Doug Coe, the leader of the Family, has said “One of the things [Jesus] has said is ‘If any man comes to me, and does not hate his father, mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can’t be a disciple.’ So I don’t care what other qualifications you have, if you don’t do that, you can’t be a disciple of Christ.”
This is the foundation of the quasi-religious group called the Family. Abraham Vereide founded the group in 1934 in response the Franklin D Roosevelt’s new deal. He felt Roosevelt’s new deal would allow unions to take over the Seattle’s government. He organized prayer breakfasts that included politicians and business leaders that included anti-communist and anti union discussions, thinking both were one in the same. The prayer breakfast discussions took off until they were in over forty cities, and in 1943 incorporated into the the national committee of Christian leadership, with it’s offices in Chicago. The following year he changed its name to International Christian leadership, and moved to Washington D.C..
Flash forward to today: The Family represents “Jesus plus nothing,” as its leader, Doug Coe, puts it, the “totalitarianism of God,” in the words of an early Family leader, a vision that encompasses not just social issues but also the kind of free-market fundamentalism that is the real object of devotion for core members and insiders. At the heart of the Family’s spiritual advice for its proxies in Congress is the conviction that the market’s invisible hand represents the guidance of God, and that God wants his “new chosen” to look out for one another.
This is the basis of the politicians who belong to the group. Coe has stated on numerous occasions the group is at its best when it can act like the mafia: acting in secret can accomplish more than in public.
Fellowship leader Doug Coe repeatedly urges a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that he compares to the blind devotion that Adolf Hitler demanded from his followers. Coe has stated “Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had, these nobodies from nowhere,” and later in the same sermon: “Jesus said, ‘You have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself. With Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people.”
Is the influence this group appears to have with politicians violate the separation of church and state? I think that’s a good question, considering their background and stated mission.