December 20, 2009

Hillary Clinton and Al Gore Linked to "The Family"

Hillary ClintonThe December 2009 issue of Church & State, the monthly newsletter I receive from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, arrived recently. I rarely read it cover-to-cover but skim it for content that looks interesting. This edition of the newsletter contained a brief article about the recent decision to partially revoke the tax exempt status of the infamous "C Street" house owned by the Christian extremist group known as "The Family." It is difficult to comprehend how a group like this ever could have received tax exempt status!

Although I was already familiar this the news that efforts were in progress to review and at least partially revoke the group's tax exempt status, there was one sentence in the article that was a bit of an unexpected bombshell. 
Over the years, former attorneys general John Ashcroft and Edwin Meese, U.S. Sens. James Inhofe, Charles Grassley and Sam Brownback, several members of the House of Representatives and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore have been affiliated with the Family.
Hillary Clinton and Al Gore have been affiliated with The Family? WTF? I figured that this had to be a mistake. After all, I have not heard any mention of it in any of the news coverage this group has been receiving lately. And yet, a few minutes on Google revealed that it was not a mistake.

This story on Clinton broke (or at least should have broke if our news media had been willing to cover it) at least as early as 2007 when Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet reported it in Mother Jones. It became newsworthy again in 2008 after Obama's Rev. Wright troubles. According to, Barbara Ehrenreich, Clinton couldn't really criticize Obama for Wright because her own religious associations were even more problematic. The same point was made in The Atlantic.

Compared with Clinton, it was much harder to find incriminating information on Gore. According to Jeff Sharlet, Gore has made very positive statements about Doug Coe, Family leader. That there was some sort of friendship between Gore and Coe was noted again in 2008, but it initially appeared that Sharlet was the only source for this claim. However, I then found Gore praising Coe in an interview with Jordan Fisher-Smith.

Why was this not a massive story during the 2008 presidential campaign? And even now, why are we not hearing about it from Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power?
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