The folks at Rolling Stone magazine have a rather disturbing article on Senator Sam Brownback that’s shows just what a religious nutball the guy is. It discusses a number of things including Brownback’s membership in the “Fellowship:”
Brownback was placed in a weekly prayer cell by “the shadow Billy Graham”—Doug Coe, Vereide’s successor as head of the Fellowship. The group was all male and all Republican. It was a “safe relationship,” Brownback says. Conversation tended toward the personal. Brownback and the other men revealed the most intimate details of their desires, failings, ambitions. They talked about lust, anger and infidelities, the more shameful the better—since the goal was to break one’s own will. The abolition of self; to become nothing but a vessel so that one could be used by God.
They were striving, ultimately, for what Coe calls “Jesus plus nothing”—a government led by Christ’s will alone. In the future envisioned by Coe, everything—sex and taxes, war and the price of oil—will be decided upon not according to democracy or the church or even Scripture. The Bible itself is for the masses; in the Fellowship, Christ reveals a higher set of commands to the anointed few. It’s a good old boy’s club blessed by God. Brownback even lived with other cell members in a million-dollar, red-brick former convent at 133 C Street that was subsidized and operated by the Fellowship. Monthly rent was $600 per man—enough of a deal by Hill standards that some said it bordered on an ethical violation, but no charges were ever brought.
Brownback, as you may recall, was the sponsor of a Constitutional amendment that would bar the Supreme Court from ruling on any issues involving the separation of church and state:
The most bluntly theocratic effort, however, is the Constitution Restoration Act, which Brownback co-sponsored with Jim DeMint, another former C Streeter who was then a congressman from South Carolina. If passed, it will strip the Supreme Court of the ability to even hear cases in which citizens protest faith-based abuses of power. Say the mayor of your town decides to declare Jesus lord and fire anyone who refuses to do so; or the principal of your local high school decides to read a fundamentalist prayer over the PA every morning; or the president declares the United States a Christian nation. Under the Constitution Restoration Act, that’ll all be just fine.
This is the man who causes many of us to see the possibility of a coming theocracy in the U.S. and he’s not alone in his efforts.
Brownback doesn’t demand that everyone believe in his God—only that they bow down before Him. Part holy warrior, part holy fool, he preaches an odd mix of theological naivete and diplomatic savvy. The faith he wields in the public square is blunt, heavy, unsubtle; brass knuckles of the spirit. But the religion of his heart is that of the woman whose example led him deep into orthodoxy: Mother Teresa—it is a kiss for the dying. He sees no tension between his intolerance and his tenderness. Indeed, their successful reconciliation in his political self is the miracle at the heart of the new fundamentalism, the fusion of hellfire and Hallmark.
“I have seen him weep,” growls Colson, anointing Brownback with his highest praise. Such are the new American crusaders: tear-streaked strong men huddling together to talk about their feelings before they march forth, their sentimental faith sharpened and their man-feelings hardened into “natural law.” They are God’s promise keepers, His defenders of marriage, His knights of the fetal citizen. They are the select few who embody the paradoxical love promised by Christ when he declares—in Matthew 10:34—“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
It’s a sobering read, especially when you consider the man plans to run for President in 2008. He realizes he probably won’t get the nomination, but he’s hoping to use his run to gain the upper hand in influencing the Republican party and whomever does get the nomination. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on.