Thursday, September 10, 2009

Opposition to Health-Care Reform Revives Christian Right

I have written about Max Blumenthal's book just a couple of days ago, and in the past I wrote about "C" Street and "The Family" the book by Jeff Sharlet who was featured on Rachel Maddow's show and writes for Harper's Magazine.

Here is a piece he did for Harper's where it is titled Six Questions for Jeff, Following up on "The Family". Some excerpts include this:

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 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.”

I am telling you, this is really scary stuff, and it just gets worse... yet these are the same people who want to call our President, Hitler? That's just a smoke screen.

In answer to a question about how he feels about the secrecy and betrayal Jeff says this:

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.

As I said, these people are scary, they are very powerful members of Congress, of big business and of "high society".

The last question, "So is your book a betrayal?" and Jeff says:

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.

That's just a part of the 6 questions that are asked of Jeff in this article.. You can click on the link above to see the full article and a quick search on Google or whatever search engine you like will find more for you.. I got 236,000 hits on my search using Google..

But, that's just one portion of the problem. There is also the other parts of the Christian Right we have to worry about.

They are the Gary Bauer's and the James Dobson's and the Liberty University portion of the debate, if you can call it that.

Washington Post had an article that detailed a good portion of it yesterday..

The Christian right, facing questions before the presidential election about its continuing potency as a force for cultural and political change, has found new life with Barack Obama in office, particularly around health care.

As the president prepares to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night to press for health-care reform, conservative Christian leaders are rallying their troops to oppose him, with online town hall meetings, church gatherings, fundraising appeals, and e-mail and social networking campaigns. FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council, has scheduled a webcast Thursday night for tens of thousands of supporters in which House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other speakers will respond to the president's health-care address.

That's just the first paragraphs.. there is much more..

Polls show that the health-care packages on the Hill are widely unpopular among evangelicals. More than seven in 10 white evangelical Protestants in the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll said they are dissatisfied or angry about the Democratic reform proposals.

A coalition of three dozen conservative Christian organizations, representing 5 million people and calling itself the Freedom Federation, announced its formation last month. It has taken on opposition to health-care reform as its first issue.

"We're not having to build a grand new organization. We're using the strengths of other organizations that understand the needs of their particular constituencies," said Mathew Staver, dean of the Liberty University School of Law and an organizer of the Freedom Federation.

Christian right leaders say it is too soon to tell whether health-care reform will trigger a flood of donations, but they are encouraged by the response they are seeing in other ways.

Gary Bauer, who heads the socially conservative group American Values, said that the list of addresses to which he sends his daily e-mail alerts was down to 170,000 and that he was getting only 50 requests a week to sign up for it before the election. Now, he said, the e-mail list is up to 225,000, and he is getting 1,000 or more requests a week asking to be added.

"The passion that was so evident in the Obama campaign right now, at least, has shifted to our side," he said.

Ok, got your attention? Read the rest at the link above.. I am telling you, we have to fight this.. If we don't get busy and call our Congress persons and get some kind of good Health Care Reform through Congress NOW, we are in for the rethugs taking back Congress and the White House.. and if that's not enough to scare the shit out of you nothing will...


Ranch Chimp said...

Greeting's Ms.Annette!

I just stopped by for the Hell of it...caught you on Ms.BJ's blog "Demwit" ... But...this certainly was an interesting piece coming from a truck driver,the road is a great place for thought...a buddy of mine drove for year's...he hated politic's...or even talking about it. But...this post was interesting to say the least ...

All we the people are BS period...usually it takes a half of lifetime for most of us to see it though...the system is designed that way...and to move in small increment's ... it's all for a keep what I refer to as the 3 entities in control...something that you can bet will collapse in the next century...the 3 entities are, mega religious institution's such as the Vatican, a handful of corporate giant's, and government as at least we have known it.

Thank You .........

TomCat said...

Nicely done Annette. Their objection to health care falls in line to their objection to welfare. If society as a whole contributes to gibe a hungry family greasy hamburger, they will have no incentive to stop into a rescue mission for greasier beans. It's about keeping people miserable enough that it's easier to proselytize them.

Sue said...

Annette I read in awe, great post! I wish it weren't true, but I believe it is and I'm scared!

Tango daddy said...

I have been working long hours away from home. I am half way through The Family and I had no idea how insideous this mafia like organisation is. It's tentacles go back generations and the hold it has is strangling American separation of church and state.
This was one terrific post Annete These Jesus freaks have an agenda that cannot be allowed to come to fruition Doug Coe must not have privacy any longer. call him out, thats the new word

Anonymous said...

Very scary post. The Christian Right doesn’t understand the meaning of Christianity.

I thought about leaving the country had McCain won and stopped in November. They’re out of control and unless something is done the GOP will regain control of Washington and we’ll be in serious trouble. As you said, we have to fight now (while we have control).

Thanks for passing this story along.

Sue said...

Annette I sent this link to Linda, the christian rightwinger who frequents my blog, I asked her to read this and give me her opinion, she never replied!

Real estate in Toronto said...

nice job. I read it all, including the links. I agree we should do something about it. call the congress people and let them hear our voice.

Distributorcap said...

this is scary stuff - and these people are gaining more and more power - and as the economic conditions deteriorate - well....

it doesnt take too many to make things very similar to 1933.....

great work as usual!!!!!!!!