Thursday, May 08, 2008


Thanks to alternative media coverage - including that of the Progressive Review - there has been a slight increase in corporate press coverage of John McCain's ties to extremist Christian evangelist John Hagee. But even conventional liberals like Bill Moyers and EJ Dionne, while finally citing the McCain-Hagee connection, still refuse to delve into Hillary Clinton's ties to The Fellowship, a secret rightwing religious group involving a number of Washington big names like herself.

The story has been well documented by such publications as Harper's, the Los Angeles Times and Mother Jones. And it's not a new tale, but it's one the Washington media runs away from, in part because it might wreck the journalists' comfortably servile relationship with some of their sources - with the Clintons near the top of the list.

It's Washington journalism at its worst, the sort of politician-pet relationship that led the media to so badly mislead the public about the Iraq war and, for that matter, many other crucial facts about the Clintons. To this day, for example, the media is tough on Barack Obama's Tony Resko relationship but doesn't mention Hillary Clinton's much deeper relationship with Webster Hubbell.

As we noted about a week ago, the two big exceptions to the media cover up of The Fellowship are
Andrea Mitchell and Jim Popkin of NBC, who reported:

"In his preaching, [Fellowship leader Douglas] Coe repeatedly urges a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It's a commitment Coe compares to the blind devotion that Adolph Hitler demanded from his followers -- a rhetorical technique that now is drawing sharp criticism.

"'Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had, these nobodies from nowhere," Coe said.

"Later in the sermon, Coe said: "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."

Coe also quoted Jesus and said: "One of the things [Jesus] said is 'If any man comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can't be a disciple.' So I don't care what other qualifications you have, if you don't do that you can't be a disciple of Christ."

The sermons are little surprise to writer Jeff Sharlet. He lived among Coe's followers six years ago, and came out troubled by their secrecy and rhetoric.

"'We were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler, Lenin and Mao. And I would say, 'Isn't there a problem with that?' And they seemed perplexed by the question. Hitler's genocide wasn't really an issue for them. It was the strength that he emulated," said Sharlet. . . 'They're notoriously secretive,' Sharlet said. 'In fact, they jokingly call themselves the Christian Mafia. Which becomes less of a joke when you realize that they really are dedicated to being what they call an invisible organization.'"

SOURCE WATCH The Fellowship, headquartered in Washington D.C., is a humanitarian religious-right Christian organization about which very little is known. Their signature event is the annual National Prayer Breakfast but that is only a small part of their activities. They are heavily involved in the political culture of Washington, counting at least a dozen Senators and Congressman as known members. The group has also gone by the names Family, Foundation, C Street Center, and International Christian Leadership. An article published in the March 2003 issue of Harper's entitled "Jesus Plus Nothing" by Jeffrey Sharlet provides an excellent exposition; however, Sharlet infiltrated only at the lowest level and so his article is woefully short of details concerning the organization, its mission, or who runs it.

In a June 12, 2003, followup interview by Anthony Lappé for Guerrilla News Network, Jeffrey Sharlet declares that the group's goal and aspiration are "an 'invisible' world organization led by Christ"; and that in his view, their "core issue is capitalism and power."

In 1972, The Fellowship was reorganized to be even more clandestine, shedding the overhead of a typical high-profile nonprofit so that it was essentially little more than a holding company disbursing cash to dozens of ministries beneath it. By 1985, The Fellowship had 150 individual ministries beneath it. This model continues to this day with countless ministries coming into and going out of existence depending upon the current needs of the organization and the initiatives it wishes to fund. As Sharlet writes in his Harper's piece, The Foundation believes that its mobile "cell" structure, which it likens to those organized by Lenin, Bin Laden, and Hitler, makes it far more efficient than a hierarchical organization. And just like Enron's many shell corporations, their cell structure has the additional advantage of being able to move money around very quickly and in a way that makes it difficult to track or audit. . .

Those in the Fellowship who are asked about their role either deny its existence or politely refuse to answer questions about it. All have taken a vow of silence not to speak about The Fellowship.

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