Nancy Polikoff

What's the common thread between Sen Ensign, Reps Stupak & Pitts, & the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda?

Filed By Nancy Polikoff | November 29, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: C Street, Jeff Sharlet, Pitts, Rachel Maddow, Stupak, The Family, Uganda

The answer is "The Family," the right-wing Christian organization with a terrifying idea about power and an ideology as far right as can be.

Fans of the Rachel Maddow show have been hearing about The Family for months, as she exposes the hypocrisy and power mongering of some of the men behind the sex scandals headlines of the last several months. Her frequent guest, Jeff Sharlet, is the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. He is the person who publicized the "C Street" house, so named because it is located on near the US Capitol on C Street in Washington, DC.

Residents of "C Street" are a long list of some of the most conservative politicians in America. Until last week, the building was tax-exempt as a church. Really. But all the attention from Maddow and Sharlet caused the DC Office of Tax and Revenue to investigate and to revoke 66% of the exemption.

Now comes the news that The Family is behind the push for the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" in Uganda. A recent post on Alternet ties this proposal to the American Christian right. And in an interview on NPR's Fresh Air this week, Jeff Sharlet specifically ties the proposed law to The Family. Among the grounds for finding "aggravated" homosexuality are being a repeat offender and having sex after consuming alcohol. Gay rights organizations are also outlawed in the proposal.

Unlike any other group, The Family keeps a low profile. Sharlet has video of the group's leader, Doug Coe, saying they can do more from behind the scenes than from having an up-front presence. And lest anyone think this is a fringe organization, Sharlet reminds us that The Family is the group behind the annual National Prayer Breakfast, which the President always attends. In his Fresh Air interview, Sharlet reports that Bart Stupak lives at "C Street" and Joe Pitts is in the inner circle of core members of The Family. These are the people who want to guarantee that no one buying a health insurance policy made available by "health reform" will have coverage for abortions.

The reach of this group is truly terrifying. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jeff Sharlet for relentless reporting that at least sheds light on this secretive society. Sharlet hopes that exposure will reduce their influence and is especially heartened that the Christian Right itself is investigating the group's emphasis on power and tenuous connection to theology. Sharlet also reports that local news media are now questioning Congressmembers and Senators who live at C Street and investigating their sources of funding.

We can't afford to ignore these guys. Today they're out for gay people in Uganda. Tomorrow, well, you get the drift.

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Nancy, I immediately had this thought whilst reading your post!

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." This insightful quote is from a book written in 1935 by Sinclair Lewis titled "It Can't Happen Here."

We need to shine a light into their closet and expose them as much as possible. Interesting how the Manson clan called themselves The Family also.

Yeah, they give "family" a bad name, don't you think?

This round of anti-gay rhetoric started with a conference in Kampalala much like Exodus runs in the US except that Scott Lively, who wrote the revisionist lie - The Pink Swastika, was in the mix. Don Schmierer, who has written books on degaying people and how to keep your youngster from becoming gay, was also there. And there was a Caleb Brundidge, who is a part of a 'cult' in Arizona that goes to morges trying to raise the dead, was there representing Richard Cohen's International Healing Foundation. Cohen is best remembered for being expelled from the American Counseling Association, after it accused him of six violations of its ethics code, and his flamboyant media appearances.

Don Schmierer is a Program Officer for conservative philanthropist Howard Ahmanson's Fieldstead & Company. Schmierer is also on the Exodus board. I found this off-hand comment made by a person who travelled across the Atlantic from America to Europe with Don Schmierer just before the Kampalala conference.

Last week I sat next to this guy (Don Schmierer) on a flight from USA to Europe. He was on his way to Uganda to speak at a conference there on how to convert people from homosexuality.
We started talking and he was interesting. He was a nice guy, moderate in tone and personality, and concerned not to offend me in case I had different views.
Of course, he has batsh!t crazy ideas that The Gay is caused by a domineering parent, or neglected kids or broken homes. Or something. Whatever, it’s a 100% acquired condition. Also the Nazis were all gay.
He works for Exodus International, which apparently is the leading Christian ministry focusing on the ex-gay (conversion) thing. They are not short of cash as it’s funded by billionaire Howard Ahmanson. Africa is a big focus for them – it’s religious and predominantly anti-gay, and Exodus wants to keep it that way.

Anyway, if anyone wants “Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth”
I now have a copy.

Note that Schmierer agrees with Lively that "the Nazis were all gay." Also Schmierer apparently told this person that Exodus wants to keep Africa anti-gay (Africa doesn't need help for that) and that Exodus is well funded by his boss, Howard Ahmanson.

Now about a week after this conference after many different blogs, including that of Box Turtle Bulletin's in-depth coverage and Dr Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College, spoke out against the conference saying it would only serve to promote anti-gay reactions in Uganda, Exodus did speak out against violence perpetrated against gays and lesbians in Uganda and the ministry also removed a link to an article speaking in favor of Scott Lively's revisionist history of the Nazis. At the same time Exodus praised their board member Don Schmierer for his work at the Ugandan conference.

But it did take even more to get Exodus to issue a letter against the Anti-Homosexuality bill in Uganda, which they put on their website. But even then Steven Langa of the Family Life Network of Uganda (which sponsored the Kampalala conference) dismissed it as hacked by gays and a “false letter”.

I should also point out that both Exodus and Fieldstead are a part of the Arlington Group and "The Cedars" in Arlington is the home of the Family.

The whole thing sounds like a John Grisham novel.

We'll see what happens here. Uganda is under enormous international and economic pressure not to pass this bill, but there's been a lot of fear-mongering surrounding gay people there lately.

And to think, Uganda was the darling of the West not 10 years ago.