Thursday, March 20, 2008

Enough about Rev. Wright, let's talk about Hillary's church

I always thought Hillary went to some milquetoast, mainstream Methodist church. And, it seemed like her at somewhat conservative positions on a range of issues like reproductive choice (she wants to let pharmacists abstain from filling birth control prescriptions if it violates their morals), support for federal funding of faith-based social programs (which she supported long before Bush did) and a constitutional amendment against flag burning (she supports it!), were simply efforts to pander to heartland voters. Well, it turns out that Hillary has been praying for years in "fellowship" with creepy DC bible thumpers like Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and Ed Meese.

Over at the Nation, Barbara Ehrenreich reminds us of a little noticed article published in Mother Jones last September about Clinton's involvement since 1993 in a DC prayer circle and Bible study group alternatively known as "The Fellowship" or "The Family."

I kid you not.

As Ehrenreich writes:
Clinton fell in with The Family in 1993, when she joined a Bible study group composed of wives of conservative leaders like Jack Kemp and James Baker. When she ascended to the Senate, she was promoted to what Sharlet calls the Family's "most elite cell," the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, which included, until his downfall, Virginia's notoriously racist Senator George Allen. This has not been a casual connection for Clinton. She has written of Doug Coe, The Family's publicity-averse leader, that he 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."

Furthermore, The Family takes credit for some of Clinton's rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing "religious freedom" in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics...

....Sharlet generously attributes Clinton's involvement to the under-appreciated depth of her religiosity, but he himself struggles to define The Family's theological underpinnings. The Family avoids the word Christian but worships Jesus, though not the Jesus who promised the earth to the "meek." They believe that, in mass societies, it's only the elites who matter, the political leaders who can build God's "dominion" on earth. Insofar as The Family has a consistent philosophy, it's all about power--cultivating it, building it and networking it together into ever-stronger units, or "cells." "We work with power where we can," Doug Coe has said, and "build new power where we can't."

Obama has given a beautiful speech on race and his affiliation with the Trinity United Church of Christ. Now it's up to Clinton to explain--or, better yet, renounce--her long-standing connection with the fascist-leaning Family.
The original Mother Jones article is a must read as it explores the cultish aspects of this organization in great detail, along with more about how it has shaped Hillary's politics to a much greater level than most Democratic primary voters would find comfortable.

A full-length book about The Fellowship and its influence on powerful lawmakers is due out in May - The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power - HarperCollins.

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