Blowing the Lid off the Bizarre (and Frighteningly Powerful) Members of The Family

Jeff Sharlet continues his brilliant reporting on the bizarre christo-fascist cult called "the Family" which counts among its members some of the most powerful people holding elected office in the United States. How bizarre and extreme is the Family?


Attempting to explain what it means to be chosen for leadership like King David was -- or Mark Sanford, according to his own estimate -- [Doug Coe, son and heir-apparent to Family leader David Coe] asked a young man who'd put himself, body and soul, under the Family's authority, "Let's say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?" The man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. "No," answered Coe, "I wouldn't." Why? Because, as a member of the Family, he's among what Family leaders refer to as the "new chosen." If you're chosen, the normal rules don't apply.

And just who are known to be members of the Family?

Men under the Family's religio-political counsel include, in addition to [John] Ensign, [Tom] Coburn and [Chip] Pickering, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, both R-S.C.; James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Thune, R-S.D., and recent senators and high officials such as John Ashcroft, Ed Meese, Pete Domenici and Don Nickles. Over in the House there's Joe Pitts, R-Penn., Frank Wolf, R-Va., Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and John R. Carter, R-Texas. Historically, the Family has been strongly Republican, but it includes Democrats, too. There's Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, for instance, a vocal defender of putting the Ten Commandments in public places, and Sen. Mark Pryor, the pro-war Arkansas Democrat responsible for scuttling Obama's labor agenda. Sen. Pryor explained to me the meaning of bipartisanship he'd learned through the Family: "Jesus didn't come to take sides. He came to take over." And by Jesus, the Family means the Family...

The Family sponsors missions overseas

[But] the Family missionaries aren't representing the United States. They're representing "Jesus plus nothing," as Doug Coe puts it, the "totalitarianism of God," in the words of an early Family leader, a vision that encompasses not just social issues but also the kind of free-market fundamentalism that is the real object of devotion for Ensign, Coburn, Pickering, Wamp and Sanford, along with Family insiders such as Sens. DeMint, Sam Brownback and Chuck Grassley...


When they arrive in other countries, on trips paid for by the Family, at the behest of the Family, they are still traveling under official government auspices, on official business, with the pomp and circumstance -- and access -- of their taxpayer-funded, elected positions. Here's how a former National Security Council official who traveled with Family leader Doug Coe on a tour of Pacific nations described the Family effect in small nations where a visitor like John Ensign is a major event: "It reminded me of the story in World War II, where the British sent an OSS type into Borneo ... And this guy parachuted out of the sky and they had never seen anything like this so they looked on him as -- he had blonde hair and white skin and he was a white god who had come out of the sky to mobilize them. Obviously his side was going to win so they had no trouble aligning themselves."

And their megalomania knows no bounds:

Counseling Rep. Tiahrt, Doug Coe offered Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden as men whose commitment to their causes is to be emulated. Preaching on the meaning of Christ's words, he says, "You know 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."

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