2 thoughts on “Multifaith Mishegaas

  1. Choice quotes from the article on Brownback!

    On Sundays, Brownback rises at dawn so he can catch a Catholic Mass before meeting Mary and the kids at Topeka Bible Church. With the exception of one brown-skinned man, the congregation is entirely white. The stage looks like a rec room in a suburban basement: wall-to-wall carpet, wood paneling, a few haphazard ferns and a couple of electric guitars lying around. This morning, the church welcomes a guest preacher from Promise Keepers, a men’s group, by performing a skit about golf and fatherhood. From his preferred seat in the balcony, Brownback chuckles when he’s supposed to, sings every song, nods seriously when the preacher warns against “Judaizers” who would “poison” the New Testament.

    After the service, Brownback introduces me to a white-haired man with a yellow Viking mustache. “This is the man who wrote ‘Dust in the Wind,'” the senator announces proudly. It’s Kerry Livgren of the band Kansas. Livgren has found Jesus and now worships with the senator at Topeka Bible. Brownback, one of the Senate’s fiercest hawks on Israel, tells Livgren he wants to take him to the Holy Land. Whenever the senator met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to talk policy, he insisted that they first study Scripture together. The two men would study their Bibles, music playing softly in the background. Maybe, if Livgren goes to Israel with Brownback, he could strum “Dust in the Wind.” “Carry on my . . .” the senator warbles, trying to remember another song by his friend.
    * * *
    One of the little-known strengths of the Christian right lies in its adoption of the “cell” — the building block historically used by small but determined groups to impose their will on the majority. Seventy years ago, an evangelist named Abraham Vereide founded a network of “God-led” cells comprising senators and generals, corporate executives and preachers. Vereide believed that the cells — God’s chosen, appointed to power — could construct a Kingdom of God on earth with Washington as its capital. They would do so “behind the scenes,” lest they be accused of pride or a hunger for power, and “beyond the din of vox populi,” which is to say, outside the bounds of democracy. To insiders, the cells were known as the Family, or the Fellowship. To most outsiders, they were not known at all.
    “Communists use cells as their basic structure,” declares a confidential Fellowship document titled “Thoughts on a Core Group.” “The mafia operates like this, and the basic unit of the Marine Corps is the four-man squad. Hitler, Lenin and many others understood the power of a small group of people.” Under Reagan, Fellowship cells quietly arranged meetings between administration officials and leaders of Salvadoran death squads, and helped funnel military support to Siad Barre, the brutal dictator of Somalia, who belonged to a prayer cell of American senators and generals.

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