Jeff Sharlet writes in his new book, “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power”, about the secretive group that helped cover up Senator John Ensign’s extramarital affair.
A stunning excerpt:
Family leaders consider their political network to be Christ’s avant garde, an elite that transcends not just conventional morality but also earthly laws regulating lobbying. In the Family’s early days, they debated registering as “a lobby for God’s Kingdom.” Instead, founder Abraham Vereide decided that the group could be more effective by working personally with politicians. “The more invisible you can make your organization,” Vereide’s successor, current leader Doug Coe preaches, “the more influence you can have.” That’s true — which is why we have laws requiring lobbyists to identify themselves as such.
But David Coe, Doug Coe’s son and heir apparent, calls himself simply a friend to men such as John Ensign, whom he guided through the coverup of his affair. I met the younger Coe when I lived for several weeks as a member of the Family. He’s a surprising source of counsel, spiritual or otherwise. Attempting to explain what it means to be chosen for leadership like King David was — or Mark Sanford, according to his own estimate — he asked a young man who’d put himself, body and soul, under the Family’s authority, “Let’s say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?” The man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. “No,” answered Coe, “I wouldn’t.” Why? Because, as a member of the Family, he’s among what Family leaders refer to as the “new chosen.” If you’re chosen, the normal rules don’t apply.
These are the men that Republican families trust to lead the country out of the moral wilderness those families believe we are in.
Now we have a good idea why the country has been going to hell, with Republicans leading the way. What the hell, if it’s okay by the Republicans to rape children, then it’s okay to invade countries illegally and slaughter foreigners; it’s okay to act like whores for corporations; it’s okay to deny health care to Americans; it’s okay to lie and cheat and deceive to get the government to follow your personal agenda of immoral war and torture and unending imprisonment without charges.
Where will these people take us? Once again, The Lion suggests the answer lies in the words of Jacob Bronowski, particularly when he speaks of arrogance.
Jacob Bronowski,in The Ascent of Man, at the pond in Auschwitz prison camp, squeezing the mud between his fingers…
“It is said that science will dehumanise people and turn them into numbers. That is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.
“Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: ‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken’.
“I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died at Auschwitz, to stand here by the pond as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.”