Saturday, July 16, 2016

Elite Fundamentism - The Fellowship's gospel of Capitalist Power

Vereide (left) with Eisenhower: Billy Graham Center archives
The Family (or the Fellowship as it is also known), is a shadowy organisation founded in the United States in the 1930s to promote a gospel of theocratic capitalist power and American empire. Like a Protestant version of Opus Dei, the Family is best known for founding the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC in the 1950s, and its invisible network has not only penetrated the highest levels of political power in the United States but wherever in the world America has political or economic interests.


Stephen Crittenden: Welcome to the program.

Pastor Eli : We have a sinner with us here who wishes for salvation. Daniel, are you a sinner?

Daniel: Yes.

Pastor Eli : The Lord can't hear you, Daniel. Say it to him. Go ahead, and speak to him, it's all right.

Daniel: Yes.

Pastor Eli : Down on your knees, and say it.

Daniel: What do you want me to say?

Pastor Eli : Daniel, you've come here and you've brought good and wealth, but you have also brought your bad habits as a backslider. You've lusted after women and you have abandoned your child. Your child that you raised, you've abandoned all because he was sick and you have sinned. So say it now. 'I am a sinner'.

Daniel: I am a sinner.

Pastor Eli : Say it louder, 'I am a sinner'.

Daniel: I'm a sinner.

Pastor Eli : Louder, Daniel, 'I am a sinner'.

Daniel: I am a sinner.

Stephen Crittenden: A dramatic moment from the movie 'There will be Blood' based on a novel by Upton Sinclair, which won an Oscar last year for the glowering Daniel Day Lewis.

If you've seen the movie you'll know it's an allegory depicting the clash between two very different sides of American society, the religious and the capitalist. If they seem to mix all too comfortably together these days, 'There Will Be Blood' is a reminder that it wasn't always so.

Today's program is really the story of how those two sides came together. It's the story of a shadowy religious organisation known as The Fellowship, or The Family, founded in the 1930s by a Norwegian immigrant to the United States named Abraham Vereide. He believed that the best way to change the world was to minister to business and political leaders, powerful men like Henry Ford, who weren't much interested in the churches.

A bit like Protestant version of Opus Dei, the Fellowship is basically theocratic in impulse and deeply hostile to democracy, and over decades it has managed to penetrate to the very centre of American political power by preaching a gospel of American power. In the 1950s the Fellowship established the National Prayer Breakfast, and now every week in Washington, business leaders and politicians from all sides sit down to read the Bible and pray together.  (more...)


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