Thursday, April 3, 2008

Jeff Sharlet on NBC News Tonight.

Jeff Sharlet's book, The Family, which I mention in a previous entry, was featured in a segment by Andrea Mitchell tonight on NBC Nightly News. You can view the clip here.

Jeff's been researching this book for years and knows more about their history or "works" than anyone.

The segment goes a long way in introducing the reach and duration of the organization in Washington but unfortunately doesn't hit the proper emphases that are necessary to make the public pay attention. Commonly both the media and the viewing public glaze over when religion comes up. The idea that religion is a personal issue and that religion is a good thing, bringing people under the umbrella of a loving and caring morality, make many disinterested or even overly tolerant.

This organization is Jesus to the core, but the way they use Jesus' teachings and the cover that faith plays for a more central objective of power is misleading. The current campaign climate, with discussions of Obama's pastor still whirling in heads, also drags down what I think is the central story here.

What the segment fails to do is convey the "good works around the world" that the Family is doing. Their international reach has proved disasterous in various international arenas, particularly on the African continent. Mitchell fails to look into how the organization survives financially, disregarding a lead into the story that would give it more teeth. Is Hillary Clinton a contributor? Who is contributing to The Family? How does The Family influence domestic policy? What is The Family's objective? And why all the secrecy?

Hillary's campaign is given a chance to respond to her relationship with The Family (mentioned by the former First Lady in her book) and she uses it to dig at Obama's relationship with his minister by saying, "He is not her minister", refering to Doug Coe, the central figure in the segment. Of course he isn't, she's a Methodist. Using the narrow discussion of religious influences here only distracts from the difficult-to-explain power that The Family weilds in Washington. There is a world of difference between a lone minister in a baptist church and the breadth, reach and power of this organization.

There are racial undertones to how big the Wright story was - a point that will be proven if the media and the public don't jump on Coe's Hitler and Mao stories with the same vigor.

Here are a few of the articles you can read to learn more about The Family:

Harper's, March 2003
Mother Jones, September 2007
The Nation, March 2008

You can get Jeff's book here.

For more information, google Jeff Sharlet and The Family.

If you don't read carefully, you can fall into the dismissive attitude that this all sounds crazy. You can tell yourself that in a Democracy like ours influential people are voted into power and ethically and equally represent a very diverse population that ascribes to a host of beliefs and political views. Read carefully! Our government needs a lot of light and our failure to recognize this has done a world of damage these past few decades.

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