The political enclave that dare not speak its name

The Washington Post has a story that is simultaneously skin-deep and overwrought about a house on Capitol Hill where conservtive politicians, like the scandal-embroiled Mark Sanford and John Ensign meet to seek spiritual guidance:

Nothing hints at its secrets.

It blends into the streetscape, tucked behind the Library of Congress, a few steps from the Cannon House Office Building, a few more steps to the Capitol. This is just the way its residents want it to be. Almost invisible.

But through one week’s events, this stately old pad — a pile of sturdy brick that once housed a convent — has become the very nexus of American scandal, a curious marker in the gallery of capital shame. Mark Sanford, South Carolina’s disgraced Republican governor and a former congressman, looked here for answers — for support, for the word of God — as his marriage crumbled over his affair with an Argentine woman. John Ensign, the senator from Nevada who just seven days earlier also was forced to admit a career-shattering affair, lives there.

“C Street,” Sanford said Wednesday during his diffuse, cryptic, utterly arresting confessional news conference, is where congressmen faced “hard questions.”

To learn more about the Fellowship Foundation, which owns the house, read Jeff Sharlett’s book The Family, which had its origins in an article in Harper’s.

Mark Silk writes:

While I think Jeff is too alarmist, there certainly is something creepy about The Family. Sure, if this were a century ago, it would be simply one more muscular Christian, Student Volunteer Movement-type exercise in mainstream American evangelicalism–making the world safe for Christian democracy, a la Woodrow Wilson. Its anti-“religion,” Jesus-only credo has its roots in America’s restorationist tradition. It is establishmentarian, welcoming Democrats as well as Republicans, specializing in networks.

But this is not 1909. A secret society of a global elite getting together to get themselves and the world right with Jesus cannot but seem ominous, even if doesn’t manage to succeed in keeping its members’ pants on. (Sen. Ensign–remember him?–lives in the C Street house.) Call it a Protestant Opus Dei. The Family would have done better if Hillary Clinton been managed to become president, since her own involvement with The Family is not insignificant.

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