The Question Hillary Clinton Has Still Not Answered
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 04:39:01 PM EST
Here at Talk to Action, we have highlighted the strange relationship between Hillary Clinton and the secretive Religious Right network known as "The Family." Jeff Sharlet and Kathryn Joyce wrote about this in Mother Jones and wanted to ask her about it, but she declined.

In the wake of the controversy over Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, Barbara Erenreich, writing at The Nation, thinks it is only fair and reasonable to ask Hillary Clinton about her relationship with Doug Coe, the controversial leader of The Family, and for that matter, The Family itself.

Here is an excerpt:

There's a reason Hillary Clinton has remained relatively silent during the flap over intemperate remarks by Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. When it comes to unsavory religious affiliations, she's a lot more vulnerable than Obama.

You can find all about it in a widely under-read article in the September 2007 issue of Mother Jones, in which Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet reported that "through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as "The "Fellowship," a k a The Family. But it won't be a secret much longer. Jeff Sharlet's shocking exposé The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power will be published in May.

This has not been a casual connection for Clinton. She has written of Doug Coe, The Family's publicity-averse leader, that he is "a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God."

Furthermore, The Family takes credit for some of Clinton's rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing "religious freedom" in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics.

What drew Clinton into the sinister heart of the international right? Maybe it was just a phase in her tormented search for identity, marked by ever-changing hairstyles and names: Hillary Rodham, Mrs. Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and now Hillary Clinton. She reached out to many potential spiritual mentors during her White House days, including New Age guru Marianne Williamson and the liberal rabbi Michael Lerner. But it was the Family association that stuck.

Sharlet generously attributes Clinton's involvement to the under-appreciated depth of her religiosity, but he himself struggles to define The Family's theological underpinnings. The Family avoids the word Christian but worships Jesus, though not the Jesus who promised the earth to the "meek." They believe that, in mass societies, it's only the elites who matter, the political leaders who can build God's "dominion" on earth. Insofar as The Family has a consistent philosophy, it's all about power--cultivating it, building it and networking it together into ever-stronger units, or "cells." "We work with power where we can," Doug Coe has said, and "build new power where we can't."


Here is more about The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.




Display:
I've been trying to get people to pay attention to this, yet it seems to be ignored by so many.  People are shocked and upset when they hear that Hillary is connected with the religious right- and many want to deny it as "sexist propaganda".

Somehow, some way we need to get the national media to examine this aspect of Hillary Clinton.  I don't expect it, because as I've learned- that would tend to help Obama- and racism is a much bigger problem in this country than realized.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 07:28:39 PM EST


Glad you called attention to this. And am glad Barbara did, too. You'd be surprised at the flak Kathryn and I got from liberals for the simple act of noting Hillary's association with religious conservatives. Worst were a few Kossacks who declared that if Hill was connected to The Family, the Family was good news. Second worst were the nincompoops who figured that if a Democrat is involved, it can't be rightwing.

Sigh. What we need are better civics teachers.
Author of THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper, May 20)
by Jeff Sharlet on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 01:54:52 AM EST

about liberals and Dems who turn a blind eye to the influence of religious right factions in their own ranks.

When reform minded activists, pols, and especially journalists can't see it or just profoundly don't want to, there is something else at work. A certain 'it can't happen here' sensibility that is of a piece with the overall pschology of denial and pooh poohing that has had so much to do with how we got to where we are today.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 10:33:19 AM EST
Parent



but I hope a good one.  Bob Somerby, at the Daily Howler, had this to say regarding the Ehrenreich article:

HOW TO RUN THE RUBES: People like Ehrenreich will do and say anything in order to drive the rubes to market. Case in point:

In her piece, Ehrenreich says that the Workplace Religious Freedom Act--the (proposed) bill which shows Clinton's "sinister" ways--guarantees religious freedom to "pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics." From her post, you might think that this is the actual aim of the bill. But in fact, this is a concern about the possible effects of the bill--a concern which has been expressed by groups which oppose the measure. Proponents of the WRFA say the bill wouldn't have those effects. Honest brokers continue working--or pretending to work--to address these points of concern.

As noted, this bill is proposed year after year--and it never passes. We'll guess that it may be one of those measures which gets introduced to placate certain groups, though no one really means to enact it. (We don't know if that is the case.) On balance, is the bill a good idea? We don't have the slightest idea. Why not ask John Kerry or Carolyn McCarthy, two others who have found themselves drawn "into the sinister heart of the international right?"

At some point, liberals and Dems will have to decide: How long do we tolerate rube-running conduct of this type from our "intellectual leadership?" How long do we plan to be insulted by "leaders" who mainly love running us rubes?

I think Somerby's critical comments are fair and accurate of the way Ehrenreich portrays Clinton (Ehrenreich also makes a crack about Clinton's hairstyle that I think is inappropriate and unfortunate).  In a previous edition of the Howler, referenced below, he criticized Ehrenreich for distorting Sharlet's article in Mother Jones on Clinton and The Family.  Personally, I don't know what effect The Family has had on Clinton, but I'll definetely read Sharlet's book when it cames out (Somerby is also interested).  What do people here think?  As an aside, I've admired and enjoyed Ehrenreich's work in the past and her political views are fairly close to my own, so I was kind of disappointed when I read this.

-------------
"I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair" - JFK, Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
by hardindr on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 12:42:28 PM EST



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