The Washington City Paper has a very sharp bone to pick with the New Yorker’s “Frat House for Jesus” piece about the C Street Fellowship:
… Thanks to Bob Hunter’s special interest the Fellowship grew to be a formidable political force in Ugandan politics, turning the country into a popular petri dish for fundamentalist Christian social policies—an almost-ban on condoms, for instance—and a receptive audience for some of their more fervidly homophobic activists, who have trouble raking in the speaker fees stateside these days. When Sharlet asked the architect of the “death penalty for gays” legislation whether it had any connection to the Fellowship in Uganda, he said “I do not know what you mean, ‘connection.’ There is no ‘connection.’ They are the same thing. The bill is the Fellowship. It was our idea.”
So while the law was not drafted by a junior aide to Jim DeMint or anything like that, and the Fellowship in America certainly distancing themselves when they realized how much bad press they might get for instigating gay death panels—especially with all those unfortunate things they’d said in the eighties about how HIV was a just plague on a perverted lifestyle and that sort of nonsense—the Fellowship’s involvement in this draconian bill is not exactly limited to “feeling like they have the standing” to recommend they call off the homo-cide for now. In their possible defense—and there is only one thing you can possibly say in possible defense of the Family on this one—the legislation is in limbo right now. It hasn’t been enacted, nor has it been repealed.
Now, while any moderately close follower of Ugandan politics could have surely read all this “between the lines” of Boyer’s two-sentence explanation…yeah, just kidding, it’s totally, bizarrely, unbelievably misleading and journalism like deserves to be electrocuted. The piece takes pains to mention Vereide’s nebulous connection to the formation of Goodwill Industries but elides his zealous anti-union sermonizing in the thirties and forties; consigns the Hitler and Mao rhetoric to a single parenthetical sentence; refers to Family guy Michael Timmis as having made a “fortune in high-risk business transactions” which doesn’t mean anything; and makes only one mention I found of anything—besides the obvious intimate relationship with Jesus Santa Christ—Family members have actually materially gained from club membership. And that is: cheap housing. (Boyer claims C Street residents pay $900 a month.) But probably Boyer would say I just don’t “get” it. After all…
One view of the Fellowship, with some popularity on the secular left, is of a sort of theocratic Blackwater, advancing a conservative agenda in the councils of power throughout the world. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a friend of the Fellowship, might dispute that view—if she spoke about the group, which she does not.
As Sharlet’s book explains, many members of the military these days seem to have become seized by the belief that the Constitution makes no mention of the separation of church and state, and he quotes a promotion for a book calledUnder Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel as saying:
Under the rubric of free speech and the twisted idea of separation of church and state, there has evolved more and more an anti-Christian bias in this country.
The book is blurbed by Gen. David Petraeus, who writes it “should be in every rucksack for those moments when Soldiers need spiritual energy.” (And whoseapproval ratings, do not forget, are higher than those of his so-called “boss.”) But if we’ve actually gotten to the point in this country where the New Yorker is specifying that only the secular left finds any of this prayer breakfast pecadillo death squad stuff truly disturbing, we are going to need all the “spiritual energy” we can get.