In a new docuseries, Oklahoma’s senators’ connections to a secretive, fundamentalist Christian organization in Washington D.C. have come under scrutiny.
“The Family” which debuted on Netflix August 9, is an in-depth look at the secretive organization known as The Fellowship, C-Street or The Family. While the group is most publicly known for putting on the annual National Prayer Breakfast, it’s been accused of influencing or recruiting presidents, foreign leaders, dictators and war lords. The series is based on the best-selling book of the same name by author Jeff Sharlet who said the group works for unspecified gains through an unconventional interpretation of The Bible.
Featured in the series are former Sen. Tom Coburn (R) and current Sen. James Lankford (R), who attends the group's weekly prayer breakfast.
“Every Wednesday morning about 25 senators get together. It's a bipartisan group,” Lankford said in an interview in the series. “We don't talk about politics there. We just pray together. We sing a hymn together and one of the senators will stand up and talk about your spiritual journey.”
Most prominent was Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) who has been associated with the group for decades appearing in videos and taking missionary-style trips on behalf of the group which efforts to spread its unconventional understanding of Christianity.
Most notable, and the focus of an episode of the series were Inhofe’s trips in the 1990s to Nigeria to meet with the country’s brutal former dictator Sani Abacha. While a dictator, Abacha tortured or killed dissenting activists and jailed journalists. It’s also believed he stole nearly $3 billion from his country while he was in power until his death in 1998.
“I'm on the armed services committee, we're helping them build their brigades and all this type of thing but we're doing it through the love of Jesus,” Inhofe said in a clip of a video done with an interviewer from The Family which is used in the series.
“When Sen. Inhofe and Congressman [Mark] Siljander meet with these world leaders they go as representatives of the most powerful government in the world, maybe in human history and they like to pretend 'I'm just a guy. I don't know why the president of this nation agreed to meet me. I'm just a guy talking about my Jesus thing,”
The series is a skeptical take on the group painted with sinister overtones which Sen. James Lankford’s office dismissed as a “Hollywood hit job.”
““With all the challenges facing our nation today, it’s remarkable that Netflix thinks the greatest threat to democracy is bipartisan members of Congress praying together,” Lankford’s spokesperson Aly Beley said. “Sen. Lankford has always been open about his faith, and nothing has changed about his faith since he entered Congress. Frankly, Sen. Lankford believes our country could benefit from more people living their faith and values, not less.”
Netflix did not return attempts to be reached. Sen. Coburn could not be reached.
Here is a comment from Sen. Inhofe: “I love Jesus, and I am proud of that. Whenever I build relationships with others - whether professionally or personally - I always talk about Jesus. It’s sad that these liberals always think that’s a bad thing, but I’m kind of used to it at this point. And I’m not going to stop.”