Journalist Jeff Sharlet continues to get (well deserved) attention for his book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. The book is an expo of the Family, or the Fellowship, a covert religious organization headed by a man named David Coe with ties to many influential members of Congress.
In a recent interview at Religion Dispatches, Sharlet talks about the publicity the Family received after two Family associates (Mark Sanford and John Ensign) were caught in sex scandals and he elaborates on what the Family is up to today with some interesting insight into the group’s connection to the healthcare debate, the economic crisis and Afghanistan.
Sharlet also makes a really important comment about why this story has been so hard for reporters to cover:
“Here’s one more possibility: most reporters are not only religiously illiterate, they’re Constitutionally confused. That is, they revere the First Amendment, but they don’t bother to think too deeply about the delicate balance between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Respecting a politician’s freedom of religion doesn’t mean ignoring his religion—it means asking smart, sometimes tough questions about its role in his political life.”