I just finished reading an article originally published in Harper’s Magazine called Jesus Plus Nothing written by Jeffrey Sharlet. It’s a very disturbing article about an organization of believers who refer to themselves as “The Fellowship” composed of various political and business leaders from around the world who’s overriding goal is nothing less than to take over the whole world not in the name of Christianity, but in the name of Jesus.
When you read it you can’t help but think that the whole things sounds like a really bad X-Files plot line. The picture this article paints is so scary that you’re inclined to think it simply has to be fictional. If it is true, however, it would explain a helluva lot about past and current events. The folks at AlterNet talk with the author about his article and the implications it raises:
In April, the AP broke the story that six U.S. congressmen were paying the bargain rate of $600 a month each to live together in a swanky DC townhouse owned by a secretive fundamentalist Christian group known as the Fellowship or the Foundation. Many, understandably, were curious. Who is this organization, and what is its agenda?
The group, the AP reported, is best known for holding the annual National Prayer Breakfast at the White House, which offers scores of national and international heavy hitters the opportunity to praise God in close proximity to the President. In the article, the congressmen boarding at the house denied owing any allegiance to the group, and several professed ignorance of even the most basic facts about the organization. Little else was reported about the group’s history, motives or backers.
There is a reason for that. The Fellowship is one of the most secretive, and most powerful, religious organizations in the country. Its connections reach to the highest levels of the U.S. government and include ties to the CIA and numerous current and past dictators around the world.
Last month, Harper’s magazine published a rather extraordinary article by Jeffrey Sharlet, editor of the irreverent web site killingthebuddha.com and co-author of the upcoming “Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible” (Free Press). The piece chronicled Sharlet’s three-week semi-undercover stay at Ivanwald, the Fellowship’s mansion:
Ivanwald, which sits at the end of Twenty-fourth Street North in Arlington, Virginia, is known only to its residents and to the members and friends of the organization that sponsors it, a group of believers who refer to themselves as “the Family.” The Family is, in its own words, an “invisible” association, though its membership has always consisted mostly of public men. Senators Don Nickles (R., Okla.), Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), Pete Domenici (R., N.Mex.), John Ensign (R., Nev.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), and Conrad Burns (R., Mont.) are referred to as “members,” as are Representatives Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), Frank Wolf (R., Va.), Joseph Pitts (R., Pa.), Zach Wamp (R., Tenn.), and Bart Stupak (D., Mich.).
Regular prayer groups have met in the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense, and the Family has traditionally fostered strong ties with businessmen in the oil and aerospace industries. The Family maintains a closely guarded database of its associates, but it issues no cards and collects no official dues. Members are asked not to speak about the group or its activities. The organization has operated under many guises, some active, some defunct: National Committee for Christian Leadership, International Christian Leadership, the National Leadership Council, Fellowship House, the Fellowship Foundation, the National Fellowship Council, the International Foundation. These groups are intended to draw attention away from the Family, and to prevent it from becoming, in the words of one of the Family’s leaders, “a target for misunderstanding.”
The Family’s only publicized gathering is the National Prayer Breakfast, which it established in 1953 and which, with congressional sponsorship, it continues to organize every February in Washington, D.C. Each year 3,000 dignitaries, representing scores of nations, pay $425 each to attend. Steadfastly ecumenical, too bland most years to merit much press, the breakfast is regarded by the Family as merely a tool in a larger purpose: to recruit the powerful attendees into smaller, more frequent prayer meetings, where they can “meet Jesus man to man.”
If this all sounds like something out of a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream (or paranoid nightmare), you’re right. Sharlet’s account of his three weeks of “man to man” interaction can only be described as disturbing and downright bizarre. In fact, it was so creepy many accused him of making the whole thing up.
If you’re as concerned about the separation of Church and State as I am then reading stuff like this is enough to turn your hair white. I find it so incredible a story that it’s hard to swallow, but I fear it might be more true than not. Go read both the original article and the AlterNet interview and judge for yourself. The next question becomes: What hope is there to do anything about it if it is true?