Jeff Sharlet Responds: “We Agree On Central Points… Ugandan Bill Is Wrong and Must Be Stopped.”
January 10th, 2010
Continuing in our quest to to understand the role of American religious conservatives in African politics, we posted yesterday a comment by Bob Hunter, an associate with the heretofore secretive religious group known as The Family. In that comment, Hunter provided a brief excerpt from a transcript which he says supports his statements made on Rachel Maddow’s program earlier last week, and which were contested a few days later by Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.
Late last night, Sharlet left this comment answering some of Hunter’s points.
I spoke to Bob Hunter this evening after this went up on Box Turtle. The bottom line is that we’re in agreement on some central points: The bill, proposed and supported by men in relationship with the Family — David Bahati, James Nsaba Buturo, and Yoweri Museveni — is wrong and must be stopped; the Family has been too secretive, which has hindered its ability to take a stand; and Hunter is doing the right thing by going public in order to make that stand.
My use of the phrase “Jesus footing” was not derogatory. It was, as I told Bob tonight, in recognition of the Family’s long stated goal of a “God-led government.” The particular document I had in mind — related to Senator Jim Inhofe’s extensive work in Uganda on behalf of the Family — describes one aspect of the Africa work thusly:
“2. THE EXECUTION OF THE VISION
A. A congressman and/or Senator from the United States will befriend the leader of another country and tell him/her how Jesus and His teachings will help his country and its poor.
B. U.S. leader and foreign leader will select 5 men (mentors) from the foreign country to commit to learn about Jesus and how He will help themselves, their country and the poor.
“… We will teach the mentors to confess their sins (known or unknown) and to ask the Holy Spirit of Christ to live in them, and to teach them how to live, what to think and what to say.”
Bob says he’s unfamiliar with this document. I believe him. There’s a lot of paperwork in the Family. And, to be fair, Bob’s pretty busy doing consumer advocacy work.
We also agreed that a there’s no point in us having a pissing match here in America while Uganda burns, so to speak. So, in that spirit, I’m going to take Bob’s word that he was simply trying to clarify the record; accept his apology for saying that I’ve disowned my book (a misunderstanding, he says); and leave the transcript above to speak for itself. It was an on the record conversation. “Bait” is “bait,” the use of a big name to bring people to the table behind the scenes. Whether that’s a good approach is in the eye of the beholder. I think it’s fair to say — and that Bob would at least in part agree – that in the case of Jim Inhofe, the fiercely anti-gay senator identified by a 2003-4 budget as responsible for maintaining relationships with leaders of 11 African nations, including Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi — the “bait” may have brought his own baggage.
But Hunter, thank God, is cut from a different cloth. The point is that Bob is trying to bring peace and human rights to Uganda. We can disagree about how to do that, we can even disagree about what constitutes “peace,” but right now, on the brink of murder, our disagreements don’t matter as much as our common cause.