Revisiting the Family and Uganda

Tuesday, on NPR’s Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Bob Hunter, a member of The Family. Hunter had written Gross and an earlier guest, Jeff Sharlet. Gross writes,

After Sharlet’s interview last month we received an e-mail from Bob Hunter, a longtime member of The Family who was mentioned in the interview. He wanted to respond to things that were said about him and about The Family, which he says is better known as The Fellowship.

So we invited Hunter to talk with us. In an e-mail he sent us prior to the interview, he expressed concern that he had been portrayed as a right-wing fundamentalist, when in fact he is a longtime consumer activist and is now the director of insurance with the Consumer Federation of America. He served in the Carter and Ford administrations.

After the interview with Sharlet, he and Hunter talked. A week ago Sharlet blogged about their conversation and made corrections and clarifications; it is highly recommended reading.

Some excerpts from Gross’s interview with Hunter [transcript here]:

Bob Hunter, welcome to FRESH AIR. Now, what did you do to help connect the leadership of Uganda with the Fellowship?

Mr. BOB HUNTER (Consumer Federation of America): Well, I started reaching out because the trouble was so bad in the country, I started reaching out to the various leaders, and because I was one of the very few white people in the country during this really troubled time, I could walk in and see anybody and they would let me in.

GROSS: Since you have so many connections in Uganda and since you know President Museveni and helped bring him to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1997, which is organized by the Fellowship – the Family – did you – have you spoken out to your connections in Uganda?

Mr. HUNTER: Oh yes. Definitely. In fact, when I first called them, and well, first was an email contact, they said, look, the guy who introduced the bill came to one of our prayer breakfasts and afterwards, in a private meeting he told us about the bill and we told him it was a bad idea.

[And, subsequent to the bill being introduced]

Mr. HUNTER: My understanding is there has been some connections. I know I have done it personally and talked to people who would be close to people in the decision-making process about our concerns, which is very unusual. You know, we never involve ourselves in these political things. That’s not our role. But this one became so, you know, hot that we decided – I decided that I should speak out, and then I found out they were already speaking out in Uganda.

Hunter goes on to say that The Fellowship is too secretive, but that it does not have a right-wing agenda.

Read or listen here (audio is 25 minutes).

The Lead’s coverage of Gross’s interview with Sharlet is here.

A growing number of Republican lawmakers have condemned the bill. A media report in Uganda repeats earlier reports from the US Statement Department that President Museveni will block the bill.

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