It is the first Thursday in February, which means that “The Family” — or as they like to be known publicly, The Fellowship Foundation — is holding its National Prayer Breakfast. As has been the case since the 1980s there will be a wide variety of leading political figures at the this event, including President Obama.
For those who have not read Jeff Sharlet’s “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,” or watched Rachel Maddow’s excellent coverage of this group let me give just a little primer.
The Family was founded by Abraham Vereide and has been a shadowy presence ever since. It is the owner of the now-notorious C Street House where Sen. John Ensign, and others apparently got sweetheart deals on lodging from The Family. The current leader of this group is Douh Coe who’s been seen in video clips comparing the commitment of the Nazis and the Red Army to the commitment his followers need to have in Jesus. I can’t say whether it was taken out of context or not, but let’s just say I have never heard a Jesuit speak approvingly of Hitler or Stalin in any fashion. To use the comparison of fanatical belief and commitment of followers to a couple of the greatest killers in history seems jarring when one is talking about the “Prince of Peace.”
I don’t have a problem with people coming together to pray. If that is you thing, go for it. I don’t see the point, but I am not going to stop you or even advocate that you stop. The problem is that this has achieved national prominence. Every American president since Eisenhower has participated in this event. This and the fact that it is organized by Republicans and Democrats makes it an overtly political event.
This is a real problem with the separation of church and state. The Family arranges for the president to meet with high ranking members of other governments in an hour long event before the main event. This is a huge amount of power; after all who else do you know that can dragoon a president to talk with persons of their choice every single year? . . .