WaPo Discovers C Street

Kudos to Citizen92 who first asked where Tom Coburn and John Ensign lived together, which led me to figure out that it was at "the Family’s" C Street residence. Because, now that TPMM and I keep posting on the connection between a shady Christian group and the latest Republican affairs, the WaPo has decided to cover it (or at least the house, without much discussion of "the Family," and certainly no link to the blog that first covered it).

Mostly, though, the WaPo catches people trying to disassociate from the hypocritical adulterers.

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." [my emphasis]

Sorry, Cal Thomas. "The whole of Congress" does not practice the same kind of sanctimonious hypocrisy. And "the whole of Congress" does not exploit moralistic platitudes to accrue power.

So while you may not think it a failure for an organization that tries to mobilize faux Christian spirituality in pursuit of power, it is a failure that "the Family" owns.

84 replies
  1. Leen says:

    EW have you ever listened to the program that Diane Rehm did on the “Family” a while back? That was the first time I had ever heard such in depth coverage on this group


    11:00Jeff Sharlet: “The Family” (Harper)

    It’s one of the most influential and least well known organizations in the country. The Family, also known as The Fellowship, consider themselves followers of Christ, and individuals responsible for changing the the world. An inside look at the power and history of The Family.

    Jeff Sharlet, a contributing editor for “Harper’s” and “Rolling Stone,” and an associate research scholar at New York University’s Center for Religion and Media.

    • bmaz says:

      You know, I have nothing for this holier than thou bunch of backwards hypocrites, but calling them Mafia like seems a bit inappropriate.

      • Leen says:

        listen to that program that I linked at the Diane Rehm site. When I listened to that program it sure sounded similar to the mafia…well I guess they did not physically snuff people out.

        People who hide behind the crosses around their necks sure get under my skin (must have been those 18 years in the Catholic world)

  2. Mary says:

    I’m thinking they need less spiritual bonding time spent sharing their full sized Bathsheba “action figure.”

    Maybe a little more time spent with the classified torture pictures and experiencing some repentance.

    • Leen says:

      thanks for that link. what a great exit article
      “When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney’s lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby’s lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles.

      And while this wasn’t as readily apparent until President Obama took office, it’s now very clear that the Bush years were all about kicking the can down the road – either ignoring problems or, even worse, creating them and not solving them. This was true of a huge range of issues including the economy, energy, health care, global warming – and of course Iraq and Afghanistan.

      How did the media cover it all? Not well. Reading pretty much everything that was written about Bush on a daily basis, as I did, one could certainly see the major themes emerging. But by and large, mainstream-media journalism missed the real Bush story for way too long. The handful of people who did exceptional investigative reporting during this era really deserve our gratitude: People such as Ron Suskind, Seymour Hersh, Jane Mayer, Murray Waas, Michael Massing, Mark Danner, Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau (better late than never), Dana Priest, Walter Pincus, Charlie Savage and Philippe Sands; there was also some fine investigative blogging over at Talking Points Memo and by Marcy Wheeler. Notably not on this list: The likes of Bob Woodward and Tim Russert. Hopefully, the next time the nation faces a grave national security crisis, we will listen to the people who were right, not the people who were wrong, and heed those who reported the truth, not those who served as stenographers to liars.

      It’s also worth keeping in mind that there is so very much about the Bush era that we still don’t know.”

      ***and emptywheel and team stay on the beat

    • Redshift says:

      Actually, Russert got anti-kudos:

      Notably not on this list: The likes of Bob Woodward and Tim Russert.

    • Petrocelli says:

      He smacked Woodward & Timmeh twice:-

      1. Notably not on this list (of those deserving praise): The likes of Bob Woodward and Tim Russert.

      2. Hopefully, the next time the nation faces a grave national security crisis, we will listen to the people who were right, not the people who were wrong, and heed those who reported the truth, not those who served as stenographers to liars.

      As Jim Carrey would say, Froomkin was Smokin’ !

      • Leen says:

        Bob “groupthink” Woodward: The Plame outing and investigation “much ado about nothing”

        When Woodward came to visit Ohio University recently it was a sickening display of kissing his ass by the Scripps School of Journalism here at Ohio University. They gave him awards and then all he talked about was how great and clever he was back in the day and then spent a half an hour talking about how bad Iran is. Part of the let’s undermine Iran and repeat unsubstantiated claims about Iran crowd.

        The audience was not allowed to ask direct questions we had to write them down and then they were filtered through by the host of the event.

  3. SaltinWound says:

    You know they’ve got nothing when they’re reduced to arguing that “the house” hasn’t failed.

  4. damagedone says:

    Three things that I am wodering how they fit into this story timeline:
    1. Who mailed the e-mails to The State newspaper months earlier?
    2. There are pictures of Gov. Sanford flying out of Columbia airport but the state vehicle was found in the Atlanta airport. Sanford returned to the Atlanta airport. Who brought the state vehicle to the Atlanta airport and why?
    3. Lindsey Graham admitted to some ‘failures’ after the Ensign Story broke. He may have used different wording. Why would he even comment?

    • Watson says:

      Who mailed the e-mails to The State newspaper months earlier?

      Rumor had it that NY gov Spitzer’s misdeeds were initially unearthed by private investigators in the employ of folks whom Spitz had antagonized when he was NYAG probing fraud on Wall Street.

      So, in addition to dad-in-law and “the family” who had a motive to bring Sanford down, perhaps there are some disgruntled South Carolinian power players who didn’t appreciate his grandstanding with the stimulus $$.

        • cinnamonape says:

          Jenny Sanford sys she found out in January. The emails supposedly were sent to the State in December. If “The Family” were involved one would suspect it would have been after the “counselling”. It would also raise the issue of how the Gov.s email was accessed.

          There is some speculation out there that the emails came from the jilted husband, though if he threw his wife out two years ago (other rumors) then how he obtained her more recent emails might be a problem.

        • esseff44 says:

          That’s what I have been saying since they came out. She’s the most likely person to have access to his personal e-mail and she would have motive for wanting the affair exposed if it seemed he was not able to break it off.

          He said in his confession he had seen Maria 3 times since the first trade mission/spark. I have not seen anything that put the other meetings before or after the Mizus finds out. She’s been stewing while he vacillated.

    • esseff44 says:

      1. The leaker of the e-mails is still a mystery.
      2. The State vehicle was left at the Columbia airport. He probably flew to Atlanta to connect to a flight to Argentina. There a saying in those parts that if you die, before you get to heaven or hell, you still have to go through Atlanta.

      3. Lindsey Graham is a Republican Senator from Sanford’s state and they would be close at least politically. It’s natural he would defend him and sympathize. IOKIYAR, after all. There has been a lot of speculation about those ’sins’ of Graham.

  5. Minnesotachuck says:

    the connection between a shady Christian group and the latest Republican affairs

    The adjective “Shady” has much more appropriate connotations than “Shadowy!”

  6. rincewind says:

    Hurray for Dan F, just hope wherever he lands appreciates him.

    WRT 133 C Street article: how cute that they managed to scrape up 2 Dem residents! (and isn’t Mike Doyle a new name?)

    Another jarring note — what’s with this Richard Carver disavowing any knowledge of the registered owner of the property? and then sorta-kinda saying ’somebody’ told him ‘no comment’? He’s the Pres of the Fellowship Foundation, which he said is “affiliated” with the house, and he’s got nothing on the org that legally owns it?

  7. manys says:

    “Bible study,” is that what they’re calling adultery now? Seems a bit cynically ironic to me, but hey, it’s not my house.

    And now, back to the gratuitous OT. Seems like a good time to maybe talk about Michael Jackson since this C-Street thing isn’t a big deal.

  8. Mary says:

    Froomkin wasn’t exactly giving Woodward and Russert kudos – iow, he committed one of the biggest of sins – he said St. Bob and St. Timmy did bad jobs, while at the same time invoking TPM and Marcy as doing good jobs.

    I wanted to leave a note for him, but I’m damned if, having learned to forget all the WaPo sign in info, I’m going to revisit that mess.

  9. Rayne says:

    The bit we really need to do a little more work on here at home in Michigan:

    Why is Bart Stupak, a solid Democratic rep, hanging out with these fundie freaks?

    • Petrocelli says:

      “We can only hope that this delay is a sign that the forces of transparency within the Obama administration are winning over the forces of secrecy and that the report will ultimately be released with minimal redactions,” – ACLU attorney Amrit Singh

      So do we, Amrit … so do we.

        • skdadl says:

          1 July is a holiday. In Canada. *wink*

          The CIA are obviously trying to sneak something past Ishmael and Petro and reader and me while we’re celebrating Confederation.

  10. Citizen92 says:

    I’ve got to pick up a copy of Sharlet’s The Family. The book may cover some of my questions so I do apologize.

    As other threads and commenters have pointed out, DC records presently show the 133 C Street as belonging to ‘Youth With A Mission Washington DC.’ YWAM-DC acquired the house in 1978.

    YWAM-DC is just one of many local cells of the greater YWAM umbrella group.

    Incorporation records at that address pull up two different (possibly dated, hits).

    The Fellowship Foundation, Inc (Plano, IL-registered corporation) lists its address as 133 C in a 4/3/78 filing.

    The C Street Center (DC-registered corporation) lists its address as 133 C in a 12/11/80 filing.

    The Fellowship Foundation seems to track back to Lett & Associates of Plano, IL which tracks back to Raymond (”Ray”) P. Lett. Mr. Lett was the Illinois State Executive Director for the USDA’s Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service in 1976.

    During the Reagan Administration, Lett came to DC with Agriculture Secretary John Block. Lett was the Secretary’s Executive Assistant (’84), Assistant Secretary for Marketing and Inspection Services (’85-’86) and head of Intergovernmental Affairs from ‘86 onward. Ray Lett appears to written the Christian western book “Patriot Rebel” around ‘05.

    • Citizen92 says:

      The Illinois State Corporation record show Raymond Lett as the current registered agent of the Fellowship Foundation, Inc. The record also shows that the Fellowship Foundation incorporated in 1942. (Link to IL SoS here (you have to type in Fellowship Foundation).

      This would seem to be consistent with what we know about the Family’s DC presence:

      Since the mid-1930s the Fellowship has used weekly prayer meetings, National Prayer Breakfasts and powerful connections to champion an extreme religious and political agenda. Its founder, Abraham Vereide, was a Methodist evangelical from Seattle who believed that Communists were wrecking America.

      As the story goes, Vereide had a vision one night. A bright light appeared, and a voice spoke to him. To bring people in power back to God, he organized weekly prayer meetings for local businessmen and government leaders. By 1942 the gatherings had spread to Washington, D.C., starting with invitations to members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Soon about 100 congressmen were attending.

      • Citizen92 says:

        (Not sure if this is connected, or just a coincedence)

        There also appears to be a nonprofit Lett & Associates religious organization in Moss Point, MS run by a Tonya Moyé (neé Tonya N. Lett). Tonya appears to be a public school teacher.

        Lett & Associates in MS seem to have received HUD dollars in 2005. Tonya personally seems to have received a $3,000 loan from the SBA as well.

      • Citizen92 says:

        There are several records in DC’s deeds directory, although none are easily visible online (either have to purchase the images or trudge down to the registry).

        But it appears as though the house was purchased by YWAM-DC in 1978 and was financed with a loan by the Madison Bank. There may have been some financing problems mid-1980’s. The loan was rolled over in the mid-80’s with the same institution. Records stop about 1991 when it appears the loan for the building was paid off.

  11. Citizen92 says:

    You can see The Fellowship’s IRS 990 tax returns here:

    Enter 530204604 in the EIN field. It will bring up ‘Fellowship Foundation Inc. T/A International Foundation’.

    You’ll note the 133 C (”C Street Center”) is listed as affiliated but exempt… Which means they are claiming that house as their “church” and, since churches are exempt from filing tax returns, well…

    • PJEvans says:

      Maybe the zoning people can go after them? I don’t think religious property should be used for housing elected officials, especially if they’re paying money for the privilege.

      • Citizen92 says:

        I wish!

        The District of Columbia government has limited home rule, and all budgetary matters arcanely flow through Congress. DC cannot even spend its own city (”state”) tax revenue withoug Congress’ approval.

        Because of that DC is unlikely to target an organization which benefits powerful Members of Congress, even if that organization is flagrantly out of line. The damage it could do to other District matters is not worth it. Members interfere regularly in DC home affairs, like when Senator Ensign scuttled DC gun laws

        And even if DC wanted to, and had the authority, they probably couldn’t deliver. The Tom DeLay-affilated lobbyist shop Alexander Strategy Group was operating out of a residential townhouse that immediately backs up to the C Street Center. Neighbors complained but nothing ever happened.

    • Citizen92 says:

      This has been pointed out elsewhere, but I thought I’d bring it into this thread…

      The “Three Swallows Foundation” of Clifton, VA has been a very generous donor to the Fellowship Foundation’s 133 C Street, SE, DC address. Three Swallows happens to donate a significant amount of their $ every year to The Fellowship Foundation.


      In 2006 – $145k
      In 2005 – $203k
      In 2004 – $172k
      In 2003 – $148k
      In 2002 – $221k
      In 2001 – $132k
      In 2000 – $224k

      These are by far the largest single grants Swallows makes every year.

  12. orionATL says:

    several posts back, mad dog pointed me to an article about “the family” in harpers by jeff sharlet.

    i read the article.

    i can’t say the group sounds all that alarming in terms of their specific political agenda.

    but in terms of their uses and ends of spirituality, the current head, doug coe, with his emphasis on all personalities merging into one, sounds a lot like another jim jones, another david koresh, another religious despot…, just less charismatic, more low key.

    i learned that the original founder of the group (in the 1930’s) had a strong affinity for hitler and that “the family” has maintained a fondness for a number of despots around the globe – very international don’t you know.

    i’d rate the federalist society and the chamber of commerce, as greater current threats to our particular brand of democracy. oh, and media corporations who will not do persistent, serious reporting.

    • prostratedragon says:

      Hoekstra wouldn’t surprise me, but of course that was Sanford with that tripe. Roughly every second utterance from him convinces me he’s nutz.

      • Mary says:

        Yeah, it was Sanford, I was poking a little fun at the Hoekstra meme repeating itself.

        Hoekstra is just like the oppressed Iranians

        Sanford is just like a biblically annointed king who sleeps with his soldier’s wife. I’m guessing he forgets the part where David had Uriah killed – or maybe there’s more to the story than we know yet? I swear I was joking this morning with the Bathsheba action figure reference, but Sanford apparently has taken the “I am King David” theme and run with it. Since David didn’t “resign” as King, why should he?

        I am waiting for anyone with a legible version of the Bible to ask the Uriah follow ups. “So Gov, are you saying that you also arranged for the death of your lover’s husband or are you saying that if you had killed someone to sleep with her, then you still shouldn’t have to resign bc King David didn’t?”

  13. runfastandwin says:

    Watching the pathetic attempts by republicans and conservatives to spin out of the ever widening revelation of their holier than thou hypocrisy and watching the ever quickening swirl of their entire philosophy and world view down the toilet of history is extremely gratifying to me. In fact it is the best thing to happen in American politics since LBJ enacted civil rights legislation. Maybe even since Lincoln freed the slaves.

  14. Valley Girl says:

    This is by the by, but I can’t see that anyone’s linked this- I read it at the time- fwiw- and it gave me the creeps

    Hillary’s Nasty Pastorate

    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.

  15. Citizen92 says:

    Don’t analyze the Sanford-King David thing too closely.

    What Sanford is saying is genuine, top shelf, Family-speak.

    Look back to 2003’s “Meet The Family” article and interview with Jeff Sharlet

    Sharlett: But at the upper levels (of the Family) there is this weird emphasis on the Old Testament. It’s in the story, they talk about King David, who in some ways was a really bad guy. They are really interested in the biblical concept that whether you are good or bad it doesn’t matter, what matters is whether you are chosen. That’s part of the Hitler Concept. It doesn’t matter whether Hitler was good or bad, Hitler was chosen for leadership. That was part of God’s plan. Nothing happens that isn’t part of God’s plan.

    • dosido says:

      Wow, hypocrites sure know how to distort the message. I just googled David and Bathsheba and just in the first couple of hits, the bible sites offer this as the key message:

      A remorseful David repented and was instantly forgiven by a merciful God. But he could not escape the consequences of his actions.

      The story of David and Bathsheba typifies the consequences of sin and the various types of consequences that exist. The immediate consequences of sin are a loss of fellowship with God and the resultant separation can be extremely painful. Anyone who has ever had an intimate relationship with God will understand how unbearable it is to have the harmony in the relationship broken. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” David begged God in the heart rending 51st psalm.

      God answered David’s prayer and restored him to salvation and fellowship just as he restores us when we turn to him in true repentance.

      But there are often future consequences as well, with shame, suffering and sorrow following us for the rest of our lives. David’s reputation was forever tarnished by what he did. Even more seriously, five people died as a direct result of David’s sin leading in untold misery for many others. Four were David’s own children, including the child he had with Bathsheba.

      So even if you are “chosen”, you still have to pay the piper. I can just imagine someone spelling out this out, a sort of Nathan, who tells our David, hey, don’t go to Argentina, it’s bad and your kids will die, and him saying “uh, OK, I can live with that”.

  16. kbskiff says:

    “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.”

    Is this Senator DeMint(R)SC?

    Seems I remember a local newspaper article mentioning he was a resident there (”C” street) as well.

    Makes sense, Sanford was drawn into the group by someone.

    • kbskiff says:

      Well he lives there anyway.

      Here is another name to add to the mix, Warren “Cubby” Culberson.

      Lot of C’s in that name.


      “In the audience at the press conference was Warren “Cubby” Culbertson, whom the governor made a point of singling out, calling him “a spiritual giant” who has been helping him work through his troubles.

      Culbertson runs a court reporting business in Columbia and is a co-founder of a Bible study group there, according to several media reports.

      Sanford also said he’s been working with people affiliated with “what we called ‘C Street’ when I was in Washington.”

      C Street is a six-bedroom house in Washington owned by a religious organization called the Fellowship, which is credited with launching the National Prayer Breakfast. The house is typically rented at below-market rates to Christian members of Congress, including Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

      Sanford said he turned to Culbertson and his other spiritual advisers five months ago, when his wife learned of the affair.

  17. Valley Girl says:

    Just out of curiosity, is “C Street” “The Cedars” or another place?

    At the heart of The Family’s American branch is a collection of powerful right-wing 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.

    same link as in my earlier comment.

    • Citizen92 says:

      The Cedars is a mansion in Arlington, VA and the “headquarters.” There are two support buildings, called Ivanwald (for men) and Potomac Point (for woman) who staff both The Cedars as well as the C-Street house in DC.

      Doug Coe lives in the Cedars.

      The C Street house really doesn’t have a name.

    • Peterr says:

      Different place, but the same outfit runs them both. The C Street facility is a former convent, converted into a townhouse.

      Hilary’s connection to The Family is tenuous, at best. It’s a very patriarchal outfit, and girls are definitely second class folks there.

      Jeff Sharlet’s “The Family” takes a good look at them, and he did a Book Salon chat here with Siun.

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      Wouldn’t want to have any meals served by men, would they. Keep the gals in their place.

  18. kbskiff says:

    I wonder how much money christians have to have before their “counsel” is considered worthy? It doesn’t look to me like they get much advice from poor christians, just wealthy benefactors who benefit them financially and politically.

    • dosido says:

      Yeah, not all christians believe in egalitarianism. My kids were invited to a Bible teen group but I didn’t know the whole who was welcome in whose house thing. If the meeting was held in our friends’ homes, we were welcome. When the meeting was held in a certain zip code, we were not. We left and did not return. Frankly, I was waiting for the axe to fall cuz I could smell the sanctimony from my porch!

  19. eCAHNomics says:

    Does anyone else find it creepy that these repressed men live and pray together, to save money and their souls?

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      Yes, very creepy. Barack Obama lived by himself in his own bachelor pad, probably because he’s a normal dude. And didn’t want to shack up with other dudes and look at their messy towels and shower grunge.

  20. Sara says:

    Yes, anyone wanting to get to the heart of “The Family” needs to get a copy of Jeff Sharlet, and settle down for a careful read.

    I’ve known about this outfit since I was a kid — a small piece of the story was the “cause” behind something my youthful father did back in the 1930’s, when he organized a loud and provocative demonstration against Frank Buchman at the Mayflower Hotel in Akron Ohio about 1935. Sharlet covers Buchman and the Oxford Movement’s relationships back to that date with the groups that became “The Family” or “The Fellowship” — they have changed their name nearly every decade. Understanding the groups in the 1930’s requires one comprehend the fights to organize Labor during the depression, particularly the CIO. The Buchman Oxford Movement, The Family and the Fellowship — all of it is part of the “set” of anti-labor activity, is now and always has been. The money comes from Industralists who wish to deprive labor of the rights to organize — and as Sharlet points out in his book — much of the money for the organization is “off the books.”

    My Daddy and his buddies in Akron in the 30’s, got together and broke up the public prayer meetings at the Mayflower Hotel that were organized by the Buchmanites, for the purpose of listening to the public confessions of Alcoholism by Harvey Firestone Jr — son of the founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, (best friends with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford). This was at the same time (same week) that John L. Lewis was holding huge labor meetings every night — thousands in the Armory, thousands more in the street, supporting the workers who were conducting the first Sit-down Strike of that 30’s era. The Armory was about two short blocks from the Mayflower — so on one side of High Street you had thousands of very hungry and angry rubber workers suffering from 50% unemployment, wage cuts of about 40% over a year or two, and frequently less than ten hours work per week if they got any — and of course the speed-up. The workers were in thread-bare overalls, patched shoes — many didn’t have a winter coat.

    The “prayer meetings” featured the “management” of the five Rubber Companies, and much of the rest of official Akron, the lawyers, the bankers, the department store owners and all — all dressed in Tux and evening dresses as if they were attending the opera and an afterparty, instead packing the Mayflower Ballroom, fixed up with flowers, flags, and a few odd pieces of classic plaster sculpture — all gathered to pray with Harvey Junior for the cause of getting off the bottle. The whole idea was to put forward the notion that what ailed the economy was poor Harvey’s alcoholism, and if he could be saved through public confession of his sins and weaknesses, the world would right itself.

    Anyhow, my Daddy and his friends would go to those meetings — dressed appropriately, find places in the balcony, and at the proper moment in that sawdust trail upscale event, they would shout out. Sometimes they shouted bible verses that were appropriate (rich men going through the eye of a needle was an old standard) but they also had some good John L. Lewis lines too. They did it call and response, just like one might find in a good down home revival meeting. Then they would leave singing Labor Songs, and march up the hill to the Labor Rally. Since the Akron Newspapers were only covering the Buchman event, and did not send reporters to cover the thousands listening to John L. Lewis — it was a way of getting at least a mention in the news. You know, “about 50 well dressed young men questioned the authenticty of the Harvey Firstone’s conversion experience, raising the spiritual temperature, and then departed for a Labor Event.” It was colorful, and it caught on in some other cities when Buchman was brought in to try to defuse Union Talk.

    By the way — after about a week of this, the upper crust finally decided to hold their spiritual events privately in their West Hill Mansions — and when Buchman left town, the same group was the seed of what became Alcoholics Anonymous. The Doctor, Bill W. who “founded” AA was part of the spiritual group around the Firestones. There are many common threads, particularly the notion of public confession. And oh yea, eventually old Harvey Firestone had to sign a Union Contract with Lewis’s CIO. His buddy Ford needed the tires for his cars — and for decades the default rubber on a Ford was a set of five Firestones. But that doesn’t mean they ever internalized the belief that Labor has a right to organize. Same types, now 75 years later, still fighting the good fight with their house prayer meetings on Capitol Hill not all that far from the AFL-CIO building in DC where the strategizing as to how to pass card-check is going on. Some things never change. I wish as I write this, that some creative folk would hold an alternative prayer meeting in the street at the C-Street House, shout out some of those old social gospel bible verses, sing the appropriate hymns that go with them, and maybe throw in a Solidarity Forever as the Benediction.

    While the personalities fascinate in this — the real issue is about POWER. That is what the Family is all about. They are very much a branch of the evangelical movements interested in Theocracy put in service of business, industrial and financial interests.

    Just an added little note. I noticed that Maria, Sanford’s beloved down in Argentina, worked for bunge y born. I have no idea what she did, but that company is one of about six International Grain Trading companies that dominate the world grain and other food-stuffs trade. They are all privately held, all very secretive, all vast International mega corporations. One of the books I’ve read on this is Dan Morgan’s “Merchants of Grain.” It was first published in 79, later released in Penguin Paperback — I suspect it is out of print, but if you can find it used — strong recommendation. Just as we need to comprehend the world Oil Markets, we also need to understand grain. I have no idea whether Sanford’s choice of beloved’s has anything to do with the company she works for — but just reviewing the stuff in Morgan’s book on bunge y born got my imagination all juiced up. “The Family” goes for relationships with companies like bunge y born, just as they go for relationships with blood soaked dictatorships. As I say, it really isn’t all that much about religion or personalities, it is about POWER.

    • behindthefall says:

      I’m chiming in with the same words as Valley Girl — Wow, that’s the best comment I remember reading, it seems at this moment. What a picture, what _pictures_, and what a sweep!

  21. Legion303 says:

    “and certainly no link to the blog that first covered it”

    Well of course. News doesn’t come from biased and factually ambiguous blogs, it comes from established, credentialed news organizations who crib stories from those blogs.

  22. wwoodrich says:

    An interesting irony here is that this building used to be owned by Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen outfit. I can remember going to a tax reform meeting here in the late 70’s — it definitely did not have people like Tom Coburn or John Ensign in it.

  23. Sara says:

    Oh yea, Dan Morgan, the author of “Merchants of Grain” worked as a foreign correspondant for the Washington Post between 1967 and 1973. The good old days of investigative journalism.

  24. orionATL says:

    sara @70 –

    another fascinating comment and so informative.

    i really needed this perspective. after reading sharlett’s harper’s piece and his comments to scott horton, i simply did not come away with a feel that the power part was anything to worry about. my impression was that the the vague religiosity, political schmoozing, and casual organizing seemed harmless when it came to political specifics.

    i would ask this question of you, sara:

    i read about the power-loving nature of this group and about their fondness for dictators and a “theology” where all merge into one and the one rules, but i don’t note any specific political accomplishments they have had a hand in.

    at this point i can’t decide if they are just slightly goofy political hangers-on being treated like a boogey-man by sharlett, et al


    if, from time to time, they have made specific things happen not so good for the people or the nation.

    • Sara says:

      “i would ask this question of you, sara:

      i read about the power-loving nature of this group and about their fondness for dictators and a “theology” where all merge into one and the one rules, but i don’t note any specific political accomplishments they have had a hand in.

      at this point i can’t decide if they are just slightly goofy political hangers-on being treated like a boogey-man by sharlett, et al


      if, from time to time, they have made specific things happen not so good for the people or the nation.”

      I believe they are both very nasty, and very dangerous.

      You have to read Sharlet’s book to get the picture of their international connections, particularly their affinity for Nazi’s (real ones) and since world war II for bloody dictators. We are learning now about their affinity for elected officials, but there are other parts of “The Family” who are Civil Service, Foreign Service Officers, and I would not doubt, many in the intelligence community. There is a whole part of “The Family” that deals with higher level Military — during the Bush II years they conducted their prayer meetings in the Pentagon. One full fledged member discussed in Sharlet’s book is Ed Meese — and he was part of it during his tour of DOJ as AG, and in the various positions he has had since. There is just a whole lot of investigative work to do with “the Family” in mind.

      A lot of what they end up doing is preventing things from happening. You have to look at the meaning behind all the anti-Labor positions they have taken over the years — going all the way back to the 30’s, when the stars were aligned for the success of Lewis’s promotion of the CIO in basic industry (Auto, Rubber, Steel, Glass, etc.). At every step in the process they were backing the opposition, including the more bloody opposition. One of their great successes right after WWII was Taft-Hartley. They have been behind “right to work” statutes at the state level, and they have made a significant effort to influence the judiciary on Labor Law. I suspect they had some influence in founding and organizing the Federalist Society, through Ed Meese, for instance.

      I know a great deal about their opposition to the Civil Rights Movement in the 50’s and 60’s, because I dealt with and observed them directly during movement days when I was Director of a Religious Civil Rights Organization with national connections. It is a book-length story that has never really been written, but you can find parts of it in many books. Just last week, for instance, I finished up Rick Perlstein’s book on Goldwater’s movement — “Before the Storm”, (The Nation has just brought out a paperback version this year), and as the narrative builds, and Goldwater’s movement attracts other sources of the radical right to itself, a goodly number of these are also linked to “The Family” and to the hard anti-Civil Rights core.

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