Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton And The Fellowship Of The Political Ring

Image Source: Reuters/David Becker
Brandon Turbeville
May 10, 2016

In the beginning of their article “Hillary’s Prayer: Hillary Clinton’s Religion and Politics,” Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet ask the pertinent question “For 15 years, Hillary Clinton has been part of a secretive religious group that seeks to bring Jesus back to Capitol Hill. Is she triangulating—or living her faith?”[1]

The answer is simple: Hillary Clinton is triangulating.

However, there is much more to The Fellowship than mere political posturing or the courting of conservative Christians.

The Fellowship, also known as The Family or International Foundation, is a religious and political organization created in 1935 by Abraham Vereide. The organization claims its mission is to provide a “fellowship forum” for “decision makers” to get together and take part in prayer meetings, Bible studies, worship, and otherwise fellowship with one another.[2]

However, the organization – made up of mostly of politicians, corporate executives and CEOs, directors of “humanitarian aid” organizations, religious leaders, both foreign and domestic– is incredibly secret.[3] In fact, the Family members adhere to a code of silence regarding the organization towards outsiders.[4]

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. Yet there is ample evidence that the organization is not focused on Christian spirituality but in influencing foreign, domestic, and economic policy as well as facilitating cooperation and coordination between the movers and shakers of the political world along with the movers and shakers of the religious industry.[5]

As Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart Of American Power, describes The Fellowship,

The Family is the oldest and arguably most influential religious conservative organization in Washington, a “brotherhood” comprised mostly of politicians such as Senator Jim Inhofe, Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Sam Brownback, Senator Jim DeMint, and, now infamously, Senator John Ensign, Governor Mark Sanford, and former congressman Chip Pickering, all of whom turned to The Family to help cover up sex scandals this past summer. The reason you may not have heard about the group is that it doesn’t want you to hear about it—“the more invisible you can make your organization,” preaches leader Doug Coe, “the more influence it will have.” They’re not the only group in Washington that keeps a low profile, but it’s the nature of their influence that’s really noteworthy: some congressmen call it simply personal and thus private, but nearly 600 boxes of documents stored at the Billy Graham Center Archive reveals decades of intense political work around foreign and economic affairs.

One need only read Sharlet’s book and his subsequent interviews to uncover the names of many of the members of The Fellowship. Needless to say, the organization is made up of notorious Wall Street puppets and warmongers in American politics.

Enter Hillary Clinton.

Joyce and Sharlet wrote for Mother Jones that Clinton “has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship. Her collaborations with right-wingers such as Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) grow in part from that connection.”[6]

Sharlet summarizes much of Hillary’s connection to The Family in his book. He writes,

In her memoir Living History, Hillary describes her first encounter with the Family. It was at a lunch organized on her behalf in February 1993 at the Cedars, “an estate on the Potomac that serves as the headquarters for the National Prayer Breakfast and the prayer groups it has spawned around the world. 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 with God.” Or with the kind of politically useful friends one might not make otherwise. For the eight years she lived at the White House, Clinton met regularly with a gathering of political ladies who lunch: wives of powerful men from both parties, women who put aside political differences to seek – for themselves, for their husbands’ careers – an even greater power. Among Clinton’s prayer partners were Susan Baker, the wife of Bush consigliere James and a board member of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family; Joanne Kemp, the wife of conservative icon Jack, responsible for introducing the political theology of fundamentalist guru Francis Schaeffer to Washington, Eileen Bakke, an activist for charter schools based on “character” and the wife of Dennis Bakke, then CEO of AES, one of the world’s largest power companies; and Grace Nelson, the wife of Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Florida Democrat. The women sent her daily scripture verses to study, and Baker, the wife of one of the Republican Party’s most cutthroat strategists, provided Hillary with spiritual counsel during “political storms.”

. . . . .

Liberals, says Clinton’s prayer partner Grace Nelson, are welcome in the Family so long as they submit to “the person of Jesus.” Jesus, not ideology, “is what gives us power.” But the Jesus preached by the Family is ideology personified. For all of the Family’s talk of Jesus as a person, he remains oddly abstract in the teachings they derive from him, a mix of “free market” economics, aggressive American internationalism, and “leadership” as a fetishized term for power, a good in itself regardless of its ends. By eschewing the politics of the moment – party loyalties and culture wars – Family cells cultivate an ethos of elite unity that allows long-term political transformation, whereby political rivals aren’t flipped but won over gradually through Fellowship with former enemies, as in the case of former Representative Tony Hall. 
Hall, one of the few Democrats appointed by Bush in his first term (he was made ambassador to the UN for hunger issues, a position he used to push the Monsanto corporation’s genetically modified crops onto African nations) was brought into the Family in the 1980s by Jerry Regier, an ultra-right Reagan administration official in the Department of Health and Human services who went on to work with James Dobson. Upon his conversion, Hall abandoned his liberal social views and became a vocal opponent of abortion and, eventually, same-sex marriage. He also championed a bill establishing a National Day of Prayer with an event at the White House organized by Dobson’s wife, Shirley. But he didn’t switch parties, and the Family would never ask him to. Hall isn’t a Republican; he’s a Democrat who called on his fellow party members to follow President Bush’s example by injecting more religion into their rhetoric. Hillary did just that in 2007, boasting of the “prayer warriors” who carried her through Bill’s infidelities, a bit of spiritual warfare jargon instantly recognizable to evangelicals who worried about her feminism. 
The Family wants to “transcend” left and right with a faith that consumes politics, replacing fundamental differences with the unity to be found in submission to religious authority. Conservatives sit pretty in prayer and wait for liberals looking for “common ground” to come looking for them in search of compromise. Hillary, Rob Schenck noted, became a regular visitor to the Family’s C Street House in 2005. “She needs that nucleus of energy that the Coe camp produces.” That summer, she appeared as part of a threesome that shocked old school fundamentalists: Bill, Hillary, and Billy, live in New York for Graham’s last crusade. Before tens of thousands, the patriarch of Christian conservatism said Bill “ought to let his wife run the country.” Bonhomie and cheap blessing, maybe, but it was the kind of endorsement that Bill never won, despite Graham’s custom of speaking sweet nothings to power.[7]

Sharlet’s excellent research and his personal experiences with the Family are indispensable but they rest upon an important assumption – that the participants and members of the Family are true adherents to the Christian faith they profess. In truth, the Family is a secretive meeting group that acts as a mimicking class and religious cover for individuals who wish to use Christianity and Christian fundamentalism for political purposes or to cover up and absolve their own public misdeeds.

Sharlet quotes Rob Schenck founder of Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capitol, a branch-off of the Family, in a more revealing description of the organization. Schenck states that “you don’t want to alienate them, you don’t want to antagonize them. You need them as your friends. Even Hillary will need them. They keep a sort of cultural homeostasis in Washington. Washington right now is a town where if you’re going to be powerful, you need religion. That’s just the way it’s done.”[8]

While The Family is by no means the top of the pyramid when it comes to the guiding forces behind world or even American national politics, it does function as a regular meeting house and secret gathering hall for the worker bees of the national oligarchy to discover policy and ways to move agendas forward.

In truth, it is by no means the most powerful or the most shadowy organization that Hillary has aligned herself with or been an open participant in. After all, Hillary has attended the Bilderberg meeting and is a regular participant with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Thus, The Family can simply be listed as yet another secretive “govern under the cover of darkness” organizations of which Hillary Clinton is a part.

Brandon Turbeville’s new book, The Difference It Makes: 36 Reasons Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President is available in three different formats: Hardcopy (available here), Amazon Kindle for only .99 (available here), and a Free PDF Format (accessible free from his website, BrandonTurbeville.com).

Image Credit: Image Source: Reuters/David Becker

[1] Sharlet, Jeff; Joyce, Kathryn. “Hillary’s Prayer: Hillary Clinton’s Religion and Politics.” Mother Jones. September 1, 2007. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics Accessed on September 7, 2015.

[2] Sharlet, Jeff. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart Of American Power. Harper – Perennial. 2008

[3] Sharlet, Jeff. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart Of American Power. Harper – Perennial. 2008

[4] Roig-Franzia, Manuel. “Politician’s Scandals Elevate The Profile Of A Spiritual Haven On C Street SE.” Washington Post. June 26, 2009. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/25/AR2009062504480.html Accessed on September 7, 2015.

[5] Sharlet, Jeff. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart Of American Power. Harper-Perennial. 2008.

[6] Sharlet, Jeff; Joyce, Kathryn. “Hillary’s Prayer: Hillary Clinton’s Religion and Politics.” Mother Jones. September 1, 2007. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics Accessed on September 7, 2015.

[7] Sharlet, Jeff. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart Of American Power. Harper – Perennial. 2008 Pp. 272 – 277.

[8] Sharlet, Jeff. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart Of American Power. Harper – Perennial. 2008 P. 260.

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 650 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

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