Sen. Inhofe, C Street, and the "Jesus Thing"

Jeff Sharlet, author of "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power" is an expert on "The Family" and his expertise has become even more valuable in recent weeks as the various infidelities of Gov. Mark Sanford, Sen. John Ensign, and former Rep. Chip Pickering have exploded in the news, as all have deep ties to the organization and its house on C Street.

Today, he has a piece in Salon about these men and numerous other powerful political figures and their ties to this secretive organization:

Today's roll call is just as impressive: Men under the Family's religio-political counsel include, in addition to Ensign, Coburn and Pickering, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, both R-S.C.; James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Thune, R-S.D., and recent senators and high officials such as John Ashcroft, Ed Meese, Pete Domenici and Don Nickles. Over in the House there's Joe Pitts, R-Penn., Frank Wolf, R-Va., Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and John R. Carter, R-Texas. Historically, the Family has been strongly Republican, but it includes Democrats, too. There's Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, for instance, a vocal defender of putting the Ten Commandments in public places, and Sen. Mark Pryor, the pro-war Arkansas Democrat responsible for scuttling Obama's labor agenda. Sen. Pryor explained to me the meaning of bipartisanship he'd learned through the Family: "Jesus didn't come to take sides. He came to take over." And by Jesus, the Family means the Family.

... I met the younger Coe when I lived for several weeks as a member of the Family. He's a surprising source of counsel, spiritual or otherwise. Attempting to explain what it means to be chosen for leadership like King David was -- or Mark Sanford, according to his own estimate -- he asked a young man who'd put himself, body and soul, under the Family's authority, "Let's say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?" The man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. "No," answered Coe, "I wouldn't." Why? Because, as a member of the Family, he's among what Family leaders refer to as the "new chosen." If you're chosen, the normal rules don't apply.

The entire thing is fascinating and worth reading, but I was particularly interested in Sharlet's explanation of how the organization regularly funds junkets overseas for its members that are, in essence, missionary trips:

M]ost of the trips sponsored by the Family aren't pleasure junkets. They're missionary work. Only the Family missionaries aren't representing the United States. They're representing "Jesus plus nothing," as Doug Coe puts it ... when they arrive in other countries, on trips paid for by the Family, at the behest of the Family, they are still traveling under official government auspices, on official business, with the pomp and circumstance -- and access -- of their taxpayer-funded, elected positions.

Considering that Sen. Jim Inhofe is reportedly a member of the organization as well, this goes a long way toward explaining this video we posted earlier this year in which he bragged to Faith and Action's Rob Schenck about this missionary trips through which he uses his standing as a US Senator to bring people to Jesus:

In fact, in this video posted today by Faith and Action’s Rob Schenck, it sounds an awful like Inhofe is using these trips for exactly that purpose, as he relates how, before his first trip to Africa, he found out that his daughter was also going to be there doing missionary work and told her that “if you go with me, it’s free.” He also explains that the trips are part of the “politics of Jesus” whereby Christians are instructed to take the name of Jesus to the kings. Being a US Senator, Inhofe says, means Africans think he is important and so he can always get in to see the kings, where he can tell them that he has come “in the spirit of Jesus.” Inhofe even holds up a copy of the Oklahoman featuring the above-mentioned article to defend himself, saying the article is an example of “persecution” and insisting that he is doing this work as a private citizen before trumpeting the fact that, through his work, he has managed to bring entire African villages to Jesus.