The Commonwealth Blog

C-Street Confidential: Which Family Is Real?

Oct 2, 2010 @ 10:46 AM

By Camille Koue

The recent New Yorker article on The Family by Peter J. Boyer paints a much different picture than that of the dictator-obsessed, wage-war-with-prayer Family portrait described by author and journalist Jeff Sharlet in his new book C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. It’s Boyer’s good natured, supportive brotherhood, frat house made up of a well-intentioned, though sometimes naive, network of good-ol-boys, compared to Sharlet’s no-holds-barred, violent, win-or-die-trying secret bunker housing opportunistic, pulpit spewing religious fundamentalists.

 

The two images look very different and that is what makes Sharlet’s appearance at The Club on Oct 13 so interesting.


Boyer’s article describes the conservative Christian organization as a group of decent men looking to make the lives of others better by spreading the Holy Word, but definitely not by any means necessary. He describes how the leaders of the Family are open to other faiths, and denounce foreign policy that is too extreme.

Sharlet describes them as quite the opposite.

For example, one main contradiction of claims is that Boyer asserts that the leaders of The Family were instrumental in getting the Ugandan anti-gay bill, which would have punished homosexuality with death, withdrawn from the floor of the Ugandan Parliament. Sharlet has asserted that The Family leaders were instrumental in the writing of the bill and fueling the homophobic fire in Uganda.

While Boyer describes the secretive nature of The Family as a way for those tended toward humility to live out their religious work in an anonymous, inelaborate manner that suits them best, Sharlet contends that the secretiveness is calculated, its purpose to allow The Family to fly under the radar, doing whatever they want without anyone knowing while the organization gets more and more powerful.

In a response to Boyer’s piece in a recent Harper’s magazine interview, Sharlet quipped “Lazy reporting aside, the real danger of a piece like Boyer’s is that it perpetuates unexamined claims made by the Family.”

Come and examine these claims yourself and ask Jeff Sharlet your questions on Oct 13 at 6:30PM at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center.