Washington DC’s ‘The Family’

A year or so ago I came across information concerning this group located in Washington DC while researching something else, and found it fascinating;  Mainly because I’d never heard or read anything about it before. Its considered to be more-or-less a secretive organization, in as far as those outside its fellowship, know little about it–that was until a book titled, The Family, written by Jeff Sharlet came out in 2008.  (see, Browse Inside The Family)

The author made an appearance tonight on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow show, and what he had to share was both fascinating and to me, spooky.

Below is a clip from that segment of the program, along with info you may find of interest. (his segment begins at around the 2 minute mark)

A 70 year old, powerful Christian group called “The Family”, runs a home for politicos working in Washington D.C.  It is designed to bring more wealth and power to the already wealthy and powerful.


In the book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, author Jeff Sharlet examines the power wielded by a secretive Christian group known as the Family, or the Fellowship.

Founded in 1935 in opposition to FDR’s New Deal, the evangelical group’s views on religion and politics are so singular that some other Christian-right organizations consider them heretical

The group also has a connection to a house in Washington, D.C., known as C Street. Owned by a foundation affiliated with the Family, C Street is officially registered as a church; in practice, it serves as a meeting place and residence for politicians like South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Nevada Sen. John Ensign and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.

The Family, Sharlet writes, is responsible for founding the annual National Prayer Breakfast..(an) event attended by the president, members of Congress and dignitaries from around the world. These foreign delegations are often led by top defense personnel, who use it as an opportunity to lobby the most influential people in Washington — and who repay the Family with access to their governments.

The group’s approach to religion, Sharlet says, is based on “a sort of trickle-down fundamentalism,” which holds that the wealthy and powerful, if they “can get their hearts right with God … will dispense blessings to those underneath them.”

The Family was founded in 1935 by a minister named Abraham Vereide after, he claimed, he had a vision in which God came to him in the person of the head of the United States Steel Corporation.

The current leader, Doug Coe, (see video, NBC report, The Fellowship’ aka ‘The Family’) shuns publicity but wields considerable political influence as a spiritual adviser. Sharlet says that when Sanford recently compared his struggles to those of the biblical King David — a central figure in Family theology — the author “could almost hear Doug Coe’s voice” coming out of the South Carolina governor. (From, ‘Family’: Fundamentalism, Friends In High Places)

  • Excerpt from: ‘The Family’

A few weeks into my stay, David Coe, Doug’s son, dropped by Ivanwald…

“You guys,” David said, “are here to learn how to rule the world.”

We sat around him in a rough circle, on couches and chairs, as the afternoon light slanted through the wooden blinds onto a wall adorned with a giant tapestry of the Last Supper. Rafael, a wealthy Ecuadoran, had a hard time with English, and he didn’t understand what David had said. He stared, lips parted in puzzlement. David seemed to like that. He stared back, holding Raf’s gaze like it was a pretty thing he’d found on the ground. “You have very intense eyes,” David said.

“Thank you,” Raf mumbled.

“Hey,” David said, “let’s talk about the Old Testament.” His voice was like a river that’s smooth on the surface but swirling beneath. “Who” — he paused — “would you say are its good guys?”

“Noah,” suggested Ruggi, a shaggy-haired guy from Kentucky with a silver loop on the upper ridge of his right ear.

“Moses,” offered Josh, a lean man from Atlanta more interested in serving Jesus than his father’s small empire of shower door manufacturing.

“David,” Beau volunteered.

“King David,” David Coe said. “That’s a good one. David. Hey. What would you say made King David a good guy?”

“Faith?” Beau said. “His faith was so strong?”

“Yeah.” David nodded as if he hadn’t heard that before. “Hey, you know what’s interesting about King David?”

From the blank stares of the others, I could see that they did not. Many didn’t even carry a full Bible, preferring a slim volume of New Testament Gospels and Epistles and Old Testament Psalms, respected but seldom read. Others had the whole book, but the gold gilt on the pages of the first two-thirds remained undisturbed.

“King David,” David Coe went on, “liked to do really, really bad things.” He chuckled. “Here’s this guy who slept with another man’s wife — Bathsheba, right? — and then basically murdered her husband. And this guy is one of our heroes.” David shook his head. “I mean, Jiminy Christmas, God likes this guy!

What,” he said, “is that all about?”

“Is it because he tried?” asked Bengt. “He wanted to do the right thing?” Bengt knew the Bible, Old Testament and New, better than any of the others, but he offered his answer with a question mark on the end. Bengt was dutiful in checking his worst sin, his fierce pride, and he frequently turned his certainties into questions.

“That’s nice, Bengt,” David said. “But it isn’t the answer. Anyone else?”

“Because he was chosen,” I said. For the first time David looked my way.

“Yes,” he said, smiling. “Chosen. Interesting set of rules, isn’t it?” He turned to Beau. “Beau, let’s say I hear you raped three little girls. And now here you are at Ivanwald. What would I think of you, Beau?

Beau, given to bellowing Ivanwald’s daily call to sports like a bull elephant, shrank into the cushions. “Probably that I’m pretty bad?”

“No, Beau.” David’s voice was kind. “I wouldn’t.” He drew Beau back into the circle with a stare that seemed to have its own gravitational pull. Beau nodded, brow furrowed, as if in the presence of something profound. “Because,” David continued, “I’m not here to judge you. That’s not my job. I’m here for only one thing. Do you know what that is?”

Understanding blossomed in Beau’s eyes. “Jesus?” he said. David smiled and winked. “Hey,” he said. “Did you guys see Toy Story?” Half the room had. “Remember how there was a toy cowboy, Woody? And then the boy who owns Woody gets a new toy, a spaceman? Only the toy spaceman thinks he’s real. Thinks he’s a real spaceman, and he’s got to figure out what he’s doing on this strange planet. So what does Woody say to him? He says, ‘You’re just a toy.’ ” David sat quietly, waiting for us to absorb this. “Just a toy. We’re not really spacemen. We’re just toys. Created for God. For His pleasure, nothing else. Just a toy. Period.”

He walked to the National Geographic map of the world mounted on the wall.

“You guys know about Genghis Khan?” he asked. “Genghis was a man with a vision. He conquered” — David stood on the couch under the map, tracing, with his hand, half the northern hemisphere — “nearly everything. He devastated nearly everything. His enemies? He beheaded them.” David swiped a finger across his throat. “Dop, dop, dop, dop.”

“Genghis Khan’s genius”, David went on, “lay in his understanding that there could be only one king. When Genghis entered a defeated city, he would call in the local headman. Conversion to the Khan’s cause was not an option, as Genghis was uninterested in halfhearted deputies. Instead, said David, Genghis would have the man stuffed into a crate, and over the crate’s surface would be spread a tablecloth, on which a wonderful meal would be arrayed.

“And then, while the man suffocated, Genghis ate, and he didn’t even hear the man’s screams.”

David stood on the couch, a finger in the air. “Do you know what that means?”

To their credit, my brothers did not. Perhaps on account of my earlier insight, David turned to me. “I think so,” I said. “Out with the old, in with the new.”

Yes, he nodded. “Christ’s parable of the wineskins. You can’t pour new into old.” One day, he continued, some monks from Europe show up in Genghis Khan’s court. Genghis welcomes them in the name of God. Says that in truth, they worship the same great Lord. Then why, the monks ask, must he conquer the world? “I don’t ask,” says Genghis. “I submit.”

David returned to his chair. “We elect our leaders,” he said. “Jesus elects his.”

He reached over and squeezed the arm of Pavel. “Isn’t that great?” David said.

“That’s the way everything in life happens. If you’re a person known to be around Jesus, you can go and do anything. And that’s who you guys are. When you leave here, you’re not only going to know the value of Jesus, you’re going to know the people who rule the world. It’s about vision. Get your vision straight, then relate. Talk to the people who rule the world, and help them obey. Obey Him. If I obey Him myself, I help others do the same. You know why? Because I become a warning. We become a warning. We warn everybody that the future king is coming. Not just of this country or that but of the world.”

Then he pointed at the map, toward the Khan’s vast, reclaimable empire….



Sharlet visits Ivanwald, a Family retreat in the Washington DC area, and documents what he saw and heard there.

And this is the part of the book that should interest the Online Discernment community, because he presents a Christianity at the heart of The Family that is surprisingly heterodox (*holding unorthodox opinions or doctrines). Surprising because Sharlet calls it fundamentalist, but heterodox because the Jesus that is at the center of it isn’t a Jesus most Christians would recognize: this Jesus doesn’t die for anybody’s sins. He endorses powerful people and their aggregation and use of power.

Sharlet even offers this quote from a Family planning document:

“Anything can happen,” according to an internal planning document, “the Koran could even be read, but JESUS is there! He is infiltrating the world.”

This Jesus who is infiltrating the world through the Family is one of the themes of the book, and he doesn’t bear much resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible.

  • Related:

The Family (Christian political organization)

Douglas Coe

Prayer groups have met in the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense. They have connections to the CIA.

There is no official membership of the group. Most members of Congress who participate are from the Republican Party but some Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, Doug Coe has been a spiritual mentor for Clinton, participate as well…

Senators who have been cited as members of the organization include Don Nickles and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, John Ensign of Nevada, Bill Nelson of Florida, Conrad Burns of Montana. Members of the House who have been cited as participants include Frank Wolf of Virginia and Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford…U.S. Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; and Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; and U.S. Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; and Sam Brownback, R-Kan..


Interesting reading huh?

Dominionism and/or Dominion Theology will always breed a type or form of elitism in those who follow its false doctrines; an idea that one is ‘specially chosen’ and by being so, secular power and authority can never be denied them. It follows another Jesus and gospel. Its heresy.

Heresy: An opinion or a doctrine at variance with established religious beliefs; Adherence to such controversial or unorthodox opinion;

Its pretty amazing that it reaches into the halls of our secular Government–and apparently, has been active there for over 70 years.

Makes one wonder..

9 comments on “Washington DC’s ‘The Family’

  1. Excellent, PJ! I was hoping that they would put this on youtube quick, and they did! Scary stuff, isn’t it?

    • Yes, i was hoping to find the segment last night after watching it. Scary? it sure is!

      I wasn’t kidding about having never heard of them until last year. It was while looking for something else entirely that i came upon the name Doug Coe and the Family. Once i started reading i was shocked…

      After watching that segment last night, it answered a lot of questions i’ve had concerning some of the more recent (sex) scandals concerning elected officials. If you’re being constantly told you are ‘chosen’ and regardless of what you do in your personal life, nothing can change that fact, (likened to King David) it will breed a frightening type of elitism. The idea this belief is in a certain segment of government is frightening…

      Maybe we should call it ‘political religious dominionist’ thinking? LOL

  2. PJ, I’ll be posting this later, but you might want to check out this little link:


    • Thank you so much..

      This is one of the most informative articles i’ve read on dominionist theology…

      It was shocking to read of the connection between the pre WW2 nazi party and the Washington based “Family”

      This is interesting:

      It is this confluence of right-wing philosophies that provides a political bridge between modern-day Christian Rightists (including so-called Christian Zionists) and the secular-oriented neo-conservatives who support a policy that sees a U.S.-Israeli alliance against Islam and European-oriented democratic socialism. For the dominion theologists, the United States is the new Israel, with a God-given mandate to establish dominion over the entire planet. Neither the secular neo-conservatives nor Christian fundamentalists seem to have a problem with the idea of American domination of the planet, as witnessed by the presence of representatives of both camps as supporters of the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century, the neo-conservative blueprint for America’s attack on Iraq and plans to attack, occupy, and dominate other countries that oppose U.S. designs.

      What bound all so-called “America First” movements prior to World War II was their common hatred for labor unions, Communists and Socialists, Jews, and most definitely, the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Vereide’s Prayer Breakfast Movement, pro-Nazi German groups like the Bund, and a resurgent Ku Klux Klan had more than propaganda in common – they had an interlocking leadership and a coordinated political agenda.

      Polycarp, im really looking forward to reading what you post on this…i’ll be watching my feeds, so i can post a link to it..

      I also did a search and located part (2):

      Racists and dominionists, part 2:

  3. Just from the cover blurbs of the book, it sounds like All-encompassing Xian Theocracy Conspiracy Theory.

    You could just as easily substiture “Secular Humanist”, “Jew”, “Dittohead”, or “Hollow-Earth Reptoid” for “Christian” and get the same shtick of The All Powerful Conspiracy That REALLY Controls Everything And Which Means To Destroy Us All.

  4. Hey there pilgrim, did you know Senator Bill Nelson’s daughter, a non-tenured instructor by the name of Nan Ellen Dixon, teaches a three part class on “The Family” and their cult philosophy at Georgetown University. Very sleazy and theatrical.

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