The Fellowship

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The Fellowship, also known as "The Family," is a secretive, religious-right Christian organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., about which very little is known. Their signature event is the annual National Prayer Breakfast which draws around 3,000 dignitaries representing scores of nations and corporate interests. Every U.S. President back to Eisenhower has attended the event, which, according to Jeff Sharlet (author of a book about the group) is an "event that appears to the world to be an official function of the federal government." Sharlet writes that when he attended the National Prayer Breakfast in 2003, he got his press credentials through the White House. In 2005, the Fellowship actually turned a profit on the Breakfast, taking in $47,000 more than it cost. Participants pay $425 each to attend.[1]

Publisher's Weekly writes,

Sharlet is present when a leader tells a dozen men living there, "You guys are here to learn how to rule the world." As it turns out, the Family was established in 1935 to oppose FDR's New Deal and the spread of trade unions; since then, it has organized well-attended weekly prayer meetings for members of Congress and annual National Prayer Breakfasts attended by every president since Eisenhower. Further, the Family's international reach ("almost impossible to overstate") has "forged relationships between the U.S. government and some of the most oppressive regimes in the world."[2]

Involvement in politics

The Fellowship is 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 The Family, The 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 according to some, his article is 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, 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.

In an Associated Press wire story published on April 20, 2003, journalist Lara Jakes Jordan analyzed tax records and discovered that six Congressional representatives lived in Fellowship housing on C Street, paying highly-subsidized rent. [1]

On September 27, 2002, the Los Angeles Times ran a story entitled "Showing Faith in Discretion" that traces the organization back to a Seattle-based Methodist evangelist in the mid-1930s.

Secrecy

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. Wheaton Seminary does maintain an archive of the Fellowship's early historical incarnations, the description of which is online at http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/GUIDES/459.htm#1. In 1995, Fellowship House in Washington, D.C. was sold and the organization relocated to Arlington, Virginia, where it continues to thrive and involve itself in public policy.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is reportedly a member of The Fellowship.[2]

Sourcewatch resources

External links

References

  1. Jeff Sharlet Excerpt from The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism ad the Heart of American Power May 20, 2008. 464 pp. Harpers
  2. Publisher's Weekly Reviews of The Family, accessed February 1, 2010