by Enver Masud
Ivanwald, situated in a cul-de-sac at the end of 24th Street North in
Arlington, Virginia, is the stronghold of a widespread "invisible" and
powerful organization, working for "democracy" and "free markets," but in reality extending the American empire.
Founded by a Norwegian immigrant Abraham Vereide
(known as Abram) - now led by Doug Coe, the network - organized much like
Ivanwald into cells of five, and "populated by elite, politically ambitious
fundamentalists," is the subject of Jeff Sharlett's book: "The
Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power."
The organization has operated under many guises, some
active, some defunct: National Committee for Christian Leadership,
International Christian Leadership, the National Leadership Council,
Fellowship House, the Fellowship Foundation, the National Fellowship
Council, the International Foundation. These groups are intended to draw
attention away from the Family, and to prevent it from becoming, in the
words of one of the Family's leaders, "a target for misunderstanding."
Established in 1935 to oppose FDR's New Deal and the spread of trade unions,
the Family's network spans the world organizing weekly prayer meetings at
which the rich and powerful meet to advance their agenda.
The Family's only publicized gathering is the National Prayer Breakfast -
"attended by Pakistan's famously corrupt Benazir Bhutto." Its keynote is
often delivered by an outsider. One such address was delivered by Saudi
Arabia's Prince Bandar.
Every president since Eisenhower has attended the National Prayer Breakfast
Abram founded in 1953.
The Family, writes Sharlet, that hosts Prayer Breakfasts in public, in
private preaches a gospel of "biblical capitalism," military might, and
The following, from Jeff Sharlett's book, is a glimpse of the Family's activities:
Marshall Green, American ambassador in Indonesia compiled for Indonesia's
president Suharto a "shooting list": "the names of thousands of leftist
political opponents, from leaders identified by the CIA to village-level
activists, the kind of data only local observers - conservative
missionaries, classically - could provide." . . . Green and his men followed
the results of their gift closely, checking off names as Suharto's men
killed or imprisoned them.
In 2002, "roundtable" events with faith and community leaders, organized by
the Office of Faith-Based
Initiatives, "contributed to nineteen out of twenty victories in
A document in the Family's archives titled "Important Dates in Indonesian
History" notes that in March 1966, the Communist Party was banned and Campus
Crusade arrived in April. Suharto wasn't a Christian, but he knew that where
missionaries go, investors follow. He also wanted to use God - any God - to
pacify the population. In 1967, Congressman Ben Reifel sent a memo to other
Fellowship members in Congress noting that a special message from Suharto
calling on Indonesians to "seek God, discover His laws, and obey them" was
broadcast at the same time as a Fellowship prayer session in the Indonesian
parliament for non-Christian politicians.
By 1969, the Fellowship claimed as its man in Jakarta Suharto's minister of
social affairs, who presided over a group of more than fifty Muslims and
Christians in parliament. Another Fellowship associate, Darius Marpaung -
he'd later claim that God spoke through him when he told a massive rally
that the time had come to "purge the communists," an event that helped spark
the massacre - led a similar group in Indonesia's Christian community.
. . . in December 1975, when Portugal relinquished its claims to the tiny
island nation of East Timor. It
declared independence; nine days later Suharto's army invaded, on the
pretext that its neighbor was communist. Two hundred thousand people - nearly
a third of the island's population - were killed during the long occupation,
to which the United States gave its blessing.
[Senator] Brownback said he'd met with King Abdullah about starting a
fellowship group around the person of Jesus. . . . Abdullah let him know he'd
made contact with the senator's man and agreed to "fellowship" with him on a
The Iraqis come up often, particularly with regard to their conversion ...
900,000 bibles in the Arabic language [were] distributed by Christians in
David Kuo . . . and a few others transformed the Office of Faith-Based
Initiatives into the very Republican vote-getting machine its critics had
accused it of being from the start.
The Family's members include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former
U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft, a leader in the Family, who maintained
his prayer cell while presiding over the Department of Justice.
Senators Don Nickles (R., Okla.), Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), Pete Domenici
(R., N.Mex.), John Ensign (R., Nev.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), Bill Nelson
(D., Fla.), and Conrad Burns (R., Mont.) are referred to as "members," as
are Representatives Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), Frank Wolf (R., Va.), Joseph
Pitts (R., Pa.), Zach Wamp (R., Tenn.), and Bart Stupak (D., Mich.).
The Family operates through dozens of affiliates. One such affiliate has a
townhouse next door to the Capitol - the C Street Foundation at 133 C Street
SE in Washington, DC. Numerous affiliates are headquartered in Colorado Springs,
Colorado. Organizations led by evangelists Billy Graham, Ted Haggard, Jerry
Falwell, and others are affiliated with the Family.
It is estimated that 10 percent of the nation's children are educated at
home and in fundamentalist academies via curricula and books prepared by the
Family and its affiliates.
At the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, 2009, President Obama took
the opportunity to announce the creation of the White House Office of Faith
Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Representatives from some 120 countries
were invited for the occasion.
Leon T. Hadar, "The 'Green Peril':
Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat," Cato Institute,
August 27, 1992
Enver Masud, "Millions Spent
Subverting 'Enemies,' Stifling Dissent," The Wisdom Fund, February
"CRUSADE," The Wisdom Fund,
October 16, 2003
Amy Chua, "Free-Market Democracy: Our
Most Dangerous Export," Guardian, February 28, 2004
"America: Freedom to Fascism,"
The Wisdom Fund, October 6, 2005
Rupert Cornwell, "Bush: God told me to invade
Iraq," independent.co.uk, October 7, 2005
DOCUMENTARY: John Pilger, "The War On
Democracy," johnpilger.com, 2007
Saul Landau, "Summer
of Denial," counterpunch.org, July 30, 2009
Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,"
democracynow.org, August 12, 2009
Dahr Jamail and Jason Coppola, "The Myth of 'America',"
truthout.org, October 12, 2009
John Perkins, "Hoodwinked,"
Crown Business (November 10, 2009)
Anna Clark, "The Family: Secretive Christian Group of Conservative
Lawmakers Building a 'God-Led' Government," AlterNet, October 12,
Max Blumenthal, "The
Great Islamophobic Crusade: Inside the bizarre cabal of secretive
donors, demagogic bloggers, pseudo-scholars, European neo-fascists, violent
Israeli settlers, and Republican presidential hopefuls behind the
crusade," antiwar.com, December 20, 2010
[Khan, meanwhile, told me he was sought out by Doug Coe, head of The Family,
the secretive fundamentalist group which, as Jeff Sharlet reported in his
book The Family and C Street, facilitates prayer and meetings for the elite
politicians and businessmen that group considers to be Jesus's "key men."
Khan said he knew nothing of the group's scandals, and that Coe had sent him
Bible verses from Isaiah and Peter I and prayed "that we would get through
this." About Coe, Khan said, "he is a true man of faith, a true Christian. I
say that as a devout Muslim, he's someone I have the highest amount of
respect and love for." Coe, said Khan "is someone walking in the steps of
Christ."--Sarah Posner, "Religious
War Comes to CPAC," thenation.com, February 14, 2011]
Steven Erlanger and Scott Shane, "Oslo Suspect Wrote of Fear of Islam and
Plan for War," New York Times, July 23, 2011 -- Editor: Was Oslo
suspect practicing what we preach?
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, "The Fundamentalist Christian Plan for America,"
politicususa.com, July 23, 2011
Jon Basil Utley, "Evangelicals, Ron Paul and War,"
theamericanconservative.com, January 20, 2012
Joseph E Stiglitz, "The World's 99% Knows Capitalism Is Failing and Believes
That Change Is Possible," truth-out.org, June 21, 2012
John Pilger, "Inside the Invisible Government; War, Propaganda,
Clinton & Trump," counterpunch.org, October 28, 2016
[The United States, McKinley argued, could not possibly tyrannize faraway lands, as
European powers did, because the tyrannical impulse is foreign to America'scharacter and
tradition. He said that since the United States set its foreign policies with "unselfish
purpose," its influence in the world could only be benevolent. The essential goodness of
the American people, he argued, is the supreme and sole necessary justification of
whatever the United States chooses to do in the world.--Stephen Kinzer, "The True
Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire," Henry
Holt and Co. (January 24, 2017) p.132]
[capitalism is successful primarily because it can impose the majority of the costs
associated with its economic activities on outside parties and on the environment.--Paul
Craig Roberts, "The
Looting Machine Called Capitalism," counterpunch.org, April 26, 2017]
[Graham's message was principally one of fear: fear of a wrathful god; fear of
temptation; fear of communists and socialists; fear of unions; fear of Catholics; fear
of homosexuals; fear of racial integration and above all, fear of death. But as a balm
for such fears, he promised listeners eternal life, which he said was readily claimed
through acceptance of Jesus Christ as one's savior..--Cecil Bothwell, "Billy
Graham and the Gospel of Fear," counterpunch.org, February 21, 2018]
Owen Amos, "Inside the White
House Bible Study group," counterpunch.org, April 8, 2018