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by Rudy Nelson

The Blob and I

Was the 1958 horror flick created to advance the agenda of a Christian fundamentalist cabal close to the dark heart of American power?

It's an early June morning this past year. I'm sifting through the accumulated e-mail messages and blogs, and have been momentarily snared by the title of an AlterNet interview: "Worse than Fascists: Christian Political Group 'The Family' Openly Reveres Hitler." I know I should hit the delete button and get on with the day's work, but like a shopper suckered by the tabloids in the supermarket checkout line, I let my eyes stray to the first sentence. And suddenly I'm shifting into a different gear. "Did you know that the National Prayer Breakfast is sponsored by a shadowy cabal of elite Christian fundamentalists?" [1]

So much for the comfortable assumption that this is probably an exposé of Christian white supremacists hunkered down in an Idaho commune. I've never been to a National Prayer Breakfast myself, but I've known a number of people who have. I decide I'd better read a little farther.

The AlterNet piece is an interview with an author named Jeff Sharlet, concerning his new book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. The first question in the interview is also my first question:

"What is the Family?"

Sharlet's answer: "It's an international network of evangelical activists in government, military, and business. The Family is dedicated to the idea that Christianity has gotten it all wrong for two thousand years by focusing on the poor, the suffering, and the weak."

Well, I think, that will surely be news to Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo. And others. Me too, as a matter of fact.

Sharlet goes on: "The Family says that instead, what Christians should do is minister to the up-and-out—as opposed to the down-and-out—to those that are already powerful. Because if they can win those people for Christ, they win the whole deal. That's what this network is dedicated to. It includes nonprofit organizations, it includes think tanks, it includes various ministries."

Never having heard of the Family, I have no idea whether or not this is ...

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