Even after the sexual affairs of several congressmen brought the Fellowship (and its D.C. residence on C Street) into the light, most Americans have still never heard of this elitist fundamentalist organization. Even those who have will have trouble getting their heads around a mostly faceless organization whose goal is to convert the world to a trickle-down Christianity, as Sharlet calls it, where God has chosen the leaders (them) and everyone else follows. With our leaders somehow prechosen, it makes it easier to forgive their transgressions (the Fellowship, for example, has no problem working with heads of state like Haiti’s Papa Doc Duvalier and those in present-day Uganda, who advocate the death penalty for homosexuals).That this heavily financed, multilayered organization has been operating for decades—and today is actively implanted within the U.S. military—makes this well-documented, probing investigation even more mind-bending. Mostly, those in the Fellowship don’t talk. Maybe now the discussion will start. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: When the affairs of Fellowship members Senator John Ensign R-Nev. and South Carolina governor Mark Sanford broke, Sharlet’s book The Family became a best-seller. His follow-up is sure to attract similar attention. –Ilene Cooper
“At once a gripping political thriller, a masterpiece of investigative journalism, and a timely call to arms, C Street reveals all that can be hidden within an innocuous Washington address. Jeff Sharlet delivers a warning that the blurring of the line between church and state is both an urgent local problem and a matter of global concern.” (Peter Manseau, author of Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World’s Holy Dead and Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter )
“Jeff Sharlet has an incredibly rare double talent: the instincts of an investigative reporter coupled with the soul of a historian.” (Hanna Rosin, author of God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America )
“Jeff Sharlet is one of the very best writers covering the politics of religion.” (Ken Silverstein, author of Turkmeniscam: How Washington Lobbyists Fought to Flack for a Stalinist Dictatorship )
“Few writers can pull off investigative journalism, historical research, and elegant storytelling. Sharlet does all this with a story that a lot of people don’t want to hear and others won’t believe.” (Diane Winston, author of Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of The Salvation Army )
“[Sharlet] writes with insight, verve, and, thankfully, none of the bogus punditry and bad sociology that often passes for informed discourse about the contemporary role of religion in public life. His refreshing narrative style is as engaging as his groundbreaking information.” (Frederick Clarkson, The Public Eye )
“Un-American theocrats can only fool patriotic American democrats when there aren’t critics like Jeff Sharlet around-careful scholars and soulful writers who understand both the majesty of faith and the evil of its abuses.” (Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America )
With The Family, Jeff Sharlet offered readers an inside peek into an organization that on the surface may appear to consist of “nice Christians” who host the annual National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) and DC based prayer groups. However, their version of Christian capitalism led by a muscular Jesus bears scant resemblance to the teachings of Christ as presented in the Gospels. In C Street Jeff continues his fearless reporting by expounding upon this group’s global efforts, thus debunking the notion that progressives can find ‘common ground’ with an organization such as the Family that run roughshod over the first amendment? (One can hear the voice of Roger Williams trying to remind us of the importance of the separation of church and state.) Despite string of sex scandals and other deeds that have shut down countless other ministries, politicians and other global leaders still flock to the Family sponsored National Prayer Breakfast for their coveted photo op with the President. Perhaps this book may make them think twice about accepting their invite to the 2011 NPB.
On a side note, as Jeff has obtained unprecedented access to the Family’s archival material that’s stored at the Billy Graham Center (Wheaton College), I am suspect of any reporting of The Family/The Fellowship/C Street that doesn’t reference Jeff’s research. Good reporting requires that one go beyond simply taking the words of those who have a vested interest in the Family. – Becky Garrison, Amazon Customer Review
Seeing conspiracy, at home and abroad
Boston.com – October 14, 2010 (Excerpt)
Many liberals experienced more than a bit of schadenfreude during the sex scandals of conservative politicians such as Senator John Ensign of Nevada and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.
Journalist Jeff Sharlet contends that those weren’t isolated incidents; instead, they were symptomatic of the hypocrisy of conservative evangelicals. In “C Street,’’ he describes what he sees as a right wing conspiracy to infiltrate governments at home and abroad, with little regard for the personal behavior of conservative leaders.
It is a fascinating story with details that will intrigue and outrage readers. However, Sharlet’s overly dramatic and, at times, sensationalistic approach detracts from the book’s effectiveness and makes him the literary equivalent of the boy who cried wolf.
Members of the fundamentalist Christian organization The Family, some of whom live in the group’s house on C Street near the Capitol in Washington, don’t see themselves as ordinary politicians. [Read the full article...]