The Family and the Logan Act
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 10:26:53 AM EST
A  few years ago I read William Snider's book, Helms and Hunt.  I was taken back by the idea in the story Snider told that Senator Jesse Helms was connected with private groups that had influence with governments around the world.1  I had run  across this story more than once regarding religious right leaders who were connected with world leaders on more than a personal level.  Certainly the Council on National Policy is a case in point.  Exactly what kind of direct influence the CNP has is foreign affairs in the world is subject to speculation because of its secrecy.
     In Jeff Sharlet's book, The Family, he lays out the agenda of a powerful organization few knew about.  The connections with power  that have a longstanding relationship with U.S. government officials is portrayed by the work.  This Para church organization, loosely connected, sought out influential men to peddle their viewpoints in the nation and around the world.  The organization's Bible studies served to connect with many of the most powerful people in Washington. D.C. and thus had its own meeting place in the city.  The author brought up the Logan Act, this was the first time I recall hearing of such.2  I was puzzled as to how groups like this were allowed to directly engage in foreign affairs in other countries without placing our own national policies in jeopardy. Sharlet said that in 1990 President George W. Bush praised The Family leader, Doug Coe, for his secretive activity. The author stated the President was obviously unaware of the Logan Act.
     I wanted to find out more about this law I had never heard about.  In 1799 a doctor who was a legislature in the nation decided to go to France.  He was a Quaker and an adherent to the peace movement.  He took it on himself to seek out French officials to negociate some settlement in the embargo going on between the U.S. and France.  This was during the John Adams reign as President.
     When citizens in the nation have taken it on themsleves to visit foreign dignitaries some have accused them of violating this act.  Reagan accused Jesse Jackson of such. I was watching Tom Hanks play our recent Congressman, Charlie Wilson, in the block buster movie.  In the story Wilson was supposed to mention the Logan Act as a concern.  In Wilson's case he was working with the CIA under the suspervision of the Congress and Whitehouse.  Even though his actions were under the table, it was connected to an administration which knew what was taking place.
     Constitution issues are also at stake.  For instance when Rev. Jeremiah Wright visited Libya or when private citizens wish to speak out as in the case of the woman behind Charlie in Houston.  She appears to have had more direct access to some foreign leaders than our own state department.  Free speech and individual rights play into the law.  Truth is there appears to have been little if any enforcement of this act besides a few idle threats.  
     Pat Robertson has sought to connect with world leaders and had used his influence to place the head of Zaire on a platform with government agencies.3  Some Baptists were concerned when a recent past head of a mission organization, Robert Reccord, appeared on Pat Robertson's 700 Club.  He was on the program using Christian Nation terminology set in a dominion framework.  The tape  Reccord made of his work has an endorsement by Peter Marshall Jr.  A leading advocate for shelving the idea of separation of church and state.4
     Sara Diamond has an entire chapter in her book, Spiritual Warfare, about the religious right's entanglement in affairs in South America.  Gerald Winrod, the Lutheran minister from Kansas, journeyed to Hitler's Third Reich to be entertained by Nazi officials just before World War II.5
     In 1997 a group of Christian dominion types traveled to Zambia to instruct the churches there on taking dominion over the government.6  Representing the Chalcedon group from California, these mission workers hoped to stir up people to behave in Zambia much like The Family does in the U.S.
     Hammering out just exactly how much the government will tolerate religious people like the Quaker in 1799 seeking to conduct foreign relations will be a topic to be dealt with.  Finding common ground on enforcing he Logan Act might neeed to be placed on the front burner for future discussion.  So far it has become a forgotten rule that most look the other way regarding.  This has helped set the table for organizations like The Family to carry on business as usual.


  1.  William Snider, HELMS AND HUNT, Univ. of N.C. Press, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1985.
  2.  Jeff Sharlet, THE FAMILY, Harper, N.Y., N.Y., 2008, pg. 26.
  3.  Barry Lynn, PIETY AND POLITICS, Harmony Books, N.Y., N.Y., 2006, pg. 234.
  4.  David Winfrey, "Reccord Wants to Restore Christian Naiton,"  BAPTIST STANDARD, June 23, 1997, pg. 3.
  5.  Roy Carlson, UNDER COVER, E.P. Ditton, N.Y., N.Y., 1943, pg. 167.
  6.  R.J. Rushdoony, Ed. CHALCEDON REPORT, Oct. 1997, cover.

it seems that it's only treasonous and working at cross purposes with our government, when the liberals/Dems do it.

by trog69 on Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 03:25:56 AM EST

I didn't mention Hagee's work with Israel or Jimmy Swaggard's visit to South American leaders.  It appears some of the Christian right got bored with just soliciting the Whitehouse and sought influence around the globe.

by wilkyjr on Sun Sep 13, 2009 at 11:15:02 AM EST

If anyone seems to know where the line is that should not be crossed in the public v. private interests, it's the religious right, but it seems to be used as a starting point for assault rather than an end point not to be transgressed. The wingnut group known as 'the family' used Bible study in their "free" housing arrangement for seeking out some of the cheapest souls on the planet, only for most of them to cross the line of sexual illicitness in that arrangement or around it. Take John Ensign & his plight (R-Nev) with a paramour (read: mistress) but still organization member in good standing if he will continue his political point man in misdeeds Re healthcare or Gov. Sanford (R-SC) who violated both family & state in his calculated meanderings & continues to scoff at his party's call for resignation so as to avoid Impeachment proceedings. "Pillow talk" is the open question with the wife as compromised if not transmitter of semi-secret or secret data. Sen. Nelson (D-Fl) is another who is pretty mediocre in my estimation & not one to stand up when he is needed, but is there no leak out there when his wife is Exec. Sec'y for the honcho of 'the family' when the Presidential Prayer Breakfast has been staged for years until Pres. Obama stepped back from it this past year. There surely was an unspoken pressure to appear & do lipservice to the "service"  which would be a tacit approval of its political quests as well. An in-depth study needs to be done to examine exactly what has been done & under what pretenses that would violate good taste & fair play and cross that line into illegality and The Logan Act, per se.  In the meantime, those associated with this entity in any way from free room & board to involvement in rightist agenda & propoganda must simply be voted out at the ballot box & with all haste: then, once reigned in and exposed, not let any appearance or trace of public office or influence exist, else the exposures of recent months will have gone for naught.
Arden C. Hander

by achbird65 on Sun Sep 13, 2009 at 08:29:05 PM EST

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