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The Two Faces of The Fellowship aka "The Family"

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Senator John Barrasso

Presented by: The Religious Freedom Coalition of the SouthEast

Senator John Barrasso

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The Right Wing Conspiracy  (Click on the underlined to go there)

Part I  Introduction to the Right Wing Conspiracy

Part II The Religious Right and the Christian Reconstructionists

Part III Christian Reconstructionism, Christian Ayatollahs, and Racism

Part IV  Republican Gomorrah

Part V  The 12 Worst (and most powerful) Christian Right Groups

Part VI  The Anatomy of the Religious Right

Part VII  The Family

The "Family" - Who Really Is Behind This Secret Organization?


Who Is Really Behind This Secret Organization?

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak, and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all His laws. - - John Adams

Contains excerpts from "The Family", Thursday 30 December 2010, by: Yana Kunichoff, of t r u t h o u t


Extremist (Tea Party) Republicans are selfish, power hungry, hateful of the poor, disloyal to the nation and its people, dishonest, avaricious, scornful of the nation's history, the dignity of its institutions, its standards of political morality, and its vision of advancement for all the people. The Republicans love war as long as they and theirs do not have to put on helmets and carry guns into the fighting. They use lies to start wars that kill hundreds of thousands of innocents and thousands of our own military service people. They love massive war-time profits, unavailable to their rich masters if war is absent.

Those Extremist Republicans hate the rest of us, which they must, in order to pass away from themselves and onto us, the financial burdens and losses their crimes, schemes and thefts cause. They are prolific, incessant, and destructive liars. They are blasphemers for they insist that their hateful and destructive deeds are the work of God. They are apostates for they gleefully attack the poor, the immigrants, the old and the sick, of whom God has commanded all of us to be mindful.

There is no reasoning with them, for all their logic is built on false premises. There is no appealing to them for honor's sake for they have lost all sense of shame and have no honor, there is no appealing to them for the nation's sake for that it what they hate the most.

Extremist (Tea Party) Republicans are the enemy.


Even if the death penalty is removed from Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Bill, its passage would codify the country’s extraordinary persecution of gays—and American evangelicals will bear responsibility, says Michelle Goldberg.

In 2009, a month after ethnic riots rocked the Ugandan capital of Kampala, an evangelical lawmaker named David Bahati introduced his Anti-Homosexuality Bill into parliament. The measure was draconian, prescribing the death penalty for some gay people, mandating prison sentences of at least five years for the “promotion of homosexuality,” and requiring Ugandans to report “offenders” to the authorities. After an international outcry, President Yoweri Museveni distanced himself from the bill, and it seemed likely to disappear.

Article - Goldberg Uganda Children demonstrated against homosexuality in Kampala, Uganda, in January of 2010. (Stephen Wandera, File / AP Photo)

Then, this month, it came roaring back, and it could pass by the end of the week. Although some media outlets are reporting that Bahati has dropped the death-penalty clause, no revised bill has surfaced yet. “As far as we know, as of today, parliament was still discussing the same version,” Maria Burnett, a Uganda-based senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said on Wednesday. “While the author of the bill has said he was willing to make amendments, I’ve never seen an actual document with those amendments made.”

Even if capital punishment is removed from the bill, its passage would herald extraordinary state persecution of a demonized and beleaguered minority. Already, some Ugandan newspapers have taken to publishing lists of alleged gays and lesbians with blaring headlines like “Hang Them!” and “Homo Terror!” The bill is the culmination of an anti-gay campaign that’s been waged in Uganda for more than a decade. Because some American evangelicals have played a major role in that campaign, they’re at least partly responsible for what is happening now.

The timing of the bill’s resuscitation is noteworthy. Uganda is convulsed by nationwide protests that have been met by a brutal police crackdown. Since conspiracy theories about subversive homosexuals have metastasized in the country in recent years, targeting gay people could be a way to divert public anger. “This bill was [put on the agenda] a month after very bloody riots that happened in September 2009, where at least 40 people were killed by government forces,” says Burnett. “There was a lot of criticism of the government at that time. It’s a bit ironic—not much happened with the bill for last year and a half, and now the bill is reintroduced three days before the end of parliament and more killings by government forces in April.”

But why would people furious about corruption, rising prices, and political authoritarianism care about homosexuality, which is already illegal in Uganda? The answer lies in another country where politics are often hijacked by anti-gay demagoguery—our own. As in other Sub-Saharan African countries, Uganda has long had a taboo against homosexuality. But the political scapegoating of gays and lesbians is a relatively recent phenomenon, one deliberately exported by the American right.

“Here these guys are going into a place where it’s already dangerous to be out as gay, and illegal, and they’re going to try to make it worse?” says Throckmorton.

Uganda is a country where American-style evangelical Christianity is exploding, and there are close links between many American anti-gay preachers, politicians, and activists, and their Ugandan counterparts. As Jeff Sharlet has reported, Bahati, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s sponsor, is the secretary of the Ugandan branch of The Family, the secretive American evangelical organization whose members include Sens. James Inhofe, Jim DeMint, and Tom Coburn. Martin Ssempa, a Pentecostal preacher who has championed the bill, was a protégé of Rick Warren and, during the Bush administration, a recipient of at least $90,000 of American aid earmarked for abstinence promotion. Another major anti-gay activist, Stephen Langa, the head of Uganda’s Family Life Network, is an affiliate of the Phoenix-based group Disciple Nations Alliance.

The point is not that American Christians urged their Ugandan counterparts to try to institute the death penalty for homosexuality—they didn’t. After much public pressure, Warren has spoken out against the bill, and the Disciple Nations Alliance issued a somewhat lukewarm objection, noting “concerns” but insisting on the right of sovereign nations “to establish their own laws.”

Yet the ideology underlying the bill comes from American conservatives. It is Americans who have elaborated a vision of homosexuality as a satanic global conspiracy bent on destroying society’s foundations, akin to the Jewish octopus in classic anti-Semitic narratives. According to Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical psychology professor once associated with the ex-gay movement, when Uganda’s anti-gay activists speak about homosexuality, they cite materials by Scott Lively and Paul Cameron, two of the fiercest American opponents of the so-called homosexual agenda.


The Fellowship, also known as The Family, is a secretive international organization of wealthy and powerful American political, religious, and business leaders which would rather you not be aware of its existence.

The Fellowship Foundation is an organization that goes by many names, but members mostly call it "the Fellowship", or "the Family."  It is a loose worldwide affiliation of mostly wealthy, mostly powerful, mostly men, using the Mafia as an organizational model. 

What if someone were to tell you that your Congressman routinely bandies around phrases such as "Jesus plus nothing,"  used to mean the complete rule of Jesus, and compares the desired reach to that of Hitler or Ho Chi Minh? If this makes you at all apprehensive, then Jeff Sharlet's "C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy"  is a must-read.

"Jesus plus nothing" is the mantra of the Fellowship, also known as the Family, a secret, fundamentalist Christian organization peopled primarily by devout policy makers and high-ranking individuals. Though the nonbeliever's view of religion can often be dismissive when faced with such catchphrases, in "C Street," a nonfiction account of the extended reach of the Family, these phrases fuel moral crusades with real, and terrifying, impact.

Sharlet first introduced the world to the unseen hand of the Fellowship in "The Family" in 2008, in which he reported on the organization's beginnings in the 18th century, uncovered the role of the Family in America's legislative system and uncovered the role of religious fundamentalism in our supposedly secular nation.  (See Below for History)

In his latest book, Sharlet traces the powerful orthodoxy's chilling influence on governments both inside and outside of the United States as well as the devastating effects of fundamentalism within the military. He uses the Fellowship's Capitol Hill boarding house, C Street, as a passageway to a broader discussion of the Family's influences, which range from mediating the marital disputes of Congressmen to increased military aid for countries whose prominent politicians have connections (spiritual or otherwise) with the Family.

"C Street" is thoroughly researched; in addition to his travels and interviews, Sharlet says he spent weeks photocopying documents from archives all over the country.  In particular, he went through nearly 600 boxes of documents at the Billy Graham archives in Wheaton, Illinois, where he stayed in a rented room furnished only with an air mattress and a card table.

Sharlet begins his story at the C Street Center Inc., a nonprofit offshoot of the Family in a red brick house on Capitol Hill to "assist [congressmen] in better understandings of the teachings of Christ, and applying it to their jobs."

Members of C Street, "the underground network of Christ's men in Washington," include Sens. Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), John Ensign (R-Nevada), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), and Bill Nelson (D-Florida), as well as Reps. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Frank Wolf (R-Virginia.), Joseph Pitts (R Pennsylvania), Zach Wamp (R-Tennessee) and Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), and believe they have been appointed by God.

Their actions in the name of the Lord include prayer meetings at the Department of Defense and the Pentagon, and helping Governor Sanford, Representative Pickering and Senator Ensign (whom Sharlet describes as having "the most impressive tan in the Technicolor portrait gallery of golf-happy, twenty-first-century political America") cover up extramarital affairs and continue their political careers. In one case, the Family even pays off Ensign's former aide - with whom he was having an affair while he was living at C Street.

This is a mild version of the Family's philosophy - "the best way to help the weak is to help the strong." Yet, it is their naïve, but powerful, influence on religious rhetoric used in conflicts and legislature abroad that leads one from simply raised eyebrows to widened eyes.

According to Sharlet, the Family had "cells in the governments of seventy nations by the late 1960s, more than double that of just a few years earlier." These cells operated, as many of the Family's projects do, through God - "the Catholic generals and colonels who rotated coup by coup through the leadership of Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador ... consented to the Protestant ministrations of the Fellowship in return for access to American congressman."

More recently, after meetings between members of Sri Lanka's own prayer breakfast and Congressional representatives of the Family, the small, Southeast Asian country received more than $50 million in military aid between 2004-2007. In the previous three years, from 2000 to 2003, it only received a fifth of that amount, and in 2008, Sri Lanka was accused of "intentionally and repeatedly" wantonly shelling civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations with weapons that, it is likely, came from American military aid.

Most vivid is Sharlet's focus on the Fellowship's activities in Uganda, where, in 2009, a bill was introduced into the Ugandan Parliament that would condemn to death individuals convicted of "aggravated homosexuality," which includes "simply sex, more than once," and three years in prison "for failure to report a homosexual within twenty-four hours of learning of his or her crime."

Sharlet draws links between the Family and evangelical church leaders and politicians championing the bill in Uganda (including David Bahati, who introduced the legislation into Parliament); the Family has donated millions of dollars to Uganda for "leadership development" - more, writes Sharlet, than it has invested in any other foreign country.

Though he draws the line at saying that the virulently anti-gay bill in Uganda means that the Family supports the death penalty for gay people, he notes that that "the real question is instead one of ideological transmission, the transfer of ideas.... the Family didn't pull the trigger; they provided the gun."

Sharlet travels to the East African country to meet politicians, who blithely call the closet "a strong African tradition," and speak confidently of their "American friends," various American evangelicals, including some from the family, but also speaks to a young, gay man on the run, illustrating with affecting anecdotes the human lives ruined by such a tide of "morality."

Near the end of the book, Sharlet brings the story back home again: to the role of the Family in the military. He tells the story of a US unit in Iraq which heads into combat with "Jesus Killed Muhammed" painted in both English and Arabic on one of their tanks, as well as Muslim and Jewish soldiers who crack under the constant religious taunting.

The book itself reads like a hyper-real nightmare; the detailed glimpses of emotionally stifled Congressional love affairs come with the added intimacy of love letter excerpts, and Sharlet's conversations with evangelical politicians in Uganda are especially well-fleshed. For example, during one conversation with an evangelical politician, Sharlet became keenly aware that he could also be prosecuted under Uganda's homophobic legislation - for promoting homosexuality by not turning in any gay people he may know.

The extent of the connections between the Family and chastised senators, the Sri Lankan government's decision to drop bombs on civilians, a virulently homophobic bill in Uganda or extreme religious pressure applied to soldiers in combat zones are at times somewhat murky, but this is itself a symptom of how the Fellowship functions - "the more invisible you can make your organization," Doug Coe, associate director of the Fellowship, says in "C Street," "the more influence it will have."

The Family divides its finances "between several smaller offshoots, some off-the-books accounting ... and the Fellowship Foundation." In addition, Sharlet notes, it shifts around its properties and supporting organizations - for example, the Downing Foundation in Englewood, Colorado, describes its mission as supporting the Family's Fellowship Foundation - "to which it sends an average of $88,000 a year."

Sharlet highlights numerous front organizations, though there are other sources of funding for the Family's expenses that are even less kosher - for example, Sen. Tom Coburn charged American taxpayers $11,000 for a trip to Lebanon to, Coburn says, build prayer groups - in one of the most religiously contested areas in the world.

Though a review in The Washington Post calls Sharlet's thesis of an America without contraception or public schools "almost unhinged," the recent rise of the Tea Party since "C Street's" publication and legislation such as unemployment benefits held hostage to tax cuts for the wealthiest American cast doubt on whether we can dismiss the threat posed by the actions of the Family to positions such as gay rights, religious freedom or the separation between church and state.

This brings us to one of Sharlet's central points in the book: how do we hold lawmakers accountable who believe they have a divine right to rule?

Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force commander and founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who deals with calls daily from soldiers with testimony of religious harassment, says the only way to combat the influence of the "multi-dimensional, theocratic, dominating, democracy-destroying monster" that is the Family is to court-martial them all.  (Mikey Weinstein is a member of Truthout's board of advisers. )

Sharlet, however, is more circumspect. "I'm doing it the best way I know how ... it's also the only honest way. You compete with them in terms of free speech," he said. "You keep the pressure on, you keep people asking questions and you make it in the Family's best interest to become transparent."


Within the community of American Christianity, the Fellowship has few critics.  In part this is because the work of the Fellowship remains largely unknown.  For those in the know, there is a great temptation to look the other way when confronted with the Fellowships moral and ethical failings.  The Fellowships connection to power and wealth has created what Chris Knight, and ex members from San Francisco, describes as "a priesthood of rich white guys," men who are admired for their faith, respected for their wealth, and feared because of their power.  These are men no one really wants to piss off.

In gathering information for this web site, very few people were willing to be interviewed on the record.  "Don't use my name because I am afraid of these people," was often heard.  Others expressed hesitance in talking because "I don't want to break down the Body of Christ."  The frequency with which both comments were repeated is characteristic of the kind of control exerted by the Fellowship over its members.

The Family was founded in 1935 and has been led by Douglas Coe since 1969. Its members include scores of high ranking U.S. government officials, corporate executives, heads of religious and humanitarian aid organizations, and non-U.S. leaders and ambassadors. It has been described by prominent evangelical Christians as one of the most politically well-connected fundamentalist organizations in the US.

The publicly stated purpose of this group is to provide a private forum for public officials to hold Bible Studies, prayer meetings, worship services, or to share their troubles. In Newsweek, Lisa Miller writes that the common love for the teachings of Jesus binds this group together and all approaches to understanding him are acceptable.  Unfortunately their actions seem to belie their statements.

The group is most widely known for organizing prayer groups throughout the United States and around the world, including the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, later renamed the National Prayer Breakfast. Every sitting United States president since 1953 has attended the event.

The Fellowship generally practices strict secrecy about its members or activities and eschews publicity and asks its members not to speak about the group; some members have denied that the Fellowship exists.

At  the heart of the Fellowship is a mansion in Arlington VA called the Cedars where people of power, consequence and connection are invited to pray, retreat, and supposedly find solitude.  Guests have included Lee Atwater, Laura Bush, Michael Jackson, and a long list of congressmen, senators, executive branch bigwigs, and foreign dignitaries.  The grounds of The Cedars also house the Fellowship offices, the home of Douglas Coe, the groups leader, and has become a center of a neighborhood increasingly peopled by Fellowship members.

In addition to the Cedars, the Fellowship runs a retreat center in rural Maryland, a house on Capitol Hill whose residents include several members of Congress, and two houses for young recruits who pay for the privilege of deepening their devotion to Jesus while cleaning and maintaining Fellowship facilities.

Life among the young people who live in the Fellowship’s homes is spiritually, emotionally, and physically regimented in ways that are cult-like in their intensity. Absolute commitment is required. In all things members are obliged to subject themselves to the will of the group, becoming empty vessels ready to be filled with Jesus and a vaguely articulated Fellowship vision. In an interview for this article, Jeffrey Sharlet, who for nearly a month lived at Ivanwald, the Fellowship house for young men, and who later wrote about his experiences in the March 2003 edition of

reports a constant striving for "an almost Buddhist commitment to nothingness." Mild hazing and intense scrutiny of the men’s past sins and shameful habits were used to keep the men mindful of their humility.

Living at Potomac Point, the house for young women, is no less an act of self-deprecation. The young women’s chief work is to keep the Cedars in a constant state of tidy efficiency, all the while inefficiently attired (a uniform of long skirts and "feminine" shoes is required). Work that does not meet strict standards can result in a worker’s public humiliation.

A former resident of Potomac Point told me about her nine months there. Having been encouraged to share her every thought and to expose her secrets and sins, she found her confessions and confidences used against her when she would ask questions or resist Fellowship authority. As the Fellowship exerted control over every aspect of her life she became angry and bitter. Something broke inside her. "When I came to Potomac Point I struggled with self-esteem issues" she told me. "While I was there my low self-esteem moved from a personal to a spiritual level." When, at last, she expressed a desire to leave, she was told that, without the teaching and company of the Fellowship, her well-being would disintegrate. She became terrified of life on the outside. She believed she would fail, and she delayed her departure for three months.

Jeffrey Sharlet told of observing a similar pressure to stay at Ivanwald. A young man, whose parents had sent him to Ivanwald to amend his frat boy ways, was feeling renewed, reformed and ready to leave. When he expressed his desire go home, a confrontation ensued. Fellowship higher-ups assured him that his confidence was misguided and that, once beyond the Fellowship’s influence, his life would fall apart. When the young man stood firm in his resolve, the Fellowship notified his parents who, in turn, threatened to cut off the young man’s financial and emotional support if he left. The young man stayed.

When Jeffrey Sharlet announced his own need to leave in order to attend to family business, Fellowship mentors pressed him to stay, using misguided scriptural quotation as a means of spiritual manipulation. "If anyone loves father or mother more than me he is not worthy of me; if anyone loves son or daughter more than me he is not worthy of me." (Jesus’ words from Matthew 10:37) He left anyway.

When asked about allegations that the Fellowship, among its young volunteers, fosters a spiritually abusive and cult-like environment, a fellowship-employed evangelist and organizer told me, "the Fellowship is like the early Church. It is misunderstood."

Recently, reluctance to criticize the Fellowship has begun to break down. An Evangelical leader with a lifelong Fellowship affiliation told me that, while on balance he thinks the Fellowship’s work is positive, he has concerns with the Fellowship’s spiritual elitism, its rejection of the institutional Church, and its lack of an organizational structure that provides accountability for Doug Coe and other Fellowship leaders.

In addition, some Christian leaders are beginning to raise cautious and thoughtful questions about the Fellowship’s attitude toward women. An Evangelical scholar told me of being troubled after a chapel service at the college where she works. Doug Coe’s sister, a Fellowship adherent, had delivered a message promoting a spirituality that the scholar described as being "overly prescriptive of men’s and women’s roles and differences in function." Such attitudes toward women often are lived out in the Fellowship with painful consequences. Despite the spoken promise that they are to be considered equal partners in the Fellowship's ministry and honored sisters in the Fellowship family, the women of Potomac Point are treated as servants and are reminded that their role, both in life and in the work of the Fellowship, is one of quiet, strong support for the work of the men.

One gets the sense that in the Fellowship’s spiritual geography women are seen as roadblocks on the path to male spiritual enlightenment. One woman told me of her experience dating a man who was part of a Fellowship cell in Southern California. As her boyfriend’s involvement grew, he pushed her to the margins of his life. "In my life," he told her "the guys from the Fellowship are at the center, and my wife, whoever that will be, will be somewhere off to the side." In the waning days of the relationship she was approached by the wives of older Fellowship members. "Get out while you still can," one warned. Another described her life as a Fellowship wife: "I’m always third. The Fellowship comes first in my husband’s life. Then our children. Then me."

Many of the women with whom I spoke reported being treated, at the same time, as children in need of instruction and as sexual deviants worthy of reproach. Such perceptions are not unfounded. One deeply committed Fellowship member spoke of his marriage apologetically, comparing it to the marriage of the Biblical prophet Hosea, who was directed by God to marry a harlot so that the prophet might learn of the hardships God endures.

Though young women are admonished not to lead the men into temptation and the men are advised to be wary of feminine charms, there exists a strong emphasis on accountability through the absolute disclosure of real or imagined sin, which means the women’s private lives are necessarily exposed. A young woman told me of how, after ending a relationship with a Fellowship member, other men in the ex-boyfriend’s cell began to show up in her life, making her feel as if they, having been privy to the intimate details of the relationship, were willing and ready to experience temptation for themselves.

This attitude is one reason all members of the family voted against the senate bill protecting women against contractors who rape women and then make them mediate the action instead of turning it over to the local law enforcement.

Questions also are being raised about the Fellowship’s honesty. The Fellowship Foundation is registered as a public charity in IRS . According to a September 2002 article in the Los Angeles Times, they have a large annual budget, significant real estate holdings worth millions and dozens of employees. The Fellowship also has a clear leader in the person of Doug Coe, and their records are archived at Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Library. Yet publicly the Fellowship claims not to exist as an organization. Followers insist they are a "movement," a "vision," a "family," a "network of brothers," but they tend to downplay and even deny the existence of the Fellowship as a legal entity.

Fellowship members also downplay and sometimes deny that the Fellowship’s primary goal is to evangelize wealthy and powerful men. There are frequent reminders that the Fellowship is a cross section of the Kingdom of God, that the Fellowship is for everyone, and that everyone within the Fellowship's family is equal. And while the Fellowship certainly encourages ministries of mercy and service among the poor, there remains an air of elitism, a celebration of power, and a community of insulated wealth.

A former Fellowship employee remembers being chastised for offering a drink of water to the chauffeur of a foreign ambassador who was attending a prayer meeting at the Cedars. This same employee also described organizing a prayer group for his fellow workers in maintenance and construction, since they had not been invited to regularly scheduled Fellowship gatherings. "At first our meetings were great," he said, "but then the higher-ups found out what we were doing and they sent people to run our meetings for us. We no longer shared our lives. Instead, the leaders would talk to us about politics and current events. We were blue-collar, they were white-collar, and they didn’t even trust us to pray together without direction from above."

Now, it must be said that not everyone with whom I spoke had bad experiences with or negative observations of the Fellowship. Most people had mixed experiences and textured observations; some experiences were entirely healthy and some observations were only good. And without a doubt, much of what the Fellowship accomplishes is positive. The article reported the Fellowship's vital role in brokering a recent ceasefire between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it told of the quiet ministry of healing and restoration the Fellowship works among Washington’s powerful and often very lonely leaders.

The problem arises when the political philosophy of the Fellowship is programmed into the minds of our leaders in Washington....not so good.

Beyond that, countless men all over the world have been given deeply meaningful experiences through prayer, Bible study, and mutual support within the Fellowship’s local cells.

And yet, in the Fellowship's eccentric ministry, people are spiritually and emotionally wounded with a regularity that  raises concerns.

The best organizations are those which are willing and even eager to expose themselves to critical observation, in the hope of finding and addressing any failings and weaknesses to make them stronger, healthier, and more effective. The Fellowship encourages no such scrutiny and allows no such criticism.

For the time being, the Fellowship Foundation remains committed to secrecy, using the Mafia rather than the Gospel as an organizing principle. For the time being, the Fellowship would rather you not know of its existence.

Street Fight: Ohio Clergy Seeks End Of Tax Exemption For D.C. Structure Owned By `The Family'
The infamous "C Street house" is back in the news. from an article by Rob Boston published Feb 23, 2010

A group of clergy in Ohio, aided by a tax lawyer, has written to the Internal Revenue Service today asking the federal tax agency to examine the house's tax-exempt status as a church.

If you're just joining us, the C Street house is a structure in Washington, D.C., owned by a shadowy Religious Right group called "The Family" - a.k.a. the Fellowship Foundation.

The house, formally called the C Street Center, is located near the U.S. Capitol on C Street S.E. Due to the Family's penchant for secrecy, it's unclear what exactly goes on there. We do know that some rooms are rented out to members of Congress at a low rate, and it has been reported that Bible study and prayer meetings occur - but that hardly makes the place a church.

It would be more accurate to say that the C Street Center is a boarding house (or, in light of the recent string of sex scandals involving some of its residents, a frat house). So why does it hold a tax exemption as a church?

That's what the Ohio clergy would like to know. In their letter to the IRS (which was drafted by Marcus Owens, a former IRS official), the members of Clergy Voice assert that the C Street house is "an exclusive club for powerful officials...masquerading as a church."

The house, the clergy say, meets none of the tests the IRS has set forth to determine when a religious group qualifies for tax exemption.

"As we understand it, C Street Center has no recognized creed or form of worship, no distinct ecclesiastical government, and no formal code of doctrine," observes the clergy letter. "To the best of our knowledge, it is not led by ordained ministers, and its leadership is not selected based on the completion of any prescribed studies for the preparation of ministers. We are not aware of it holding regular religious services that are open to the public, it has no Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young, and it has no distinct religious history."

Clergy Voice asserts that the C Street Center is really a boarding house and concludes, "An organization whose chief activity is providing room and board to Members of Congress is not a church."

The Rev. Eric Williams, senior pastor at North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus, told The Washington Post he considers this a matter of church-state separation, noting that the Family has used the house to gain undue influence over members of Congress.

"We've got an organization posing as a church," Williams said.

City officials in Washington, D.C., have already decided to take a second look at the C Street house's tax-exempt status. As a result, the city's tax office decided last year to partially tax the house, which is worth $1.8 million.

It's time for the IRS to do the same. Clergy Voice is asking some important question. The IRS should, too.


Names Associated With The Family

Incorporated in Illinois in December 1942 as the National Committee for Christian Leadership (NCCL), the organization would change its name several more times before finally changing its name to Fellowship Foundation, Inc. in 1972. It also has conducted activities as the National Fellowship Council and National Leadership Council.

The Fellowship Foundation, Inc. does most of its business as The International Foundation, which is listed as its DBA name on IRS tax forms.

Extent of Influence: Organizations and Individuals

Prominent evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, and the Family themselves, have described it as one of the most, or the most, politically well-connected fundamentalist organization in the US.

D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist who studies the evangelical movement, says “there is no other organization like the Fellowship, especially among religious groups, in terms of its access or clout among the country’s leadership.” He also reports that lawmakers mentioned the Fellowship more than any other organization when asked to name a ministry with the most influence on their faith.

In 1977, four years after he had converted to Christianity, Fellowship member and Watergate conspirator Charles Colson described the Family as a “veritable underground of Christ’s men all through the US government.”

The Reverend Robert Schenck, founder of the Washington, D.C. ministry Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital, describes the Family's influence as "off the charts" in comparison with other fundamentalist groups, specifically compared to Focus on the Family, Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Traditional Values Coalition, and Prison Fellowship. (These last two are associated with the Family: Traditional Values Coalition uses their C Street House and Prison Fellowship was founded by Charles Colson.) Schenck also says that "the mystique of the Fellowship" has helped it "gain entree into almost impossible places in the capital."

A series of taped seminars from 1970 for young male members of the Fellowship describes their access to power: “If you want doors opened... there are men in government, there are senators who literally find it their pleasure to give any kind of advice, assistance, or counsel.”

Lindsay also interviewed 360 evangelical elites, among whom “One in three mentioned Doug Coe or the Fellowship as an important influence."

The Family also has relationships with numerous non-US government leaders. Lindsay reports that the Family "has relationships with pretty much every world leader— good and bad— and there are not many organizations in the world that can claim that."

“The Fellowship’s reach into governments around the world is almost impossible to overstate or even grasp,” says David Kuo, a member of the Family and former special assistant in George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.

The following politicians are among those who have publicly acknowledged working with the Fellowship or are documented as having done so:

Members who are Current Elected Officials Other Notable Members


Documented historic associates include

Military officials who are documented as having worked with the Fellowship include

Other figures of note who have worked with the Fellowship include

Religious leaders associated with the Fellowship include

The Family has a number of affiliated organizations.

History of The Family

The Family traces its roots in the United States to Abraham Vereide, a Methodist conference evangelist, and a month of evangelistic meetings he convened in 1934 in San Francisco. Vereide was a Norwegian immigrant and traveling preacher who, in 1923, founded the Goodwill Industries branch in Seattle to assist the city's poor and homeless, whom he referred to as the "down 'n outers."

In April 1935, Vereide, and J.F. Douglas enlisted nineteen business and civic leaders for daily breakfast prayer meetings. By 1937, 209 prayer breakfast groups had been organized throughout Seattle. In 1940, 300 men from all over the state of Washington attended a prayer breakfast for the new governor, Arthur Langlie. Vereide traveled through the Pacific Northwest, and later around the country, to develop similar groups. The nondenominational groups were meant to bring together civic and business leaders informally to share a meal, study the Bible, and develop relationships of trust and support.

By 1942, there were 60 breakfast groups in major cities around the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington and Vancouver. That same year, Vereide began to hold small prayer breakfasts for members of the U.S. House of Representatives, with an emphasis on low-key, informal fellowship and encouragement, with little publicity. The following year, members of the Senate began holding prayer breakfast meetings. Vereide began publishing a monthly newsletter called The Breakfast Luncheon Fireside and Campus Groups that contained a Bible study to be used by the groups, as well as information about activities of different groups and national meetings. The organization published a newsletter (sometimes more than one) through the years under various names, including The Breakfast Groups" Informer (ca. 1945-1946), The Breakfast Groups (ca. 1944-1953), International Christian Leadership Bulletin (ca. 1953-1954), Bulletin of International Christian Leadership (ca. 1954-1956), Christian Leadership (ca. 1957-1961), ICLeadership Letter (1961–1966), International Leadership Letter (ca. 1967), Leadership Letter (ca. 1963-1970).

In 1944, the movement was formally incorporated as the National Committee for Christian Leadership (NCCL) and its offices moved from Seattle to Chicago. The following year, Vereide changed the organization's name to International Christian Leadership (ICL) and moved it to Washington, D.C. In 1945 Vereide held his first joint Senate-House prayer breakfast meeting. He held another breakfast on June 16, 1946, attended by Senators H. Alexander Smith and Lister Hill, and US News and World Report publisher David Lawrence.

In January 1947, a conference in Washington led to the formation of the International Council for Christian Leadership (ICCL), an umbrella group for the national fellowship groups in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Hungary, Egypt, and China. ICCL was formally incorporated as a separate organization in 1953. ICL and ICCL were governed by different boards of directors, joined by a coordinating committee four members of ICCL's board and four from the ICL's executive committee. Eventually the Fellowship Foundation was created by the two organizations to maintain the Fellowship House in Washington as a spiritual service center.

By 1953 Vereide made his first entrée into the White House when President Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed to attend the first Presidential Prayer Breakfast. By that time, Vereide’s congressional core members included Senators Frank Carlson, and Karl Mundt.

By 1957, ICL had established 125 groups in 100 cities, with 16 groups in Washington, D.C.. Around the world, it had set up another 125 groups in Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Ethiopia, India, South Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Guatemala, Cuba, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Bermuda. During this time, future Fellowship Leader, Douglas Coe joined Vereide as assistant executive director of ICL in Washington, D.C.

After over thirty years of leading the Fellowship, Vereide resigned as executive director of ICL and was succeeded by Richard Halverson as acting director in 1963. Vereide continued to represent ICL at numerous speaking engagements and as director of Fellowship House and as founder-executive director emeritus. Doug Coe was appointed senior associate executive director.

Beliefs and Theology

The Fellowship's 501(c)(3) mission statement is:

To develop and maintain an informal association of people banded together, to go out as "ambassadors of reconciliation," modeling the principles of Jesus, based on loving God and loving others. To work with the leaders of other nations, and as their hearts are touched, the poor, the oppressed, the widows and the youth of their country will be impacted in a positive manner. It is said that youth groups will be developed under the thoughts of Jesus, including loving others as you want to be loved.

As Newsweek reports, the Fellowship has often been criticized by conservative and fundamentalist Christian groups for being too inclusive and not putting enough emphasis on doctrine or church attendance.

David Kuo, a member of the Fellowship and staffer in President George W. Bush's Office of Faith Based Initiatives, said of the Fellowship:

For all the hysteria about Christian organizations, the irony that the Fellowship is being targeted as a bad egg is jaw-dropping. This is so not Focus on the Family, this is so not the Christian Coalition. There are other Christian groups that are truly insane. Who purport to follow Jesus Christ and who I would submit do not. The Fellowship is a loosely banded group of people who have an affinity for Jesus.

Current Fellowship member and former US Representative Tony P. Hall (D-OH) said, "If people in this country knew how many Democrats and Republicans pray together and actually like each other behind closed doors, they would be amazed." The Fellowship is simply, "men and women who are trying to get right with God. Trying to follow God, learn how to love him, and learn how to love each other." When he lost his teenage son to leukemia, Hall says, "This family helped me. This family was there for me. That's what they do."

Hillary Clinton described meeting the leader of the Fellowship in 1993: “Doug Coe, the longtime National Prayer Breakfast organizer, is a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship to God.”

Author Jeff Sharlet did intensive research in the Family's archives, before the Family archives were closed to the public. He also spent a month in 2002 living at a Fellowship house near Washington, and wrote a magazine article describing his experiences. In his 2008 book about the Family, he criticizes their theology as elitist, an "elite fundamentalism" that fetishizes political power and wealth, consistently opposes labor movements in the US and abroad, and teaches that laissez-faire economic policy is "God's will." He criticizes their theology of instant forgiveness for powerful men as providing a convenient excuse so that elites who commit misdeeds or crimes can avoid accepting responsibility or accountability for their actions.

Jeff Sharlet's book was endorsed by several authorities, including Frank Schaeffer, once a leading figure of the Christian Right, who called Sharlet's book a "must read ... disturbing tour de force," and Brian McLaren, one of Time Magazine's "25 most influential evangelicals" in the U.S., who said: “Jeff Sharlet [is] a confessed non-evangelical whom top evangelical organizations might be wise to hire—and quick—as a consultant." Lisa Miller, who writes a column on religion at Newsweek since October 2006, however, called his book "alarmist" and says it paints a "creepy, even cultish picture" of the young, lower-ranking members of the Fellowship.

Controversial Leadership Model

Fellowship leader Doug Coe is described as preaching a leadership model, and a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, comparable to the blind devotion that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Pol Pot demanded from their followers. In one videotaped 1989 lecture series, Coe said, "Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had...But they bound themselves together in an agreement...Two years before they moved into Poland, these three men had...systematically a plan drawn out...to annihilate the entire Polish population and destroy by numbers every single house...every single building in Warsaw and then to start on the rest of Poland." Coe adds that it worked; they killed six and a half million "Polish people." Though he calls Nazis "these enemies of ours," he compares their commitment to Jesus' demands: "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 compares Jesus' teachings with the Red Guard during the Chinese Cultural Revolution:

I’ve seen pictures of young men in the Red Guard of China...they would bring in this young man’s mother and father, lay her on the table with a basket on the end, he would take an axe and cut her head off....They have to put the purposes of the Red Guard ahead of the mother-father-brother-sister -- their own life! That was a covenant. A pledge. That was what Jesus said.

David Kuo states that comparisons such as these aren't representative of the picture Douglas Coe was trying to paint:

Kuo says Doug Coe wasn’t lauding Hitler's actions. “What Doug is saying, it’s a metaphor. He is using Hitler as a metaphor. Jesus used that,” Kuo said. A metaphor for what? “Commitment,” Kuo answered. ... [A] close friend told NBC News that Doug Coe invokes Hitler only to show the power of small groups -- for good and bad. And, the friend said, Coe spends “99 percent” of his time during the sermons talking about the leadership model set by Jesus Christ.


The Fellowship has long been a secretive organization. It maintains no public website and conducts no public fundraising activities.

Prominent political figures have insisted that secrecy and/or privacy are essential to the Fellowship's operation. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan said about the Fellowship, "I wish I could say more about it, but it's working precisely because it is private."

At the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, President George H.W. Bush praised Doug Coe for what he described as “quiet diplomacy, I wouldn’t say secret diplomacy.”

In 2009, Chris Halverson, son of Fellowship co-founder Richard C. Halverson, said that a culture of secrecy is essential to their mission: "If you talked about it, you would destroy that fellowship."

From the 1930s to the 1960s it was organized as a more traditional religious association. In 1966, Fellowship founder Abraham Vereide became concerned about his organization's growing publicity and declared in a letter that it was time to “submerge the institutional image of [the Family].” Author Jeff Sharlet describes this shift in operation:

Thereafter, the Fellowship would avoid at all costs any appearance of an organization... Business would be conducted on the letterhead of public men, who would testify that Fellowship initiatives were their own. Finances would be more ‘man-to-man,’ which is to say, off the books.

In 1975, a member of the Fellowship's inner circle wrote to the group's chief South African member, that their political initiatives

...have always been misunderstood by 'outsiders.' As a result of very bitter experiences, therefore, we have learned never to commit to paper any discussions or negotiations that are taking place. There is no such thing as a 'confidential' memorandum, and leakage always seems to occur. Thus, I would urge you not to put on paper anything relating to any of the work that you are doing...[unless] you know the recipient well enough to put at the top of the page 'PLEASE DESTROY AFTER READING.'

The recipient made copies of this memo for other Fellowship members in Africa, one of which survives.

In 1974, after several Watergate conspirators had joined the Fellowship, an LA Times columnist discouraged further inquiries into Washington's "underground prayer movement", i.e. the Fellowship: “They genuinely avoid publicity...they shun it.”

In 2002, Doug Coe denied that the Fellowship sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast. Jennifer Thornett, a Fellowship employee, said that "there is no such thing as the Fellowship."

Former Republican Senator William Armstrong said the group has “made a fetish of being invisible.”

In the 1960s, when the organization first went "underground," the Fellowship began distributing, to involved members of Congress, confidential memos which stressed that “the group, as such, never takes any formal action, but individuals who participate in the group through their initiative have made possible the activities mentioned.”

Fellowship Member and Senator Sam Brownback describes Fellowship members' method of operation: “Typically, one person grows desirous of pursuing an action”—-a piece of legislation, a diplomatic strategy—-“and the others pull in behind.”  Indeed, Brownback has often joined with fellow Family members in pursuing legislation. For example, in 1999 he joined together with fellow Family members, Senators Strom Thurmond and Don Nickles to demand a criminal investigation of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and in 2005 Brownback joined with Fellowship member Sen. Tom Coburn to promote the Houses of Worship Act.

Finances and Funding

The Fellowship Foundation, which conducts no public fundraising activities, relies principally on private donations. In 2007, the group received nearly 16.8 million dollars. Among the Family's key supporters are billionaire Paul N. Temple, a former executive of Esso (Exxon) and the founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the Three Swallows Foundation. Between 1998 and 2007, Three Swallows made grants totaling $1,777,650 to the International Foundation, including $171,500 in 2004, $203,500 in 2005, and $145,500 in 2006.

Another supporter, Jerome (Jerry) A. Lewis, established Denver-based Downing Street Foundation to provide support to three organizations: the Family (Fellowship Foundation), Denver Leadership Foundation, and Young Life. Between 1999 and 2007, Downing Street donated at least $756,000 to the Family, in addition to allowing the Family to use its "retreat center."

Madelynn Winstead, a Downing Street director, was paid $21,500 by the Fellowship Foundation as managing director of the retreat center. Winstead also sits on the board of directors of ENDOW, a Catholic educational program that brings women together to discover their God-given dignity and to understand their role in humanizing and transforming society.

The Kingdom Fund (Kingdom Oil Christian Foundation t/a Twin Cities Christian Foundation) also provides support to the Family and World Vision.

The Family earns more than $1,000,000 annually through its sponsorship of the National Prayer Breakfast.


National Prayer Breakfast

The Fellowship is best known for organizing the National Prayer Breakfast, held each year on the first Thursday of February in Washington, D.C. First held in 1953, the event is now attended by over 3,400 guests including dignitaries from many nations. The President of the United States typically makes an address at the breakfast. The event is officially hosted by members of Congress. Leading Democrats and Republicans serve on the organizing committee, and leadership alternates each year between the House and the Senate.

At the NPB, the President usually arrives an hour early and meets with foreign leaders, usually of small nations, and perhaps a dozen other guests chosen by the Fellowship.

G. Philip Hughes, the executive secretary for the National Security Council in the George H.W. Bush administration, said, "Doug Coe or someone who worked with him would call and say, 'So and so would like to have a word with the president. Do you think you could arrange something?'"

However, Doug Coe has said that the Fellowship does not help foreign dignitaries gain access to U.S. officials. "We never make any commitment, ever, to arrange special meetings with the president, vice president or secretary of State," Coe said. "We would never do it."

At the 2001 Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearings for State Department officials, Fellowship member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) complained that the State Department had blocked then-President Bush from meeting with four foreign heads of state (Rwanda, Macedonia, Congo and Slovakia) at the NPB that year.

Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) said of Nelson's complaint: "I'm not sure a head of state ought to be able to wander over here for the prayer breakfast and, in effect, compel the president of the United States to meet with him as a consequence... Getting these meetings with the president is a process that's usually very carefully vetted and worked up. Now sort of this back door has sort of evolved."

“It [the NPB] totally circumvents the State Department and the usual vetting within the administration that such a meeting would require,” an anonymous government informant told sociologist D. Michael Lindsay. “If Doug Coe can get you some face time with the President of the United States, then you will take his call and seek his friendship. That’s power.”

Year Keynote Speaker Chairpersons
2006 King Abdullah II of Jordan and humanitarian/musician Paul Hewson (Bono)[54] Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Mark Pryor (D-AR)
2007 Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Human Genome Project Reps. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) and Jo Ann Davis (R-VA)
2008 Edward Brehm, Chairman of the United States African Development Foundation[55] Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Mike Enzi (R-WY)
2009 Former Prime Minister Tony Blair[56] Reps. Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI)

Prayer Breakfast movement

A primary activity of the Fellowship is to develop small support groups for politicians, including Senators and Members of Congress, Executive Branch officials, military officers, foreign leaders and dignitaries, businesspersons, and other influential individuals. Prayer groups have met in the White House, the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense. By the early 1970s, prayer groups, breakfasts, and luncheons, including those sponsored by ICL, had become commonplace in the Pentagon.

J. Edwin Orr, an advisor to Billy Graham and friend of Abraham Vereide, helped shape the prayer breakfast movement that grew out of ICL.

Role in international conflicts

The Fellowship was a behind-the-scenes player at the Camp David Middle East accords in 1978, working with President Jimmy Carter to issue a worldwide call to prayer with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

President Carter hosted former Senator Harold E. Hughes, the President of the Fellowship Foundation, and Doug Coe, for a luncheon at the White House on September 26, 1978. Six weeks later, President Carter and the First Lady traveled by Marine helicopter to Cedar Point Farm, Hughes' home on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where he placed a telephone call to Menachim Begin.

The author Jeff Sharlet has criticized the Fellowship's influence on US foreign policy. He argues that Doug Coe and the Family's "networking" (or formation of prayer cells) between foreign dictators and US politicians, defense contractors, and industry leaders has facilitated military aid for repressive foreign regimes. Sharlet did intensive research in the Family's archives, kept at the Billy Graham Center, before the Family archives were closed to the public. Sharlet published a book about the history of the Family and its influence on US domestic and foreign policy from the 1920s to the present. Sharlet in particular details the relationship of the Family with General Suharto of Indonesia in the 1970s, and with Siad Barre of Somalia in the 1980s. Also, in the Family's archives, there are at least two nearly full boxes of documents describing the Family's relationship with Brazil's long dictatorship of the Generals.

Regarding his relationships with foreign dictators, Coe said in 2007, “I never invite them. They come to me. And I do what Jesus did: I don’t turn my back to any one. You know, the Bible is full of mass murderers.”

Private diplomacy

The LA Times examined the Fellowship's archives (before they were sealed) as well as documents obtained from several presidential libraries and found that the Fellowship has had extraordinary access and significant influence over U.S. foreign affairs for the last 50 years.

The Fellowship has funded the travel expenses of members of Congress to various hot spots throughout the globe, including Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Al.) to Darfur, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) to Lebanon, Rep. Aderholt to The Balkans, and Reps John Carter (R-Tex.) and Joseph Pitts (R.-Pa.) to Belarus.

In 2002, Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Tony P. Hall (D-Ohio) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan on a fact-finding congressional trip, meeting with the leaders of both Muslim countries. According to Pitts, "The first thing we did when we met with [Afghan] President Karzai and [then Pakistan] President Musharraf was to say, 'We're here officially representing the Congress; we'll report back to the speaker, our leaders, our committees, our government. But we're here also because we're best friends.... We're members of the same prayer group'".

Doug Coe has been dispatched to foreign governments with the blessing of congressional representatives and has helped arrange meetings overseas for U.S. officials and members of Congress. In 1979, for instance, Coe messaged the Saudi Arabian minister of commerce and asked him to meet with a Defense Department official who was visiting Riyadh, the capital.

The Fellowship has brought controversial international figures to Washington to meet with US officials. Among them are former Salvadoran Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, who in 2002 was found liable by a civil jury in Florida for the torture of thousands of civilians in the 1980s. He was invited to the 1984 prayer breakfast, along with Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, then head of the Honduran armed forces who was linked to a death squad and the CIA.

Douglas Coe was quoted in a rare interview regarding the Fellowship's associations with despots as explaining, "The people that are involved in this association of people around the world are the worst and the best, some are total despots. Some are totally religious. You can find what you want to find."

Coe also has claimed that the Fellowship does not help foreign dignitaries gain access to U.S. officials. "We never make any commitment, ever, to arrange special meetings with the president, vice president or secretary of State", Coe said. "We would never do it". The LA Times found that "the archives tell another story”.

In January 1991, Fellowship associate and financial supporter Michael Timmis met President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi on behalf of the Fellowship, then flew to Kenya with Arthur (Gene) Dewey, the former second-in-command at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Sam Owen, then living in Nairobi. Timmis wrote that he had obtained permission to fly over Tanzanian air space, even though the U.S. Department of State had ordered American citizens to stay clear of Tanzania.

The Fellowship has pushed for reconciliation between the warring leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. In 2001, the Fellowship helped arrange a secret meeting at The Cedars between Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame — one of the first discreet meetings between the two African leaders that led to a peace accord in July 2002.

In 1994 at the National Prayer Breakfast, the Fellowship helped to persuade South African Zulu chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi not to engage in a civil war with Nelson Mandela.

According to Jeff Sharlet, Senator Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) is a Fellowship member who leads a secret "cell" of leading U.S. Senators and Representatives to influence U.S. foreign policy. Jeff Sharlet reports that the group has stamped much of U.S. foreign policy through a group of Senators and affiliated religious organizations forming the "Values Action Team" or "VAT". One victory for the group was Brownback's North Korea Human Rights Act, which establishes a confrontational stance toward North Korea and shifts funds for humanitarian aid from the UN to Christian organizations.

The Fellowship is behind an international project called Youth Corps, a network of Christian youth groups that attract teenagers, and only later steer them to Jesus. The Youth Corps web site does not mention an affiliation to the Fellowship or religion. A non-public, internal Fellowship document, “Regional Reports, January 3, 2002,” lists some of the nations where Youth Corps programs are in operation: Russia; Ukraine; Romania; India; Pakistan; Uganda; Nepal; Bhutan; Ecuador; Honduras and Peru.

Fellowship dollars have gone to an orphanage in India, a program in Uganda that provides schooling, and a development group in Peru.

The Fellowship and Uganda

The Fellowship, through Senator Brownback and Representative Joe Pitts (R.-Pa.), redirected millions in US aid to Uganda from sex education programs to abstinence programs, thereby causing an evangelical revival, which included condom burnings, and doubling the incidence of AIDS.

In a November 2009 NPR interview, Jeff Sharlet alleged that Ugandan Fellowship associates David Bahati and Nsaba Buturo were behind the recent proposed bill in Uganda that called for the death penalty for gays.

Sharlet reveals that David Bahati, the Uganda legislator backing the bill, reportedly first floated the idea of executing gays during The Family's Uganda National Prayer Breakfast in 2008. Mr. Sharlet described Mr. Bahati as a "rising star" in the Fellowship who has attended the National Prayer Breakfast in the United States and, until the news over the gay execution law broke, was scheduled to attend this year's U.S. National Prayer Breakfast.

Family member Bob Hunter gave an interview to NPR in December in which he acknowledged Bahati's connection but argued that no American associates support the bill.

Fellowship Involvement in Extra-marital Affairs of Politician Members

In 2009, the Fellowship received media attention in connection with three prominent Republicans politician members who reportedly engaged in extra-marital affairs. Two of them, Senator John Ensign, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee in the Senate and the fourth ranking in his party’s Senate leadership, and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, immediate past Chair of the Republican Governors Association and U.S. Representative from 1995–2001, were considering running for President in 2012. The affairs of Ensign and then-Congressman Chip Pickering, R-Miss., took place while they were living at the C Street Center. Each of the three voted to impeach Bill Clinton for trying to cover up his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Role in the Affair of Senator John Ensign

Senator John Ensign, Fellowship member and longtime resident of the C Street Center, admitted in June 2009 to an extra-marital affair with Cindy Hampton, his campaign treasurer and the wife of his co-chief of staff, longtime friend and fellow worshipper, Doug Hampton.

The Washington Post reported that the C Street "house pulsed with backstage intrigue, in the days and months before the Sanford and Ensign scandals" and that residents tried to talk each politician into ending his philandering, escalating into an emotional meeting to discuss "forgiveness" between Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's mistress, and Senator Tom Coburn.

Doug Hampton said he was not directly advised by the Fellowship to cover up Senator Ensign's affair with his wife, but instead to "be cool." Doug Hampton said the Fellowship felt they needed a more powerful voice to confront Ensign, and reached out to C Street resident and conservative leader Senator Tom Coburn. After initially denying it, Senator Coburn admitted that he tried to broker a settlement between Doug Hampton and Senator Ensign that would have prevented Senator Ensign's affair with Cindy Hampton and his dealings with Doug Hampton from being disclosed to the public.

Coburn, with Timothy and David Coe, leaders of the Fellowship, attempted to intervene to end Ensign's affair in February 2008 by meeting with Mr. Hampton and convincing Ensign to write a letter to Ms. Hampton breaking off the affair. Ensign was chaperoned by Senator Coburn and other C Street members from the Fellowship at C Street, where Ensign lives with Coburn, to a Federal Express office to post the letter. Hours thereafter Senator Ensign called Ms. Hampton to tell her to ignore the letter and flew out to spend the weekend with her in Las Vegas.

In connection with the affair, Senator Ensign reportedly engaged in conduct which, if true, would amount to felonies according to Melanie Sloan, executive director of the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The reported misconduct includes a $96,000 payment from Senator Ensign's parents which Hampton claims was an unreported severance payment for the termination of his position as co-chief of staff for Senator Ensign, Mr. Hampton receiving a job as a lobbyist allegedly at the behest of Senator Ensign, Senator Ensign allegedly helping Mr. Hampton in his role as a lobbyist to lobby the Senator in violation of a one year lobbying ban on ex-Senate staffers, and Mr. Hampton's additional charge that Senator Ensign sexually harassed his wife. The Senate Ethics Committee and the Department of Justice are investigating the charges related to illegal lobbying and subpoenas have been issued.

Mr. Hampton said he feels his friends at C Street have abandoned him by choosing to close ranks around Ensign and that for them the episode "is about preserving John [Ensign], preserving the Republican party, this is about preserving C Street." One of Doug Coe's grandchildren, Belen R. Coe, was a paid intern in Senator Ensign's office in 2004.

Role in affair of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, a Congressman from 1995 to 2001, admitted in June 2009 to having an extramarital affair and said that during the months prior to news breaking he had sought counseling at the C Street Center.

Governor Sanford’s affair was revealed when, during his last secret trip to Argentina in June 2009, he left no contact information and told his staff that he was hiking the Appalachian trail.

When asked during a press conference if his wife and family knew about his affair before his last trip to Argentina, the Governor said, “Yes. We've been working through this thing for about the last five months. I've been to a lot of different—as part of what we called "C Street" when I was in Washington. It was, believe it or not, a Christian Bible study—some folks that asked members of Congress hard questions that I think were very, very important. And I've been working with them.”

Sanford "was a frequent visitor to the home for prayer meetings and meals during his time in Congress".

Congressman Chip Pickering

In 2009, Pickering's wife filed a lawsuit against the alleged mistress of her husband, a former six-term Republican Congressman from Mississippi. The lawsuit alleges that Pickering restarted a relationship with Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd, his college sweetheart, while he was "a United States congressman prior to and while living in the well-known C Street Complex in Washington, D.C."

International Roots

Sir Vivian Gabriel, a British Air Commission attaché in Washington during World War II, established a branch of the Family (International Christian Leadership Association) in the United Kingdom. Ernest Williams, a member of the directing staff of the British Admiralty and a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Evangelism, served as its president in the 1960’s. Williams worked closely with Harald Bredesen, a British intelligence operative who went on to personally mentor Rev. Pat Robertson in the United States.

Property holdings

The Family owns many properties.

Fellowship House

(133 C Street SE, Washington, DC. Three-story brick 7,914-square-foot (735.2 m2) rowhouse.)

Known as the "C Street Center" or "Fellowship House," this 1890 townhouse, located behind the Madison Annex of the Library of Congress and near the United States Capitol, has 12 bedrooms, nine bathrooms, five living rooms, four dining rooms, three offices, a kitchen, and a small "chapel".

Rooms are rented to United States Senators and members of Congress who stay there as resident members of the Fellowship, reportedly paying $600 a month in room and board.

The house is also the locale for:

  • The Family's Wednesday prayer breakfasts for United States Senators, which has been attended by Senators Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, James Inhofe, John Ensign and Susan Collins
  • A Tuesday night dinner for members of Congress and other Fellowship associates.
  • An annual Ambassador Luncheon. The 2006 event was attended by ambassadors from Turkey, Macedonia, Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Belarus, Mongolia, Latvia, and Moldova.

Until 2009, the property was exempt from real property taxes because it was classified as a "special purpose" use. District of Columbia law exempts from taxation "buildings belonging to religious corporations or societies primarily and regularly used for religious worship, study, training, and missionary activities" and "buildings belonging to organizations which are charged with the administration, coordination, or unification of activities, locally or otherwise, of institutions or organizations entitled to exemption." In August 2009 it was reclassified; a DC city official said "it was determined that portions are being rented to private individuals for residential purposes. As a result, the exemption was partially revoked and adjusted so that only 34 percent is now tax-exempt and 66 percent has become taxable."

Formerly used as a convent for nearby St. Peter's Catholic Church, 133 C Street was the headquarters of Ralph Nader's Congress Watch in the 1970s. In 1980, the building was purchased by Youth with a Mission, Washington, D.C., Inc. (also known as Youth with a Mission National Christian Center, Inc.) YWAM took a note from Alexandro Palau in the principal amount of $448,873.33 to purchase the property. A 1981 modification of the note was signed by Fellowship member Ron Boehme in his capacity as President of YWAM, Washington, D.C. and witnessed by Michael Davidson as its secretary.

Asked about YWAM in 2009, Richard Carver, a retired Air Force general and the President of the Fellowship Foundation, told the Washington Post that his Fellowship group is affiliated with the house, but that he has never heard of Youth With a Mission of Washington, DC, and that he did not have a phone number for it. Carver later said that he had spoken with someone who "at one time was involved with the house" and had "heard secondhand" that the organization that runs the house is "subscribing to the no-comment."

The Woodmont Enclave

The Fellowship owns a number of properties, including the estate known as the Cedars (Doubleday Mansion) located at 2301 North Uhle Street (2145 24th Street North) in the Woodmont neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia. This property, which was purchased by the Fellowship in 1978, includes two additional residences known as the "well house" and "carriage house," the latter of which is used by Doug Coe. The Cedars was determined to be a "place of worship" by the Zoning Administrator in 1976.

Coe has described Cedars as a place "committed to the care of the underprivileged, even though it looks very wealthy." He noted that people might say, "Why don't you sell a chandelier and help poor people?" Answering his own question, Coe said, "The people who come here have tremendous influence over kids." Private Fellowship documents indicate that Cedars was purchased so that "people throughout the world who carry heavy responsibilities could meet in Washington to think together, plan together and pray together about personal and public problems and opportunities." The Cedars hosts a prayer breakfast for foreign ambassadors on Tuesday morning.

In March 1990, YWAM (which also previously owned the C Street Center) purchased a nearby property located at 2200 24th Street North for $580,000.The property, now known as Potomac Point, is used as a women's dormitory. Ownership of Potomac Point was transferred to the C Street Center on May 6, 1992, and again to the Fellowship Foundation on October 25, 2002. Potomac Point had been owned by Doug Coe's son, Timothy, who sold the property to his parents on November 30, 1989, for $580,000.

A second property, known as Ivanwald, located at 2224 24th Street North and assessed at $916,000, is used as a men's dormitory by the Fellowship. This property was purchased by Jerome A. Lewis and Co. in 1986, and sold to the Wilberforce Foundation in 1987. In 2007, the Wilberforce Foundation transferred Ivanwald to the Fellowship Foundation for $1 million. Jerome A. Lewis is a trustee emeritus of the Trinity Forum and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Petro-Lewis Corporation.

At one time, Doug Coe and his wife, Janice, owned nearby 2560 North 23rd Road, which they sold to Congressman Tony P. Hall (D-OH) and his wife on September 22, 1987, for $100,000. Hall donated $20,000 to the Fellowship Foundation on September 4, 2002,, $1,500 to the Wilberforce Foundation, and $1,000 to the Jonathan Coe Memorial of Annapolis, Maryland during the 2001 campaign cycle.

The residence located at 2244 24th Street North, and assessed at $1,458,800, is owned by Merle Morgan, whose wife, Edita, is a director of the Fellowship. It also is identified as the offices of the Fellowship Foundation and Morgan Bros. Corp. (d/b/a Capitol Publishing). Fellow Fellowship director and member Fred Heyn and his wife own 2206 24th Street North.

LeRoy Rooker, the one-time treasurer of the Fellowship and former Director of the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education, and his wife own 2222 24th Street North.

Arthur Lindsley, a Senior Fellow at the C.S. Lewis Institute owns 2226 24th Street North.

Cedar Point Farm

According to White House records dating from 1978, President Jimmy Carter traveled to Cedar Point Farm by Marine helicopter on November 12, 1978, to attend a Fellowship prayer and discussion group. President Carter placed a call to Menachim Begin while at Cedar Point Farm. The White House records reflect that Cedar Point Farm was owned by Harold Hughes, a former Senator from Iowa and the President of the Fellowship Foundation. Cedar Point Farm was later used by the Wilberforce Foundation.

Other Family Properties

  • "Southeast White House", located at 2909 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, which is used by various community-based organizations. This property is assessed at $736,310 for 2009 tax year.
  • "19th Street House," a two-story, brick apartment building located at 859 19th Street NE, in the Trinidad neighborhood of northeast Washington, D.C., which is assessed at $358,250 for the 2009 tax year. The 19th Street Center is used for afterschool activities.
  • Mount Oak Estates, Annapolis, Maryland. One residential property, formerly owned by Timothy Coe, was sold to Wilberforce Foundation, Inc. for $1.1 million. A second residence is owned by David and Alden Coe and a third is owned by Fellowship associate Marty Sherman. Another nearby property, 1701 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard, is owned by the Fellowship Foundation.
  • Until 1994, the Fellowship operated from the "Fellowship House", a large estate located at 2817 Woodland Drive in Washington, D.C., which was sold to the Ourisman family for more than $2.5 million.

See Also


  1. Belz, Emily; Pitts, Edward Lee (August 29, 2009). "All in the Family". World Magazine. http://www.worldmag.com/articles/15778. Retrieved August 14, 2009. 
  2. D. Michael Lindsay, Faith in the Halls of Power, p.35. Quoted in The Family by Jeff Sharlet,
  3. Charles Colson, Born Again, Spire, 1977.
  4. Sharlet, Jeff (2008). The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. HarperCollins. 
  5. Jeff Sharlet, The Family (Harper, 2008), p.259
  6. Republican Senate Sex Scandals Point Back to Secretive Conservative Christian "Family"
  7. Roig-Franzia, Manuel (June 26, 2009). "The Political Enclave That Dare Not Speak Its Name". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/25/AR2009062504480.html. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  8. Miller, Lisa (September 8, 2009). "House of Worship". Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/id/214986. Retrieved August 14, 2009. 
  9. Records of the Fellowship Foundation - Collection 459". Billy Graham Center - Archives. Wheaton College. November 7, 2007. http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/GUIDES/459.htm. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  10. "The Archives Bulletin Board: Presidential Prayer Breakfasts". Billy Graham Center - Archives. Wheaton College. January 6, 1999. http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/bulletin/bu9901.htm. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  11. Eisenhower, Dwight D. (February 5, 1953). "Remarks at the Dedicatory Prayer Breakfast of the International Christian Leadership". The American Presidency Project. UCSB. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=9851&st=international+christian&st1=. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  12. Obama, Barack (February 5, 2009). "This is my hope. This is my prayer". White House. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog_post/this_is_my_prayer/. Retrieved June 20, 2009. 
  13. Getter, Lisa (September 27, 2002) (fee required), Showing Faith in Discretion, Los Angeles Times, http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/196922601.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT, retrieved 2009-12-28 
    Free copy available at Getter, Lisa (September 27, 2002). "Showing Faith in Discretion". Los Angeles Times. http://www.toobeautiful.org/lat_020927.html. Retrieved 2009-12-28.
  14. http://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/CorporateLlcController
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External links


We will leave it up to the reader to determine whether The C Street Fellowship aka "The Family" has made serious errors in in judgment.  The Family has supported a Conservative Christian Extremist Cult position especially when it comes to Church and State issues.  It is apparent from the data collected, that the first amendment is in danger from The Family's past and future actions. The Members of the Family who make ethical transgressions will be consigned to the Ninth Level of Hells.

The Family's office like others we called, stated that their position is that Hindu, Shintoists, or Witches aren't "Real" religions. And that The Family Christians will take over the World!"  What is a real religion?  What you have been practicing?  Read the following and remember: "By their Works may they be known."  This is a summary of information collected from several sources about The Family.

(Remember it is best to investigate on your own when looking at allegations about anyone.     Don't believe us, think for yourself and investigate for yourself!  And remember, the Religious Freedom Coalition does not represent any political party nor do we recommend any political candidate, nor are we involving ourselves in the political process.  BUT, we are here to expose hypocrites who abuse our trust in them and will not stand for public officials lying and CHEATING!!!  This information is only for students of The Fellowship aka The Family)

The Associated Press wrote about the Fellowship in 2003. Interesting to note that Sen. John Ensign, who admitted to an extramarital affair, is also closely affiliated with the group and is a resident of C Street:

Six members of Congress live in a $1.1 million Capitol Hill town house that is subsidized by a secretive religious organization, tax records show.

The lawmakers, all Christians, pay low rent to live in the stately red brick, three-story house on C Street, two blocks from the Capitol. It is maintained by a group alternately known as the "Fellowship" and the "Foundation" and brings together world leaders and elected officials through religion.

The Fellowship hosts receptions, luncheons and prayer meetings on the first two floors of the house, which is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a church.

The six lawmakers—Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; and Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev. and Sam Brownback, R-Kan.—live in private rooms upstairs.

Rent is $600 a month, DeMint said.

"Our goal is singular—and that is to hope that we can assist them in better understandings of the teachings of Christ, and applying it to their jobs," said Richard Carver, a member of the Fellowship's board of directors who served as an assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration.

The house, valued at $1.1 million, is owned by the C Street Center, a sister organization of the Fellowship. It received more than $145,000 in Fellowship grants between 1997 and 2000, according to IRS records—including $96,400 in 1998 for reducing debt.

Its tenants dine together once a week to discuss religion in their daily lives.

"We do have a Bible study," said DeMint, a Presbyterian who asked to move into the house less than a year ago when there was a vacancy. "Somebody'll share a verse or a thought, but mostly it's more of an accountability group to talk about things that are going on in our lives, and how we're dealing with them."

Few in the Fellowship are willing to talk about its mission.

It organizes the annual National Prayer Breakfast attended by the president, members of Congress, and dignitaries from around the world. The group leaves its name off the program, even though it spent $924,373 to host the event in 2001, bringing in $606,292 in proceeds, according to the most recent available IRS records, and pays travel expenses for foreign officials to attend. 


With their reported $13 billion tax-exempt financial empire, the Mormons may be the wealthiest cult in America — and Scientology may be the big thing among the rich and powerful in Hollywood — but when it comes to political power neither of those sects holds a candle to the Family, the Christian extremist political group that operates the now infamous C Street house on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Members of the Family have occupied seats in both houses of Congress going back to the 1930s, but for all but its most recent history, the hallmark of the Family has been secrecy. In the past year, however, three sex scandals involving highly placed associates — Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.; Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.; and Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss. — have thrust the group and its C Street house into the national spotlight.

And just this month, Family members Rep. Bart Stupak, a Catholic Democrat from Michigan, and Rep. Joe Pitts, an evangelical Republican from Pennsylvania, brought more attention to the secretive group when their Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed as part of the House health-care reform bill, threatening to further restrict abortion funding for the poor, if it remains in the final bill. (Pitts, like all his GOP colleagues, voted against the bill, even though it included his amendment.)

But what many people may find surprising is that the Family has branches around the world. In fact, yesterday, Jeff Sharlet, author of “The Family: Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,” reported on NPR’s “Fresh Air” that it was a Family member in the Ugandan parliament who introduced a bill that would increase the punishment for homosexuality from life imprisonment, which is the maximum sentence today, to death:

SHARLET: [The] new legislation adds to this something called aggravated homosexuality. And this can include, for instance, if a gay man has sex with another man who is disabled, that’s aggravated homosexuality, and that man can be – I suppose both, actually, could be put to death for this. The use of any drugs or any intoxicants in seeking gay sex – in other words, you go to a bar and you buy a guy a drink, you’re subject to the death penalty if you go home and sleep together after that. What it also does is it extends this outward, so that if you know a gay person and you don’t report it, that could mean – you don’t report your son or daughter, you can go to prison.

And it goes further, to say that any kind of promotion of these ideas of homosexuality, including by foreigners, can result in prison terms. Talking about same sex-marriage positively can lead you to imprisonment for life. And it’s really kind of a perfect case study and the export of a lot of American largely evangelical ideas about homosexuality exported to Uganda, which then takes them to their logical end.

And who is David Bahati?

SHARLET: [The] legislator that introduces the bill, a guy named David Bahati, is a member of the Family. He appears to be a core member of the Family. He works, he organizes their Uganda National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which the Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda…

Looking at the Family’s 990s [IRS records], where they’re moving their money to – into this African leadership academy called Cornerstone, which runs two programs: Youth Corps, which [it] has described in the past as an international “invisible family binding together world leaders” and also, an alumni organization designed to place Cornerstone grads – graduates of this sort of very elite educational program and politics and NGO’s through something called the African Youth Leadership Forum, which is run by – according to Ugandan media – which is run by David Bahat…

So who are the members of Congress who belong to the Family and tolerate, if not encourage, this sort of extremism overseas? According to Jeff Sharlet, while most cult members are Republicans, members of both parties are welcomed. “Jesus didn’t come to take sides,” the members are fond of saying. “He came to take over.”

The mainstream media avoids referring to the Family as a cult, but check out this description of the group’s belief system from Jeff Sharlet and decide for yourself:

They have a very unusual theology in the sense that they think that Christ had one message for an inner circle and then a kind of different message for a sort of slightly more outer circle. And then the rest of us, Christ told us little stories because, frankly, we couldn’t handle the truth. And the core members are those they think are getting the real deal.

In other words, only they, the members of the Family, truly know what is best for the rest of us.

If it walks like a cult and talks like a cult…

Listen to Terri Gross’ entire interview with Jeff Sharlet here.

Here’s the transcript of their discussion about the proposed Ugandan law:

Let’s talk about The Family’s connection to Uganda, where there’s, really, a draconian anti-gay bill that has been introduced into parliament. Uganda already punishes the practice of homosexuality with life in prison. What would the new legislation do?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the new legislation adds to this something called aggravated homosexuality. And this can include, for instance, if a gay man has sex with another man who is disabled, that’s aggravated homosexuality, and that man can be – I suppose both, actually, could be put to death for this. The use of any drugs or any intoxicants in seeking gay sex – in other words, you go to a bar and you buy a guy a drink, you’re subject to the death penalty if you go home and sleep together after that. What it also does is it extends this outward, so that if you know a gay person and you don’t report it, that could mean – you don’t report your son or daughter, you can go to prison.

And it goes further, to say that any kind of promotion of these ideas of homosexuality, including by foreigners, can result in prison terms. Talking about same sex-marriage positively can lead you to imprisonment for life. And it’s really kind of a perfect case study and the export of a lot of American largely evangelical ideas about homosexuality exported to Uganda, which then takes them to their logical end.

GROSS: This legislation has just been proposed. It hasn’t been signed into law. So it’s not in effect and it might never be in effect. But it’s on the table. It’s before parliament. So is there a direct connection between The Family and this proposed Anti-Homosexual Legislation in Uganda?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the legislator that introduces the bill, a guy named David Bahati, is a member of The Family. He appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes the Uganda National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda.

GROSS: So you’re reporting the story for the first time today, and you found this story – this direct connection between The Family and the proposed legislation by following the money?

Mr. SHARLET: Yes, it’s – I always say that the family is secretive, but not secret. You can go and look at 990s, tax forms and follow the money through these organizations that The Family describe as invisible. But you go and you look. You follow that money. You look at their archives. You do interviews where you can. It’s not so invisible anymore. So that’s how working with some research colleagues we discovered that David Bahati, the man behind this legislation, is really deeply, deeply involved in The Family’s work in Uganda, that the ethics minister of Uganda, Museveni’s kind of right hand man, a guy named Nsaba Buturo, is also helping to organize The Family’s National Prayer Breakfast. And here’s a guy who has been the main force for this Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda’s executive office and has been very vocal about what he’s doing, and in a rather extreme and hateful way. But these guys are not so much under the influence of The Family. They are, in Uganda, The Family.

GROSS: So how did you find out that Bahati is directly connected to The Family? You’ve described him as a core member of The Family. And this is the person who introduced the anti-gay legislation in Uganda that calls for the death penalty for some gay people.

Mr. SHARLET: Looking at the, The Family’s 990s, where they’re moving their money to – into this African leadership academy called Cornerstone, which runs two programs: Youth Corps, which has described its in the past as an international quote, ?invisible family binding together world leaders,? and also, an alumni organization designed to place Cornerstone grads – graduates of this sort of very elite educational program and politics and NGO’s through something called the African Youth Leadership Forum, which is run by -according to Ugandan media – which is run by David Bahati, this same legislator who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

GROSS: Now what about the president of Uganda, President Museveni? Does he have any connections to The Family?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, first, I want to say it’s important that you said it, yeah, it hasn’t gone into law. It hasn’t gone in to effect yet. So there is time to push back on this. But it’s very likely to go into law. It has support of some of the most powerful men in Uganda, including the dictator of Uganda, a guy named Museveni, whom The Family identified back in 1986 as a key man for Africa.

They wanted to steer him away from neutrality or leftist sympathies and bring him into conservative American alliances, and they were able to do so. They’ve since promoted Uganda as this bright spot – as I say, as this bright spot for African democracy, despite the fact that under their tutelage, Museveni has slowly shifted away from any even veneer of democracy: imprisoning journalists, tampering with elections, supporting – strongly supporting this Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009.

He’s come out just this – just last week and said that this bill is necessary because Europeans are recruiting homosexuals in Uganda, that Europeans are coming in and trying to make Ugandans gay. And he’s been rewarded for this because this is sort of where these sort of social issues and foreign affairs issues and free market fundamentalist issues all come together.

GROSS: How did The Family create its relationship with Museveni?

Mr. SHARLET: In 1986, a former Ford official name Bob Hunter went over on trips at the behest of the U.S. government, but also on behalf of The Family, to which – for which both of which he filed reports that are now in The Family’s archives. And his goal was to reach out to Museveni and make sure that he came into the American sphere of influence, that Uganda, in effect, becomes our proxy in the region and that relationship only deepened.

In fact, in late 1990s, Hunter – again, working for The Family – went over and teamed up with Museveni to create the Uganda National Prayer Breakfast as a parallel to the United States National Prayer Breakfast into which The Family every year sends representatives, usually congressmen.

GROSS: What’s the relationship of Museveni and The Family now?

Mr. SHARLET: It’s a very close relationship. He is the key man. Now?

GROSS: So what does that mean? What influence does The Family have on him?

Mr. SHARLET: It means that they have a deep relationship of what they’ll call spiritual counsel, but you’re going to talk about moral issues. You’re going to talk about political issues. Your relationships are going to be organized through these associates. So Museveni can go to Senator Brownback and seek military aide. Inhofe, as he describes, Inhofe says that he cares about Africa more than any other senator.

And that may be true. He’s certainly traveled there extensively. He says he likes to accuse the State Department of ignoring Africa so he becomes our point man with guys like Museveni and Uganda, this nation he says he’s adopted. As we give foreign aid to Uganda, these are the people who are in a position to steer that money. And as Museveni comes over, and as he does and spends time at The Family’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, a place called The Cedars, and sits down for counsel with Doug Coe, that’s where those relationships occur.

It’s never going to be the hard sell, where they’re going to, you know, twist Museveni’s arm behind his back and say do this. As The Family themselves describes it, you create a prayer cell, or what they call – and this again, this is their language from their documents – an invisible believing group of God-led politicians who get together and talk with one another about what God wants them to do in their leadership capacity. And that’s the nature of their relationship with Museveni.


Excerpts from an Article in Huffington Post  by Mike Papantonio Posted: August 4, 2009

Since 1935, "The Family" has been able to operate unnoticed in the Washington Beltway. The organization got its start when a group of inheritance babies organized to attack Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Since its beginning, one goal of the organization has been to remain invisible. But that invisibility is disappearing because of the sensational sex lives of GOP South Carolina Governor Mark Sandford and Republican Nevada Senator John Ensign. From the time it was reported that Ensign and Sandford were members of The Family, there has been a new media revelation every week about this secretive group that recruits conservative politicos to further The Family's political agenda. Five years before National Public Radio or corporate media spent a minute exposing this creepy organization, investigative reporter Jeff Sharlet had written a book that detailed stories about The Family. Those stories should have caught the attention of any responsibly run media outlet, but investigative reporting in mainstream media has been dead for a decade.

It was the sex scandals of Family members Sandford and Ensign that put the operations of The Family on the media's front page.

Here's what those two GOP sex scandals brought to light: Ensign lived in an elegant townhouse on C Street in the Washington Beltway. It is the place where Ensign carried on his extramarital affairs. That townhouse was owned by The Family. It is the same townhouse where Sharlet found six U.S. congressman living together in 2003. It wasn't a normal rental arrangement. The rent they were paying was so low that it was apparent that The Family was providing a subsidized living arrangement for those politicians. Now the Ensign scandal is finally driving a possible investigation into what kind of political favors The Family expected of their low rent tenants.

I interviewed Sharlet in 2004. He seemed frustrated back then that no one was paying attention to the relationship between neo-con politicians for hire and The Family. What did The Family want from its well- connected political members?

Sharlet uncovered documents that show that The Family's political doctrine suggests that Stalin and Mao represent the best role models of leadership through absolute strength. Sharlet's documents show that a fundamental part of The Family's political beliefs is that strict authoritarian rule is the most acceptable form of government and that the hand picked elite politicos in their organization are the ones most capable of promoting that iron-fisted doctrine. Today the short list of the politicos revealed to be part of the Family includes Republicans James Inhofe, Sam Brownback, John Ashcroft, Ed Meese, and Jim Demint. That list is growing daily. National media such as NPR is now reporting stories about how The Family has by way of huge money and political influence propped up some of the world's most ruthless dictators to promote authoritarian policy. The Family's money and fingerprints have been traced to the support of mass murdering "Papa Doc" Duvalier and Somalia's doctor death, General Siad Barre.

After years of an effort to move this evolving story through the dull brain of traditional media, Sharlet has finally made it clear that what he has uncovered is far from tin foil-hat material. Stay tuned.

Rachel Maddow Draws Fire From GOP Rep. For Reporting On 'The Family' (VIDEO)

Excerpts from an article posted on Huffington Post by Jason Linkins on 07-14-09

Apparently, "The Rachel Maddow Show" has drawn fire from the office of Congressman Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) over a segment aired last week on The Family, an organization that's best known for organizing the National Prayer Breakfast but becoming better known for "C Street." C Street is a house where several members of Congress reside, and through which Mark Sanford and John Ensign are receiving some sort of undefined "counseling" for their extramarital affairs.

Apparently, the fooferaw between Wamp, who lives at "C Street," and Maddow stems from a segment she did last Friday, in which she quoted a Knoxville News Sentinel article titled, "Wamp, housemates hurt by links to scandals." I'll quote the entire section. The bolded portion is what Maddow read on the air last Friday:

"These are trying times, and, obviously, with Sen. Ensign and Gov. Sanford, everybody is disappointed," Wamp said. "There is no doubt about that."

Ensign, of Nevada, and Sanford were both rising stars in the Republican Party, and Wamp said their transgressions have hurt the GOP and the conservative movement.

"There's no question that the blows to the party and the conservative movement are painful," he said. "But that just goes to show that no group of people is exempt from these kinds of problems."

Beyond that, Wamp declines to offer any insight into how his housemates are grappling with the scandal. The C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements, Wamp said, and he intends to honor that pact.

"I hate it that John Ensign lives in the house and this happened because it opens up all of these kinds of questions," Wamp said. But, he said, "I'm not going to be the guy who goes out and talks."

Since then, Wamp's office has complained to MSNBC, in a note that read: "This statement made by Ms. Maddow Friday night is false: 'Today he told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the members of Congress who live there are sworn to secrecy.' Congressman Wamp never said people who live or meet at C Street are sworn to secrecy because that is in no way true."

Maddow, last night, stood by her reporting, saying: "The on-the-record quotation from Mr. Wamp was that C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements. The News Sentinel characterized the agreement as a "pact." We called the News Sentinel today to see if they got that wrong, to see if Mr. Wamp's office had at least also called them to say the quote was wrong -- to demand a retraction or correction. They said they haven't heard from him."

If there is a dime's worth of difference to split here, it lies with what was quoted on the record and what the newspaper characterized from the statements given by Wamp. It can be fairly said that Wamp never said, on the record, that "C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements." That's the newspaper, paraphrasing Wamp. Similarly, "pact" is the newspaper's characterization. Nowhere in the article is Wamp quoted as describing something as a pact.

Nevertheless, it's hard to fault the logical leaps Maddow is making, based upon what she read in the newspaper. Clearly, Wamp is party to some sort of agreement to secrecy. And Maddow is right to be aggrieved over the fact that she is fielding these complaints, and not the News Sentinel, as she is merely repeating the conclusions reached by their reporter.

In that case, I have to agree with Maddow when she says, "But Congressman Wamp, if you say something to your hometown paper that sounds bad when repeated on national television, don't blame the person reading your quote back to you for how creepy that quote makes you sound."


Jesus plus nothing: Undercover among America's secret theocrats [Harper's]


MADDOW: But first, we have had a strange response today to our recent reporting on The Family, a secretive religious organization that, among other things, runs a house in Washington called C Street where a number of members of Congress live. We spent time on this show both Thursday and Friday talking about The Family because it's emerged as a key player in both major Republican sex scandals of the summer in which family values preaching politicians who have demanded resignation of other politicians for having affairs have themselves now admitted to affairs but are showing no signs of intending to resign.

The two scandals are of those of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada Senator John Ensign. Senator Ensign lives in the C Street house maintained by The Family. The husband of his mistress says other members of Congress who lived at C Street both knew about his affair and counseled Senator Ensign on how to resolve it. Governor Sanford name-checked C Street explicitly in his press conference in which he announced his affair, saying he had received counseling about the affair from C Street while it was ongoing but still secret.

On Friday's show I quoted an account from the Knoxville News Sentinel in which a member of Congress who lives at C Street described one of the most worrying aspects of this shadowy, powerful organization -- its secrecy. The Congressman in question is Zach Wamp of Tennessee. He has lived at C Street for a dozen years and here is what I said about him on Friday.

[VIDEO CLIP] Zach Wamp of Tennessee is a Republican member of Congress who says he has lived in the C Street house for 12 years. Today he told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the members of Congress who live there are sworn to secrecy. Quoting from the News Sentinel, "The C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements, Wamp said, and he intends to honor that pact. 'I hate it that John Ensign lives in the house and this happened because it opens up all of these kinds of questions,' Wamp said. But, he said, "I'm not going to be the guy who goes out and talks."

That was on this show on Friday. Today Congressman Wamp's office contacted our office to complain about what I said saying, quote, "This statement made by Ms. Maddow Friday night is false: 'Today he told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the members of Congress who live there are sworn to secrecy.' Congressman Wamp never said people who live or meet at C Street are sworn to secrecy because that is in no way true."

The on-the-record quotation from Mr. Wamp was that C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements. The News Sentinel characterized the agreement as a "pact." We called the News Sentinel today to see if they got that wrong to see if Mr. Wamp's office had at least also called them to say the quote was wrong to demand a retraction or correction. They said they haven't heard from him.

Turns out that Zach Wamp's office is only complaining to us. Until we have reason to believe Mr. Wamp was lying when he said C Street residents have all agreed not to speak about C Street or his home state paper, was lying when they attributed the quote to him, I am going to have to stand by what I said. If I have said something untrue on this program I am quite literally, not kidding, more than happy to correct it. But Congressman Wamp, if you say something to your hometown paper that sounds bad when repeated on national television, don't blame the person reading your quote back to you for how creepy that quote makes you sound. I'm tempted to add something here about bearing false witness but I shall refrain.


Hillary's Nasty Pastorate

Excerpts from an article on Huffington Post by Barbara Ehrenreich posted March 19, 2008

There's a reason why Hillary Clinton has remained relatively silent during the flap over intemperate remarks by Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. When it comes to unsavory religious affiliations, she's a lot more vulnerable than Obama.

You can find all about it in a widely under-read article in the September 2007 issue of Mother Jones, in which Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet reported that "through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the "Fellowship," aka The Family. But it won't be a secret much longer. Jeff Sharlet's shocking exposé, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power will be published in May.

Sean Hannity has called Obama's church a "cult," but that term applies far more aptly to Clinton's "Family," which is organized into "cells" -- their term -- and operates sex-segregated group homes for young people in northern Virginia.  In 2002, writer Jeff Sharlet joined the Family's home for young men, foreswearing sex, drugs, and alcohol, and participating in endless discussions of Jesus and power. He wasn't undercover; he used his own name and admitted to being a writer. But he wasn't completely out of danger either. When he went outdoors one night to make a cell phone call, he was followed. He still gets calls from Family associates asking him to meet them in diners -- alone.

The Family's most visible activity is its blandly innocuous National Prayer Breakfast, held every February in Washington. But almost all its real work goes on behind the scenes -- knitting together international networks of rightwing leaders, most of them ostensibly Christian. In the 1940s, The Family  reached out to former and not-so-former Nazis, and its fascination with that exemplary leader, Adolph Hitler, has continued, along with ties to a whole bestiary of murderous thugs. As Sharlet reported in Harper's in 2003:

During the 1960s the Family forged relationships between the U.S. government and some of the most anti-Communist (and dictatorial) elements within Africa's postcolonial leadership. The Brazilian dictator General Costa e Silva, with Family support, was overseeing regular fellowship groups for Latin American leaders, while, in Indonesia, General Suharto (whose tally of several hundred thousand "Communists" killed marks him as one of the century's most murderous dictators) was presiding over a group of fifty Indonesian legislators. During the Reagan Administration the Family helped build friendships between the U.S. government and men such as Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, convicted by a Florida jury of the torture of thousands, and Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, himself an evangelical minister, who was linked to both the CIA and death squads before his own demise. 

At the heart of the Family's American branch is a collection of powerful rightwing politicos, who include, or have included, Sam Brownback, Ed Meese, John Ashcroft, James Inhofe, and Rick Santorum. They get to use the Family's spacious estate on the Potomac, the Cedars, which is maintained by young men in Family group homes and where meals are served by the Family's young women's group. And, at the Family's frequent prayer gatherings, they get powerful jolts of spiritual refreshment, tailored to the already-powerful.

Clinton fell in with the Family in 1993, when she joined a Bible study group composed of wives of conservative leaders like Jack Kemp and James Baker. When she ascended to the senate, she was promoted to what Sharlet calls the Family's "most elite cell," the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, which included, until his downfall, Virginia's notoriously racist Senator George Allen. This has not been a casual connection for Clinton. She has written of Doug Coe, the Family's publicity-averse leader, that he is "a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God."

Furthermore, the Family takes credit for some of Clinton's rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing "religious freedom" in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics.

What drew Clinton into the sinister heart of the international right? Maybe it was just a phase in her tormented search for identity, marked by ever-changing hairstyles and names: Hillary Rodham, Mrs. Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and now Hillary Clinton. She reached out to many potential spiritual mentors during her White House days, including new age guru Marianne Williamson and the liberal Rabbi Michael Lerner. But it was the Family association that stuck.

Sharlet generously attributes Clinton's involvement to the underappreciated depth of her religiosity, but he himself struggles to define the Family's theological underpinnings. The Family avoids the word Christian but worship Jesus, though not the Jesus who promised the earth to the "meek." They believe that, in mass societies, it's only the elites who matter, the political leaders who can build God's "dominion" on earth. Insofar as the Family has a consistent philosophy, it's all about power -- cultivating it, building it, and networking it together into ever-stronger units, or "cells." "We work with power where we can," Doug Coe has said, and "build new power where we can't."

Obama has given a beautiful speech on race and his affiliation with the Trinity Unity Church of Christ. Now it's up to Clinton to explain -- or, better yet, renounce -- her longstanding connection with the fascist-leaning Family.


Ensign's "C Street House" Owned By Group Touting Plans For Christian World Control

Excerpts from an article on Huffington Post by Bruce Wilson on July 11, 2009

Most recently covered by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Washington D.C.'s  "C Street House" has over the past two weeks become the center of a media firestorm. Along with GOP Senator Tom Coburn, sex-scandal embroiled GOP leaders Senator John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford have been tied to the row house, assessed to be worth 1.84 million dollars, which is registered as a church and provides Washington politicians with substantially lower than market rate rent. Coburn and Ensign have lived at the C Street house, while Sanford has participated in its Bible study group.

According to the Washington Post the house is owned by Youth With a Mission D.C.   Youth With a Mission is one of the most extensive Christian fundamentalist para-church organizations on Earth, and YWAM founder leader Loren Cunningham has publicly outlined a vision for Christian world-control.

In a 2008 promotional video, "Reclaiming 7 Mountains of Culture", Loren Cunningham describes a vision he shared along with the late Campus Crusade For Christ founder Bill Bright and late Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer, in which Christian fundamentalists could achieve world domination by taking over key sectors of society such as business, government, media, and education.

Francis Schaeffer is widely credited as one of the most influential theologians of the 20th Century Christian right. Among the myriad ministries of Bill Bright's behemoth Campus Crusade For Christ is the Washington D.C. ministry Christian Embassy that targets Pentagon leaders for evangelizing.

The C Street House is run by a secretive Washington ministry known as The Family, or The Fellowship. Over the past year and a half, The Family has gradually come to public attention, mainly due to journalist and Harpers editor Jeff Sharlet's ground breaking book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. The Family  runs the yearly National Prayer Breakfast and maintains a network of Capital Hill prayer groups which have enjoyed the participation of both top GOP but also top Democratic Party Congress and Senate members.

The Family runs but does not own the C Street House. According to a  June 26th, 2009 Washington Post story, by Manuel Roig-Franzia, "The Political Enclave That Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Sanford and Ensign Scandals Open a Door On Previously Secretive 'C Street' Spiritual Haven", the C Street House is owned by a "little-known organization called Youth With a Mission of Washington DC."

Youth With a Mission is a global Christian evangelical organization founded in 1960 which, declares YWAM, is "currently operating in more than 1000 locations in over 149 countries, with a staff of nearly 16,000."

As Cunningham introduces Reclaim 7 Mountains of Culture, "It was August, 1975... and the Lord had given me, that day a list of things that I had never thought about before. He said, 'This is the way to reach America, and nations, for God.' "

The video continues with a narrator who declares, "In every city of the world, an unseen battle rages for dominion over God's creation and the souls of people. This battle is fought on seven strategic fronts, looming like mountains over the culture, that shape and influence its destiny. Over the years, the church slowly retreated from its place of influence on these mountains, leaving a void now filled with darkness. When we lose our influence, we lose the culture and when we lose the culture we fail to advance the kingdom of God. And now, a generation stands in desperate need. It's time to fight for them and take back these mountains of influence."

Reclaim 7 Mountains of Culture then outlines seven areas of influence for Christian fundamentalists to reclaim:

  • The Mountain of Government, "where evil is either restrained or endorsed",


  • The Mountain of Education, "where truths, or lies, about God and his creation are taught.",


  • The Mountain of Media, "where information is interpreted through the lens of good or evil",


  • The Mountain of Arts and Entertainment, "where values and virtue are celebrated or distorted",


  • The Mountain of Religion, "where people worship God in spirit and truth, or settle for a religious ritual",


  • The Mountain of Family, "where either a blessing or a curse is passed onto successive generations and,


  • The Mountain of Business, "where people build for the glory of God or the glory of man."


The last is the key mountain, proclaims the video: "those who lead this mountain influence what controls our culture."

Youth With a Mission also runs a global Christian evangelism educational ministry headquartered at the University of the Nations 45 acre campus in Kona, Hawaii.

As one example in which organizations such as YWAM are implementing the Reclaiming the 7 Seven Mountains agenda, the university has developed programs to provide its students with real world skills such as media and film production.

One of the graduates from the Kona university is Loren Cunningham's son, David Loren Cunningham, who founded the Film Institute in 2004 with other University of Nations students, to place students in the film industry in order to transform Hollywood from within. Cunningham directed Path to 911, the controversial television film aired on ABC on September 10 and 11, 2006 and covered at The Huffington Post by journalist Max Blumenthal.

The Political Enclave That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The Sanford and Ensign Scandals Open a Door On Previously Secretive 'C Street' Spiritual Haven

Mentioned during Gov. Mark Sanford's news conference as the site of
Mentioned during Gov. Mark Sanford's news conference as the site of "a Christian Bible study," this home in Southeast is the residence of congressmen including Sen. John Ensign, who last week admitted to an affair. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)


Excerpts from an article by Manuel Roig-Franzia, a Washington Post Staff Writer, on June 26, 2009

No sign explains the prim and proper red brick house on C Street SE.

Nothing hints at its secrets.

It blends into the streetscape, tucked behind the Library of Congress, a few steps from the Cannon House Office Building, a few more steps to the Capitol. This is just the way its residents want it to be. Almost invisible.

But through one week's events, this stately old pad -- a pile of sturdy brick that once housed a convent -- has become the very nexus of American scandal, a curious marker in the gallery of capital shame. Mark Sanford, South Carolina's disgraced Republican governor and a former congressman, looked here for answers -- for support, for the word of God -- as his marriage crumbled over his affair with an Argentine woman.  John Ensign, the senator from Nevada who just seven days earlier also was forced to admit a career-shattering affair, lives there.

"C Street," Sanford said Wednesday during his diffuse, cryptic, utterly arresting confessional news conference, is where congressmen faced "hard questions."

On any given day, the rowhouse at 133 C St. SE -- well appointed, with American flag flying, white-and-green-trimmed windows and a pleasant garden -- fills with talk of power and the Lord. At least five congressmen live there, quietly renting upstairs rooms from an organization affiliated with "the Fellowship," the obsessively secretive Arlington spiritual group that organizes the National Day of Prayer breakfast, an event routinely attended by legions of top government officials. Other politicians come to the house for group spirituality sessions, prayer meetings or to simply share their troubles.

The house pulsed with backstage intrigue, in the days and months before the Sanford and Ensign scandals -- dubbed "two lightning strikes" by a high-ranking congressional source. First, at least one resident learned of both the Sanford and Ensign affairs and tried to talk each politician into ending his philandering, a source close to the congressman said. Then the house drama escalated. It was then that Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's mistress, endured an emotional meeting with  Sen. Tom Coburn, who lives there, according to the source. The topic was forgiveness.

"He was trying to be a peacemaker," the source said of Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma.

Although Sanford visited the house, there is no indication that he was ever a resident; when he was in Congress from 1995 to 2000, the parsimonious lawmaker was famous for forgoing his housing allowance and bunking in his Capitol Hill office. But it is not uncommon for residents to invite fellow congressmen to the home for spiritual bonding. There, Sanford enjoyed a kind of alumnus status. Richard Carver, president of the Fellowship Foundation, said, "I don't think it's intended to have someone from South Carolina get counseling there." But he posited that Sanford turned to C Street "because he built a relationship with people who live in the house."

People familiar with the house say the downstairs is generally used for meals and prayer meetings. Volunteers help facilitate prayer meetings, they said. Residents include  Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.),  Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), Ensign and Coburn. None of the congressmen agreed to be interviewed for this article. But associates of some of Ensign's housemates privately worried that the other residents would be tarred by the scandals.

"That two fell doesn't prove that the house -- which has seen many members of Congress pass through and engage in Bible studies -- doesn't mean that the house has failed," said conservative columnist Cal Thomas, who once spoke to a group of interns at the house. "If that was the standard, the whole Congress would be corrupt."

The house's residents mostly adhere to a code of silence about the place, seldom discussing it publicly, lending an aura of mystery to what happens inside and a hint of conspiratorial speculation. In a town where everyone talks about everything, the residents have managed largely to keep such a refuge to themselves and their friends. On a street mostly occupied by Hill staffers and professionals in their 20s and early 30s, some of the Democratic staffers nicknamed it "the Prayer House." On summer evenings, the congressmen would sometimes sit out front smoking cigars and chatting, but what went on inside stayed inside.

The house, which is assessed at $1.84 million, is registered to a little-known organization called Youth With a Mission of Washington DC. Carver, who said his Fellowship group is affiliated with the house, said that he has never heard of Youth With a Mission of Washington DC and that he did not have a phone number for it. Later, he said, he spoke with someone who "at one time was involved with the house" and had "heard secondhand" that the organization that runs the house is "subscribing to the no-comment."

"They've done a very good job of creating an atmosphere as separated as it can possibly be from the tensions of the city . . . a spiritual retreat from the cacophony and distraction of Capitol Hill," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, who has attended prayer meetings at the house. "But I've questioned in the past the highly secretive nature of it. The secretive nature of it has come off as a bit too clever. It places them at risk of suspicion about their motives. It hasn't served them well."

All of which made Sanford's nationally televised mention of "what we called C Street" the more enticing.

"It was a, believe it or not, a Christian Bible study," he said, departing from the tight-lipped ways of the house's denizens.

Schenck's group, Faith and Action, operates a less-shrouded Capitol Hill home used for Bible study -- but not as a residence for congressmen -- a haven he says was inspired by the house on C Street. He wonders whether the C Street house might have been too "accommodating" about the foibles, the sins, of its residents and friends. All in the name of attracting the famous and the powerful to its ministries.

"We're tempted," Schenck said, "to make room for their weaknesses."

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