The Family started in the 1930s as a "union-busting organization."
JEFF SHARLET: The Family began as this domestic organization way back in the 1930s, a union-busting organization. But by the ’50s, they—And its current leader - Doug Coe - likes to give various dictators as examples of what a Christian totalitarianism might model itself after
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, union-busting organization?
JEFF SHARLET: Oh, they—it’s part of that invisible hand of the market. They believe that organized labor is ungodly, to put it mildly, perhaps Satanic. It began with this vision in 1935 that the New Deal and organized labor were literally a Satanic conspiracy they had to fight back.
In the 1950s, in the Cold War, they started moving overseas and identifying strongmen, dictators, who they thought were effective in the fight against communism, who they thought were effective in the fight for free markets.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to read the full quote of Doug Coe—For more on the Family, see Sharlet's Harper's article, "Jesus plus nothing: Undercover among America's secret theocrats."
JEFF SHARLET: Please, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —counseling Congressman Tiahrt, which you quote. “You know Jesus said ‘You got to put Him before mother-father-brother sister’? Hitler, Lenin, Mao, that’s what they taught the kids. Mao even had the kids killing their own mother and father. But it wasn’t murder. It was for building the new nation. The new kingdom." That’s Doug Coe. And where did you get this?
JEFF SHARLET: That is actually available on an audio sermon that you can find on the website of another Christian right group called the Navigators, with which the Family has always worked for decades.
You can also find online video of Coe talking about the model of fellowship that he wants politicians to follow. He says, “Look at Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler, these three nobodies who get together, and look at all they were able to accomplish.” Now, he’ll be quick to say they’re evil men. This is not some neo-Nazi, you know, kind of conspiracy. It’s a sort of a fetish for power and strength. That’s the model. That’s why he says Hitler, Lenin, Mao.
He’s also fond of saying to congressmen, “Who were the three men in the twentieth century who best understood the New Testament?” And it’s sort of a trick question, because maybe you say Martin Luther King, or maybe, if you’re conservative, you say Billy Graham. And again, it’s Hitler, Stalin and Mao. These are not aberrations in his speech. This is the core of his teaching, that the New Testament is about power and strength.
AMY GOODMAN: He talks about Pol Pot—
JEFF SHARLET: Pol Pot.
AMY GOODMAN: —and talks about Osama bin Laden.
JEFF SHARLET: Yeah, yeah. There’s nobody who is—you know, there is no sort of strongman killer that they’re not interested in. Going back to the group’s early roots, they began with the idea that democracy was done, that democracy couldn’t compete with fascism or communism. They didn’t want to be communists. Fascism was OK, except that it had this cult of personality: where Jesus was supposed to be, you’d find a Hitler, a Mussolini. And so, they came up with this idea of totalitarianism for Christ, but they illustrate it with these awful models from history.