"Jesus didn't come to take sides. He came to take over." Senator Mark Pryor, Arkansas Democrat.
Listening to Fresh Air on November 24 and its disturbing interview with Jeff Sharlet turned my thoughts to the struggle between Gov. Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush's anointed one, for the next US Senator in Florida. Sharlet has done extensive research on "The Family"; an ultra-right wing group of Christian leaders exempt from Jesus' guidance to ordinary mortals. (Locally, Fresh Air with Terry Gross can be heard on NPR affiliate, WLRN.)
Sharlet writes on Salon, earlier this year: "If sexual license was all the Family offered the C Street men, however, that would merely be seedy and self-serving. But Family men are more than hypocritical. They're followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to "advance the Kingdom." They say they're working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. Sexual peccadilloes aside, the Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn't registered as a lobby -- and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy."
The Fresh Air interview opens: "The fundamentalist group The Family has operated secretively with the help of influential congressmen and senators who are members of the group to promote their anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-free-market ideas in America and other parts of the world, but two sex scandals involving people connected with The Family -Nevada Senator John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford - have brought public attention to the group." (You can buy Sharlet's book, "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power", here.)
I have not paid much attention to right-wing radicals wrapped in the teachings of Jesus but that has changed. "The Family" is straight out of the Illuminati, Opus Dei and other uses of Christian sects to cover up the sins of leaders whose work is too important to be bridled by ordinary limits on behavior. As I was listening to the Fresh Air episode, suddenly the right wing antipathy to Charlie Crist, who is running for US Senate against Marco Rubio, became clear. If Crist was merely hiding an affair with a female staffer that would be allowable. But Crist-- conservatives believe-- is a closeted gay, and that is a cardinal sin.
Wikipedia: "Author Jeff Sharlet did intensive research in the Family's archives, before the Family archives were closed to the public. He also spent a month in 2003 living at a Fellowship house near Washington, and wrote a magazine article describing his experiences. In his 2008 book about the Family, he criticizes their theology as elitist, 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 criticizes their theology of instant forgiveness for powerful men as providing a convenient excuse so that elites who commit misdeeds or crimes can avoid accepting responsibility or accountability for their actions."
One of Sharlet's revelations is the work of "The Family" in promoting a new moral code and laws in Uganda, of all places, where a dictator has proven amenable to a legal code that includes the death penalty for homosexuality. It made me wonder if Jeb Bush's foray into water pump sales in Africa in the late 1980's put him in touch with the Uganda outpost of "The Family".
Then, there is the odd business of Jeb handing his sword to Marco Rubio as the former governor began his final lap with the Florida legislature. He called the sword his "mystical warrior" and of use in "unleashing Chang". A blogger notes the origination of the myth in the Bush family, relating to a former Chinese strong man, Chiang Kai-Shek, who fits right in the family mold.
Sharlet notes that Grace Nelson, wife of Democratic US Senator Bill Nelson, is closely allied with Family organized prayer groups putting aside partisan bickering-- the thinking goes-- in order to advance a conservative belief system grounded in Christ's teachings.
Most voters have no idea about this powerful organizing tool of the radical right. We should know, though, what is Marco Rubio's relation to The Family.