Saturday, November 28, 2009

Uganda, The Family, Catholicism and Totalitarianism For Jesus.

The American 'Family' political 'tools' at a "C" Street prayer meeting. In Uganda these prayers won't be necessary because the notions of a free press, women's rights, and legal accountability for politicians will be things of the past.

Over at the National Catholic Reporter John Allen's latest Friday column is on the appropriate response from the Catholic Church to the proposed Ugandan homosexuality bill. This bill calls for capital punishment for gays under certain circumstances, and the incarceration of people who know about gays and refuse to report them. These are just the two most egregious components amongst a host of other delightful notions of democracy.

Allen spends time detailing African fears about left wing influence in African culture and politics and uses these fears as the basis upon which the Catholic response needs to walk. He cites the reaction of African prelates to the Canadian Anglican Church who came out strongly opposed to the bill. These fears of left wing cultural subversion were prominent at the October synod for Africa. What Allen left out completely was the very intense and obvious right wing subversion which has culminated in this piece of legislation being introduced by a Ugandan politician who is a member of the C Street Family.

The following is an excerpt from an interview on NPR radio with Jeff Sharlet. Sharlet has done extensive research into the Family and is the author of the book "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power".

GROSS: Let's talk about The Family's connection to Uganda, where there's a, really a draconian anti-gay bill that has been introduced into parliament. Uganda already punishes the practice of homosexuality with life in prison. What would the new legislation do?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the new legislation adds to this something called aggravated homosexuality. And this can include, for instance, if a gay man has sex with another man who is disabled, that's aggravated homosexuality, and that man can be - I suppose both, actually, could be put to death for this. The use of any drugs or any intoxicants in seeking gay sex - in other words, you go to a bar and you buy a guy a drink, you're subject to the death penalty if you go home and sleep together after that. What it also does is it extends this outward, so that if you know a gay person and you don't report it, that could mean - you don't report your son or daughter, you can go to prison.

And it goes further, to say that any kind of promotion of these ideas of homosexuality, including by foreigners, can result in prison terms. Talking about same sex-marriage positively can lead you to imprisonment for life. And it's really kind of a perfect case study in the export of a lot of American, largely evangelical ideas about homosexuality exported to Uganda, which then takes them to their logical end.
(Yes, This Ugandan legislation absolutely takes the American hate rhetoric to it's logical legal end. This is why Chris Matthew's drilling of Bishop Tobin on abortion is so important. What is the logical end of the abortion debate given it's use of murder, killing, and death culture rhetoric?)

GROSS: This legislation has just been proposed. It hasn't been signed into law. So it's not in effect yet and it might never be in effect. But it's on the table. It's before parliament. So is there a direct connection between The Family and this proposed anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the legislator that introduced the bill, a guy named David Bahati, is a member of The Family. He appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes their Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda.
GROSS: So you're reporting the story for the first time today, and you found this story - this direct connection between The Family and the proposed legislation by following the money?

Mr. SHARLET: Yes, it's - I always say that The Family is secretive, but not secret. You can go and look at 990s, tax forms and follow the money through these organizations that The Family describe as invisible. But you go and you look. You follow that money. You look at their archives. You do interviews where you can. It's not so invisible anymore. So that's how working with some research colleagues we discovered that David Bahati, the man behind this legislation, is really deeply, deeply involved in The Family's work in Uganda, that the ethics minister of Uganda, Museveni's kind of right-hand man, a guy named Nsaba Buturo, is also helping to organize The Family's National Prayer Breakfast. And here's a guy who has been the main force for this Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda's executive office and has been very vocal about what he's doing, in a rather extreme and hateful way. But these guys are not so much under the influence of The Family. They are, in Uganda, The Family.

GROSS: So how did you find out that Bahati is directly connected to The Family? You've described him as a core member of The Family. And this is the person who introduced the anti-gay legislation in Uganda that calls for the death penalty for some gay people.

Mr. SHARLET: Looking at the, The Family's 990s, where they're moving their money to - into this African leadership academy called Cornerstone, which runs two programs: Youth Corps, which has described its goals in the past as an international, quote, invisible family binding together world leaders, and also an alumni organization designed to place Cornerstone grads - graduates of this sort of very elite educational program and politics and NGO's through something called the African Youth Leadership Forum, which is run by -according to Ugandan media - which is run by David Bahati, this same legislator who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

GROSS: Now what about the president of Uganda, President Museveni? Does he have any connections to The Family?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, first, I want to say it's important that you said it, yeah, it hasn't gone into law. It hasn't gone into effect yet. So there is time to push back on this. But it's very likely to go into law. It has support of some of the most powerful men in Uganda, including the dictator of Uganda, a guy named Museveni, whom The Family identified back in 1986 as a key man for Africa.
They wanted to steer him away from neutrality or leftist sympathies and bring him into conservative American alliances, and they were able to do so. They've since promoted Uganda as this bright spot - as I say, as this bright spot for African democracy, despite the fact that under their tutelage, Museveni has slowly shifted away from any even veneer of democracy: imprisoning journalists, tampering with elections, supporting - strongly supporting this Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009.

He's come out just this - just last week and said that this bill is necessary because Europeans are recruiting homosexuals in Uganda, that Europeans are coming in and trying to make Ugandans gay. And he's been rewarded for this because this is sort of where these sort of social issues and foreign affairs issues and free market fundamentalist issues all come together.

GROSS: How did The Family create its relationship with Museveni?
Mr. SHARLET: In 1986, a former Ford official name Bob Hunter went over on trips at the behest of the U.S. government, but also on behalf of The Family, to which - for which both of which he filed reports that are now in The Family's archives. And his goal was to reach out to Museveni and make sure that he came into the American sphere of influence, that Uganda, in effect, becomes our proxy in the region and that relationship only deepened.

In fact, in late 1990s, Hunter - again, working for The Family - went over and teamed up with Museveni to create the Uganda National Prayer Breakfast as a parallel to the United States National Prayer Breakfast and to which The Family every year sends representatives, usually congressmen.

GROSS: What's the relationship of Museveni and The Family now?

Mr. SHARLET: It's a very close relationship. He is the key man. Now...

GROSS: So what does that mean? What influence does The Family have on him?

Mr. SHARLET: It means that they have a deep relationship of what they'll call spiritual counsel, but you're going to talk about moral issues. You're going to talk about political issues. Your relationships are going to be organized through these associates. So Museveni can go to Senator Brownback and seek military aid. Inhofe, as he describes, Inhofe says that he cares about Africa more than any other senator.

And that may be true. He's certainly traveled there extensively. He says he likes to accuse the State Department of ignoring Africa so he becomes our point man with guys like Museveni and Uganda, this nation he says he's adopted. As we give foreign aid to Uganda, these are the people who are in a position to steer that money. And as Museveni comes over, and as he does and spends time at The Family's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, a place called The Cedars, and sits down for counsel with Doug Coe, that's where those relationships occur.

It's never going to be the hard sell, where they're going to, you know, twist Museveni's arm behind his back and say do this. As The Family themselves describes it, you create a prayer cell, or what they call - and this again, this is their language from their documents - an invisible believing group of God-led politicians who get together and talk with one another about what God wants them to do in their leadership capacity. And that's the nature of their relationship with Museveni.


Either John Allen has been bought and paid for or he didn't do his homework. There is not one mention of right wing influence in Uganda in his article for the NCR. Allen makes it sound as if somehow left wing agitators are completely responsible for this backlash law against homosexuals.
Excuse me, John, but the real truth is just the opposite--just as it is with too many other right wing crusades. Everything these right wingers bring up in their fear based bs is precisely how they themselves operate.

I can just imagine the laws coming in the future in Uganda and elsewhere when the logic of the hate rhetoric about abortion is taken to it's conclusion. There will be more calls for more executions. Uganda has already demonstrated how the negative and false rhetoric about birth control and condoms has been responsible for the sudden upswing in HIV/Aids cases. Uganda has already demonstrated how the American evangelical fixation on demons and spiritual cleansing has been responsible for the upswing in literal witch hunting. Which is, interestingly enough, another topic the African bishops spent a great deal of time in their synod, and which John Allen did not care to report on.

Here's one last, but very important section from the NPR interview with Jeff Sharlet. It deals with the Family's Catholic connections and the Family's political attitudes.

GROSS: Now, Bart Stupak is Catholic. Joe Pitts is Evangelical Christian, and you say that together, they represent the Evangelical/conservative-Catholic alliance known as co-belligerency. That's a new term to me. What does it mean?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, it's an idea that goes back into the '70s with one of the gurus of modern Christian-right thinking, a guy named Francis Schaeffer, but it really picked up steam with the work of a man named Charles Colson. Chuck Colson some listeners may remember as the Watergate felon, Nixon's sort of henchman who went to prison - was born again, as he writes in his book, through The Family, through their intervention and bringing him to Christ. They actually helped get him out of prison by writing letters to the parole board and everything else. And he had this idea. He's an Evangelical. He had this idea that Catholics and Evangelicals, who historically in American life have been at each other's throats, could work together on culture war issues, that they could be co-belligerents in the culture war. And I think The Family has been one of the vehicles at which that's happened at the elite level, despite the fact - and I think this is important when we look at someone like Bart Stupak - The Family began as a virulently anti-Catholic organization.

And even to this day, Doug Coe, the leader of the group, says, you know, now he's got a much more open mind. You can be a Catholic and love Jesus just the way you can be a Jew and love Jesus or be a Muslim and love Jesus. In other words, being a Catholic in his mind doesn't qualify you as a Christian. And actually when I visited the C Street House, when Bart Stupak was living there, there was a woman who was sort of functioning as an administrator, and she was a Catholic. And she told me that she still goes to Mass, but she keeps it secret because she knows Doug would disapprove. (I'm sure Dougie wouldn't disapprove if she had the same access to bishops that Stupak does.)

GROSS: Now, you mentioned that The Family thinks it's important to have their people and their concerns represented in both the Republican and the Democratic Party. Is there an active strategy to actually have Family-affiliated politicians in the Democratic Party?

Mr. SHARLET: Yeah, I think it's always been very important to The Family, going back to the beginning of the group's roots in the 1930s, when they actually formed with the idea that democracy wasn't going to work. Remember, this was in the 1930s, and they're looking around the world, and they see communism as this incredibly powerful world force, and fascism is, of course, too. Well, they certainly don't want to be communism. Fascism they are a little more sympathetic to, and there were a lot of sort of early-American fascists in the group, but it's still a problem because it's a cult of personality. They put Hitler and Mussolini where Jesus is. (I'm sure this is why they love the Legionaries and Opus Dei.)
So they come up with this idea of a third way, that they later start calling totalitarianism for Christ. And they predict that the United States will pretty quickly embrace this and will get rid of political parties because democracy doesn't work. People arguing and debating doesn't work. They don't want a Republican Party, a Democratic Party. They want one big party - theirs.

And of course that doesn't happen. So by the 1940s, they begin really actively recruiting and seeking out Democrats. They've been sort of mostly Republican, but they seek out Democrats. For most of their history, those Democrats were Dixiecrats. Strom Thurmond used to file confidential reports, leaking, essentially, protected Senate information to The Family's leader. Herman Talmadge, all these guys - Pat Robertson's father, Absalom Willis Robertson, a Dixiecrat senator from Virginia.
In recent years, the Democrats that they've identified, guys like Bart Stupak, Heath Shuler, Mike McIntyre, Mark Pryor, even Senator Bill Nelson down in Florida, another conservative Democrat, they are a faction within the Democratic Party that has become an obstacle to many of the core values of the party. That's what The Family means when they speak of bipartisanship as this idea that Jesus doesn't come to take sides, he comes to take over. The Democrats do tend to be folks who get into Congress, and I think a lot of them - I think this needs to be emphasized - Democrats and Republicans get involved with this with the best of intentions. (So did a lot of people who supported Hitler and Mussolini and Marcial Maciel, and these people somehow bought into the notion that their charismatic leaders were above and outside the usual legal accountabilities. Ireland is now dealing with the same ugly truth about their own Catholic and secular leadership.)


The Ugandan situation is not a joke. The influence of the Family and it's philosophy is critical for Americans to understand--especially American Catholics. The same strategy that has been so effective for these 'totalitarians for Jesus' in Uganda is the same strategy that is playing out in the US debate on health care. The strategy is simply this: Get well meaning people to work against their own rights and interests for the sake of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and to the direct benefit of His self appointed charismatic unaccountable political 'tools'.

This is evil and it has to be named for what it is. The real threat to democracy and Catholicism is not secular relativism, it is religious totalitarianism and too many of our Catholic bishops--and Catholic writers--have either been co opted or blinded in the name of Jesus.


  1. Re the Fascist and political connections to this, see my blog on the Leo Strauss' connections to neocon thinking. If you scroll down you'll see the list of neocon/Straussian principles which interlock religion and the state via an Elite group of rulers who deliberately lie to the people and feed them propaganda, perpetual war, contempt for dissenters, and a sense of superiority:

    Yes, this is all too real. I did a lot of research for the blog above. And when you begin to see how conservatives across denominations are cooperating in a vast network, which stigmatizes and demonizes certain groups, while hoodwinking and fleecing the population, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It sounds stranger than fiction. But do your homework and you'll be convinced.

    Thanks for this great post! I think some of us on the left are beginning to wake up. It's not just a perversion of Christianity. It's a total marriage of religion and the state in the service of an Elite group, bent on destroying democracy and any who would stand up against them.

  2. TheraP it's taken me awhile to really understand what's going on here. The reality is this is not American Catholic bishops becoming the Republican Catholic Church, it's much deeper and more devious.

    It's about them colluding with the Evangelicals of the Family and the New Apostolic Reformation who are hell bent on creating a Christian totalitarianism on a global basis.

    Why in the world our bishops think these fellow culture warriors will allow for any kind of Catholic leadership not under their precise control is beyond me. Stupak is the perfect example of a Catholic who answers to the C street definition of Catholicism. Where would Stupak come down if his allegiance to C street conflicted with his allegiance to the Church--say over the evils of unfettered capitalism or immigration?

    It's pretty obvious Stupak has no real allegiance to notions of representational American democracy. My question is does he have any real allegiance to Catholicism or does it only go as far as a few designated culture issues.

    This is an extremely important question for Catholicism in Africa. Are these African bishops really Catholic or are they just more C street, IRD, culture warriors who see themselves as part of the ruling elite? It's very hard to tell.

  3. Sorry if my comment came off as if I imagined this were only in the US (initially I did, months ago - but not since this Uganda business and the further info about an international "conspiracy) I too have found my eyes slowly opening here. And I agree with you. But Leo Strauss's ideas were not just for one nation. He originally came from Germany and pawned himself off as a philosopher. And his groups, which still continue, are very secretive. It's akin to the Opus, so that it seems to function in cells. And I'm pretty sure it extends internationally - though given the secrecy it's hard to know for sure. Strong connection to Israel. Antipathy to Islam. The principles I synthesized are applicable to many situations. The Straussians are interconnected with The Family - though I doubt they are really in any way religious themselves. The secrecy. The "virtuous lie" - would permit them to ally with people professing Christianity - in a manipulative way.

    I don't think any of us really understands the network here. Or its ultimate goals. Or means to those goals. I just think we can see the outlines.

    And I'm guessing that a Catholic Church under attack has sought alliances - which it may think it can control. (Same thing with the conservative Episcopalians, who allied with African Bishops.) But I seriously doubt that. Indeed, some of the apparent naivete of the pope may well be related to this - I hesitate to really use the word "christian" but totalitarian movement. However, in order to pursue a global agenda, I'm assuming they have to work to take over governments, or at the very least to undermine democratic principles and infiltrate important positions. (Or are you assuming that they're simply going to "use" the churches with an international "reach" here?) I don't think that would be sufficient - and it wouldn't really fit the straussians who just "use" religions.

    It's hard to think like these people - they're criminals, disguised as religious zealots.

    I think we're feeling an elephant like the 10 blind men. But so long as we communicate about this - we can get the outlines.

    Very dangerous business!

    Re Catholicism in Africa: It isn't monolithic. Depends maybe on the country and the person. Maybe you mean Bishops though. I've met African priests who are very, very deeply spiritual men. And that can't be faked. Plus they seem to have no agenda whatsoever other than a mentality of deepening the faith and spirituality of the faithful. (The couple I've known of late.) On the other hand, if you're talking a "spiritual elite" then it could be Bishops have simply "gone over" to the dark side. One priest from the Congo is pretty clear on his antipathy to colonialism.

    Wish I knew the answers to your questions. However this is just about the most insidious thing I've run across. And it explains all too much.

  4. Here's the call to battle. Watch this clip and, near the end, an African clergy person SHOUTS: Jesus Christ is KING of the universe!

    King of the Universe. Sounds like totalitarian to me!

  5. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Allen has done a whitewash. He whitewashed Opus Dei in his book about Opus Dei, and the real valid criticisms of Opus Dei have nothing to do with the fiction that is the "Da Vinci Code."

    The same people preparing laws to impart the death penalty for gay Ugandans ultimately want to do the same thing here, but they know they would encounter far more resistance. Of course, the wealthy and well-connected folks would be protected, but the less wealthy and well-connected would not be.

  6. Colleen, great posting, and an important one.

    It looks as if John Allen's approach is toeing what will become the party line in centrist circles now. Box Turtle Bulletin has a good posting about this today.

    The game is to blame the left in the U.S. and Europe for pressuring Africa on these issues, in order to justify draconian laws that cannot be defended otherwise.

    Box Turtle shows that behind this evil and dishonest attempt to justify homophobia enshrined in law are folks like Scott Lively. Lively has stated that laws making homosexuality a capital crime need to be on the books, even when they're not enforced, to remind folks that homosexuality is aberrant and not to be tolerated.

    It appears that this talking point--which is entirely crafted by right-wing groups in the U.S., who would like to impose this legal pattern in the U.S.--will become the new talking point of centrists, who will excuse churches' support of or silence about the Ugandan legislation as a necessary response to the pressures of the left.

  7. "will become the new talking point of centrists, who will excuse churches' support of or silence about the Ugandan legislation as a necessary response to the pressures of the left."

    Bill didn't we see this same pattern from German centrists who saw some of the excesses of the National Socialists as a necessary response to the cultural changes associated with the Weimar Republic?

    I thank God for John Allen because he is getting so obvious-- especially in contrast to the rest of the reporting on the NCR.

  8. Colleen, you're very right.

    Re: John Allen, it's interesting to me that, when various bloggers challenged his slams of other bloggers at NCR, he never really engaged an argument Greg Bullough made powerfully in his critique of John Allen.

    Bullough noted that, without lavish expense accounts and access to the big boys who run things behind the scenes, many bloggers/citizen journalists still dig for the truth and try to tell it as honestly as possible.

    The implication is, of course, that those with the lavish expense accounts who wine and dine with the powerful boys don't always tell the truth because they can't do so--not and retain their expense accounts, and their entree to the powerful.

    I'm glad that there are lay Catholics who have the kind of access that John Allen has, and who try to report what they hear from the halls of power. But I think that not to acknowledge the ways in which that access is bought--and thus compromised--is problematic.

    Especially when those same bought and paid for reporters want to make nasty comments about their many brothers and sisters who are seeking the truth without all the financial and institutional support these voices for power have.

  9. The way I look at it Bill is our job is to elucidate on and point out all the use of 'mental reservation' in order to dig out the truth from what the "Big boys" report.

  10. You are aware (I hope...) that John Allen is an Opus Dei member.....


    This explains his ease of access to the 'big boys'....his whitewash of Opus Dei....& that which other have noted in their comments.

    He is in the same club as Rocco Palma of 'Whispers in the Loggia" fame.

    ...and Raymond Arroyo of EWTN fame, who is very well trained as a method actor (not a journalist...).

    Escriva's Obra is guided by his maxim: "the ends justify the means" (paraphrased from The Way). So they will use this or that person - of ANY political stripe. As long as he is 'friendly' to their agenda.

    They are old veterans of employing the 'strategy of tension'.

    Why do you think they are creating a 'big deal' about Gay Marriage/Gay Civil Rights? Or health care? Or Abortion? Aside from some of the Opus' in house fanatics, those in charge could care less about any morality inherent in these issues.

    The pot is being stirred by these 'false issues', distracting ppl from impending global crises....and the dismantling of the US as an economic & military power.

    Key concept: right-wing fascist hegemony. This is part of the 'real' agenda.