Religion in government is not new. There have been elements of religion that date back to our founders. There has been much debate about the theology of our founders, especially in recent decades. Evangelical and/or “traditional Protestants” claim that Christianity was central to the early history of the United States. They believe the nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. They cite the use of prayer in Congress, national days of prayer and the invocation of God as the source of our “unalienable rights,” in the Declaration of the United States.
Secularists say that large fractions of the principle founding fathers were not Christians, but deists. They claim that the founding of America was established on a secular foundation. Their evidence is the separation of church and state embedded in the first amendment. They also cite the utter absence of biblical references in our basic founding documents and that the “God,” of The Declaration of Independence is not described in biblical terms such as “God the Father,” but in deistic terms as a “Creator” and supreme judge of the world. Both sides of this debate have some evidence, but neither is really persuasive enough to settle the debate once and for all. The role of deism in the founding of America is too complex for such simple formulas.
So the debate rages on while evangelical Christians maintain a strong foothold on the American political scene. And secularists still point (and rightly so) to the separation of church and state. But, there are some very powerful evangelical groups who are in the game of politics, while trying to hide behind Christianity. Their versions of Christianity often bear no resemblance to the teachings of Christ, namely, “The Sermon On The Mount.” They melt down the words of Christ and pour them into their crucible of political diatribe and far too often, use said diatribe to maintain social injustice.
There are several such groups of evangelical “Christians” that are all too influential in our political process today. Groups such as Focus on the Family, Traditional Values Coalition and the most infamous of these groups, The Fellowship Foundation, aka “The Family.”
The Family is a religious and political organization founded in 1935 by a man named Abraham Vereide. The stated purpose of the Family is to provide a fellowship forum for leaders to share in Bible studies and prayer meetings to provide support for and experience a spiritual affirmation.
Sounds pretty good, right? I think maybe, in the beginning, it was a worthy group. Vereide was the founder of Goodwill Industries that helped the poor buy used furniture, clothing, kitchen supplies…..etc. But now, The Fellowship’s leader is a man named Doug Coe. He is head of one of the most politically connected religious groups in the United States. Coe and others have explained the organization’s need for secrecy by citing biblical no no’s about doing good works in the eye of the public. Coe insists that La Familia wouldn’t be able to tackle sensitive “missions,” (whatever they may be) if they drew public attention. Cough cough!
This secretive organization goes public, once a year, with The National Prayer Breakfast, in Washington DC. The seat of power in America. Every sitting president since Eisenhower has attended at least one of the meetings. That’s pretty powerful. The Fellowship’s participants are self acknowledged members of Congress, heads of religious and humanitarian aid groups, foreign dignitaries and ambassadors. That’s a lot of clout, a lot of clout. Lisa Miller of Newsweek magazine wrote that the common love for Jesus’s teachings bind this group together and all means to understanding Him, are acceptable. Cough Cough!
The author of the book “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart of American Power” Jeff Sharlet, served as an intern in the Family and says that the organization “fetishizes,” power by comparing Jesus to “Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden and even Adolph Hitler”as examples of leaders who changed the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their “brothers”. Cough cough!
In 1989, Coe said:
“Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had…. But they bound themselves together in an agreement…. Two years before they moved into Poland, these three men had… systematically a plan drawn out… to annihilate the entire Polish population and destroy by numbers every single house… every single building in Warsaw and then to start on the rest of Poland.” Coe adds that it worked; they killed six and a half million “Polish people.” Though he calls Nazis “these enemies of ours,” he compares their commitment to Jesus’ demands: “Jesus said, ‘You have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself.’ Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people.”
It’s simply amazing to realize that a group such as this is a large part of the power structure in America. Separation of church and state? Technically, yes. But the reality is that our government and even our laws are often led by the nose by inaccurate and deliberately misshapen teachings of Christianity. By willing polluters of The Beatitudes.