Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tiahrt belongs to the Family/C street cult

It has now been established that Rep. Todd Tiahrt is a member of the Family or C Street. It is a religious cult that many member of the US congress belong to. Here is an article from Counter-Punch:

C Street Band

As the Republican Party implodes the public is becoming aware of a secretive Christian society known as the Family or the Fellowship. The group was founded in 1935 in opposition to FDR's New Deal and its adherents subscribe to a far right Christian fundamentalist and free market ideology. A minister named Abraham Vereide founded the Family after having a vision in which God visited him in the person of the head of the United States Steel Corporation (no, I’m not making this up). The Family has a connection to house on C Street in Washington, D.C., known simply as C Street. Officially registered as a church, the building serves as a meeting place and residence for conservative politicians.
Few members of the fellowship talk about the group’s mission. The organization organizes the annual National Prayer Breakfast which is attended by the president, members of Congress, and diplomats from around the world. Earlier this year Obama presented his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the event. According to Jeff Sharlet who wrote a book about the group the Family’s philosophy is based on “a sort of trickle-down fundamentalism,” which believes that the wealthy and powerful, if they “can get their hearts right with God ... will dispense blessings to those underneath them.” True believers in market orthodoxy, Family members think that God's will operates directly through Adam Smith's “invisible hand.”
The Family’s current leader Doug Coe is secretive but enjoys considerable political influence as a spiritual adviser. When South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, himself a visitor and a kind of honorary alumni at C Street, compared his political difficulties involving his affair with an Argentine woman to those of biblical King David the South Carolina politician was falling back on a central figure in Family theology. You could “almost hear Doug Coe’s voice” coming out of Sanford, Sharlet remarks.
C Street’s stately red brick, $1.1 million building is subsidized by secretive religious organizations and is located a mere stone’s throw away from the Capitol. Lawmakers who live there include Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; and Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, and Sam Brownback, R-Kan. The lawmakers, all Christians, live in private rooms upstairs and pay an incredibly low rent --- a paltry $600 --- to live at C Street.
Tenants dine together once a week to talk about religion in their daily lives. Richard Carver, a member of the Fellowship’s board of directors who served as assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration, says “Our goal is singular—and that is to hope that we can assist them in better understandings of the teachings of Christ, and applying it to their jobs.” Senator DeMint, a Presbyterian who moved into C Street less than a year ago, says that members are wont to share a verse or a thought in Bible Study “but mostly it's more of an accountability group to talk about things that are going on in our lives, and how we're dealing with them.”
It’s not uncommon for C Street residents to invite fellow congressmen to the lodging for spiritual bonding. Sanford for example turned to C Street for answers and support as his marriage crumbled apart. Now Sanford is joined in his troubles by another C Street member, John Ensign, who had a sexual relationship with a staffer. The Ensign affair has threatened to take down yet another C Street member, Tom Coburn. In February, 2008 Coburn and Ensign’s former mistress’ husband confronted Ensign and urged him to end the affair. Reportedly, Ensign paid the woman more than $25,000 in severance when she stopped working for him in 2008.
Now comes word that that Ensign’s parents paid his mistress and her family almost $100,000 “out of concern for the well being of longtime family friends during a difficult time.” The severance payment could lead to campaign finance or ethics issues for Ensign. But the scandal is also damaging for Coburn who is said to have encouraged Ensign to compensate the couple and to help them relocate. Coburn has denied any knowledge of the payments.
Coburn, who is a physician, will not comment on the advice he provided Ensign saying his position as a doctor and ordained deacon required that he keep all information private. “I'm not going to go into that — that's privileged communications,” the Oklahoma Senator said. “I'm never going to talk about that with anybody. I never will, not to a court of law, not to an ethics committee, not to anybody — because that is privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody.”


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