If you haven’t watched the 5 episodes of The Family on Netflix – based on Jeff Sharlet’s book of the same name, you should. Fascinating, and a bit creepy. Jesus has no place in the corridors of power, per my reading of the Christian Bible, but these dudes think otherwise.
The series profiles an American evangelical Christian organisation, sometimes dubbed “the Family” but more often known as the Fellowship – which presumably was felt to lack the connotations of death cults and organised crime that make for a juicy documentary title. For decades, the Fellowship was overseen by the mysterious Doug Coe: a series of amusingly Zelig-esque photographs of him lurking smoothly behind US presidents and foreign leaders confirms Coe (who did Netflix’s lawyers a favour by dying in 2017) as the most powerful guy you never heard of.
It is made clear to Sharlet that the gang he has joined is all about power, based on a Bible reading that sees Jesus – and, in the Fellowship’s reading of its favourite scripture story, murderous home-wrecker David – as a sort of original alpha male, lending legitimacy to men who believe they have been chosen to be in charge. The faith and devotion are perfunctory, a means to an end, an excuse.
The Family’s focus on the Fellowship hides what is really a portrait of the whole “Christian” right wing in the US – as well as the type of (white) man who has thoroughly infected western postwar politics. A stale whiff of viciously inadequate masculinity hangs over the whole show, from the young Fellows’ awkwardly enforced celibacy to the episode that sets out how Fellowship missionaries have been sent to less developed countries that might be vulnerable to campaigns against gay rights. As an LGBT activist in Romania puts it: “They have a purpose in their life now. To hate you.”
(click here to continue reading The Family: inside the sinister sect that has infected western democracy | Television & radio | The Guardian.)
As an aside, I knew that Hillary and Bill Clinton were at the least allies of Doug Coe’s group, one of the reasons I’ve never supported them. I did not know until I started browsing the Wikipedia entry on The Fellowship (aka The Family) that Senator Amy Klobuchar was the chairperson of The Family’s National Prayer Breakfast in 2010. Ewww. No wonder I don’t support her for president…