Summer of Denial
During mid July, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s qualifications for the Supreme Court. The Solon’s oratory focused on themes of some fictional world, not one threatened by global warming and diving economies. Scientists regularly predict dire consequences if current production and consumption practices continue, but southern Republicans emphasized the country’s “fundamental” issues: the rights to own guns and numchuks, plus the sins of abortion, affirmative action and liberal-activist judges who allow “foreign law” to stain our judicial system.
Simultaneously, news of record June foreclosures and higher unemployment competed with stories of three self-righteous, high-level, elected Christians who practiced the very sins against which they had preached.
Why was this news — again? Marital infidelity — the usual sexual hanky panky — led reporters to “discover” dozens of Members of both Houses belonged to or lived inside a “Christian” cult house on Capitol Hill. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Nevada Senator John Ensign and former Mississippi Congressman Chip Pickering partook of the spiritual guidance of fellow legislative residents and dramatic preachers at this religious prayer center. The emerging details should cause the public to question the sanity – or inanity – of part of its governing class.
The sexual sinners fell from their self-constructed state of grace into the garbage or gossip pile. Their actions and words symbolized the banality of politics in the era of imperial denial. They dallied with “other” women; then engaged in burlesque cover ups of their indiscretions. Having given hypocrisy a bad name – again — the sinners then implicated The Fellowship, the secret sect that housed these A-type religious narcissists.
Before getting elected governor, Sanford had served three terms in the House (1995 to 2001) and linked himself to the C Street Bible study group. A mysterious foundation, The Fellowship, runs the place and also sponsors the yearly National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, formally owned by Youth With A Mission and valued at $1.8 million. (WORLD Magazine June 26, 2009)
The legislators followed the unusual Christian doctrine of Pastor Doug Coe, whose son David guided John Ensign through the cover-up of his affair. Doug told reporter Jeff Sharlet the meaning of being “chosen for leadership like King David was — or Mark Sanford.” For example: “Let’s say I hear you raped three little girls.” This question would be asked of a young man who’d put himself, body and soul, under the Family’s authority. “What would I think of you?”
Like most people, the man guessed Coe would think he was a monster. “No,” answered Coe, “Because,” wrote Sharlet, “as a member of the Family, he’s among what Family leaders refer to as the ‘new chosen’.” Pastor Doug, David’s father, leaked an even more important secret. The Supreme One had revealed to him in the 1960s, that He had chosen selected individuals to live in the C Street house. Doug Coe led The Family fellowship going back to the mid ‘60s. “I knew Coe when I was part of The Family. He explained what it means to be a chosen politician. (Salon.com, July 22, 2009. In 2002, Jeff Sharlet lived in The Family’s house.)
These chosen ones, albeit mere mortals – for those haven’t slept with them — might not have discerned their Divine mission, based on their higher spiritual values. So, Coe and his preacher sons, having determined their elite status in private conversations with God, began to coach the powerful in the proper methods of running the country – and maybe the world. At any given time, eight members of the Senate and House have resided at the C Street Center where they sleep, pray, and eat for a mere $600 a month. (Does this indicate that the residents are also cheapskates?) Other Members visited regularly to pray and seek spiritual guidance.
Coe – modern Elmer Gantry? — mysterious Bible study residence had Christian politicians praying, extolling fundamental principles and the Ten Commandments and then screwing around; after which they discussed their extramarital affairs.
The disgraced pols lied and covered up their affairs while continuing to preach traditional family values for everyone else; especially Bill Clinton. “I did not have sex with that woman,” Clinton swore, referring to Monica Lewinsky. He didn’t finish the thought. “All I did was stick my dick in her mouth.”
Sanford and Ensign weren’t only “playing around.” They had sex with “those women,” or else they might have repeated Clinton’s quaint denial. Indeed, months before the affairs became news they confessed infidelity to C Street House buddies. The devout comrades tried to help the lusty hypocrites to “resolve their extramarital relationships.” In group counseling following proper Christian ways, the sinners could repent in biblical fashion:: lying, bribing and finessing. Some would say the dalliers thought they had gotten “lucky,” but instead got hoisted – not literally, unfortunately – on their own petards.
Ensign boinked his aide, Cynthia Hampton, until it reached the point where lust got out of hand – or wherever – and cult members interceded. Doug Hampton, Cynthia’s husband and also an Ensign aide, confronted the Christians at the C Street House. Given the possibility of major scandal — which God strongly disapproves of, but cannot for some reason control as He does the weather — Fellowship leader Coe’s sons, David and Tim, joined C Street roommate Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) to confront Ensign. They “resolved” the affair by convincing him to send a Dear Jane letter to Cynthia.
Tim Coe drove Ensign to FedEx with the letter, which also promised Ensign’s wealthy parents would pay $96,000 in “shut your mouth honey” money to the Hampton family – anything to keep a family together. After sending the letter, Ensign clearly felt horny, called his sweetheart and told her to disregard the content of the letter she would receive.
Sanford’s middle age lust also led him to the woman of his hot dreams. An Argentine siren lured him south to engage his libido. As he trysted with the dark-eyed senorita, he also tired to cover up his dangerous liaison with an Appalachian-trail hike lie.
Until the “news” broke, he and Ensign were reputedly Republican front-runners for the 2012 presidential race. What a tragedy for the Nation and disappointment for the Supreme Being that they blew their chances for gaining the highest office, just because the public learned they failed to practice what they preached. What disgrace for The Fellowship to have its members burned by the light of sensational publicity.
Another powerful C House resident for seven years, Senator Jim DeMint, Sanford’s fellow South Carolinian, quoted God: “‘We are salt and light.’” DeMint meant “there are people of faith who have been sprinkled in Washington, D.C.” Among these scattered flakes DeMint counts the Health Insurance lobby that contributed $3+ million to his campaign coffers over the past four years. For DeMint this kind of private sector influence represents God’s will. Obama, on the other hand, by offering government-backed health care, has engaged in socialistic sin, the Devil’s domain. C Street House members know the secret eleventh commandment in which God blessed private enterprise and outlawed sinful government run programs.
Faith – and millions of dollars — drove pious Solons to deliver God’s message at the Sotomayor hearings: own guns and numchucks, deny global warming, rail against abortion, affirmative action, foreign law and (liberal) activist judges. Group members Coburn and Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) shared not only values but millions of dollars contributed to their coffers by gun lobbyists and anti-regulators from other industries: God’s agents.
In a time of economic and environmental crises, the fundamentalist hold on some of the powerful appears as dark comedy. Right wing preachers Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell once explained how God punished New Orleans –modern Sodom — with Hurricane Katrina for allowing homosexuals to practice immoral behavior.
Some Democrats also belong to this cult. Coincidentally, powerful lobbies have also purchased their allegiance (or faith), making it difficult to pass the health bill. One surprise Democrat also flirted with The Family. Hillary Clinton called Coe, “a genuinely loving spiritual mentor . . . a source of strength and friendship.” In her autobiography, Clinton was in the midst of fighting off right wing Republicans’ demands for Whitewater investigations and impeachment hearings. She nevertheless prayed with members of that “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Doug Coe accompanied Mrs. Clinton as a member of the U.S. delegation that attended Mother Theresa’s state funeral in Calcutta in 1997. Mother Theresa spoke to Coe’s National Prayer Breakfast meeting in Washington in 1994.
Thus far, except for Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who called his Republican colleagues descendents of the Federalists whose “bias” favored “the prevailing power structure, the other Committee Democrats failed to demand that fellow legislators remove their heads from their nether crevices, forget numchuk ownership and face the imminent dangers to the country and planet. Or must we wait for Him – or Her?