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C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  63 reviews
C Street - where piety, politics, and corruption meet

Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have reported from inside the C Street House, the Fellowship residence known simply by its Washington, DC address. The house has lately been the scene of notorious political scandal, but more crucially it is home to efforts to transform the very fabric of American democracy. And now
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 27th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 11th 2010)
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Community Reviews

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As someone who has been pretty diligent about reading Jeff Sharlet's work over the years, I was a little disappointed in this follow-up to "The Family." In it's defense, it is a follow-up and not the main course. Sharlet spends a considerable amount of time restating his previously published research, making this feel like a compilation of greatest hits instead of a new contribution. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and he acknowledges that some chapters are indeed revisited versions of old m ...more
The most important word in the title of this book, C STREET: THE FUNDAMENTALIST THREAT TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, is "threat." According to the leaders and members of The Family, the group that owns and uses the former convent on C Street as a headquarters, the most three most important things are faith, family, and country, in that order.
Near the end of the book, Jeff Sharlet has a picture of a placard worn by his wife at a demonstration outside the Republican convention in New York City in 2004
Kate Sherrod
I found this a slightly inferior successor to Sharlet's incendiary The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. While Sharlet wasn't precisely beating the same drum again, it wasn't as clear an argument and a good third of it (concerning fundamentalism in the military), while still exposing matters of serious concern, really didn't have anything to do with the Family or C Street in any direct way. I'd still recommend C Street to the curious, but if they hadn't read The F ...more
Jay Babcock
I am over 140 pages in, and feel I should point out that the title is a bit of a misnomer, as the theology of the Fellowship/Family members is distinct from the fundamentalist Christianity practiced by regular folks (i.e., not the "kings" or "chosen" or "key men" who are the focus of the organization's ministry). Not that popular figures don't appear -- Rick Warren makes an appearance as an enabler of the homo-cidal Uganda campaign.

Fascinating, enraging, and composed of wonderful prose, I will g
Linda Stoner
Oct 23, 2010 Linda Stoner rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Linda by: Steve Kraske KCUR author interview
While Sharlet is one of the newer breed of journalists who is unopposed to offering his own opinion, his subject is a disquieting one. The level of substantiation he provides makes the case compelling indeed. In some places poorly organized, the book shows signs of being rushed for publication prior to the Nov. 2 election. (It was published Sept. 27.) The number of Kansas politicians involved with C Street is frightening -- Brownback, Moran, Tiart, and Slattery are the ones at the top of my memo ...more
This is one of the most frightening books I've ever read. And I believe every word written.
Guess what was kind of a bummer? Finishing this on election day.
Robb Bridson
This reads like an inferior sequel to Sharlet's expose of the Family.
I suppose he was obligated to write something due to scandals hitting a year after his book, putting C Street into the news for a brief moment.
There is a lot of retreading over areas covered in the previous book, followed by a relatively boring chapter on the C Street scandals, followed by two more interesting and horrifying chapters on the Family's anti-gay efforts in Uganda and the evangelical takeover of the US military.

David Melbie
Dec 10, 2010 David Melbie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The sheep. Wake up! That's a wolf!
Recommended to David by: Amy Goodman
I really like Sharlet as a writer and how well he covers this subject. I look forward with pride to be able to someday say, "Why are you so surprised? Jeff Sharlet has been telling us about this for years!"

Of course, he's not the only one. There are several of us who are keeping watch. Sharlet has his finger on the pulse when he says:

"The Family is not a conspiracy. A conspiracy is a secret agreement to break the law. It is not interested in law. God-led government is not a specific agenda but r
Jeff Sharlet’s previous book, The Family, (reviewed by me here) shone a spotlight on the part played by an "elite" fundamentalism in American political life. The subjects of his enquiry were not the usual religious right preachers and activists, but rather a quiet network of backroom operatives whose ideology is described as "Jesus Plus Nothing".

The Family opened up many lines of possible further enquiry, and in C-Street (which stands alone on its own merits) Sharlet follows several leads both i
Scott Rhee
The main title of Jeff Sharlet's book, "C Street", meant nothing to me when I first picked it off the shelf. It was the sub-title, "The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy", that intrigued me. I consider myself a Christian, but I must be a pretty awful one (according to fundamentalists, I should probably be ashamed to even call myself one, which I'm not) because I automatically cringe and feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I see or hear the words "fundamentalist". To me, ...more
Jeff Sharlet, an investigative journalist, turns the light on a frightening outfit that calls itself "The Family' whose headquarters is "C Street" One of the first rules of C Street is you don't talk about C Street. Nevertheless, Sharlet has been able to gather enough information, much of it from C Streeters that will talk, to put together an extraordinary picture of this group. C Street has a roster of well-known names of Senators, Congressmen, governors and assorted "spiritual advisors" stream ...more
aPriL eVoLvEs
Some very interesting information, but primarily a political walkabout in various countries and amazing interviews with very scary politicians and soldiers who have huge authority over either powerless people or ignorant supporters unaware of the true nuttiness behind the mostly hidden Fundamentalist religious agendas. Despite the delusional religious anxieties and paranoia, the researched and interviewed individuals and NGO's present a smooth persuasive front of normalcy.

This book reveals the
This is a scary book. Not Stephen King scary, but real life scary. Sharlet does a good job explaining how a group of egomaniacal dolts (my term, not his) think they are chosen by God to reshape the world in their very extreme fundamentalist Christian view. The person who began the group, known as the Family, apparently believed the Bible and religious scholars got it all wrong for 2000 years -- that Christ was really more concerned with helping the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful, ...more
Shaherzad ahmadi
Excellent book. I recommend writing notes while you read because it's easy to get confused by the abundance of names and pseudo names of organizations affiliated with the family, and the great number of important politicians and religious figures who work within the domestic and international network of the family. Toward the end of the book, Sharlet strays from C Street and discusses religious fundamentalism in the amerian military and social/political culture more generally. This was somewhat ...more
“The fundamentalist threat to American democracy isn’t a person…it’s an idea. In its most modest shape it’s the question posed by a future air force officer: ‘Who are we to question why God builds up nations?’—imperial narcissism so blind that the questioner believes his fatalistic acceptance of his own power is a form of humility. In its bluntest expression it’s the ‘government by God’ preached at C Street. In its most awful, it is the ‘God-led politics’ of Uganda, the nightmare scenario of fun ...more
Shirley Conley
Hard to say anything good about this book. It seems to say any Christian is a “Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy” The book seems to be a “fundamental threat on religion in America.” The book lacks Grace and the idea of forgiveness. It points up wickedness throughout the world and America calls it “religion”.
Troy Hill
Excellent follow-up to "The Family" about behind the scenes fundamentalist Christianity in US politics. This tome is the here and now, to compliment the done and past of "The Family."

Although most of them won't do so, every member of the TEA party and "Liberty" movement needs to read these two books.
This is a continuation of Sharlet's research into the Christian Right elite that he started in 2008's The Family. Using interviews with members and the Family's own papers, he demonstrates that these aren't the outrageous Bachmanns and Perrys, but wealthy, well positioned (mostly) men who are content to work slowly to achieve their goals of rolling back social progress: in their world LGTBQs would go back into the closet, the poor would be content with their lot, women would shut up and act nice ...more
Shea Mastison
This is a more contemporary attempt by the author to cover the policy and goals of the political/religious American organization known as "The Family." Key American conservatives, in the Democratic and Republican party have used their affiliation with the fundamentalist "Family" to further their own careers and spread their religiously based political ideas.

Sharlet speaks about the "Family's" influence in Uganda; influencing the creation of their "Anti-Homosexuality" legislation. He also covers
This is a very disconcerting piece of provocative investigative journalism. In his followup to "The Family", Sharlet examines evangelical political ambitions, missionary work (such as pushing African politicians to draft anti-homosexual legislation) and most disturbingly, their infiltration of the secular US military. It's not unfathomable to suspect that America may one day see its dysfunctional democracy replaced by an evangelical military junta. Sharlet is an incredibly insightful and engagin ...more
I agree with other reviews that suggest the book was rushed to print. The book would have benefited from a stronger organization. The book had three parts: 1) Family members that have recently been caught in scandal, 2) the influence of the Family on Uganda's politics, particularly the focus on homosexuality and 3) the increasing voice of Christianity in the US military. For me, the first section in particular could have benefited from more editing. I'm torn on a rating 3 for organization and 4 ...more
Now I am really scared.
It takes a good writer to make a dull subject interesting. It takes a different kind of skill to make an interesting subject dull.

The book is dripping with potential: powerful men and their hypocrisy, secret dealings, and influence peddling, wrapped up neatly in religious wrapping paper and tied with a big political bow.

I've read prospectuses that were more interesting.

The author's weird style -- and I can't put my finger on what made it weird -- made this book a dull slog. I gave up after abo
Jeff Sharlet is an investigative journalist with a keen eye for the goings on with America's world of politics. In a world, rife with conspiracy theories, this book reads just like another one. Unfortunately, Sharlet writes his book like a journalist rather than an author. One article containing facts would have been enough for me, but a full book containing the 'dirty dealings' of Republicans and Democrats in Washington was too much for this Canadian. I did finish the book though.
Steve P
A follow up to Sharlet's earlier book 'The Family' about the shadowy, D.C. Christian fundamentalist group which counts among its acolytes many powerful political leaders, both here and abroad. Disturbing stuff, especially his account of his visit to and The Family's influence in, Uganda and that country's attempt to pass virulently anti-gay legislation.
While the subject of this book is something that I might find engaging, the execution leaves something wanting. The author writes in a very convoluted way that is difficult to follow. While reading, you forget who is who and what they have done. Everything runs together in this book. There are also an incredible amount of sentence fragments. This is an interesting topic, but a poorly written book.
I was a little frustrated with Sharlet's writing style, which seemed overly impressionistic for the subject matter (other than the last chapter, which does an excellent job of finally tying everything together). But I still think this is a book worth reading, because it really is shocking to learn what's being done behind the scenes to both the American people and to others in our name.
Edward Sullivan
This follow-up to The Family (2009) is an equally disturbing look at the entrenchment of extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalism in Congress, the military, and corporate America. The so-called "Christianity" of The Family, however, is little more than American exceptionalism, imperialistic hubris, homophobia, and laissez faire capitalism dressed up in religious rhetoric.
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I'm a contributing editor for Harper's and Rolling Stone and I also write about music for Oxford American, politics for The Nation, and media for The Revealer, a review of religion and the press published by the New York University Center for Religion and Media, where I'm an associate research scholar.
I'm the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper,
More about Jeff Sharlet...
The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power Sweet Heaven When I Die: Faith, Faithlessness, and the Country In Between Believer, Beware: First-person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith Radiant Truths: Essential Dispatches, Reports, Confessions, and Other Essays on American Belief Sharlet's The Secret Fundamentalism at (The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet (Paperback - June 2, 2009))

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