The New Yorker gets lost en route to "C Street"

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

The New Yorker is drawing fire for its forthcoming profile of the powerful and secretive right-wing religious organization, "The Fellowship." The group is also known as "C Street" or "The Family."

As Box Turtle Bulletin's Jim Burroway writes:

By all accounts from those who have met the reclusive Doug Coe who heads the group, Coe is a very quiet and charming man. With this New Yorker article, it is evident that [The New Yorker's Peter] Boyle has fallen for Coe's charms. Boyle describes The Family as little more than a "frat house", composed in equal parts of Democrats and Republicans, Christians and Jews. In fact, he appears to have fully bought the line about The Family not being a Christian organization at all, but merely a group of people whose sole mission is to influence powerful political and business leaders "to follow Jesus." One wonders exactly how one is supposed to define Christianity better than that, and to impose its tenets, if not its theology, from the top. Boyle's description of events in Uganda are equally naïve.

When Uganda's Parliament took up a bill last year that would have punished some homosexual acts with death, ["Family" member Bob] Hunter and his friends in the Fellowship felt they had the standing to urge the proposed measure's defeat. [Uganda President Yoweri] Museveni appointed a commission that studied the matter and then recommended that the bill be withdrawn.

One wonders how Boyle managed the dexterity to write those two lonely sentences with his hands over his ears while singing "lalalala" to drown out the noise.

Nowhere does he mention that it was MP David Bahati, a key "Family" man in Uganda — a guy who organizes Uganda's version of the National Prayer Breakfast that the Family is best known for in the U.S. — who proposed the bill, stands by it, and still insists that the bill must be passed in it entirety so that they can begin "to kill every last gay person." Boyle would have you believe that the Family was responsible for the bill being dead when in fact the bill, while stalled, is still very much alive. It is currently in committee, and MP Bahati and other Ugandan Family members continue to push for its full enactment. Others however recommend that the bill be dismembered with different provisions attached to other bills with less flag-waving titles, and passed surreptitiously.

As Metro Weekly's Chris Geidner points out, Jim Burroway and Jeff Sharlet are required reading for anyone interested in covering or learning more about the secretive group and, perhaps most notably, its ties to the horrific anti-gay activity happening in Uganda:

If you don't follow Jim Burroway and the work of the folks at Box Turtle Bulletin on Uganda's anti-gay activity -- most notably the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill -- you're missing out on one of the important stories about international inequality faced by LGBT people.

If you don't follow Jeff Sharlet's work on the Family (or the Fellowship, or the folks behind the C Street house), you're missing out on great journalism about the extraordinary influence of one religious organization in American public life.

For a primer on C Street and why this story matters, check out some segments from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show after the jump.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBTQ
The New Yorker
Peter Boyle
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