POLITICS
09/27/2010 11:54 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Junkets For Jesus: Congressmen Spend Taxpayer Money Traveling The Globe To Preach To Dictators

Adapted from C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy.

THE OLDEST AND MOST politically influential Christian conservative organization in Washington is known to the public, if at all, for one thing: adultery. In particular, that of three Republican politicians, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), and ex-Rep. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.)--all caught last year in various states of moral undress, all linked to a Capitol Hill townhouse at 133 C Street SE, which the blogosphere promptly tagged "the Prayboy Mansion." The organization behind the townhouse, which is used to provide subsidized housing for "brothers" in Congress, is known to outsiders as the Fellowship. But its leader, a quietly charismatic octogenarian named Doug Coe, calls it the Family.

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But while Coe's Washington operation has drawn more scrutiny of late, what most news accounts have missed is that the Family has also exported its philosophy overseas--by dispatching US politicians to recruit leaders abroad. Members of Congress have traveled the globe, sometimes on the taxpayer dime. They've gone to Greece and Japan, Aruba and Hawaii. But much of the travel has been to international trouble spots--the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans--where the footprint of American power (and American aid) is vast, and a congressman complete with entourage and military escort is a VIP indeed.

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