Scott Horton - September 29, 2:41 PM, 2010
Harper’s contributing editor Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to report on the Family’s C Street power base on Capitol Hill from the inside. Now he has updated his reporting with a new comprehensive look at the Family’s quiet and carefully obscured influence on American government, foreign policy, and the military, and a survey of the scandals that have finally put C Street on the nation’s political map. I put six questions to Sharlet about his new book, C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy.
1. Let’s start with a bit of Scripture. Acts 9:15 says, “This man is my chosen instrument to take my name… before the Gentiles and their kings.” How is this understood by the men who gather in C Street?
The clue is in the emphasis the Family puts on those last two words. “Their kings” is italicized in the document from which I quote it in the book, “Eight Core Aspects of the vision and methods.” It was distributed to potential new members of the Family, the organization behind C Street, at the 2010 National Prayer Breakfast, the Family’s only public event. Every year, the Family uses American political leaders—they refer to them as “bait”—to attract foreign leaders they want to evangelize. The focus is on leaders, or “kings.” The Family twists Acts 9:15 into a justification for a complete inversion of Christianity, a faith that, whatever else one thinks of it, was born of a radically egalitarian premise. To the C Streeters, Christianity is all about elites. They pay lip service to helping the poor, but they believe the best way to help the weak is to help the strong.