The Family (Christian political organization)

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This is a movement that has been known by several different names, including The Fellowship, The Fellowship Foundation, National Fellowship Council, Fellowship House, The International Foundation, National Committee for Christian Leadership, International Christian Leadership, and the National Leadership Council.

It is an informal, international movement that is centered around the life and teachings of Jesus as the common ground across all religious and political divisions. The group, without any formal membership, has relationships that span from poor communities in developing countries to prominent members of the United States Congress. It is best known for its role in organizing the annual National Prayer Breakfast, at which the President of the United States customarily makes an address.


[edit] History

The movement was founded in Seattle in 1935 by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant and traveling preacher who had been working with the city's poor, and who feared that "socialist" politicians were about to take over Seattle's municipal government.[1] Prominent members of Seattle's business community recognized his success with those who were "down and out" and asked him to give spiritual direction to their group who were "up and out." He organized prayer breakfasts for politicians and businessmen that included anti-Communism and anti-union discussions. He was subsequently invited to set up similar meetings among political and business leaders in San Francisco and Chicago.

Vereide's principal collaborator in France was Edmond Michelet, five-time minister under President Charles de Gaulle.[2]

By 1942, the organization had moved headquarters to Washington, DC, where it helped create breakfast groups in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. In 1944, the organization's name was changed to International Christian Leadership, then in 1972, to The Fellowship Foundation. It was at this time that the group's leaders decided to lower the Fellowship's public profile by decentralizing its leadership.

The movement's members have been active in reconciliation efforts between the warring leaders of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi,Rwanda and many other similar conflicts around the world.

The movement has had some involvement with the New Age Movement also known as the "Cultural Creative Movement" in the form of Paul N. Temple, a former Standard Oil executive who was also instrumental in founding the Institute of Noetic Sciences as well as the World Business Academy. In 1987, The Family co-sponsored a conference, Bridging Through Christ, at the Goldlake New Age center near Boulder, Colorado. Barbara Marx Hubbard and Doug Coe co-chaired the event; David Spangler, Findhorn Community representatives, and Conservative Baptist Seminary representatives including Vernon Grounds and Gordon Lewis participated. The catalyst appears to have been Paul N. Temple, who co-founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences and is a major funder of both IONS and The Family through his "Three Swallows Foundation." The address of 133 C Street, SE, is the mailing address for Doug Coe,[3] and the address given on the 990 IRS form of the Three Swallows Foundation.[4]

[edit] Current operations

The movement in the U.S. is incorporated in the United States as a tax-free 501(c)(3) organization operating under the name The Fellowship Foundation. While they conduct no fundraising operations, they reported revenues of more than $12 million in 2003 from donations. Its mission statement is:

"To develop and maintain an informal association of people banded together, to go out as "ambassadors of reconciliation," modeling the principles of Jesus, based on loving God and loving others. To work with the leaders of other nations, and as their hearts are touched, the poor, the oppressed, the widows and the youth of their country will be impacted in a positive manner. It is said that youth groups will be developed under the thoughts of Jesus, including loving others as you want to be loved."

Their primary activity is to develop small support groups for members of Congress, businesspersons, and anyone else who is interested in the teachings of Jesus. Prayer groups have met in the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense. They have connections to the CIA. [5]

The movement maintains a three-story, 7,914-square-foot (735.2 m2) red brick townhouse at 133 C Street in Washington, D.C., near the United States Capitol. The townhouse used to be a convent. As many as six members of Congress, Democratic and Republican, live here while in Washington. In 2003, these men paid $600 a month to live there: U.S. Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; and Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; and U.S. Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev.; and Sam Brownback, R-Kan. The house, which was valued at $1.1 million in 2003, is owned by a Fellowship sister group called the C Street Center. IRS records show that the Center received more than $145,000 in grants from the Fellowship between 1997 and 2000.[6]

There is no official membership of the group. Most members of Congress who participate are from the Republican Party but some Democrats such as Hillary Clinton (Doug Coe has been a spiritual mentor for Clinton) [7][8] participate as well. Senators who have been cited as members of the organization include Don Nickles and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, John Ensign of Nevada, Bill Nelson of Florida, Conrad Burns of Montana. Members of the House who have been cited as participants include Frank Wolf of Virginia and Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania.

[edit] National Prayer Breakfast

The movement organizes the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast, held each year on the first Thursday of February in Washington, D.C.. First held in 1953, the event is now attended by over 3,400 guests including dignitaries from many nations. The President of the United States typically makes an address at the breakfast. The event is officially hosted by members of Congress. Democrats and Republicans serve on the organizing committee, and leadership alternates each year between the House and the Senate.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Lisa Getter, "Showing Faith in Discretion", Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2002
  2. ^ Bakchich
  3. ^
  4. ^ GuideStar - Grant Explorer - Report Page - THREE SWALLOWS FOUNDATION
  5. ^ Anthony Lappé, "Meet 'The Family'", Guerrilla News Network, June 13, 2003
  6. ^ Lara Jakes Jordan, "Fellowship finances townhouse where 6 congressmen live", Associated Press, April 20, 2003
  7. ^ Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet Hillary's Prayer: Hillary Clinton's Religion and Politics Mother Jones (1 September 2007)
  8. ^ Joshua Green "Take Two: Hillary's Choice The Atlantic (November 2006)
  9. ^ "Transcript: Bono remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast". USA Today. 2006-02-02. Retrieved on 2008-03-22. 
  10. ^ Frommer, Frederic (2008-02-06). "Minnesotan to deliver keynote speech at National Prayer Breakfast". Star-Tribune. Retrieved on 2008-03-22. 

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links

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