What would Jesus do? If Jesus were a fascist.

Lately, I’ve been reading The Family – The secret fundamentalism at the heart of American power by Jeff Sharlet.  If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.  It’s a fascinating read.  Yet Mr. Sharlet’s excellent account of the growth of Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. is utterly frightening. 

It’s not that I fear Christians.  But I do fear this particular brand of Christianity.

You see, Sharlet’s account of the fundamentalism that took shape in the 30s and 40s and has been growing ever since is of a “Christianity” embraced by the rich and powerful.  It seems that these people worship Jesus, not for his teachings of love and compassion.  Instead, they appear to be attracted to Jesus because of the power and influence he wielded.  Followers of this perverse form of fundamentalism also are said to admire Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Pol Pot for the same reasons.  Never mind that they were dictatorial and murderous.  They knew how to influence others and get things done.

I’ve often found that many religious zealots are of the “ends justify the means” variety.  Too often, they believe that they can do anything they want as long as it’s in the name of God.  (Indeed, throughout the course of my career I’ve found that they are the most likely default on their bills.)  But the Family appears to take the concept a bit further.  It would seem that, for this “religion,” the ends are a world dominated by large corporations and the wealthy. 

It’s not surprising to learn that some well-known conservatives and religious leaders are affiliated with the group.  It is, however, more startling to learn that many current Senators, Congressmen, former administration officials and corporate CEOs are linked to the movement.  Two of the most notable members are Sen. John Ensign and Governor Mark Sanford who have gained publicity for recent sex scandals.  Both have been residents of a Family owned home known as “C Street” that is tax-exempt since it is listed as a “church.”

If you have an interest in politics, or even in the future of our nation, I encourage you to read Jeff Sharlet’s account of this organization.  When you see the list of advocates for the Family, I think you’re likely to have the same reaction as I have.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.