National Press Club

'C Street' Author Discusses Sex, Religion, Politics

September 28, 2010

Jeff Sharlet

Jeff Sharlet

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

“I have been reporting religion and politics for 10 years, but what brings me to the Press Club tonight is sex,” said Jeff Sharlet, author of "C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy," which he discussed on Sept. 27.

Sharlet said there was little interest in his book until sex scandals broke about three politicians who lived at the C Street house: then-Rep. Mark Sanford, Sen. John Ensign and Rep. Chip Pickering, all religious Republican politicians who were revealed to be having extramarital affairs.

The C Street House is run by The Fellowship, also known as the Family, a conservative Christian organization that founded and organizes the National Prayer Breakfast, where every president since Dwight Eisenhower has spoken. The group also organizes prayer groups for members of Congress. Sharlet said The Fellowship was founded in 1935 with the idea of converting political leaders in the U.S. and abroad to embrace Christian ideas and govern according to Jesus. Sharlet described the philosophy as “muscular Christianity."

Sharlet said The Fellowship may have good intentions, but there is no accountability for their ideas. He said The Fellowship supported dictators in countries like Sudan but found no evidence that the teachings of The Fellowship were able to temper the basic behavior of the strongmen.

-- Joe Luchok,