24. We desire to see a leadership led by God—leaders of all levels of society who direct projects as they are led by the spirit.
and self-examination questions:
4. Do I give only verbal assent to the policies of the family or am I a partner in seeking the mind of the Lord?
7. Do I agree with and practice the financial precepts of the family?*
13. Am I willing to work without human recognition?
When the group is ready, "Thoughts on a Core Group" explains, it can set to work:
After being together for a while, in this closer relationship, God will give you more insight into your own geographical area and your sphere of influence—make your opportunities a matter of prayer.
. . . The primary purpose of a core group is not to become an "action group," but an invisible "believing group."
However, activity normally grows out of agreements reached in faith and in prayer around the person of Jesus Christ.
Long-term goals were best summarized in a document called "Youth Corps Vision." Another Family project, Youth Corps distributes pleasant brochures featuring endorsements from political leaders—among them Tsutomu Hata, a former prime minister of Japan, former secretary of state James Baker, and Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda—and full of enthusiastic rhetoric about helping young people to learn the principles of leadership.
The word "Jesus" is unmentioned in the brochure.
But "Youth Corps Vision," which is intended only for members of the Family ("it's kinda secret," Josh cautioned me), is more direct.
The Vision is to mobilize thousands of young people world wide—committed to principle precepts, and person of Jesus Christ. . . . A group of highly dedicated individuals who are united together having a total commitment to use their lives to daily seek to mature into people who talk like Jesus, act like Jesus, think like Jesus. This group will have the responsibility to:
—see that the commitment and action is maintained to the overall vision;
—see that the finest and best invisible organization is developed and maintained at all levels of the work;
—even though the structure is hidden, see that the family atmosphere is maintained, so that all people can feel a part of the family.
Another document—"Regional Reports, January 3, 2002"—lists some of the nations where Youth Corps programs are already in operation: Russia, Ukraine, Romania, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Nepal, Bhutan, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru.
Youth Corps is, in many respects, a more aggressive version of Young Life, a better-known network of Christian youth groups that entice teenagers with parties and sports, and only later work Jesus into the equation.
Most of my American brothers at Ivanwald had been among Young Life's elite, and many had returned to Young Life during their college summers to work as counselors.
Youth Corps, whose programs are often centered around Ivanwald-style houses, prepares the best of its recruits for positions of power in business and government abroad.
The goal: "Two hundred national and international world leaders bound together relationally by a mutual love for God and the family."
* The Family's "financial precepts" apparently amount to the practice of soliciting funds only privately, and often indirectly. This may also refer to what some members call "biblical capitalism," the belief that God's economics are laissez-faire. (back to article)
Between 1984 and 1992 the Fellowship Foundation consigned 592 boxes—decades of the Family's letters, sermons, minutes, Christmas cards, travel itineraries, and lists of members—to an archive at the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College in Illinois.
Until I visited last fall, the archive had gone largely unexamined.
The Family was founded in April 1935 by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant who made his living as a traveling preacher.
One night, while lying in bed fretting about socialists, Wobblies, and a Swedish Communist who, he was sure, planned to bring Seattle under the control of Moscow, Vereide received a visitation: a voice, and a light in the dark, bright and blinding.
The next day he met a friend, a wealthy businessman and former major, and the two men agreed upon a spiritual plan. They enlisted nineteen business executives in a weekly breakfast meeting and together they prayed, convinced that Jesus alone could redeem Seattle and crush the radical unions.
They wanted to give Jesus a vessel, and so they asked God to raise up a leader.
One of their number, a city councilman named Arthur Langlie, stood and said, "I am ready to let God use me." Langlie was made first mayor and later governor, backed in both campaigns by money and muscle from his prayer-breakfast friends, whose number had rapidly multiplied.
* Vereide and his new brothers spread out across the Northwest in chauffeured vehicles (a $20,000 Dusenburg carried brothers on one mission, he boasted).
"Men," wrote Vereide, "thus quickened." Prayer breakfast groups were formed in dozens of cities, from San Francisco to Philadelphia.
There were already enough men ministering to the down-and-out, Vereide had decided; his mission field would be men with the means to seize the world for God.
Vereide called his potential flock of the rich and powerful, those in need only of the "real" Jesus, the "up-and-out."
Vereide arrived in Washington, D.C., on September 6, 1941, as the guest of a man referred to only as "Colonel Brindley." "Here I am finally," he wrote to his wife, Mattie, who remained in Seattle. "In a day or two—many will know that I am in town and by God's grace it will hum."
Within weeks he had held his first D.C. prayer meeting, attended by more than a hundred congressmen.
By 1943, now living in a suite at Colonel Brindley's University Club, Vereide was an insider. "My what a full and busy day!" he wrote to Mattie on January 22.
The Vice President brought me to the Capitol and counseled with me regarding the programs and plans, and then introduced me to Senator [Ralph Owen] Brewster, who in turn to Senator [Harold Hitz] Burton—then planned further the program [of a prayer breakfast] and enlisted their cooperation. Then to the Supreme Court for visits with some of them . . . then back to the Senate, House. . . . The hand of the Lord is upon me. He is leading.
By the end of the war, nearly a third of U.S. senators attended one of his weekly prayer meetings.
In 1944, Vereide had foreseen what he called "the new world order." "Upon the termination of the war there will be many men available to carry on," Vereide wrote in a letter to his wife. "Now the ground-work must be laid and our leadership brought to face God in humility, prayer and obedience."
He began organizing prayer meetings for delegates to the United Nations, at which he would instruct them in God's plan for rebuilding from the wreckage of the war.
Donald Stone, a high-ranking administrator of the Marshall Plan, joined the directorship of Vereide's organization. In an undated letter, he wrote Vereide that he would "soon begin a tour around the world for the [Marshall Plan], combining with this a spiritual mission."
(edit) Republican Neo-Fascists: Believers IN-Christ! (/edit)
In 1946, Vereide, too, toured the world, traveling with letters of introduction from a half dozen senators and representatives, and from Paul G. Hoffman, the director of the Marshall Plan. He traveled also with a mandate from General John Hildring, assistant secretary of state, to oversee the creation of a list of good Germans of "the predictable type" (many of whom, Vereide believed, were being held for having "the faintest connection" with the Nazi regime), who could be released from prison "to be used, according to their ability in the tremendous task of reconstruction." Vereide met with Jewish survivors and listened to their stories, but he nevertheless considered ex-Nazis well suited for the demands of "strong" government, so long as they were willing to worship Christ as they had Hitler.
Undercover Among America's Secret Theocrats
In 1955, Senator Frank Carlson, a close adviser to Eisenhower and an even closer associate of Vereide's, convened a meeting at which he declared the Family's mission to be a "worldwide spiritual offensive," in which common cause would be made with anyone opposed to the Soviet Union.
That same year, the Family financed an anti-Communist propaganda film, Militant Liberty, for use by the Defense Department in influencing opinion abroad.
By the Kennedy era, the spiritual offensive had fronts on every continent but Antarctica (which Family missionaries would not visit until the 1980s). In 1961, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia deeded the Family a prime parcel in downtown Addis Ababa to serve as an African headquarters, and by then the Family also had powerful friends in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.
Back home, Senator Strom Thurmond prepared several reports for Vereide concerning the Senate's deliberations.
Former president Eisenhower, Doug Coe would later claim at a private meeting of politicians, once pledged secret operatives to aid the Family's operations. Even in Franco's Spain, Vereide once boasted at a prayer breakfast in 1965, "there are secret cells such as the American Embassy [and] the Standard Oil office [that allow us] to move practically anywhere."
By the late sixties, Vereide's speeches to local prayer breakfast groups had become minor news events, and Family members' travels on behalf of Christ had attracted growing press attention.
Vereide began to worry that the movement he had spent his life building might become just another political party. In 1966, a few years before he was "promoted" to heaven at age eighty-four, Vereide wrote a letter declaring it time to "submerge the institutional image of [the Family]."
No longer would the Family recruit its powerful members in public, nor recruit so many.
"There has always been one man," wrote Vereide, "or a small core who have caught the vision for their country and become aware of what a 'leadership led by God' could mean spiritually to the nation and to the world. . . . It is these men, banded together, who can accomplish the vision God gave me years ago."
* As Vereide recounted in a 1961 biography, Modern Viking, one union boss joined the group, proclaiming that the prayer movement would make unions obsolete. He said, "'I got down on my knees and asked God to forgive me . . . for I have been a disturbing factor and a thorn in Your flesh.'" A "rugged capitalist who had been the chairman of the employers' committee in the big strike" put his left hand on the labor leader's shoulder and said, "'Jimmy, on this basis we go on together.'" (back to article)
Two weeks into my stay, Bengt announced to the brothers that he was applying to graduate school. He had chosen a university close enough to commute from the house, with a classics program he hoped would complement (maybe even renew, he told me privately) his relationship with Christ.
After dinner every night he would disappear into the little office beside his upstairs bunk room to compose his statement of purpose on the house's one working computer.
Knowing I was a writer, he eventually gave me the essay to read. We sat down in Ivanwald's "office," a room barely big enough for the two of us. We crossed our legs in opposite directions so as not to knock knees.
My formal education has been a progression from confusion and despair to hope, the essay began.
Its story hewed to the familiar fundamentalist routine of lost and found: every man and woman a sinner, fallen but nonetheless redeemed. And yet Bengt's sins were not of the flesh but of the mind.
In college he had abandoned his boyhood ambition of becoming a doctor to study philosophy: Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Hegel.
Raised in the faith, his ideas about God crumbled before the disciplined rage of the philosophers. "I cut and ran," he told me.
To Africa, where by day he worked on ships and in clinics, and by night read Dostoevsky and the Bible, its darkest and most seductive passages: Lamentations, Job, the Song of Songs. These authors were alike, his essay observed: They wrote about [suffering] like a companion.
I looked up. "A double," I said, remembering Dostoevsky's alter egos.
Bengt nodded. "You know how you can stare at something for a long time and not see it the way it really is?
That's what scripture had been to me." Through Dostoevsky he began to see the Old Testament for what it is: relentless in its horror, its God a fire, a whirlwind, a "bear, lying in wait," "a lion in secret places." Even worse is its Man: a rapist, a murderer, a wretched thief, a fool.
"But," said Bengt, "that's not how it ends."
Bengt meant Jesus.
I thought of the end of The Brothers Karamazov: the saintly Alyosha, leading a pack of boys away from a funeral to feast on pancakes, everyone clapping hands and proclaiming eternal brotherhood.
In Africa, Bengt had seen people who were diseased, starving, trapped by war, but who seemed nonetheless to experience joy.
Bengt recalled listening to a group of starving men play the drums. "Doubt," he said, "is just a prelude to joy."
I had heard this before from mainstream Christians, but I suspected Bengt meant it differently.
A line in Dostoevsky's The Possessed reminded me of him: when the conservative nationalist Shatov asks Stavrogin, the cold-hearted radical, "Wasn't it you who said that even if it was proved to you mathematically that the Truth was outside Christ, you would prefer to remain with Christ outside the Truth?" Stavrogin, who refuses to be cornered, denies it.
"Exactly," Bengt said. In Africa he had seen the trappings of Christianity fall away. All that remained was Christ. "You can't argue with absolute power."
I put the essay down. Bengt nudged it back into my hands. "I want to know what you think of my ending."
As I have read more about Jesus, it ran, I have also been intrigued by his style of interaction with other people. He was fascinated in particular by an encounter in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 35–39, in which Jesus asks two men why they are following him. In turn, the men ask where Jesus is staying, to which he replies, "Come and see." I am not sure how Jesus asks the question, Bengt had concluded, but from the response, it seems like he is asking, "What do you desire?"
"That's what it's about," Bengt said. "Desire." He shifted in his chair. "Think about it: 'What do you desire?'"
"That's the answer?" I asked.
"He's the question," Bengt retorted, half-smiling, satisfied with his inversion by which doubt became the essence of a dogma. God was just what Bengt desired Him to be, even as Bengt was, in the face of God, "nothing." Not for aesthetics alone, I realized, did Bengt and the Family reject the label "Christian." Their faith and their practice seemed closer to a perverted sort of Buddhism, their God outside "the truth," their Christ everywhere and nowhere at once, His commands phrased as questions, His will as simple to divine as one's own desires. And what the Family desired, from Abraham Vereide to Doug Coe to Bengt, was power, worldly power, with which Christ's kingdom can be built, cell by cell.
Not long after our conversation, Bengt put a bucket beside the toilet in the downstairs bunk room. From now on, he announced, all personal items left in the living room would go into the bucket. "If you're missing anything, guys," Bengt said over dinner, "look in the bucket."
I looked in the bucket. Here's what I found:
One pair of flip-flops.
One pocket-sized edition of the sayings of Jesus.
One copy of Executive Orders, by Tom Clancy, hardcover.
One brown-leather Bible, well worn, beautifully printed on onion skin, given to Bengt Carlson by Palmer Carlson.
One pair of dirty underwear.
When I picked up the Bible the pages flipped open to the Gospel of John, and my eyes fell on a single underlined phrase, chapter 15, verse 3: "You are already clean."
Whenever a sufficiently large crop of God's soldiers was bunked up at Ivanwald, Doug Coe made a point of stopping by for dinner.
Doug was, in spirit, Christ's closest disciple, the master bumper; the brothers viewed his visit as far more important than that of any senator or prime minister.
The night he joined us he wore a crisply pressed golf shirt and dark slacks, and his skin was well tanned. He brought a guest with him, an Albanian politician whose pale face and ill-fitting gray suit made Doug seem all the more radiant. In his early seventies, Doug could have passed for fifty: his hair was dark, his cheeks taut. His smile was like a lantern.
"Where," Doug asked Rogelio, "are you from, in Paraguay?"
"Asunción," he said.
Doug smiled. "I've visited there many times." He chewed for a while. "Asunción. A Latin leader was assassinated there twenty years ago. A Nicaraguan. Does anybody know who it was?"
I waited for someone to speak, but no one did. "Somoza," I said. The dictator overthrown by the Sandinistas.
"Somoza," Doug said, his eyes sweeping back to me. "An interesting man."
Doug stared. I stared back. "I liked to visit him," Doug said. "A very bad man, behind his machine guns." He smiled like he was going to laugh, but instead he moved his fork to his mouth. "And yet," he said, a bite poised at the tip of his tongue, "he had a heart for the poor." Doug stared. I stared back.
"Do you ever think about prayer?" he asked. But the question wasn't for me. It wasn't for anyone. Doug was preparing a parable.
There was a man he knew, he said, who didn't really believe in prayer. So Doug made him a bet. If this man would choose something and pray for it for forty-five days, every day, he wagered God would make it so. It didn't matter whether the man believed. It wouldn't have mattered whether he was a Christian.
All that mattered was the fact of prayer. Every day. Forty-five days. He couldn't lose, Doug told the man. If Jesus didn't answer his prayers, Doug would pay him $500.
"What should I pray for?" the man asked.
"What do you think God would like you to pray for?" Doug asked him.
"I don't know," said the man. "How about Africa?"
"Good," said Doug. "Pick a country."
"Uganda," the man said, because it was the only one he could remember.
"Fine," Doug told him. "Every day, for forty-five days, pray for Uganda. God please help Uganda. God please help Uganda."
On the thirty-second day, Doug told us, this man met a woman from Uganda. She worked with orphans. Come visit, she told the man, and so he did, that very weekend. And when he came home, he raised a million dollars in donated medicine for the orphans. "So you see," Doug told him, "God answered your prayers. You owe me $500."
There was more. After the man had returned to the United States, the president of Uganda called the man at his home and said, "I am making a new government. Will you help me make some decisions?"
"So," Doug told us, "my friend said to the president, 'Why don't you come and pray with me in America? I have a good group of friends—senators, congressmen—who I like to pray with, and they'd like to pray with you.'
And that president came to The Cedars, and he met Jesus.
And his name is Yoweri Museveni, and he is now the president of all the presidents in Africa.
And he is a good friend of the Family."
"That's awesome," Beau said.
"Yes," Doug said, "it's good to have friends.
Do you know what a difference a friend can make?
A friend you can agree with?" He smiled. "Two or three agree, and they pray?
They can do anything.
What's that mean?" Doug looked at me. "You're a writer. What does that mean?"
I remembered Paul's letter to the Philippians, which we had begun to memorize. Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded.
"Unity," I said. "Agreement means unity."
Doug didn't smile. "Yes," he said. "Total unity. Two, or three, become one.
Do you know," he asked, "that there's another word for that?"
No one spoke.
"It's called a covenant.
Two, or three, agree?
They can do anything.
A covenant is . . . powerful.
Can you think of anyone who made a covenant with his friends?"
We all knew the answer to this, having heard his name invoked numerous times in this context. Andrew from Australia, sitting beside Doug, cleared his throat:
"Yes," Doug said. "Yes, Hitler made a covenant.
The Mafia makes a covenant. It is such a very powerful thing. Two, or three, agree."
He took another bite from his plate, planted his fork on its tines. "Well, guys," he said, "I gotta go."
As Doug Coe left, my brothers' hearts were beating hard: for the poor, for a covenant.
"Awesome," Bengt said.
We stood to clear our dishes.
On one of my last nights at Ivanwald, the neighborhood boys asked my brothers and me to play.
There were roughly six boys, ranging in age from maybe seven to eleven, all junior members of the Family. They wanted to play flashlight tag.
It was balmy, and the streetlight glittered against the blacktop, and hiding places beckoned from behind trees and in bushes. One of the boys began counting, and my brothers, big and small, scattered. I lay flat on a hillside. From there I could track movement in the shadows and smell the mint leaves planted in the garden.
A figure approached and I sprang up and ran, down the sidewalk and up through the garden, over a wall that my pursuer, a small boy, had trouble climbing. But once he was over he kept charging, and just as I was about to vanish into the trees his flashlight caught me.
"Jeff I see you you're It!" the boy cried. I stopped and turned, and he kept the beam on me.
Blinded, I could hear only the slap of his sneakers as he ran across the driveway toward me. "Okay, dude," he whispered, and turned off the flashlight. I recognized him as little Stevie, whose drawing of a machine gun we had posted in our bunk room.
He handed the flashlight to me, spun around, started to run, then stopped and looked over his shoulder.
"You're It now," he whispered, and disappeared into the dark.
Mel Gibson's brutal snuff film: Passion of the Christ
Jeffrey Sharlet is an editor of the online magazine WWW.KillingTheBuddha.com
and a co-author Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (The Free Press).
Read our review of Jeff's Book Killing the Buddha - A Heretic's Bible
Glitch blamed for bang at Bush speech
Thursday, February 5, 2004 Posted: 1:19 PM EST (1819 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It sounded like a burst of machine-gun fire as President Bush was speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday but the noise apparently was produced by sound equipment in the room.
The sound startled some listeners in the cavernous ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel and Bush paused for a second in his speech.
But then he went on without mentioning the sound. Several thousand people attended the annual prayer meeting.
The interruption occurred as Bush was talking about how American soldiers have been involved in reconstruction projects in Iraq.
"Seeing great need, our servicemen and women have rebuilt hospitals, repaired schools ... ," he said. At that point, there was a sound similar to automatic gunfire. After a second's hesitation, Bush continued, "and organized the donation of books and clothing and toys for Iraqi children."
"It was an interaction between wireless microphones and the sound system, akin to a feedback effect," White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy said.
"It was not a 21-gun salute."
The Hilton is the same hotel where former President Reagan was shot in 1981 as he walked toward his limousine after a speech.
The following is a transcript of remarks by the President at the National Prayer Breakfast
WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2004 /U.S. Newswire
Washington, D.C. Hilton Hotel
7:50 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated. Thank you. (Applause.) Good morning. Thank you. (Applause.) Go ahead and be seated. Thank you and good morning.
Laura and I are honored to join you once again for this annual prayer breakfast. This event brings us together for fellowship, and it's a good chance to see who gets up early in Washington. (Laughter.)
I appreciate the warm welcome. I appreciate the friendship and the kindred spirit. All of us believe in the power of prayer. And for a lot of people here in Washington, a prayer has been answered with three words: Coach Joe Gibbs. (Laughter and applause.) Joe is admired for a great career, and even more, he is respected for his convictions and his character. Joe, we're glad to see you back on the job. (Applause.) I'm all in favor of second terms. (Laughter and applause.)
This event is also a chance to hear beautiful songs of praise. Shortly, we'll hear the wonderful voice of Twila Paris. And Laura and I were delighted once again to hear the Watoto chorus from Uganda. This is our third time to hear these beautiful voices. I hope to hear them a lot more. These boys and girls have known great sadness and loss, yet their voices carry a message of hope and joy. And we're so glad -- so glad -- they could be with us here this morning.
I appreciate being in the presence of John Abizaid, our general. He is a decent and honorable man. I want to thank Senators Inhofe and Nelson for taking time out of their busy days to organize this important prayer breakfast. I appreciate your leadership. I appreciate being in the presence of -- (applause) -- a little slow to catch on there.
I see the Majority Leader, Frist, is here, and a lot of members of the Senate, and a lot of members of the House. Thank you all for coming. Members of my Cabinet who are here; members of the Joint Chiefs, I see -- distinguished citizens, when we come together every year, we leave aside the debates of the working day. We recognize our dependence on God and pray with one voice for His blessings on our country. We're in the capital of the most powerful nation on Earth, yet we recognize the limits of all earthly power. God serves His own purposes and does not owe us an explanation.
In prayer, we ask for wisdom and guidance. And the answers seldom come in blinding revelations. Yet prayer can bring good things: grace for the moment, and faith in the future. Americans are a prayerful people, and this past year we've offered many prayers. We have prayed for the safety of our nation and for those who defend us. We've prayed for the families of men and women killed or wounded in conflict, that in grief and trouble, God may be their refuge and their strength. We've prayed for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, that they may live in safety and in freedom. Many Americans have prayed every day and every week for those in authority, and I thank them for that wonderful gift. And I know you do, as well.
Many prayers also express our gratitude. And Americans in a time of danger have found much to be grateful for. We are thankful for the goodness and character of our fellow citizens, revealed on the morning of September the 11th, and present every day in the life of this country.
We are thankful that we live in a free nation, with the strength to defend our freedom. We are thankful for the brave and decent men and women of the United States military who volunteer to defend us all. America's Armed Forces have shown great skill in battle, perseverance under extremely difficult conditions. They've also shown the best of our country in other ways, as well. The world has seen the kind of people America sends forth, from our towns and neighborhoods, who serve in freedom's cause. They are the sort of people, who when the fighting is done, are kind and compassionate toward innocent citizens. And their compassion, as much as their courage, has made this country proud.
As General Abizaid can attest, the people under our command in Iraq have been caring and generous toward the people they have liberated. Seeing great need, our servicemen and women have rebuilt hospitals, repaired schools, and organized the donation of books and clothing and toys for Iraqi children. Others have helped to build clinics and lay out soccer fields.
One member of the Army National Guard, Specialist Glenn Carlson, spent his time on leave in New York, collecting children's clothing to take back to Iraq. Here's what he says: "I think that in the end, it will be the simple acts of kindness that make the difference." Specialist Carlson and many others are helping to build a free Iraq, not only by using force against the violent, but by extending the friendship and compassion of the American people.
Our people in uniform understand the high calling they have answered because they see the nation and the lives they are changing. A guardsman from Utah named Paul Holton has described seeing an Iraqi girl crying and decided then and there to help that child and others like her. By enlisting aid through the Internet, Chief Warrant Officer Holton had arranged the shipment of more than 1,600 aid packages from overseas. Here's how this man defines his own mission: "It is part of our heritage that the benefits of being free, enjoyed by all Americans, were set up by God, intended for all people. Bondage is not of God, and it is not right that any man should be in bondage at any time, in any way." Everyone one in this room can say amen to that. (Applause.)
There's another part our heritage we are showing in Iraq, and that is the great American tradition of religious tolerance. the Iraqi people are mostly Muslims, and we respect the faith they practice. Our troops in Iraq have helped to refurbish mosques, have treated Muslim clerics with deference, and are mindful of Islam's holy days. Some of our troops are Muslims themselves, because America welcomes people of every faith. Christians and Jews and Muslims have too often been divided by old suspicions, but we are called to act as what we are -- the sons and daughters of Abraham.
Our work in a troubled part of the world goes on, and what we have begun, we will finish. In the years of challenge, our country will remain strong, and strong of heart. And as we meet whatever test might come, let us never be too proud to acknowledge our dependence on Providence and to take our cares to God. (Applause.)
I want to thank you for continuing this fine annual tradition, and for your hospitality. May God bless you, and may He always watch over our country. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 8 A.M. EST
Karl Rove: Counting Votes While the Bombs Drop
By James C. Moore
Karl Rove led the nation to war to improve the political prospects of George W. Bush. I know how surreal that sounds. But I also know it is true.
As the president's chief political advisor, Rove is involved in every decision coming out of the Oval Office. In fact, he flat out makes some of them. He is co-president of the United States, just as he was co-candidate for that office and co-governor of Texas. His relationship with the president is the most profound and complex of all of the White House advisors. And his role creates questions not addressed by our Constitution.
Rove is probably the most powerful unelected person in American history.
The cause of the war in Iraq was not just about Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction or Al Qaeda links to Iraq. Those may have been the stated causes, but every good lie should have a germ of truth.
No, this was mostly a product of Rove's usual prescience. He looked around and saw that the economy was anemic and people were complaining about the president's inability to find Osama bin Laden.
In another corner, the neoconservatives in the Cabinet were itching to launch ships and planes to the Mideast and take control of Iraq. Rove converged the dynamics of the times. He convinced the president to connect Hussein to Bin Laden, even if the CIA could not.
This misdirection worked. A Pew survey taken during the war showed 61% of Americans believe that Hussein and Bin Laden were confederates in the 9/11 attacks.
And now, Rove needs the conflict to continue so his client — the president — can retain wartime stature during next year's election. Listen to the semantics from Bush's recent trip to the aircraft carrier Lincoln. When he referred to the "battle of Iraq," Bush implied that we only won a single fight in a bigger war that was not yet over. I first encountered Rove more than 20 years ago in Texas.
I reported on him and the future president as a TV correspondent there, traveling with them extensively during their race to the governor's mansion in Austin. Once there, Rove was involved in every important decision the governor made and, according to Bush staffers, vetted each critical choice for political implications.
Nothing is different today in the White House. The same old reliable sources from his days in Texas are in Washington with him. And they say Rove is intimately involved in the Cabinet and that he sat in on all the big meetings leading up to the Iraq war and signed off on all major decisions.
Rove fancies himself an expert in both policy and politics because he sees no distinction between the two. This matters for a number of reasons.
There is always a time during any president's administration when what is best for the future of the country diverges from what best serves that president's political future. If Rove is standing with George W. Bush at that moment, he will push the president in the direction of reelection rather than the country's best interests.
The United States is best served when political calculations are not a part of the White House's most important decisions. Rove's calculus is always a formula for winning the next election.
He was less concerned about the bombing of Iraqi civilians or the bullets flying at our own troops, according to people who have worked for him for years, than he was about what these acts would do to the results of the electoral college, or how they influence voters in swing states like Florida.
There needs to be something sacred about our presidents' decisions to send our children into combat. The Karl Roves of the world ought to not even be in the room, much less asked for advice.
Rove has influenced dealings with Iraq and North Korea, according to Bush administration sources. For instance, when the U.S. was notified, through formal diplomatic channels, that North Korea had nuclear technology, Congress was in the midst of discussing the Iraqi war resolution. Rove counseled the president to keep that information from Congress for 12 days, until the debate was finished, so it would not affect the vote.
He was also reported to be present at a war strategy meeting concerning whether to attack Syria after Iraq.
Rove said the timing was not right. Yet. Having the political advisor involved in that decision is wrong.
War, after all, is not a campaign event.
James C. Moore is the co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" (John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2003)
General: We're in a 'Spiritual Battle'
Says 'Christian army' fights Satan, Muslims worship 'idol'
By Craig Gordon
October 17, 2003
Washington - A three-star general active in the search for Osama bin Laden
and Saddam Hussein has told religious audiences that the war on terrorism is
a battle between a "Christian army" and Satan, and that Muslims worship an
"idol" and not a "real God."
The comments by Army Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin conflict with repeated
statements by President George W. Bush that the war on terrorism is not a
war against the Muslim faith, yet top Pentagon leaders yesterday refused to
criticize Boykin and cited his "outstanding" 30-year military record.
"At first blush, it doesn't look like any rules were broken," said Gen.
Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Boykin made some of the comments to Christian church audiences while in
uniform, which Myers said is allowed in certain circumstances.
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations called Boykin's
comments "ill-informed and bigoted" and asked that he be reassigned.
The comments were first reported by the Los Angeles Times and NBC News,
which aired videotaped speeches by the general, an evangelical Christian.
In January, Boykin recalled a conversation with a Muslim fighter in Somalia
who had said that Allah would protect him from U.S. forces.
"I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol," Boykin said.
In June, Boykin said, "The battle that we're in is a spiritual battle. Satan
wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he
wants to destroy us as a Christian army."
Back to Jesus Rules! Part 1
Jesus Rules! Part 3: US Government ties to The Family
Mediocre times produce the very worst that the world has to offer:
Laden, Bush, Hussein, Sharon, and Blair. None but the feeble minded
inspiration from such a ghastly lineup of "leaders".
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Humanity's most valuable possessions are Clean Water, Clean air, and Trees
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