I said it yesterday, and now the good-government group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is calling for President Obama to stay away from this week's National Prayer Breakfast, a Christian event organized by the Family, the shadowy, elite religious network with ties to Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' bill. CREW is also calling on members of Congress to skip the event.
Since journalist Jeff Sharlet lifted the veil on the group in his book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, the activities of this clandestine network have drawn unwanted attention to its influence in U.S. foreign and domestic policy. (My article, published yesterday on AlterNet, is based on an extensive interview with Sharlet.)
In a letter [PDF]to President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan cites the Family's C Street house as a kind of dormitory for some of the most ethically challenged members of Congress, including Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. and former Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss. , as well as South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford -- but doesn't stop there. She note the tax-scamming (my word, not hers) the Family -- also known as the Fellowship -- got away with for year by declaring the house a church and, most importantly, the group's underground role in U.S. foreign policy. It's that lack of transparency that really gets her goat.
In fact, a lack of transparency is a hallmark of the Fellowship, which generally operates in secrecy, away from the din of the "vox populi." [Fellowship leader Doug] Coe himself was called "the stealth persuader" by Time magazine in 2005. Very little is known of the Fellowship's funding but donors have included wealthy individuals, private foundations and foreign governments.
Sloan appeared last night on MSNBC's " The Rachel Maddow Show," enumerating the oh, so many reasons that the nation's elected officials should refrain from attending this display of piety -- which, within the Beltway, is really a display of muscle-flexing by a group that implicitly claims the right to subvert democracy.
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