By Baynard Woods
Jim DeMint believes in the sanctity of the family. He lives in Christ. South Carolinians would be surprised to learn that DeMint may not mean the same thing they mean by these words.
The Fellowship Foundation, an influential religious group, held the National Prayer Breakfast last week. The Foundation is also called the Family. Governor Mark Sanford brought a lot of attention to the secretive group when his scandal broke.
The Foundationâ€™s spiritual leaders, Doug Coe and his son David (who is not, unfortunately, David Alan Coe) knew of Sanfordâ€™s affairs. They helped him. Jeff Sharlet lived with the group and wrote a spectacular book â€œThe Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Powerâ€ about them.
According to Sharlet, David Coe guided John Ensign, the RepublicanSenator from Nevada who screwed an advisorâ€™s wife and then paid him off for it, through the entire process. Sharlet was at the house when the younger Coe asked one of their members, â€œLetâ€™s say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?â€
According to Sharlet â€œthe man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. â€˜No,â€™ answered Coe, â€˜I wouldnâ€™t.â€™ Why? Because, as a member of the Family, heâ€™s among what Family leaders refer to as the â€˜new chosen.â€™ If youâ€™re chosen, the normal rules donâ€™t apply.â€
The personal ethics part is surprising. But the political view is even weirder. Sharlet reports that Doug Coe often talks about the â€œtotalitarianism of God.â€ Apparently, he doesnâ€™t mean this figuratively.
On Salon.com, Sharlet makes this astounding claim: â€œCounseling Rep. Tiahrt, Doug Coe offered Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden as men whose commitment to their causes is to be emulated. Preaching on the meaning of Christâ€™s words, he says, â€˜You know Jesus said â€˜You got to put Him before mother-father-brother sister? Hitler, Lenin, Mao, thatâ€™s what they taught the kids. Mao even had the kids killing their own mother and father. But it wasnâ€™t murder. It was for building the new nation. The new kingdom.â€™â€
You might think that DeMintâ€™s connection with these people is just the Kevin Bacon variety, like Obama and Weatherman Bill Ayers. No.
DeMint lives in the Familyâ€™s infamous house on C Street. Reportedly he pays about six hundred dollars a month to live there, along with Senators John Ensign, Tom Coburn and others.
Sure, but maybe itâ€™s just a convenient and cheap place to live. Actually, DeMint said that living at C street was one of the â€œbest parts of being up here,â€ in Washington. He said: â€œI have a small group I meet with, and we continue to pray and encourage each other.â€
Sharlet reports that the Foundationâ€™s literature stresses the importance of the â€œcellâ€ as the unit of operations for all successful insurgency groups from the Communists to the terroristsâ€¦ to themselves.
DeMint called the group the â€œsalt and the lightâ€ â€“ a phrasing that mirrors the â€œrevolutionary vanguardâ€ idea of the other radical groups whose spiritâ€”if not beliefsâ€”the Family so admire. The personal and political seem to come together for the Family like this: If you believe God plays an active role in politicsâ€”then any political action you take is the work of God and therefore right.
If you do not believe that God intervenes in politics, then any political action you take is godless and therefore wrong. This is the perfect encapsulation of DeMintâ€™s opposition to Obama.
It seems that, far from being an unwitting member of this group, DeMint is, as â€œCounterpunchâ€ reports â€œC Streetâ€™s real free trade messiah.â€
This is just a small part of the fascinating story that Sharlet tells and you should check out his book. As I read, I couldnâ€™t help but think, these are the guys that the independent Tea Party Patriots want speaking for them?
Guys like DeMint and Sanford who apparently believe that they are chosen and therefore above morality. Sharlet wrote of the Family for Salon.com
â€œTheyâ€™re followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to â€˜advance the Kingdom.â€™ They say theyâ€™re working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior.â€ Is this the man the Tea Partiers want to represent them?
It is possible that DeMint does not believe in Coeâ€™s more extreme positions any more than Obama believed Reverend Wrightâ€™s. If that is true, then DeMint needs to explain where and how he diverges. He needs to break the Familyâ€™s first rule. He needs to talk openly about these beliefs with his constituents.
Oh, and Sanford was at the groupâ€™s prayer breakfast. It seems (though has not been confirmed) that he flew in the stateâ€™s plane. Shouldnâ€™t he explain his affiliations?