Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jesus Saves, the Rich?

This is how they pray: a dozen clear-eyed, smooth-skinned “brothers” gathered together in a huddle, arms crossing arms over shoulders like the weave of a cable, leaning in on one another and swaying like the long grass up the hill from the house they share. The house is a handsome, gray, two-story colonial that smells of new carpet and Pine-Sol and aftershave; the men who live there call it Ivanwald. At the end of a tree-lined cul-de-sac, quiet but for the buzz of lawn mowers and kids playing foxes-and-hounds in the park across the road, Ivanwald sits as one house among many, clustered together like mushrooms, all devoted, like these men, to the service of Jesus Christ. The men tend every tulip in the cul-de-sac, trim every magnolia, seal every driveway smooth and black as boot leather. And they pray, assembled at the dining table or on their lawn or in the hallway or in the bunk room or on the basketball court, each man's head bowed in humility and swollen with pride (secretly, he thinks) at being counted among such a fine corps for Christ, among men to whom he will open his heart and whom he will remember when he returns to the world not born-again but remade, no longer an individual but part of the Lord's revolution, his will transformed into a weapon for what the young men call “spiritual war.”

“Jeff, will you lead us in prayer?”

Surely, brother. It is April 2002, and I have lived with these men for weeks now, not as a Christian—a term they deride as too narrow for the world they are building in Christ's honor—but as a “believer.” I have shared the brothers' meals and their work and their games. I have been numbered among them and have been given a part in their ministry. I have wrestled with them and showered with them and listened to their stories: I know which man resents his father's fortune and which man succumbed to the flesh of a woman not once but twice and which man dances so well he is afraid of being taken for a fag. I know what it means to be a “brother,” which is to say that I know what it means to be a soldier in the army of God.

“Heavenly Father,” I begin. Then, “O Lord,” but I worry that this doesn't sound intimate enough. I settle on, “Dear Jesus.” “Dear Jesus, just, please, Jesus, let us fight for Your name.”

* * *

Ivanwald, which sits at the end of Twenty-fourth Street North in Arlington, Virginia, is known only to its residents and to the members and friends of the organization that sponsors it, a group of believers who refer to themselves as “the Family.” The Family is, in its own words, an “invisible” association, though its membership has always consisted mostly of public men. Senators Don Nickles (R., Okla.), Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), Pete Domenici (R., N.Mex.), John Ensign (R., Nev.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), and Conrad Burns (R., Mont.) are referred to as “members,” as are Representatives Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), Frank Wolf (R., Va.), Joseph Pitts (R., Pa.), Zach Wamp (R., Tenn.), and Bart Stupak (D., Mich.). Regular prayer groups have met in the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense, and the Family has traditionally fostered strong ties with businessmen in the oil and aerospace industries. The Family maintains a closely guarded database of its associates, but it issues no cards, collects no official dues. Members are asked not to speak about the group or its activities.

The organization has operated under many guises, some active, some defunct: National Committee for Christian Leadership, International Christian Leadership, the National Leadership Council, Fellowship House, the Fellowship Foundation, the National Fellowship Council, the International Foundation. These groups are intended to draw attention away from the Family, and to prevent it from becoming, in the words of one of the Family's leaders, “a target for misunderstanding.” 11. The Los Angeles Times reported in September that the Fellowship Foundation alone has an annual budget of $10 million, but that represents only a fraction of the Family's finances. Each of the Family's organizations raises funds independently. Ivanwald, for example, is financed at least in part by an entity called the Wilberforce Foundation. Other projects are financed by individual “friends”: wealthy businessmen, foreign governments, church congregations, or mainstream foundations that may be unaware of the scope of the Family's activities. At Ivanwald, when I asked to what organization a donation check might be made, I was told there was none; money was raised on a “man-to-man” basis. Major Family donors named by the Times include Michael Timmis, a Detroit lawyer and Republican fund-raiser; Paul Temple, a private investor from Maryland; and Jerome A. Lewis, former CEO of the Petro-Lewis Corporation. The Family's only publicized gathering is the National Prayer Breakfast, which it established in 1953 and which, with congressional sponsorship, it continues to organize every February in Washington, D.C. Each year 3,000 dignitaries, representing scores of nations, pay $425 each to attend. Steadfastly ecumenical, too bland most years to merit much press, the breakfast is regarded by the Family as merely a tool in a larger purpose: to recruit the powerful attendees into smaller, more frequent prayer meetings, where they can “meet Jesus man to man.”

In the process of introducing powerful men to Jesus, the Family has managed to effect a number of behind-the-scenes acts of diplomacy. In 1978 it secretly helped the Carter Administration organize a worldwide call to prayer with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and more recently, in 2001, it brought together the warring leaders of Congo and Rwanda for a clandestine meeting, leading to the two sides' eventual peace accord last July. Such benign acts appear to be the exception to the rule. During the 1960s the Family forged relationships between the U.S. government and some of the most anti-Communist (and dictatorial) elements within Africa's postcolonial leadership. The Brazilian dictator General Costa e Silva, with Family support, was overseeing regular fellowship groups for Latin American leaders, while, in Indonesia, General Suharto (whose tally of several hundred thousand “Communists” killed marks him as one of the century's most murderous dictators) was presiding over a group of fifty Indonesian legislators. During the Reagan Administration the Family helped build friendships between the U.S. government and men such as Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, convicted by a Florida jury of the torture of thousands, and Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, himself an evangelical minister, who was linked to both the CIA and death squads before his own demise. “We work with power where we can,” the Family's leader, Doug Coe, says, “build new power where we can't.”

At the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, George H.W. Bush praised Doug Coe for what he described as “quiet diplomacy, I wouldn't say secret diplomacy,” as an “ambassador of faith.” Coe has visited nearly every world capital, often with congressmen at his side, “making friends” and inviting them back to the Family's unofficial headquarters, a mansion (just down the road from Ivanwald) that the Family bought in 1978 with $1.5 million donated by, among others, Tom Phillips, then the C.E.O. of arms manufacturer Raytheon, and Ken Olsen, the founder and president of Digital Equipment Corporation. A waterfall has been carved into the mansion's broad lawn, from which a bronze bald eagle watches over the Potomac River. The mansion is white and pillared and surrounded by magnolias, and by red trees that do not so much tower above it as whisper. The mansion is named for these trees; it is called The Cedars, and Family members speak of it as a person. “The Cedars has a heart for the poor,” they like to say. By “poor” they mean not the thousands of literal poor living barely a mile away but rather the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom: the senators, generals, and prime ministers who coast to the end of Twenty-fourth Street in Arlington in black limousines and town cars and hulking S.U.V.'s to meet one another, to meet Jesus, to pay homage to the god of The Cedars.

@ Harpers


The Mercenary Ideology

Blackwater executives, and many government officials who work with them, are evangelical ideologues, both authors point out.

Edgar Prince, founder of Blackwater, grew up in a politically conservative, evangelical Catholic family near Detroit, Michigan.

Blackwater, based in the Great Dismal Swamp near the North Carolina coast, has become the nation's largest mercenary company.

L. Paul Bremer, who oversaw Iraq for one year after the U.S. invasion, is also a conservative Catholic, who was always protected by Blackwater guards during his time in Iraq.

John Negroponte, who succeeded Bremer, previously helped create "death squads" in Vietnam in the 1970s and coordinated Washington's "covert support for the Contra death squads in Nicaragua and for the Honduran junta" in the 1980s, writes Scahill.

Jim Steele, who worked for both Bremer and Negroponte, also helped organize counterinsurgency groups and death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Joseph Schmitz, forced to resign as the Pentagon's Inspector General amid growing controversy, took a job with Blackwater in 2005. His government resume lists membership in the "Sovereign Military Order of Malta," a Christian militia founded in the 11th century before the Crusades.

"It all comes down to this," Schmitz said in a speech while at the Pentagon. "We pride ourselves on our strict adherence to the rule of law under God."

The irony, Scahill points out, is that while Iraq goes up in flames, Blackwater's future seems bright.

Both authors warn of increasing dangers to world peace and American democracy.



As I pointed out yesterday, Ole Hill is part of "The Family" and as such brings their values to the table in the name of Jesus. Wars, the death and destruction that come with it, all backed by Jesus.

Oh yes Blackwater, the repugs way around the Posse Comitatus Act, (The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) passed on June 16, 1878 after the end of Reconstruction. The Act was intended to prohibit Federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states. It generally prohibits Federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under Federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act substantially limit the powers of the Federal government to use the military for law enforcement.) is also backed by none other than Jesus himself.

I like to refer to it as "Killing for Jesus".

Any right thinking American would look at this and see the radical non-religious hiding behind "Freedom of Religion" to accomplish their goals.

Well what would Jesus himself think of all this? Well I cannot speak for him, but as a humble servant thereof, do not think he would like it one bit, in fact most folks would oppose war in his name, except the God fearing NASCAR/WWF crowd, they support any activity involving killing "ragheads" or "hajjis" cause they are just heathens, thanks to them and their total ignorance-is-OK beliefs, these so called warriors for Jesus can continue their march.

Yes ignorance is bliss, but is impractical if humanity is to survive.

After viewing the carnage caused by freedom of religion, I can see the sinister means with which the rich hide behind Jesus for their own gain.



DEN said...

Someday when all this madness is done and the worlds people decide to treat others with kindness and generosity, there will be peace.

Until then there will be chaos.

Welcome to a world of the religiously insane, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Praise the Lord and pass the cash.

micki said...

...praise the lord and pass the ammunition.

Den -- key in as search terms -- doug coe sinister -- you're #7 on Google's hit list!

Your post today shows up...FYI

DEN said...

Micki, cool, now the zealots will hunt me down and beat the be-jesus out of me.

All praise to the Google God for the revelation.

micki said...

Common Ground: Building a Spiritual left

(Rabbi Michael) Lerner emphasizes that you don’t have to believe in God or “a higher power”; secular people who are what Lerner calls “spiritually sensitive” and wanting to make Democrats and the progressive social change movement more inclusive and receptive to religious and spiritual people are also welcome. He’s intent on changing politics with an eye toward the 2008 presidential election as a first major benchmark.

I reserve the right to believe that people of faith are not all bad. ;-)

I also reserve the right to believe that I don't have to agree with them to give them some benefit of the doubt.

micki said...

...maybe the'll scare the jesus out of ya! ;-)

DEN said...

Of course not all people of "faith" are all bad, I would not make that assumption, however there are those that USE religion for their own purposes, usually money or power.

That is what I am addressing here.

Nothing "scares" me more than zealots with power to rule others.

micki said...

Righto! Den -- I was not making accusations...just speaking for myself.

I take little on faith because I have no firm belief in ANYTHING for which there is no proof.

I do accept global warming as a clear and present danger.

micki said...

Confessions of a practicing Catholic

DEN said...

Faith is all about believing in the unknown.

In this case, global warming and it's eventual humanity eliminating effects cannot be seen, but "faith" will prevail to convince others there is clear and present danger to all inhabitants of Earth.

Now if we could only get the NASCAR/WWF crowd to pay attention.

DEN said...

Bill Maher @ Huffpo

DEN said...

Who is Jesus?

He healed the sick, fed the poor, and practiced benevolence to all men.

For that he was given a death sentence.

There are those that hope he returns and others that use his name for personal gain, my suspicions are those folks DO NOT want him to return.

Merchants of death proclaim they do their evil deeds in his name.

But we know it is a lie.

Gerald said...

Hitchens is symptomatic of what is wrong in Nazi America.

He can believe whatever he wants but I know that there is a God who has stood by me and I have felt His presence.

Even for the person who does not believe here is a saying, "I do not know if there is a heaven but I pray that there is no hell."

Gerald said...

Bushianity is Nazi America's religion. It's eight pillars are hatred, murders, torture, war crimes, corruption, decadence, greed, and lies.

Gerald said...

Tonight is part three of God's Warriors on CNN. After watching two of three parts in the series, I have concluded that religions are really screwed up.

We do not have a true religion in Nazi America because we worship the bushgod.

David B. Benson said...

he latest indignity to the face of the earth and the continued distruction of our patrimony is described in a front page article in today's TNYT headlined Rule to Expand Mountaintop Coal Mining.

micki said...

Also from TNYT..update on one Repub dirty trick in the works.

August 22, 2007
Stacking the Electoral Deck

The Electoral College should be abolished, but there is a right way to do it and a wrong way. A prominent Republican lawyer in California is doing it the wrong way, promoting a sneaky initiative that, in the name of Electoral College reform, would rig elections in a way that would make it difficult for a Democrat to be elected president, no matter how the popular vote comes out. If the initiative passes, it would do serious damage to American democracy.

California currently gives all 55 of its electoral votes — the biggest electoral college prize in the nation — to the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote. Virtually all states use this winner-take-all method. The California initiative, which could go to a vote in June, would instead give the 2008 presidential candidates one electoral vote for every Congressional district that they win, with an additional two electoral votes going to whoever got the most votes statewide. (Democrats appear to have backed off from plans to try just as anti-democratic a trick in North Carolina, which is good.)

The net result of the California initiative would be that if the Democratic candidate wins in that state next year, which is very likely, the Republican candidate might still walk away with 20 or more of the state’s electoral votes. The initiative, backed by a shadowy group called Californians for Equal Representation, is being promoted as an effort to more accurately reflect the choices of the state’s voters, and to force candidates to pay more attention to California, which is usually not in play in presidential elections. It is actually a power grab on behalf of Republicans.

The Electoral College should be done away with, but in the meantime, any reforms should improve the system, not make it worse. If California abandons its winner-take-all rule while red states like Texas do not, it will be hard for a Democratic nominee to assemble an Electoral College majority, even if he or she wins a sizable majority of the popular vote. That appears to be just what the backers of the California idea have in mind.

If voters understand that the initiative is essentially an elaborate dirty trick posing as reform, they are likely to vote against it. But judging by the misleading name of their organization, the initiative’s backers want to fool the public into thinking the change would make elections more fair. They are planning on putting it to a vote in June 2008, an election when there will be few other things on the ballot, and turnout is expected to be extremely low. This bad-faith initiative is yet another example of the ways in which referenda can be used for mischief and a reminder of why they are a bad way to resolve complex public-policy issues.

Opponents of the initiative announced yesterday that they are sponsoring their own, rival initiative, which would commit California to a national plan that aims to ensure that the winner of the national popular vote becomes president. That idea makes much more sense.

Leading Republicans, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, have been silent about the initiative to split California’s electoral votes, but they should be speaking out against it. The fight isn’t about Republicans vs. Democrats. It is about whether to twist the nation’s system of electing presidents to give one party an unfair advantage. No principled elected official, or voter, of either party should support that.

Gerald said...

I have just seen the new tape showing a Iraq war veteran supporting the Iraq war until we have victory.

What does victory mean in war?

To me war has no victors!!!

War creates more problems than it resolves problems.

I want our soldiers out of Iraq.

Why should they continue to die for a lying scurvy rat who hid in the corner of bar rooms during the Vietnam war. Vietnam was another wrong and immoral war where our soldiers died for nothing!!!

Gerald said...

If splitting the states electoral votes pass, we should discontinue the electoral college vote and have the winner decided by the voters and not the electoral college.

DEN said...

Just when you thought it was safe to start thinking about having a Democrat in the White House, along comes a cynical power grab by Republican operatives. And unfortunately, it's happening right here in my own state of California.

Barbara Boxer @ Huffpo

Gerald said...



I am a firm believer in cutting and running!!!

DEN said...

Gerald, then what about the "draft dodger in chief"?

He cut and ran too?

Anonymous said...


This affects all Americans. Sign! Please.

micki said...


Did he get a job as a lobbyist for High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Dennis Hastert (R-IL) plans to resign November 6 this year instead of finishing out his term. This would create a vacancy and trigger a special election in the 14th District.

DEN said...

They probably have some "loyal bushie" to step in or hasturd is in trouble with the law.

º¿carol said...

Typical selfish trait. Special elections, or any election cost money. He could have waited to save everyone a lot of trouble.

•¿•arol said...

I just don't get stuff like this. How is the school liable at all? No place can be 100% safe...probably not even the White House. :):):):):):)

"Virginia caps damages at $100,000, though Virginia Tech earlier this month said it would offer $180,000 each to the families of the 32 students and faculty members killed in Seung-Hui Cho's rampage in April. Those wounded would receive lesser amounts.

Several relatives of slain students have said they think they're entitled to a larger settlement. A spokesman for seven of the families, Vincent J. Bove, has said litigation remains a possibility."

Oh, I'm sure they think they're entitled to a larger settlement. I'm curious to know why they think they are entitled, but really....toss that crap out of court. Phytttt. They don't deserve one dime in my opinion.

DEN said...

Bloated bureaucrat behaving badly.

•c•arol said...

Here's another one:

Purdue Settles Over Electrocuted Student
Washington Post - Aug 21, 2007

By DEANNA MARTIN AP INDIANAPOLIS -- The parents of a Purdue University student who was electrocuted in a dormitory's high-voltage utility room have agreed to a settlement in which the school will pay $500000 to the family and $100000 for a scholarship ...

Alan said...

Oh, I'm sure they think they're entitled to a larger settlement. I'm curious to know why they think they are entitled...

Carol, it's my understanding that the university staff failed to call for a campus-wide lockdown after the first shooting. The shooter then turned up at another building on campus and killed the majority of his victims there. Those victims could have conceivably been safe, or saved from harm. That would justify getting damages, in my opinion.

Gerald said...

DEN, yes, Bush did cut and run. Today, he is the decider who murders a million people and he is guilty of many war crimes.

Hitler Bush lusts for the sight of someone else's head being decapitated. He can cut and run but he is unwilling to see our troops cut and run. There is a difference between being the decider and a quivering scurvy rat.

I have posted a lengthy piece on Alternate Reality about God's Warriors.