBC Nightly News report that when he was an intern with the Fellowship "we were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler, Lenin and Mao" and that Hitler's genocide "wasn't really an issue for them, it was the strength that he emulated."[34] In his book The Family, Sharlet said Fellowship leader Doug Coe preached a leadership model and a personal commitment to Jesus Christ comparable to the blind devotion that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot demanded from their followers.[35] In one videotaped lecture series in 1989, Coe said,

"Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had.... But they bound themselves together in an agreement.... Jesus said, 'You have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself.' Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people."[34][35]

In the same series, Coe also compared Jesus's teachings to the Red Guard during the Chinese Cultural Revolution:

I’ve seen pictures of young men in the Red Guard of China.... They would bring in this young man’s mother and father, lay her on the table with a basket on the end, he would take an axe and cut her head off.... They have to put the purposes of the Red Guard ahead of the mother-father-brother-sister — their own life! That was a covenant. A pledge. That was what Jesus said.[34][36]

David Kuo, a former White House aide to George W. Bush, said that Coe is using Hitler as a metaphor for commitment. The NBC report said "a close friend of Coe told NBC News that he invokes Hitler to show the power of small groups—for good and bad. And, the friend said, most of the time he talks about Jesus."[34]


In a report on the Fellowship, the Los Angeles Times found:

[Fellowship members] share a vow of silence about Fellowship activities. Coe and others cite biblical admonitions against public displays of good works, insisting they would not be able to tackle their diplomatically sensitive missions if they drew public attention. Members, including congressmen, invoke this secrecy rule when refusing to discuss just about every aspect of the Fellowship and their involvement in it."[8]

The Fellowship has long been a secretive organization.[37][38] The Reverend Rob Schenck, who leads a Bible study on the Hill inspired by C Street, wrote that "all ministries in Washington need to protect the confidence of those we minister to, and I'm sure that’s a primary motive for C Street's low profile."[39] But he added, "I think The Fellowship has been just a tad bit too clandestine."[39]

Prominent political figures have insisted that confidentiality and privacy are essential to the Fellowship's operation. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan said about the Fellowship, "I wish I could say more about it, but it's working precisely because it is private."[40]

At the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, President George H.W. Bush praised Doug Coe for what he described as "quiet diplomacy, I wouldn’t say secret diplomacy."[15]

In 2009, Chris Halverson, son of Fellowship co-founder Richard C. Halverson, said that a culture of pastoral confidentiality is essential to the ministry: "If you talked about it, you would destroy that fellowship."[2]

In 1975, a member of the Fellowship's inner circle wrote to the group's chief South African operative, that their political initiatives

...have always been misunderstood by 'outsiders.' As a result of very bitter experiences, therefore, we have learned never to commit to paper any discussions or negotiations that are taking place. There is no such thing as a 'confidential' memorandum, and leakage always seems to occur. Thus, I would urge you not to put on paper anything relating to any of the work that you are doing...[unless] you know the recipient well enough to put at the top of the page 'PLEASE DESTROY AFTER READING.'[41][42]

In 1974, after several Watergate conspirators had joined the Fellowship, a Los Angeles Times columnist discouraged further inquiries into Washington's "underground prayer movement", i.e. the Fellowship: "They genuinely avoid publicity...they shun it."[43][44]

In 2002, Doug Coe denied that the Fellowship Foundation owns the National Prayer Breakfast. Jennifer Thornett, a Fellowship employee, said that "there is no such thing as the Fellowship".[8]

Former Republican Senator William Armstrong said the group has "made a fetish of being invisible".[45]

In the 1960s, the Fellowship began distributing to involved members of Congress notes that stated that "the group, as such, never takes any formal action, but individuals who participate in the group through their initiative have made possible the activities mentioned."[46]

On January 5, 2010, Fellowship member Bob Hunter gave an interview on national television in which he stated:

But I do agree with you, that The Fellowship is too secret. We don't have a Web site. We don't have – we have a lot of good ministers, 200 ministers doing good works that nobody knows about. I think that's wrong, and there's a debate going on among a lot of people about whether and how we should change that.[47]

The Fellowship does now have (apparently since 2010) a public website. It still conducts no public fundraising activities.


National Prayer Breakfast

Fellowship Foundation is best known for the National Prayer Breakfast, held each year on the first Thursday of February in Washington, D.C.[20][30] First held in 1953, the event is now attended by over 3,400 guests including dignitaries from many nations. The President of the United States typically makes an address at the breakfast, following the main speaker's keynote address. The event is hosted by a 24-member committee of members of Congress. Democrats and Republicans serve on the organizing committee, and chairmanship alternates each year between the House and the Senate.

At the National Prayer Breakfast, the President usually arrives an hour early and meets with eight to ten heads of state, usually of small nations, and guests chosen by the Fellowship.[48][49]

G. Philip Hughes, the executive secretary for the National Security Council in the George H.W. Bush administration, said, "Doug Coe or someone who worked with him would call and say, 'So and so would like to have a word with the president. Do you think you could arrange something?'"[8]

However, Doug Coe has said that the Fellowship does not help foreign dignitaries gain access to U.S. officials. "We never make any commitment, ever, to arrange special meetings with the president, vice president or secretary of State," Coe said. "We would never do it."[8]

At the 2001 Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearings for State Department officials, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), whose wife was on the board of the Fellowship, lamented that the State Department had blocked then-President Bush from meeting with four foreign heads of state (Rwanda, Macedonia, Congo and Slovakia) at the NPB that year.[8]

Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) said of Nelson's complaint: "I'm not sure a head of state ought to be able to wander over here for the prayer breakfast and, in effect, compel the president of the United States to meet with him as a consequence.... Getting these meetings with the president is a process that's usually very carefully vetted and worked up. Now sort of this back door has sort of evolved."[8]

"It [the NPB] totally circumvents the State Department and the usual vetting within the administration that such a meeting would require," an anonymous government informant told sociologist D. Michael Lindsay. "If Doug Coe can get you some face time with the President of the United States, then you will take his call and seek his friendship. That’s power."[50]

Year / Keynote Speaker / Chairpersons
2006 King Abdullah II of Jordan and humanitarian/musician Paul Hewson (Bono)[51] Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Mark Pryor (D-AR)
2007 Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Human Genome Project Reps. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) and Jo Ann Davis (R-VA)
2008 Ward Brehm, Chairman of the United States African Development Foundation[52] Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Mike Enzi (R-WY)
2009 Former Prime Minister Tony Blair[53] Reps. Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI)
2010 Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)[54]
2011 Screenwriter Randall Wallace[55] Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)[56]
2012 Author Eric Metaxas[57] Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL)[57]
2013 Ben Carson, M.D., Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital[58] Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL)[58]
2014 Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development[59] Reps. Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX)[59]
2015 Darrell Waltrip, Former NASCAR driver[60] Senators Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS)[60]
2016 Television producer Mark Burnett and actress Roma Downey[61] Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA)[62]

Prayer Breakfast movement

A primary activity of the Fellowship is to develop small support groups for politicians, including Senators and members of Congress, Executive Branch officials, military officers, foreign leaders and dignitaries, businesspersons, and other influential individuals. Prayer groups have met in the White House, the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense.[63] By the early 1970s, prayer groups, breakfasts, and luncheons, including those sponsored by ICL, had become commonplace in the Pentagon.[64]

J. Edwin Orr, an advisor to Billy Graham and friend of Abraham Vereide, helped shape the prayer breakfast movement that grew out of ICL.[65]

Role in international conflicts

The Fellowship was a behind-the-scenes player at the Camp David Middle East accords in 1978, working with President Jimmy Carter to issue a worldwide call to prayer with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.[8]

President Carter hosted former Senator Harold E. Hughes, the President of the Fellowship Foundation, and Doug Coe, for a luncheon at the White House on September 26, 1978.[66] Six weeks later, President Carter and the First Lady traveled by Marine helicopter to Cedar Point Farm, Hughes' home on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where he placed a telephone call to Menachim Begin.[67]

The author Jeff Sharlet has criticized the fellowship's influence on US foreign policy. He argues that Doug Coe and the "networking" (or formation of prayer cells) between foreign dictators and US politicians, defense contractors, and industry leaders has facilitated military aid for repressive foreign regimes. Sharlet did intensive research at the Billy Graham Center, before the Fellowship Foundation archives were closed to those other than divinity scholars. Sharlet published a book about the history of the groups and their influence on US domestic and foreign policy from the 1920s to the present.[30] Sharlet in particular details the relationship with General Suharto of Indonesia in the 1970s, and with Siad Barre of Somalia in the 1980s. Also, in the archives, there are at least two nearly full boxes of documents describing the relationship with Brazil's long dictatorship of the Generals.[68]

Regarding his relationships with foreign dictators, Coe said in 2007, "I never invite them. 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."[69]

Private diplomacy

The Los Angeles Times examined the Fellowship Foundation's ministry records and archives (before they were sealed), as well as documents obtained from several presidential libraries and found that the Fellowship Foundation had extraordinary access and significant influence over U.S. foreign affairs for the last 75 years.[8]

The Fellowship has funded the travel expenses of members of Congress to various hot spots throughout the globe, including Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Al.) to Darfur,[70] Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) to Lebanon,[71] Rep. Aderholt to The Balkans,[72][73] and Reps John Carter (R-Tex.) and Joseph Pitts (R.-Pa.) to Belarus.[74][75]

In 2002, Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Tony P. Hall (D-Ohio) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan on a fact-finding congressional trip, meeting with the leaders of both Muslim countries. According to Pitts, "The first thing we did when we met with [Afghan] President Karzai and [then Pakistan] President Musharraf was to say, 'We're here officially representing the Congress; we'll report back to the speaker, our leaders, our committees, our government. But we're here also because we're best friends.... We're members of the same prayer group'".[8]

Doug Coe has been dispatched to foreign governments with the blessing of Congressional representatives and has helped arrange meetings overseas for U.S. officials and members of Congress.[8] In 1979, for instance, Coe messaged the Saudi Arabian Minister of Commerce and asked him to meet with a Defense Department official who was visiting Riyadh, the capital.[8]

The Fellowship has brought controversial international figures to Washington to meet with U.S. officials. Among them are former Salvadoran Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, who in 2002 was found liable by a civil jury in Florida for the torture of thousands of civilians in the 1980s. He was invited to the 1984 prayer breakfast, along with Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, then head of the Honduran armed forces who was linked to a death squad and the Central Intelligence Agency.[8][76]

Coe was quoted in a rare interview regarding the Fellowship's associations with despots as explaining, "The people that are involved in this association of people around the world are the worst and the best, some are total despots. Some are totally religious. You can find what you want to find."[8]

Coe also has claimed that the Fellowship does not help foreign dignitaries gain access to U.S. officials. "We never make any commitment, ever, to arrange special meetings with the president, vice president or secretary of State", Coe said. "We would never do it". The LA Times found that "the archives tell another story".[8]

In January 1991, Fellowship associate and financial supporter Michael Timmis met President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi on behalf of the Fellowship, then flew to Kenya with Arthur (Gene) Dewey, the former second-in-command at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Sam Owen, then living in Nairobi.[77] Timmis wrote that he had obtained permission to fly over Tanzanian air space, even though the U.S. Department of State had ordered American citizens to stay clear of Tanzania.

The Fellowship has promoted reconciliation between the warring leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. In 2001, the Fellowship helped arrange a secret meeting at The Cedars between Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame — one of the first discreet meetings between the two African leaders that led to a peace accord in July 2002.[8]

In 1994 at the National Prayer Breakfast, the Fellowship helped to persuade South African Zulu chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi not to engage in a civil war with Nelson Mandela.[78]

According to Jeff Sharlet, Senator Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) is a Fellowship member who leads a secret "cell" of leading U.S. Senators and Representatives to influence U.S. foreign policy.[79] Sharlet reports that the group has stamped much of U.S. foreign policy through a group of Senators and affiliated religious organizations forming the "Values Action Team" or "VAT".[79] One victory for the group was Brownback's North Korea Human Rights Act, which establishes a confrontational stance toward North Korea and shifts funds for humanitarian aid from the UN to Christian organizations.[79]

The Fellowship is behind an international project called Youth Corps, a network of Christian youth groups that attract teenagers, and only later steer them to Jesus.[19][80] The Youth Corps web site does not mention an affiliation to the Fellowship or religion.[81] A non-public, internal Fellowship document, "Regional Reports, January 3, 2002," lists some of the nations where Youth Corps programs are in operation: Russia; Ukraine; Romania; India; Pakistan; Uganda; Nepal; Bhutan; Ecuador; Honduras and Peru.[19][80]

Fellowship funds have gone to an orphanage in India, a program in Uganda that provides schooling, and a development group in Peru.[8]
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Re: The Fellowship (Christian organization), by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:30 am

Part 2 of 2

The Fellowship and Uganda

The Fellowship, through Representative Joe Pitts (R.-Pa.), redirected millions in US aid to Uganda from sex education programs to abstinence programs, thereby causing an evangelical revival, which included condom burnings.

In a November 2009 NPR interview, Sharlet alleged that Ugandan Fellowship associates David Bahati and Nsaba Buturo were behind the recent proposed bill in Uganda that called for the death penalty for gays.[82] Bahati cited a conversation with Fellowship members in 2008 as having inspired the legislation.[83]

Sharlet reveals that David Bahati, the Uganda legislator backing the bill, reportedly first floated the idea of executing gays during The Family's Uganda National Prayer Breakfast in 2008.[84] Sharlet described Bahati as a "rising star" in the Fellowship who has attended the National Prayer Breakfast in the United States and, until the news over the gay execution law broke, was scheduled to attend the 2010 U.S. National Prayer Breakfast.[84]

Fellowship member Bob Hunter gave an interview to NPR in December 2009 in which he acknowledged Bahati's connection but argued that no American associates support the bill.[85]

President Barack Obama, in his address to the Fellowship at their National Prayer Breakfast in early 2010, directly criticized the Uganda legislation targeting gay people for execution. In calling for a renewed emphasis on faith and civility, Obama stated, "We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it's here in the United States or, as Hillary [Clinton] mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda."[86]

Relationships with other organizations

The Fellowship Foundation is linked to numerous other organizations:

Wilberforce Foundation[2] IRS Form 990 filings confirm that Wilberforce is related to and shares common management with the Fellowship Foundation.[87]
Traditional Values Coalition. Uses the C Street Center for "faith-based diplomacy"[16] in the fight against what Louis P. Sheldon calls the "Marxist/Leftist/Homosexual/Islamic coalition."[88]
Three Swallows Foundation[89][90][91]
International Center for Religion & Diplomacy[92]
Young Life International[93]
Trees for the Future[94]
National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise[94]
Cornerstone Development[94]
World Concern[94]
Project Mercy[94]
Timothy Trust[94]
Associación Desarrollo en Democracia[94]
World Vision[95]

Current and former members

John Baldacci[8]
Ralph Brewster[96]
Sam Brownback[96]
Ed Bryant[8]
Conrad Burns[19]
Frank Carlson[19]
Tom Coburn[96]
Carl Curtis[97]
Jim DeMint[96]
Pete Domenici[3]
Michael F. Doyle[8]
John Ensign[96]
Mike Enzi[96]
Chuck Grassley[96]
Tony P. Hall[8]
Merwin K. Hart[96]
Mark Hatfield[96]
Harold Hughes[96]
Jim Inhofe[96]
Melvin Laird[97]
Steve Largent[8]
Mike McIntyre[96]
Bill Nelson[96]
Don Nickles[19]
Chip Pickering[96]
Joe Pitts[96]
Mark Pryor[3]
Absalom Willis Robertson[96]
Mark Sanford[96]
Heath Shuler[96]
Bart Stupak[96]
Herman Talmadge[97]
John Thune[96]
Strom Thurmond[96]
Zach Wamp[96]
Frank Wolf[96]

Fellowship involvement in extra-marital affairs of politician members

In 2009, the Fellowship received media attention in connection with three Republican politician members who reportedly engaged in extra-marital affairs.[7][98][99][100] Two of them, Senator John Ensign, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee in the Senate and the fourth ranking in his party’s Senate leadership, and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, immediate past Chair of the Republican Governors Association and U.S. Representative from 1995 to 2001, were considering running for President in 2012.[7][98][99][101][102] The affairs of Ensign and then-Congressman Chip Pickering, R-Miss., took place while they were living at the C Street Center.

Role in the affair of John Ensign

Ensign, a Fellowship member and longtime resident of the C Street Center, admitted in June 2009 to an extra-marital affair with Cindy Hampton, his campaign treasurer and the wife of his co-chief of staff, longtime friend and fellow worshipper Doug Hampton.[103]

The Washington Post reported that the C Street "house pulsed with backstage intrigue, in the days and months before the Sanford and Ensign scandals" and that residents tried to talk each politician into ending his philandering, escalating into an emotional meeting to discuss "forgiveness" between Hampton, the husband of Ensign's mistress, and Senator Tom Coburn.[7]

Hampton said he was not directly advised by the Fellowship to cover up Ensign's affair with his wife, but instead to "be cool". Hampton said they felt they needed a more powerful voice to confront Ensign, and reached out to Coburn, a C Street resident.[103] After initially denying it, Coburn admitted that he tried to broker a settlement between Hampton and Ensign that would have prevented Ensign's affair with Cindy Hampton and his dealings with Doug Hampton from being exacerbated in TV talk shows.[103]

Coburn, with Timothy and David Coe, leaders of the Fellowship, attempted to intervene to end Ensign's affair in February 2008 by meeting with Hampton and convincing Ensign to write a letter to Hampton's wife breaking off the affair.[7][98][99] Ensign was chaperoned by Coburn and other members from C Street, where Ensign lives with Coburn, to a Federal Express office to post the letter.[7][98][99] Ensign called Hampton's wife hours later to tell her to ignore the letter and flew out to spend the weekend with her in Nevada.[7][98][99]

In connection with the affair, Ensign reportedly engaged in conduct which, if true, would amount to felonies, according to Melanie Sloan, executive director of the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.[103] The reported misconduct includes a $96,000 payment from Ensign's parents which Hampton claims was an unreported severance payment for the termination of his position as co-chief of staff for Ensign;[103] Hampton receiving a job as a lobbyist allegedly at Ensign's behest;[103] Ensign allegedly helping Hampton in his role as a lobbyist to lobby the Senator in violation of a one-year lobbying ban on ex-Senate staffers;[103] and Hampton's additional charge that Ensign sexually harassed his wife.[104] The Senate Ethics Committee and the Department of Justice are investigating the charges related to illegal lobbying and subpoenas have been issued. Intimacy between government employees is reassessed as it affects the dignity of the environment.[105]

Hampton said he feels his friends at C Street have abandoned him by choosing to close ranks around Ensign, and that for them the episode "is about preserving John [Ensign], preserving the Republican party, this is about preserving C Street."[103]

Role in affair of Mark Sanford

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who served as a Congressman from 1995 to 2001, admitted in June 2009 to having an extramarital affair and said he had sought counseling at the C Street Center during the months before the news broke.[106][107]

Sanford’s affair was revealed when, during his last secret trip to Argentina in June 2009, he left no contact information and told his staff that he was hiking the Appalachian trail.[108]

When asked during a press conference if his wife and family knew about his affair before his last trip to Argentina, Sanford said, "Yes. We've been working through this thing for about the last five months. I've been to a lot of different—as part of what we called "C Street" when I was in Washington. It was, believe it or not, a Christian Bible study—some folks that asked members of Congress hard questions that I think were very, very important. And I've been working with them."[107]

Sanford "was a frequent visitor to the home for prayer meetings and meals during his time in Congress".[100]

Pickering case

Chip Pickering was a U.S. Representative from Mississippi from 1997 through 2008. In 2009, his wife filed suit against Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd, his former college sweetheart and alleged mistress.[100][109] Mrs. Pickering alleged that her husband restarted his relationship with Byrd while he was "a United States congressman prior to and while living in the well-known C Street Complex in Washington, D.C."[100][109]

C Street Center

The Fellowship runs a $1.8 million three-story brick mansion in Washington D.C. known as "C Street."[110][111][112][113][114][115] It is the former convent for nearby St. Peter's Church. It is located a short distance from the United States Capitol. The structure has 12 bedrooms, nine bathrooms, five living rooms, four dining rooms, three offices, a kitchen, and a small "chapel".[8]

The facility houses mostly Republican members of Congress.[7][8][116] The house is also the locale for:

Wednesday prayer breakfasts for United States Senators, which have been attended by Senators Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, James Inhofe, John Ensign, Susan Collins and Hillary Clinton.
Tuesday night dinners for members of Congress and other Fellowship associates.
An annual Ambassador Luncheon.[117] The 2006 event was attended by ambassadors from Turkey, Macedonia, Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Belarus, Mongolia, Latvia, and Moldova.
Receptions for foreign dignitaries, including the Prime Minister of Australia.[who?]
C Street has been the subject of controversy over its claimed tax status as a church, the ownership of the property and its connection to the Fellowship, and the reportedly subsidized benefits the facility provides to members of Congress.

Property holdings


Fellowship Foundation purchased a large old house in 1978, named the Doubleday Mansion. The home which also has a detached two story garage and a gardener's cottage, is zoned as a worship and teaching center. The home is used as a center for Bible studies, counseling, hymn sings, life mentoring, prayer groups, prayer breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, and hospitality receptions for international reconciliation and conflict resolution initiatives. The home was once surrounded by cedar trees and so was renamed Cedars. Its location is near Georgetown University in the Arlington Woodmont community. It is a historic landmark house and is situated adjacent to a commemorative recreational county park, once the homestead of writer C. F. Henry.[118]

Coe has described Cedars as a place "committed to the care of the underprivileged, even though it looks very wealthy." He noted that people might say, "Why don't you sell a chandelier and help poor people?" Answering his own question, Coe said, "The people who come here have tremendous influence over kids." Private documents indicate that Cedars was purchased so that "people throughout the world who carry heavy responsibilities could meet in Washington to think together, plan together and pray together about personal and public problems and opportunities."[8] Cedars is host to dozens of prayer breakfasts, luncheons and dinners for ambassadors, congressional representatives, foreign religious leaders and many others.

In March 1990, YWAM (which also previously owned the C Street Center) purchased a nearby property located at 2200 24th Street North for $580,000.[119] The property, was used as another gathering place for bible study. Ownership of 2200 24th Street was transferred to the C Street Center on May 6, 1992, and again to the Fellowship Foundation on October 25, 2002. This house had been owned by Timothy Coe, who sold the property to his father, Douglas Coe on November 30, 1989, for $580,000.

A second property, located at 2224 24th Street North and assessed at $916,000, is used as a men's mentoring ministry, known as a Navigator house. This property was purchased by Jerome A. Lewis and Co. in 1986, and sold to the Wilberforce Foundation in 1987. In 2007, the Wilberforce Foundation transferred it to the Fellowship Foundation for $1 million. Jerome A. Lewis is a trustee emeritus of the Trinity Forum and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Petro-Lewis Corporation.[120]

Douglas Coe once owned a lot at 2560 North 23rd Road, which he sold to Ohio Congressman Tony P. Hall (D-OH) and his wife on September 22, 1987, for $100,000.[121] Upon leaving Congress in 2002, Hall donated some of his excess campaign funds including $20,000 to the Fellowship Foundation on September 4, 2002,[122] $1,500 to the Wilberforce Foundation,[123] and $1,000 to the Jonathan Coe Memorial of Annapolis, Maryland during the 2001 campaign cycle.[124]

The residence located at 2244 24th Street North, assessed at $1,458,800, is owned by Merle Morgan, whose wife, Edita, is on the board of the Cedars.[125] It also is identified as the offices of the greeting card firm of Morgan Bros. Corp. (d/b/a Capitol Publishing).

LeRoy Rooker, the one-time treasurer of Cedars and former Director of the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education, and his wife own 2222 24th Street North.[126]

Arthur W. Lindsley, a Senior Fellow at the C.S. Lewis Institute owns 2226 24th Street North.[127]

Cedar Point Farm

According to White House records dating from 1978, President Jimmy Carter traveled to Cedar Point Farm by Marine helicopter on November 12, 1978, to attend a Fellowship prayer and discussion group.[67] President Carter placed a call to Menachim Begin while at Cedar Point Farm.[67] The White House records reflect that Cedar Point Farm was owned by Harold Hughes, a former Senator from Iowa and the President of the Fellowship Foundation.[67] Cedar Point Farm was later used by the Wilberforce Foundation.

Other Fellowship properties

"Southeast White House", located at 2909 Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast, which is a center of urban reconciliation, youth mentoring, community prayer breakfasts, Bible studies, life principle teaching and racial relational healing initiatives. University students come for internships in urban reconciliation and in community service for the bereft.[128] This property is assessed at $736,310 for 2009 tax year.[129]
"19th Street House," a two-story, brick apartment building located at 859 19th Street NE,[2] in the Trinidad neighborhood of northeast Washington, D.C., which is assessed at $358,250 for the 2009 tax year.[130] The 19th Street Center is used for afterschool activities.
Mount Oak Estates, Annapolis, Maryland. One residential property, formerly owned by Timothy Coe, was sold to Wilberforce Foundation, Inc. for $1.1 million. A second residence is owned by David and Alden Coe and a third is owned by Fellowship associate Marty Sherman. Another nearby property, 1701 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard, was owned by the Fellowship Foundation.
Until 1994, the Fellowship Foundation owned the aged French revival historic "Fellowship House", the former base of Vereide's ministry located at 2817 Woodland Drive in Washington, D.C., which was sold to the Ourisman Chevrolet family for $2.5 million and which was then fully architecturally and historically restored and preserved.


The Fellowship Foundation, which since 1935 has conducted no public fundraising programs, relies totally on private donations. In 2007, the group received nearly $16.8 million to support the 400 ministries.[23] Among the Fellowship's key supporters are billionaire investor Paul N. Temple, a former executive of Esso (Exxon) and the founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the Three Swallows Foundation. Between 1998 and 2007, Three Swallows made grants totaling $1,777,650 to the International Foundation, including $171,500 in 2004,[89] $203,500 in 2005,[90] and $145,500 in 2006.[91]

Another supporter, Jerome (Jerry) A. Lewis, established Denver-based Downing Street Foundation to provide support to three organizations: the Fellowship Foundation, Denver Leadership Foundation, and Young Life. Between 1999 and 2007, Downing Street donated at least $756,000 to the Family,[131] in addition to allowing the group to use its "retreat center."

Madelynn Winstead, a Downing Street director, was paid $21,600 by the Fellowship Foundation as managing director of the retreat center.[132]

The Kingdom Fund (Kingdom Oil Christian Foundation t/a Twin Cities Christian Foundation) also provides support to the Family and World Vision.[133]

The Fellowship Foundation earns more than $1,000,000 annually through its sponsorship of the National Prayer Breakfast.[23]


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15. Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p. 25.
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27. Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p. 265.
28. "Young Men’s Seminar," dated February 5, 1970, tape 107, "Record of the Fellowship Foundation-Collection 459", Billy Graham Center Archives. Cited in Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p. 228.
29. Clinton, Hillary (2003), Living History, Simon & Schuster.
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40. Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p.19
41. James F. Bell to Ross Main, May 19, 1975. Folder 25, Box 254, "Record of the Fellowship Foundation-Collection 459", Billy Graham Center Archives. Main to Doug Coe, June 19, 1975,Ibid.
42. Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p. 21.
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48. Jeff Sharlet, The Family, (Harper, 2008), p.23.
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50. Lindsay, (2006), Is the National Prayer Breakfast Surrounded by a "Christian Mafia"?, p. 395. Quoted in Sharlet, (2008), The Family, p. 24
51. "Transcript: Bono remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast". USA Today. 2006-02-02. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
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54. Obama, Barack (February 4, 2010). "Remarks by the President at the National Prayer Breakfast". White House. RetrievedFebruary 4, 2010.
55. Green, Lauren (February 4, 2011). "This Year's National Prayer Breakfast -- Truly Inspirational". Fox News. RetrievedFebruary 5, 2011.
56. Niedowski, Erika (February 3, 2011). "Rep. Giffords's husband to speak at prayer breakfast". The Hill. Retrieved February 5,2011.
57. Obama, Barack (February 2, 2012). "Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast". The American Presidency Project. UCSB. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
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61. Koran, Laura (February 4, 2016). "Obama at National Prayer Breakfast: 'Faith is the great cure for fear'". CNN. RetrievedFebruary 4, 2016.
62. "Obama Speaks at National Prayer Breakfast". U.S. News & World Report. February 4, 2016. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
63. Anthony Lappé, "Meet 'The Family'", Guerrilla News Network, June 13, 2003
65. "Papers of James Edwin Orr - Collection 355". Billy Graham Center – Archives. Wheaton College. May 25, 2000. RetrievedSeptember 5, 2009.
66. Carter, Jimmy (September 26, 1978). "The Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter" (PDF). Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Retrieved July 25, 2009.
67. Carter, Jimmy (November 12, 1978). "The Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter" (PDF). Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Retrieved July 25, 2009.
68. Boxes 184-185, "Record of the Fellowship Foundation – Collection 459", Billy Graham Center Archives. Cited in Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p. 420 note.
69. Interview with Doug Coe by Tore Gjerstad, October 29, 2007. Cited in Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p. 222.
70. "Rep. Robert Aderholt trip to Khartoum, Sudan on December 10, 2006". LegiStorm. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
71. "Sen. Tom Coburn trip to Beirut, Lebanon on June 2, 2005". LegiStorm. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
72. "Rep. Robert Aderholt trip to Sofia, Bulgaria on May 25, 2007". LegiStorm. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
73. "Rep. Frank Wolf trip to Albania on March 18, 2005". LegiStorm. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
74. "Rep. John Carter trip to Minsk, Belarus on May 20, 2004". LegiStorm. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
75. "Rep. Joseph Pitts trip to Belarus on May 20, 2004". LegiStorm. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
76. Lobe, Jim (July 1, 2004). "New US envoy: Past and present". Asia Times Online. Retrieved December 23, 2009.
77. Timmis, Mike; Fickett, Harold (March 15, 2008). "Between Two Worlds". Book excerpt. Savvy Mom. Retrieved December 30,2009.
78. Sharlet, Jeff (2008). "The Family." Harper Perennial. Page 24.
79. Sharlet, Jeff (January 25, 2006). "God's Senator". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 23, 2009.
80. Stone, Ralph E.; Iranyi, Judi (November 30, 2009). "The Fellowship: A Secret Christian Fundamentalist Organization". Retrieved December 23, 2009.
81. Youth Corps web site
82. "The Secret Political Reach Of 'The Family'". NPR. November 24, 2009. Retrieved November 30, 2009.
83. "Resentment Toward the West Bolsters Uganda's New Anti-Gay Bill". New York Times. February 28, 2012. RetrievedMarch 2, 2012.
84. "'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, December 9, 2009". MSNBC. December 9, 2009. Retrieved December 23,2009.
85. "A Different Perspective On 'The Family' And Uganda". NPR. December 22, 2009. Retrieved December 24, 2009.
86. Presidential Address to National Prayer Breakfast Washington Post Transcript. Address of Thursday, February 4. Retrieved on March 27, 2010.
87. Coe, David; Wilberforce Foundation (October 30, 2008). "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax: 2007" (PDF).IRS Form 990. GuideStar. Retrieved July 24, 2009.
88. Sheldon, Louis P. (December 13, 2005). "The War on Christianity". Traditional Values Coalition. Retrieved November 18,2009.
89. Temple, Paul N.; Three Swallows Foundation (August 22, 2006). "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: 2004" (PDF). IRS Form 990. GuideStar. p. 20. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
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91. Temple, Paul N.; Three Swallows Foundation (March 11, 2008). "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: 2006"(PDF). IRS Form 990. GuideStar. p. 21. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
92. Johnston, Doug (December 22, 2004). "December 2004 Update: SIRC Workshop on Darfur, Iran Delegation". International Center for Religion & Diplomacy. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
93. Corder, Lee (October 2009). "2009 Rockbridge Men's Retreat" (PDF). Young Life. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
94. Nakamura, John T.; The Fellowship Foundation (September 12, 2000). "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax: 1999" (PDF). IRS Form 990. ERI. Retrieved July 29, 2009.
95. Carver, Richard E.; The Fellowship Foundation (November 6, 2002). "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax: 2001" (PDF). IRS Form 990. ERI. Retrieved July 29, 2009.
96. "A Refuge For Powerful Lawmakers". NPR. September 23, 2010.
97. Gross, Terry (August 29, 2009). "The Secret Political Reach Of 'The Family'". NPR. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
98. Thrush, Glenn (July 8, 2009). "Ensign "letter" to mistress: I used you for "pleasure"". Politico. Retrieved July 20,2009.
99. Maddow, Rachel (July 10, 2009). "The Rachael Maddow Show". MSNBC. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
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107. Gilgoff, Dan (June 24, 2009). "Sanford Cites Secretive Christian Group's Role in Helping Confront Affair". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
108. Smith, Gina & O'Connor, John (July 14, 2009)."Sanford’s office couldn't locate missing governor." The State. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
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111. Complaint
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115. District of Columbia: Frontpage of Real Property Tax
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• Sharlet, Jeffry 'Jeff' (2008), The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, HarperCollins,ISBN 978-0-06-055979-3.
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Re: The Fellowship (Christian organization), by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:34 pm

Jesus plus nothing: Undercover among America's secret theocrats
by Jeffrey Sharlet
March 2003



And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
—Matthew 10:36

This is how they pray: a dozen clear-eyed, smooth-skinned “brothers” gathered together in a huddle, arms crossing arms over shoulders like the weave of a cable, leaning in on one another and swaying like the long grass up the hill from the house they share. The house is a handsome, gray, two-story colonial that smells of new carpet and Pine-Sol and aftershave; the men who live there call it Ivanwald. At the end of a tree-lined cul-de-sac, quiet but for the buzz of lawn mowers and kids playing foxes-and-hounds in the park across the road, Ivanwald sits as one house among many, clustered together like mushrooms, all devoted, like these men, to the service of Jesus Christ. The men tend every tulip in the cul-de-sac, trim every magnolia, seal every driveway smooth and black as boot leather. And they pray, assembled at the dining table or on their lawn or in the hallway or in the bunk room or on the basketball court, each man's head bowed in humility and swollen with pride (secretly, he thinks) at being counted among such a fine corps for Christ, among men to whom he will open his heart and whom he will remember when he returns to the world not born-again but remade, no longer an individual but part of the Lord's revolution, his will transformed into a weapon for what the young men call “spiritual war.”

“Jeff, will you lead us in prayer?”

Surely, brother. It is April 2002, and I have lived with these men for weeks now, not as a Christian—a term they deride as too narrow for the world they are building in Christ's honor—but as a “believer.” I have shared the brothers' meals and their work and their games. I have been numbered among them and have been given a part in their ministry. I have wrestled with them and showered with them and listened to their stories: I know which man resents his father's fortune and which man succumbed to the flesh of a woman not once but twice and which man dances so well he is afraid of being taken for a fag. I know what it means to be a “brother,” which is to say that I know what it means to be a soldier in the army of God.

“Heavenly Father,” I begin. Then, “O Lord,” but I worry that this doesn't sound intimate enough. I settle on, “Dear Jesus.” “Dear Jesus, just, please, Jesus, let us fight for Your name.”

* * *

Ivanwald, which sits at the end of Twenty-fourth Street North in Arlington, Virginia, is known only to its residents and to the members and friends of the organization that sponsors it, a group of believers who refer to themselves as “the Family.” The Family is, in its own words, an “invisible” association, though its membership has always consisted mostly of public men. Senators Don Nickles (R., Okla.), Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), Pete Domenici (R., N.Mex.), John Ensign (R., Nev.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), and Conrad Burns (R., Mont.) are referred to as “members,” as are Representatives Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), Frank Wolf (R., Va.), Joseph Pitts (R., Pa.), Zach Wamp (R., Tenn.), and Bart Stupak (D., Mich.). Regular prayer groups have met in the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense, and the Family has traditionally fostered strong ties with businessmen in the oil and aerospace industries. The Family maintains a closely guarded database of its associates, but it issues no cards, collects no official dues. Members are asked not to speak about the group or its activities.

The organization has operated under many guises, some active, some defunct: National Committee for Christian Leadership, International Christian Leadership, the National Leadership Council, Fellowship House, the Fellowship Foundation, the National Fellowship Council, the International Foundation. These groups are intended to draw attention away from the Family, and to prevent it from becoming, in the words of one of the Family's leaders, “a target for misunderstanding.” 1

The Family's only publicized gathering is the National Prayer Breakfast, which it established in 1953 and which, with congressional sponsorship, it continues to organize every February in Washington, D.C. Each year 3,000 dignitaries, representing scores of nations, pay $425 each to attend. Steadfastly ecumenical, too bland most years to merit much press, the breakfast is regarded by the Family as merely a tool in a larger purpose: to recruit the powerful attendees into smaller, more frequent prayer meetings, where they can “meet Jesus man to man.”

In the process of introducing powerful men to Jesus, the Family has managed to effect a number of behind-the-scenes acts of diplomacy. In 1978 it secretly helped the Carter Administration organize a worldwide call to prayer with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and more recently, in 2001, it brought together the warring leaders of Congo and Rwanda for a clandestine meeting, leading to the two sides' eventual peace accord last July. Such benign acts appear to be the exception to the rule. During the 1960s the Family forged relationships between the U.S. government and some of the most anti-Communist (and dictatorial) elements within Africa's postcolonial leadership. The Brazilian dictator General Costa e Silva, with Family support, was overseeing regular fellowship groups for Latin American leaders, while, in Indonesia, General Suharto (whose tally of several hundred thousand “Communists” killed marks him as one of the century's most murderous dictators) was presiding over a group of fifty Indonesian legislators. During the Reagan Administration the Family helped build friendships between the U.S. government and men such as Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, convicted by a Florida jury of the torture of thousands, and Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, himself an evangelical minister, who was linked to both the CIA and death squads before his own demise. “We work with power where we can,” the Family's leader, Doug Coe, says, “build new power where we can't.”

At the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, George H.W. Bush praised Doug Coe for what he described as “quiet diplomacy, I wouldn't say secret diplomacy,” as an “ambassador of faith.” Coe has visited nearly every world capital, often with congressmen at his side, “making friends” and inviting them back to the Family's unofficial headquarters, a mansion (just down the road from Ivanwald) that the Family bought in 1978 with $1.5 million donated by, among others, Tom Phillips, then the C.E.O. of arms manufacturer Raytheon, and Ken Olsen, the founder and president of Digital Equipment Corporation. A waterfall has been carved into the mansion's broad lawn, from which a bronze bald eagle watches over the Potomac River. The mansion is white and pillared and surrounded by magnolias, and by red trees that do not so much tower above it as whisper. The mansion is named for these trees; it is called The Cedars, and Family members speak of it as a person. “The Cedars has a heart for the poor,” they like to say. By “poor” they mean not the thousands of literal poor living barely a mile away but rather the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom: the senators, generals, and prime ministers who coast to the end of Twenty-fourth Street in Arlington in black limousines and town cars and hulking S.U.V.'s to meet one another, to meet Jesus, to pay homage to the god of The Cedars.

There they forge “relationships” beyond the din of vox populi (the Family's leaders consider democracy a manifestation of ungodly pride) and “throw away religion” in favor of the truths of the Family. Declaring God's covenant with the Jews broken, the group's core members call themselves “the new chosen.”

The brothers of Ivanwald are the Family's next generation, its high priests in training. I had been recommended for membership by a banker acquaintance, a recent Ivanwald alumnus, who had mistaken my interest in Jesus for belief. Sometimes the brothers would ask me why I was there. They knew that I was “half Jewish,” that I was a writer, and that I was from New York City, which most of them considered to be only slightly less wicked than Baghdad or Amsterdam. I told my brothers that I was there to meet Jesus, and I was: the new ruling Jesus, whose ways are secret.

* * *

At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They're so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who's loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald's brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee.

The morning I attended, Charlene, the cook, scrambled up eggs with blue tortillas, Italian sausage, red pepper, and papaya. Three women from Potomac Point, an “Ivanwald for girls” across the road from The Cedars, came to help serve. They wore red lipstick and long skirts (makeup and “feminine” attire were required) and had, after several months of cleaning and serving in The Cedars while the brothers worked outside, become quite unimpressed by the high-powered clientele. “Girls don't sit in on the breakfasts,” one of them told me, though she said that none of them minded because it was “just politics.”

The breakfast began with a prayer and a sprinkle of scripture from Meese, who sat at the head of the table. Matthew 11:27: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” That morning's chosen introduced themselves. They were businessmen from Dallas and Oregon, a Chinese Christian dissident, a man who ran an aid group for Tibetan refugees (the Dalai Lama had been very positive on Jesus at their last meeting, he reported). Two ambassadors, from Benin and Rwanda, sat side by side. Rwanda's representative, Dr. Richard Sezibera, was an intense man who refused to eat his eggs or even any melon. He drank cup after cup of coffee, and his eyes were bloodshot. A man I didn't recognize, whom Charlene identified as a former senator, suggested that negotiators from Rwanda and Congo, trapped in a war that has slain more than 2 million, should stop worrying about who will get the diamonds and the oil and instead focus on who will get Jesus. “Power sharing is not going to work unless we change their hearts,” he said.

Sezibera stared, incredulous. Meese chuckled and opened his mouth to speak, but Sezibera interrupted him. “It is not so simple,” the Rwandan said, his voice flat and low. Meese smiled. Everyone in the Family loves rebukes, and here was Rwanda rebuking them. The former senator nodded. Meese murmured, “Yes,” stroking his maroon leather Bible, and the words “Thank you, Jesus” rippled in whispers around the table as I poured Sezibera another cup of coffee.

The brothers also served at the Family's four-story, redbrick Washington town house, a former convent at 133 C Street S.E. complete with stained-glass windows. Eight congressmen—including Senator Ensign and seven representatives2 —lived there, brothers in Christ just like us, only more powerful. We scrubbed their toilets, hoovered their carpets, polished their silver. The day I worked at C Street I ran into Doug Coe, who was tutoring Todd Tiahrt, a Republican congressman from Kansas. A friendly, plainspoken man with a bright, lazy smile, Coe has worked for the Family since 1959, soon after he graduated from college, and has led it since 1969.

Tiahrt was a short shot glass of a man, two parts flawless hair and one part teeth. He wanted to know the best way “for the Christian to win the race with the Muslim.” The Muslim, he said, has too many babies, while Americans kill too many of theirs.

Doug agreed this could be a problem. But he was more concerned that the focus on labels like “Christian” might get in the way of the congressman's prayers. Religion distracts people from Jesus, Doug said, and allows them to isolate Christ's will from their work in the world.

“People separate it out,” he warned Tiahrt. “'Oh, okay, I got religion, that's private.' As if Jesus doesn't know anything about building highways, or Social Security. We gotta take Jesus out of the religious wrapping.”

“All right, how do we do that?” Tiahrt asked.

“A covenant,” Doug answered. The congressman half-smiled, as if caught between confessing his ignorance and pretending he knew what Doug was talking about. “Like the Mafia,” Doug clarified. “Look at the strength of their bonds.” He made a fist and held it before Tiahrt's face. Tiahrt nodded, squinting. “See, for them it's honor,” Doug said. “For us, it's Jesus.”

Coe listed other men who had changed the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their “brothers”: “Look at Hitler,” he said. “Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden.” The Family, of course, possessed a weapon those leaders lacked: the “total Jesus” of a brotherhood in Christ.

“That's what you get with a covenant,” said Coe. “Jesus plus nothing.”

* * *

To the Family, Jesus is not just a name; he is also a real man. “An awesome guy,” a Family employee named Terry told the brothers over breakfast one morning. “He excelled in every activity. He was a great teacher, sure, but he was also a real guy's guy. He would have made an excellent athlete.”

On my first day at Ivanwald, on an uneven court behind the house, I learned to play a two-ball variant of basketball called “bump” that was designed to sharpen both body and soul. In bump, players compete at free throws, each vying to sink his own before the man behind him sinks his. If he hits first then you're out, with one exception: the basket's net narrows at the chute so that the ball sometimes sticks, at which point another player can hurl his ball up from beneath, knocking the first ball out. In this event everyone cries “Bu-u-ump,” with great joy.

Bengt began it. He was one of the house's leaders, a twenty-four-year-old North Carolinian with sad eyes and spiky eyebrows and a loud, disarming laugh that made him sound like a donkey. From inside the house, waiting for a phone call, he opened a second-floor window and called to Gannon for a ball. Gannon, the son of a Texas oilman, worked as a Senate aide3; he had blond hair and a chin like a plow, and he sang in a choir. He tossed one up, which Bengt caught and dispatched toward the basket. “Nice,” Gannon drawled as the ball sank through.

As soon as the ball bounced off the rim, Beau was at the free-throw line, taking his shot. Beau was a good-natured Atlantan with the build of a wrestler; as a bumper he was second only to Bengt.

“It's okay if you bump into the other guys, too,” Gannon told me as my turn approached. “The idea's kinda to get that tension building.” Ahead of me Beau bent his knees to take another shot. The moment the ball rolled off his fingers, Wayne, also from Georgia, jumped up and hurled his own ball over Beau's head. As he returned to earth, his elbow descended on Beau's shoulder like a hammer. “Bump that,” he said.

Bump was designed to bring out your hostilities. The Family believes that you can't grow in Jesus unless you “face your anger,” and then abandon it. When bump worked right, each man was supposed to lose himself, forgetting even the precepts of the game. Sometimes you wanted to get the ball in, sometimes you wanted to knock it out. In, out, it didn't matter. Your ball, his, who cared? Bump wasn't horseplay, it was a physicalized theology. It was to basketball what the New Testament is to the Old: stripped down to one simple story that always ends the same. Bump, Jesus. Bump, Jesus.

I stepped to the line and, after missing, moved in for a layup. Wayne jumped to the line and shot. “Dude!” he shouted. I looked up. His ball, meant to hit mine, slammed into my forehead. Bu-u-ump! the boys hollered. They had bumped me with Christ.

Bengt bumped. Beau bumped. Gannon bumped. I was out of contention. Gannon joined me, then Beau. The game was down to Bengt and Wayne. When Wayne threw from behind Bengt, he hurled the ball with such force that it sent Bengt chasing his ball into the neighboring yard. “Tenacious Wayne!” Gannon roared. Wayne scooped up his own ball, leapt, and slam-dunked Bengt out. “That's yo motha!” he hollered.

Trotting back to the court, Bengt shook his head. “You the man, Wayne,” he said. “Just keep it calm.” Wayne was ready to burst.

“Huddle up guys,” said Bengt. We formed a circle, arms wrapped around shoulders. “Okay,” he said. “We're gonna pray now. Lord, I just want to thank you for bringing us out here today to have fellowship in bump and for blessing this fine day with a visit from our new friend Jeff. Lord, we thank you for bringing this brother to us from up north, because we know he can learn to bump, and just—love you, and serve you and Lord, let us all just—Lord, be together in your name. Amen.”

* * *
The regimen was so precise it was relaxing: no swearing, no drinking, no sex, no self. Watch out for magazines and don't waste time on newspapers and never watch TV. Eat meat, study the Gospels, play basketball: God loves a man who can sink a three-pointer. Pray to be broken. O Heavenly Father. Dear Jesus. Help me be humble. Let me do Your will. Every morning began with a prayer, some days with outsiders—Wednesdays led by a former Ivanwald brother, now a businessman; Thursdays led by another executive who used tales of high finance to illuminate our lessons from scripture, which he supplemented with xeroxed midrash from Fortune or Fast Company; Fridays with the women of Potomac Point. But most days it was just us boys, bleary-eyed, gulping coffee and sugared cereal as Bengt and Jeff Connolly, Bengt's childhood friend and our other house leader, laid out lines of Holy Word across the table like strategy.

The dining room had once been a deck, but the boys had walled it in and roofed it over and unrolled a red Persian carpet, transforming the room into a sort of monastic meeting place, with two long tables end to end, ringed by a dozen chairs and two benches. The first day I visited Ivanwald, Bengt cleared a space for me at the head of the table and sat to my right. Beside him, Wayne slumped in his chair, his eyes hidden by a cowboy hat. Across from him sat Beau, still wearing the boxers and T-shirt he'd slept in. Bengt alone looked sharp, his hair combed, golf shirt tucked tightly into pleated chinos.

Bengt told Gannon to read our text for that morning, Psalm 139: “'O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.'” The very first line made Bengt smile; this was, in his view, an awesome thing for God to have done. Bengt's manners and naive charm preceded him in every encounter. When you told him a story he would respond, “Goll-y!” just to be nice. When genuinely surprised he would exclaim, “Good ni-ight!” Sometimes it was hard to remember that he was a self-professed revolutionary.

He asked Gannon to keep reading, and then leaned back and listened.

“'Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.'”

Bengt raised a hand. “That's great, dude. Let's talk about that.” The room fell silent as Bengt stared into his Bible, running his finger up and down the gilded edge of the page. “Guys,” he said. “What—how does that make you feel?”

“Known,” said Gannon, almost in a whisper.

Bengt nodded. He was looking for something else, but he didn't know where it was. “What does it make you think of?”

“Jesus?” said Beau.

Bengt stroked his chin. “Yeah . . . Let me read you a little more.” He read in a monotone, accelerating as he went, as if he could persuade us through a sheer heap of words. “'For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb,'” he concluded. His lips curled into a half smile. “Man! I mean, that's intense, right? 'In my mother's womb'—God's right in there with you.” He grinned. “It's like,” he said, “it's like, you can't run. Doesn't matter where you turn, 'cause Jesus is gonna be there, just waiting for you.”

Beau's eyes cleared and Gannon nodded. “Yeah, brother,” Bengt said, an eyebrow arched. “Jesus is smart. He's gonna get you.”

Gannon shook his head. “Oh, he's already got me.”

“Me, too,” Beau chimed, and then each man clasped his hands into one fist and pressed it against his forehead or his chin and prayed, eyes closed and Jesus all over his skin.

* * *
We prayed to be “nothing.” We were there to “soften our hearts to authority.” We instituted a rule that every man must wipe the toilet bowl after he pisses, not for cleanliness but to crush his “inner rebel.” Jeff C. did so by abstaining from “shady” R-rated movies, lest they provoke dreams of women. He was built like a leprechaun, with curly, dark blond hair and freckles and a brilliant smile. The Potomac Point girls brought him cookies; the wives of the Family's older men asked him to visit. One night, when the guys went on a swing-dancing date with the Potomac Pointers, more worldly women flocked to Jeff C., begging to be dipped and twirled. The feeling was not mutual. “I just don't like girls as much as guys,” he told me one day while we painted a new coat of “Gettysburg Gray” onto Ivanwald. He was speaking not of sex or of romance but of brotherhood. “I like”—he paused, his brush suspended midstroke—“competence.”

He ran nearly every day, often alone, down by the Potomac. On the basketball court anger sometimes overcame him: “Shoot the ball!” he would snap at Rogelio, a shy eighteen-year-old from Paraguay, one of several international brothers. But later Jeff C. would turn his lapse into a lesson, citing scripture, a verse we were to memorize or else be banished, by Jeff C. himself, to a night in the basement. Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 26–27: “'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Jeff C.'s pride surfaced in unexpected ways. Once, together in the kitchen after lunch, I mentioned that I'd seen the soul singer Al Green live. Jeff C. didn't answer. Instead he disappeared, reemerged with a Green CD, and set it in the boom box. He pressed play, and cracked his knuckles and his neck bones. His hands balled into fists, his eyes widened, and his torso became a jumping bean as his chest popped out on the downbeat. He heard me laughing, applauding, but he didn't stop. He started singing along with the Reverend. He grabbed his crotch and wrenched his shirt up and ran his hand over his stomach. Then he froze and dropped back to his ordinary voice as if narrating.

“I used to work in this pizza parlor,” he said. “It was, like, a buncha . . . I dunno, junkies. Heroin.” He grinned. “But man, they loved Al Green. We had a poster of him. He was, he was . . . man! Shirtless, leather pants. Low leather pants.” Jeff C. tugged his waistband down. “Hips cocked.” He shook his head and howled. Moonwalking away, he snapped his knees together, his feet spread wide, his hands in the air, testifying.

Jeff C. figured I had a thing against Southerners. Once, he asked if I thought the South was “racist.” I got it, I tried to tell him, I knew the North was just as bad, but he wouldn't listen. He told me I could call him a redneck or a hillbilly (I never called him either), but the truth was that he was “blacker” than me. He told me of his deep love for black gospel churches. Loving black people, he told me, made him a better follower of Christ. “Remember that story Cal Thomas told?” he asked. Thomas, a syndicated columnist, had recently stopped by Ivanwald for a mixer with young congressional staffers. He had regaled his audience with stories about tweaking his liberal colleagues, in particular about when he had addressed a conference of nonbelievers by asking if anyone knew where to buy a good “negro.” Jeff C. thought it was hilarious but also profound. What Thomas had meant, he told me, was that absent the teachings of Jesus there was no reason for the strong not to enslave the weak.

* * *
Two weeks into my stay, David Coe, Doug's son and the presumptive heir to leadership of the Family, dropped by the house. My brothers and I assembled in the living room, where David had draped his tall frame over a burgundy leather recliner like a frat boy, one leg hanging over a padded arm.

“You guys,” David said, “are here to learn how to rule the world.” He was in his late forties, with dark, gray-flecked hair, an olive complexion, and teeth like a slab of white marble. We sat around him in a rough circle, on couches and chairs, as the afternoon light slanted through the wooden blinds onto walls adorned with foxhunting lithographs and a giant tapestry of the Last Supper. Rafael, a wealthy Ecuadoran who'd been a college soccer star before coming to Ivanwald, had a hard time with English, and he didn't understand what David had said. So he stared, lips parted in puzzlement. David seemed to like that. He stared back, holding Raf's gaze like it was a pretty thing he'd found on the ground. “You have very intense eyes,” David said.

“Thank you,” Raf mumbled.

“Hey,” David said, “let's talk about the Old Testament. Who would you say are its good guys?”

“David,” Beau volunteered.

“King David,” David Coe said. “That's a good one. David. Hey. What would you say made King David a good guy?” He was giggling, not from nervousness but from barely containable delight.

“Faith?” Beau said. “His faith was so strong?”

“Yeah.” David nodded as if he hadn't heard that before. “Hey, you know what's interesting about King David?” From the blank stares of the others I could see that they did not. Many didn't even carry a Hebrew Bible, preferring a slim volume of just the New Testament Gospels and Epistles and, from the Old, Psalms. Others had the whole book, but the gold gilt on the pages of the first two thirds remained undisturbed. “King David,” David Coe went on, “liked to do really, really bad things.” He chuckled. “Here's this guy who slept with another man's wife—Bathsheba, right?—and then basically murders her husband. And this guy is one of our heroes.” David shook his head. “I mean, Jiminy Christmas, God likes this guy! What,” he said, “is that all about?”

The answer, we discovered, was that King David had been “chosen.” To illustrate this point David Coe 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 shrank into the cushions. “Probably that I'm pretty bad?”

“No, Beau. I wouldn't. Because I'm not here to judge you. That's not my job. I'm here for only one thing.”

“Jesus?” Beau said. David smiled and winked.

He walked to the National Geographic map of the world mounted on the wall. “You guys know about Genghis Khan?” he asked. “Genghis was a man with a vision. He conquered”—David stood on the couch under the map, tracing, with his hand, half the northern hemisphere—“nearly everything. He devastated nearly everything. His enemies? He beheaded them.” David swiped a finger across his throat. “Dop, dop, dop, dop.”

David explained that when Genghis entered a defeated city he would call in the local headman and have him stuffed into a crate. Over the crate would be spread a tablecloth, and on the tablecloth would be spread a wonderful meal. “And then, while the man suffocated, Genghis ate, and he didn't even hear the man's screams.” David still stood on the couch, a finger in the air. “Do you know what that means?” He was thinking of Christ's parable of the wineskins. “You can't pour new into old,” David said, returning to his chair. “We elect our leaders. Jesus elects his.”

He reached over and squeezed the arm of a brother. “Isn't that great?” David said. “That's the way everything in life happens. If you're a person known to be around Jesus, you can go and do anything. And that's who you guys are. When you leave here, you're not only going to know the value of Jesus, you're going to know the people who rule the world. It's about vision. 'Get your vision straight, then relate.' Talk to the people who rule the world, and help them obey. Obey Him. If I obey Him myself, I help others do the same. You know why? Because I become a warning. We become a warning. We warn everybody that the future king is coming. Not just of this country or that, but of the world.” Then he pointed at the map, toward the Khan's vast, reclaimable empire.

* * *
One night I asked Josh, a brother from Atlanta who was hoping to do mission work overseas, if I could look at some materials the Family had given him. “Man, I'd love to share them with you,” he said, and retrieved from his bureau drawer two folders full of documents. While my brothers slept, I sat at the end of our long, oak dining table and copied them into my notebook.

In a document entitled “Our Common Agreement as a Core Group,” members of the Family are instructed to form a “core group,” or a “cell,” which is defined as “a publicly invisible but privately identifiable group of companions.” 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.”

Another document, “Thoughts and Principles of the Family,” sets forth political guidelines, such as

21. We recognize the place and responsibility of national secular leaders in the work of advancing His kingdom.

23. To the world in general we will say that we are “in Christ” rather than “Christian”—“Christian” having become a political term in most of the world and in the United States a meaningless term.

24. We desire to see a leadership led by God—leaders of all levels of society who direct projects as they are led by the spirit.

and self-examination questions:

4. Do I give only verbal assent to the policies of the family or am I a partner in seeking the mind of the Lord?

7. Do I agree with and practice the financial precepts of the family?4

13. Am I willing to work without human recognition?

When the group is ready, “Thoughts on a Core Group” explains, it can set to work:

After being together for a while, in this closer relationship, God will give you more insight into your own geographical area and your sphere of influence—make your opportunities a matter of prayer.

. . . The primary purpose of a core group is not to become an “action group,” but an invisible “believing group.” However, activity normally grows out of agreements reached in faith and in prayer around the person of Jesus Christ.

Long-term goals were best summarized in a document called “Youth Corps Vision.” Another Family project, Youth Corps distributes pleasant brochures featuring endorsements from political leaders—among them Tsutomu Hata, a former prime minister of Japan, former secretary of state James Baker, and Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda—and full of enthusiastic rhetoric about helping young people to learn the principles of leadership. The word “Jesus” is unmentioned in the brochure.

But “Youth Corps Vision,” which is intended only for members of the Family (“it's kinda secret,” Josh cautioned me), is more direct.

The Vision is to mobilize thousands of young people world wide—committed to principle precepts, and person of Jesus Christ. . . .

A group of highly dedicated individuals who are united together having a total commitment to use their lives to daily seek to mature into people who talk like Jesus, act like Jesus, think like Jesus. This group will have the responsibility to:

—see that the commitment and action is maintained to the overall vision;

—see that the finest and best invisible organization is developed and maintained at all levels of the work;

—even though the structure is hidden, see that the family atmosphere is maintained, so that all people can feel a part of the family.

Another document—“Regional Reports, January 3, 2002”—lists some of the nations where Youth Corps programs are already in operation: Russia, Ukraine, Romania, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Nepal, Bhutan, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru. Youth Corps is, in many respects, a more aggressive version of Young Life, a better-known network of Christian youth groups that entice teenagers with parties and sports, and only later work Jesus into the equation. Most of my American brothers at Ivanwald had been among Young Life's elite, and many had returned to Young Life during their college summers to work as counselors. Youth Corps, whose programs are often centered around Ivanwald-style houses, prepares the best of its recruits for positions of power in business and government abroad. The goal: “Two hundred national and international world leaders bound together relationally by a mutual love for God and the family.”

* * *
Between 1984 and 1992 the Fellowship Foundation consigned 592 boxes—decades of the Family's letters, sermons, minutes, Christmas cards, travel itineraries, and lists of members—to an archive at the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College in Illinois. Until I visited last fall, the archive had gone largely unexamined.

The Family was founded in April 1935 by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant who made his living as a traveling preacher. One night, while lying in bed fretting about socialists, Wobblies, and a Swedish Communist who, he was sure, planned to bring Seattle under the control of Moscow, Vereide received a visitation: a voice, and a light in the dark, bright and blinding. The next day he met a friend, a wealthy businessman and former major, and the two men agreed upon a spiritual plan. They enlisted nineteen business executives in a weekly breakfast meeting and together they prayed, convinced that Jesus alone could redeem Seattle and crush the radical unions. They wanted to give Jesus a vessel, and so they asked God to raise up a leader. One of their number, a city councilman named Arthur Langlie, stood and said, “I am ready to let God use me.” Langlie was made first mayor and later governor, backed in both campaigns by money and muscle from his prayer-breakfast friends, whose number had rapidly multiplied.5 Vereide and his new brothers spread out across the Northwest in chauffeured vehicles (a $20,000 Dusenburg carried brothers on one mission, he boasted). “Men,” wrote Vereide, “thus quickened.” Prayer breakfast groups were formed in dozens of cities, from San Francisco to Philadelphia. There were already enough men ministering to the down-and-out, Vereide had decided; his mission field would be men with the means to seize the world for God. Vereide called his potential flock of the rich and powerful, those in need only of the “real” Jesus, the “up-and-out.”

Vereide arrived in Washington, D.C., on September 6, 1941, as the guest of a man referred to only as “Colonel Brindley.” “Here I am finally,” he wrote to his wife, Mattie, who remained in Seattle. “In a day or two—many will know that I am in town and by God's grace it will hum.” Within weeks he had held his first D.C. prayer meeting, attended by more than a hundred congressmen. By 1943, now living in a suite at Colonel Brindley's University Club, Vereide was an insider. “My what a full and busy day!” he wrote to Mattie on January 22.

The Vice President brought me to the Capitol and counseled with me regarding the programs and plans, and then introduced me to Senator [Ralph Owen] Brewster, who in turn to Senator [Harold Hitz] Burton—then planned further the program [of a prayer breakfast] and enlisted their cooperation. Then to the Supreme Court for visits with some of them . . . then back to the Senate, House. . . . The hand of the Lord is upon me. He is leading.

By the end of the war, nearly a third of U.S. senators attended one of his weekly prayer meetings.

In 1944, Vereide had foreseen what he called “the new world order.” “Upon the termination of the war there will be many men available to carry on,” Vereide wrote in a letter to his wife. “Now the ground-work must be laid and our leadership brought to face God in humility, prayer and obedience.” He began organizing prayer meetings for delegates to the United Nations, at which he would instruct them in God's plan for rebuilding from the wreckage of the war. Donald Stone, a high-ranking administrator of the Marshall Plan, joined the directorship of Vereide's organization. In an undated letter, he wrote Vereide that he would “soon begin a tour around the world for the [Marshall Plan], combining with this a spiritual mission.” In 1946, Vereide, too, toured the world, traveling with letters of introduction from a half dozen senators and representatives, and from Paul G. Hoffman, the director of the Marshall Plan. He traveled also with a mandate from General John Hildring, assistant secretary of state, to oversee the creation of a list of good Germans of “the predictable type” (many of whom, Vereide believed, were being held for having “the faintest connection” with the Nazi regime), who could be released from prison “to be used, according to their ability in the tremendous task of reconstruction.” Vereide met with Jewish survivors and listened to their stories, but he nevertheless considered ex-Nazis well suited for the demands of “strong” government, so long as they were willing to worship Christ as they had Hitler.

In 1955, Senator Frank Carlson, a close adviser to Eisenhower and an even closer associate of Vereide's, convened a meeting at which he declared the Family's mission to be a “worldwide spiritual offensive,” in which common cause would be made with anyone opposed to the Soviet Union. That same year, the Family financed an anti-Communist propaganda film, Militant Liberty, for use by the Defense Department in influencing opinion abroad. By the Kennedy era, the spiritual offensive had fronts on every continent but Antarctica (which Family missionaries would not visit until the 1980s). In 1961, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia deeded the Family a prime parcel in downtown Addis Ababa to serve as an African headquarters, and by then the Family also had powerful friends in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. Back home, Senator Strom Thurmond prepared several reports for Vereide concerning the Senate's deliberations. Former president Eisenhower, Doug Coe would later claim at a private meeting of politicians, once pledged secret operatives to aid the Family's operations. Even in Franco's Spain, Vereide once boasted at a prayer breakfast in 1965, “there are secret cells such as the American Embassy [and] the Standard Oil office [that allow us] to move practically anywhere.”

By the late sixties, Vereide's speeches to local prayer breakfast groups had become minor news events, and Family members' travels on behalf of Christ had attracted growing press attention. Vereide began to worry that the movement he had spent his life building might become just another political party. In 1966, a few years before he was “promoted” to heaven at age eighty-four, Vereide wrote a letter declaring it time to “submerge the institutional image of [the Family].” No longer would the Family recruit its powerful members in public, nor recruit so many. “There has always been one man,” wrote Vereide, “or a small core who have caught the vision for their country and become aware of what a 'leadership led by God' could mean spiritually to the nation and to the world. . . . It is these men, banded together, who can accomplish the vision God gave me years ago.”

* * *
Two weeks into my stay, Bengt announced to the brothers that he was applying to graduate school. He had chosen a university close enough to commute from the house, with a classics program he hoped would complement (maybe even renew, he told me privately) his relationship with Christ. After dinner every night he would disappear into the little office beside his upstairs bunk room to compose his statement of purpose on the house's one working computer.

Knowing I was a writer, he eventually gave me the essay to read. We sat down in Ivanwald's “office,” a room barely big enough for the two of us. We crossed our legs in opposite directions so as not to knock knees.

My formal education has been a progression from confusion and despair to hope, the essay began. Its story hewed to the familiar fundamentalist routine of lost and found: every man and woman a sinner, fallen but nonetheless redeemed. And yet Bengt's sins were not of the flesh but of the mind. In college he had abandoned his boyhood ambition of becoming a doctor to study philosophy: Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Hegel. Raised in the faith, his ideas about God crumbled before the disciplined rage of the philosophers. “I cut and ran,” he told me. To Africa, where by day he worked on ships and in clinics, and by night read Dostoevsky and the Bible, its darkest and most seductive passages: Lamentations, Job, the Song of Songs. These authors were alike, his essay observed: They wrote about [suffering] like a companion.

I looked up. “A double,” I said, remembering Dostoevsky's alter egos.

Bengt nodded. “You know how you can stare at something for a long time and not see it the way it really is? That's what scripture had been to me.” Through Dostoevsky he began to see the Old Testament for what it is: relentless in its horror, its God a fire, a whirlwind, a “bear, lying in wait,” “a lion in secret places.” Even worse is its Man: a rapist, a murderer, a wretched thief, a fool.

“But,” said Bengt, “that's not how it ends.”

Bengt meant Jesus. I thought of the end of The Brothers Karamazov: the saintly Alyosha, leading a pack of boys away from a funeral to feast on pancakes, everyone clapping hands and proclaiming eternal brotherhood. In Africa, Bengt had seen people who were diseased, starving, trapped by war, but who seemed nonetheless to experience joy. Bengt recalled listening to a group of starving men play the drums. “Doubt,” he said, “is just a prelude to joy.”

I had heard this before from mainstream Christians, but I suspected Bengt meant it differently. A line in Dostoevsky's The Possessed reminded me of him: when the conservative nationalist Shatov asks Stavrogin, the cold-hearted radical, “Wasn't it you who said that even if it was proved to you mathematically that the Truth was outside Christ, you would prefer to remain with Christ outside the Truth?” Stavrogin, who refuses to be cornered, denies it.

“Exactly,” Bengt said. In Africa he had seen the trappings of Christianity fall away. All that remained was Christ. “You can't argue with absolute power.”

I put the essay down. Bengt nudged it back into my hands. “I want to know what you think of my ending.”

As I have read more about Jesus, it ran, I have also been intrigued by his style of interaction with other people. He was fascinated in particular by an encounter in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 35–39, in which Jesus asks two men why they are following him. In turn, the men ask where Jesus is staying, to which he replies, “Come and see.” I am not sure how Jesus asks the question, Bengt had concluded, but from the response, it seems like he is asking, “What do you desire?”

“That's what it's about,” Bengt said. “Desire.” He shifted in his chair. “Think about it: 'What do you desire?'”



“That's the answer?” I asked.

“He's the question,” Bengt retorted, half-smiling, satisfied with his inversion by which doubt became the essence of a dogma. God was just what Bengt desired Him to be, even as Bengt was, in the face of God, “nothing.” Not for aesthetics alone, I realized, did Bengt and the Family reject the label “Christian.” Their faith and their practice seemed closer to a perverted sort of Buddhism, their God outside “the truth,” their Christ everywhere and nowhere at once, His commands phrased as questions, His will as simple to divine as one's own desires. And what the Family desired, from Abraham Vereide to Doug Coe to Bengt, was power, worldly power, with which Christ's kingdom can be built, cell by cell.

* * *
Not long after our conversation, Bengt put a bucket beside the toilet in the downstairs bunk room. From now on, he announced, all personal items left in the living room would go into the bucket. “If you're missing anything, guys,” Bengt said over dinner, “look in the bucket.”

I looked in the bucket. Here's what I found: One pair of flip-flops. One pocket-sized edition of the sayings of Jesus. One Frisbee. One copy of Executive Orders, by Tom Clancy, hardcover. One brown-leather Bible, well worn, beautifully printed on onion skin, given to Bengt Carlson by Palmer Carlson. One pair of dirty underwear.

When I picked up the Bible the pages flipped open to the Gospel of John, and my eyes fell on a single underlined phrase, chapter 15, verse 3: “You are already clean.”

* * *
Whenever a sufficiently large crop of God's soldiers was bunked up at Ivanwald, Doug Coe made a point of stopping by for dinner. Doug was, in spirit, Christ's closest disciple, the master bumper; the brothers viewed his visit as far more important than that of any senator or prime minister. The night he joined us he wore a crisply pressed golf shirt and dark slacks, and his skin was well tanned. He brought a guest with him, an Albanian politician whose pale face and ill-fitting gray suit made Doug seem all the more radiant. In his early seventies, Doug could have passed for fifty: his hair was dark, his cheeks taut. His smile was like a lantern.

“Where,” Doug asked Rogelio, “are you from, in Paraguay?”

“Asunción,” he said.

Doug smiled. “I've visited there many times.” He chewed for a while. “Asunción. A Latin leader was assassinated there twenty years ago. A Nicaraguan. Does anybody know who it was?”

I waited for someone to speak, but no one did. “Somoza,” I said. The dictator overthrown by the Sandinistas.

“Somoza,” Doug said, his eyes sweeping back to me. “An interesting man.”

Doug stared. I stared back. “I liked to visit him,” Doug said. “A very bad man, behind his machine guns.” He smiled like he was going to laugh, but instead he moved his fork to his mouth. “And yet,” he said, a bite poised at the tip of his tongue, “he had a heart for the poor.” Doug stared. I stared back.

“Do you ever think about prayer?” he asked. But the question wasn't for me. It wasn't for anyone. Doug was preparing a parable.

There was a man he knew, he said, who didn't really believe in prayer. So Doug made him a bet. If this man would choose something and pray for it for forty-five days, every day, he wagered God would make it so. It didn't matter whether the man believed. It wouldn't have mattered whether he was a Christian. All that mattered was the fact of prayer. Every day. Forty-five days. He couldn't lose, Doug told the man. If Jesus didn't answer his prayers, Doug would pay him $500.

“What should I pray for?” the man asked.

“What do you think God would like you to pray for?” Doug asked him.

“I don't know,” said the man. “How about Africa?”

“Good,” said Doug. “Pick a country.”

“Uganda,” the man said, because it was the only one he could remember.

“Fine,” Doug told him. “Every day, for forty-five days, pray for Uganda. God please help Uganda. God please help Uganda.”

On the thirty-second day, Doug told us, this man met a woman from Uganda. She worked with orphans. Come visit, she told the man, and so he did, that very weekend. And when he came home, he raised a million dollars in donated medicine for the orphans. “So you see,” Doug told him, “God answered your prayers. You owe me $500.”

There was more. After the man had returned to the United States, the president of Uganda called the man at his home and said, “I am making a new government. Will you help me make some decisions?”

“So,” Doug told us, “my friend said to the president, 'Why don't you come and pray with me in America? I have a good group of friends—senators, congressmen—who I like to pray with, and they'd like to pray with you.' And that president came to The Cedars, and he met Jesus. And his name is Yoweri Museveni, and he is now the president of all the presidents in Africa. And he is a good friend of the Family.”

“That's awesome,” Beau said.

“Yes,” Doug said, “it's good to have friends. Do you know what a difference a friend can make? A friend you can agree with?” He smiled. “Two or three agree, and they pray? They can do anything. Agree. Agreement. What's that mean?” Doug looked at me. “You're a writer. What does that mean?”

I remembered Paul's letter to the Philippians, which we had begun to memorize. Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded.

“Unity,” I said. “Agreement means unity.”

Doug didn't smile. “Yes,” he said. “Total unity. Two, or three, become one. Do you know,” he asked, “that there's another word for that?”

No one spoke.

“It's called a covenant. Two, or three, agree? They can do anything. A covenant is . . . powerful. Can you think of anyone who made a covenant with his friends?”

We all knew the answer to this, having heard his name invoked numerous times in this context. Andrew from Australia, sitting beside Doug, cleared his throat: “Hitler.”

“Yes,” Doug said. “Yes, Hitler made a covenant. The Mafia makes a covenant. It is such a very powerful thing. Two, or three, agree.” He took another bite from his plate, planted his fork on its tines. “Well, guys,” he said, “I gotta go.”

As Doug Coe left, my brothers' hearts were beating hard: for the poor, for a covenant. “Awesome,” Bengt said. We stood to clear our dishes.

* * *

On one of my last nights at Ivanwald, the neighborhood boys asked my brothers and me to play. There were roughly six boys, ranging in age from maybe seven to eleven, all junior members of the Family. They wanted to play flashlight tag. It was balmy, and the streetlight glittered against the blacktop, and hiding places beckoned from behind trees and in bushes. One of the boys began counting, and my brothers, big and small, scattered. I lay flat on a hillside. From there I could track movement in the shadows and smell the mint leaves planted in the garden. A figure approached and I sprang up and ran, down the sidewalk and up through the garden, over a wall that my pursuer, a small boy, had trouble climbing. But once he was over he kept charging, and just as I was about to vanish into the trees his flashlight caught me. “Jeff I see you you're It!” the boy cried. I stopped and turned, and he kept the beam on me. Blinded, I could hear only the slap of his sneakers as he ran across the driveway toward me. “Okay, dude,” he whispered, and turned off the flashlight. I recognized him as little Stevie, whose drawing of a machine gun we had posted in our bunk room. He handed the flashlight to me, spun around, started to run, then stopped and looked over his shoulder. “You're It now,” he whispered, and disappeared into the dark.



1. The Los Angeles Times reported in September that the Fellowship Foundation alone has an annual budget of $10 million, but that represents only a fraction of the Family's finances. Each of the Family's organizations raises funds independently. Ivanwald, for example, is financed at least in part by an entity called the Wilberforce Foundation. Other projects are financed by individual “friends”: wealthy businessmen, foreign governments, church congregations, or mainstream foundations that may be unaware of the scope of the Family's activities. At Ivanwald, when I asked to what organization a donation check might be made, I was told there was none; money was raised on a “man-to-man” basis. Major Family donors named by the Times include Michael Timmis, a Detroit lawyer and Republican fund-raiser; Paul Temple, a private investor from Maryland; and Jerome A. Lewis, former CEO of the Petro-Lewis Corporation.

2. According to the Los Angeles Times, congressmen who have lived there include Rep. Mike Doyle (D., Pa.), former Rep. Ed Bryant (R., Tenn.), and former Rep. John Elias Baldacci (D., Maine). The house's eight congressman-tenants each pay $600 per month in rent for use of a town house that includes nine bathrooms and five living rooms. When the Times asked then-resident Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) about the property, he replied, “We sort of don't talk to the press about the house.”

3. Gannon worked for Senator Don Nickles, then the second-ranking Republican. The man who oversaw Ivanwald and interviewed us for admission was a lawyer named Steve South, who formerly had been Senator Nickles's chief counsel and was still a close associate.

4. The Family's “financial precepts” apparently amount to the practice of soliciting funds only privately, and often indirectly. This may also refer to what some members call “biblical capitalism,” the belief that God's economics are laissez-faire.

5. As Vereide recounted in a 1961 biography, Modern Viking, one union boss joined the group, proclaiming that the prayer movement would make unions obsolete. He said, “'I got down on my knees and asked God to forgive me . . . for I have been a disturbing factor and a thorn in Your flesh.'” A “rugged capitalist who had been the chairman of the employers' committee in the big strike” put his left hand on the labor leader's shoulder and said, “'Jimmy, on this basis we go on together.'”
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Re: The Fellowship (Christian organization), by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:45 pm

Following up on “The Family”: Six Questions for Jeff Sharlet
by Bill Wasik
June 2, 2008



Jeff Sharlet is a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. His first story for the magazine, “Jesus Plus Nothing,” appeared in March 2003, and five years later it has grown into a book, entitled The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Senior Editor Bill Wasik recently asked Sharlet six questions about his original piece and what he has learned since then.

1. Your exposé on The Fellowship, aka “The Family,” appeared five years ago. Has your understanding of the group changed?

When I was working on that story, I remember debating how much Hitler we should put in the piece. That is, we wondered how fair it was to dwell on The Family’s invocations of Hitler as a model of “total commitment.” As it turns out, it was quite fair. After I left Ivanwald, a team of researchers and I spent years combing through hundreds of thousands of documents in archives around the country. We discovered that as far back as the 1940s, when The Family began organizing congressmen, the group’s founder, Abraham Vereide, was praising Hitler’s “youth work” as a model to be adopted by Americans. He denounced Hitler himself, but he admired fascism’s cultivation of elites, crucial to what he saw as a God-ordained coming “age of minority control.”

The Family has put that concept, which they call “Jesus plus nothing,” into action for decades, from their early successes fighting the New Deal in the 1930s and 40s to their recruitment of war criminals such as Herman J. Abs, known as “Hitler’s banker,” into postwar European leadership, to their facilitation of U.S. support for dictators ranging from Papa Doc Duvalier of Haiti to Suharto of Indonesia to Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, now their “key man” for Africa. The fetish for strongman leadership has continued with Vereide’s successor, Doug Coe, who leads the group today. Throughout his letters in the Billy Graham Center Archive at Wheaton College, I found references to the leadership model of Hitler. In one sermon, variations of which he’s given many times, Coe says: “Jesus said ‘You got to put Him before mother-father-brother-sister.’ Hitler, Lenin, Mao, that’s what they taught the kids. Mao even had the kids killing their own mother and father. But it wasn’t murder. It was for building the new nation. The new kingdom.”

2. Given the unbelievable amount of influence brokered by the Fellowship Foundation, and by Doug Coe, why have so few national media outlets have picked up on the story?

The problem is that we just don’t have a press that really wants to challenge power on issues they consider “personal.” Speaking at the 1985 Prayer Breakfast, Ronald Reagan said, “I wish I could say more about it, but it’s working precisely because it’s private.” That should have been an invitation for investigative reporting. Instead, the media, then and now, tends to acquiesce to elite secretiveness, not out of any conspiracy, but due to a culture of reverence for established power, liberal or conservative. Most journalists believe in meritocracy—not merely that it’s a good idea, but that it actually exists. They know some politicians game the system, but they’re committed to the idea that the system basically works. And it does, but not in favor of democracy.

3. It seems like the National Prayer Breakfast, which The Family administers, is a big part of why the press doesn’t pick up on the story. It seems inconceivable that a group that attracts so many powerful public figures from around the world to its annual event could be up to anything untoward.

It’s the Family’s only public event, but the few hours that the press is allowed to attend are the dullest thing imaginable, the blandest kind of ecumenical civil religion, with the main address presented by some figure distinct from the Christian Right—Joe Lieberman, or the Saudi Prince Bandar, or even Bono. How threatening is that? But internal documents tell a different story. “Anything could happen,” reads one, “the Koran could even be read, but JESUS is there. He is infiltrating the world.”

4. What happened to the young men featured in “Jesus Plus Nothing”? In the article, we get the sense that they are being groomed for leadership, both in the Family and in the world.

The man who introduced me to The Family returned to a successful financial career. He’s not a boldfaced name, but he’s doing well, and The Family has always understood that there’s a lot of power to be found in the ranks of middle management, the men and (a few) women who actually do most of the work.

Gannon Sims went on to work as a State Department spokesman, and now he’s training for a pulpit. One of the brothers called me after the story appeared in Harper’s. To be honest, I’d hoped that they’d be as dismayed as I was to learn what The Family was really up to, but this brother—who asked that he not be identified—said, “I hope you don’t think I didn’t know all that.” That is, he’d known about The Family’s role in propping up dictators around the world, and he was just fine with it.  

In the book, I tell the story of another former Ivanwalder named Greg Unumb, now an executive with Pride Foramer, a division of the oil drilling company Pride International that takes care of business in Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Angola, and India. Greg had once held Bengt’s position, as leader of Ivanwald. “What’s secret is the top guys working with the leadership,” he told me. “It’s not unlike a business. Business is a network. This is a Christian network, with a few people running it. There are two types of people at Ivanwald. Sharp guys with leadership potential, and problem kids. The sharp ones use Ivanwald to build their network. If they do become successful, there’s an emphasis on maintaining contact.” And here was Greg, contacting me.

As for myself, I also tell the story of a woman I call “Kate,” who claimed to be a fan. She turned out to be a sister in The Family, this young, good-looking woman who had been sent, she said, by the Coes to “learn my heart.” That was sweeter than the response from former Senator Dan Coats, who as ambassador to Germany killed funds for a speaking gig I had in a series usually paid for by the U.S. embassy. Fortunately, my hosts, the University of Potsdam, made up the difference. They also told me that Coats had declared me “an enemy of Jesus.”

5. I remember that when you were writing “Jesus Plus Nothing,” the themes of secrecy and betrayal loomed very large in your mind. The Family was a self-avowedly secret group, engaged in essentially subversive acts of behind-the-scenes power-brokering. And you, meanwhile, were learning all this undercover, fully prepared to betray these young men with whom you lived. How do you look back on that betrayal?

I used my real name, I took notes openly, I told them I was a journalist and that I was working on a book (my first), about unusual religious communities around the country. I told them the title, too, Killing the Buddha. Maybe they thought I meant it literally. Regardless, they had a pretty full dossier on me. I even talked about writing and betrayal with them—I tend to agree with Joan Didion’s assessment that “writers are always selling somebody out.” It’s inherent in the process. “Undercover” is a funny word, in that many people think it means the journalist has some kind of secret identity, maybe a fake mustache. I didn’t—it wasn’t necessary. The Family couldn’t imagine that someone might learn to speak their language without sharing their beliefs.

That sentiment is reflected in a letter I found in The Family’s archive, from an inner circle leader to a South African operative. “The Movement,” he writes, “is simply inexplicable to people who are not intimately acquainted with it.” The Family’s political initiatives, he goes on, “have always been misunderstood by ‘outsiders.’” Then he talks about how whole projects have been hurt when Family members leak information to the public. “Thus,” he writes, in conclusion, “I would urge you not to put on paper anything relating to any of the work that you are doing… [unless] you know the recipient well enough to put at the top of the page, ‘PLEASE DESTROY AFTER READING.’”

This is one of my favorite documents out of the hundreds of thousands I reviewed because A, it’s funny—the recipient immediately wrote back to say that he understood and he’d made multiple copies of the letter for all of his associates, one of which I now have; B, it reveals the sense of persecution and victimhood which undergirds so much of that culture of secrecy on the right.

This secrecy is pragmatic—“The more you can make your organization invisible,” preaches Doug Coe, “the more influence it will have”—but it’s also a way for these very influential people to conceive of themselves as akin to the Christians of the first century, struggling nobly against a dominant culture of secularism. Family members imagine themselves as revolutionaries, even as they function as defenders of status quo power.

That kind of self-deception allows a writer only two real responses—deference, or betrayal.

6. So is your book a betrayal?

According to their belief in themselves as a “new chosen,” an anointed elite that have replaced the Jews in God’s esteem, I am still a member of The Family. And yet here I am, baring their secrets to the world. Does that make me a journalist, or a traitor? You need to enter the moral gray zone between those two terms if you’re going to really explore the inner workings of power. You have to be an insider and an outsider at the same time.

I remember one day Jeff C., one of the house leaders, said, “You oughtta write a book about us. But nobody would believe it.” It was like he was daring me, but he felt safe doing so because he didn’t think the truths of The Family would translate to the outside world. They believe Christ had one message for those closest to him, and then another, diluted message for the rest of the twelve, and so on out to the masses.

One of the brothers called me up after we published “Jesus Plus Nothing” to explain to me that they weren’t upset by the details of what I’d written, all of which he thought were more or less accurate, but by the fact that I’d written anything at all. That, he said, was the betrayal—telling the truth about The Family.
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