The United States has experienced religious and cult hucksters throughout its history, from Cotton Mather and his Salem witch burners to Billy Sunday, Father Charles Coughlin, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, and others. But none have ever achieved the kind of power now possessed by a powerful and secretive group of conservative politicians and wealthy businessmen in the United States and abroad who are known among their adherents and friends as The Fellowship or The Family. The Fellowship and its predecessor organizations have used Jesus in the same way that McDonald’s uses golden arches and Coca Cola uses its stylized script lettering. Jesus is a logo and a slogan for the Fellowship. Jesus is used to justify the Fellowship’s access to the highest levels of government and business in the same way Santa Claus entices children into department stores and malls during the Christmas shopping season.
When the Founders of our nation constitutionally separated Church and State, the idea of the Fellowship taking over the government would have been their worst nightmare. The Fellowship has been around under various names since 1935. Its stealth existence has been perpetuated by its organization into small cells, a pyramid organization of “correspondents,” “associates,” “friends,” “members,” and “core members,” tax-exempt status for its foundations, and its protection by the highest echelons of the our own government and those abroad.
The Roots of the Fellowship
The roots of the Fellowship go back to the 1930s and a Norwegian immigrant and Methodist
minister named Abraham Vereide. According to Fellowship archives maintained at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois, Vereide, who immigrated from Norway in 1905, began an outreach ministry in Seattle in April 1935. But his religious outreach involved nothing more than pushing for an anti-Communist, anti-union, anti-Socialist, and pro-Nazi German political agenda. A loose organization and secrecy were paramount for Vereide. Fellowship archives state that Vereide wanted his movement to “carry out its objective through personal, trusting, informal, unpublicized contact between people.” Vereide’s establishment of his Prayer Breakfast Movement for anti-Socialist and anti-International Workers of the World (IWW or “Wobblies”) Seattle businessmen in 1935 coincided with the establishment of another pro-Nazi German organization in the United States, the German-American Bund. Vereide saw his prayer movement replacing labor unions.
A student of the un-Christian German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Vereide’s thoughts
about a unitary religion based on an unyielding subservience to a composite notion of “Jesus” put him into the same category as many of the German nationalist philosophers who were favored by Hitler and the Nazis. Nietzsche wrote the following of Christianity:
“When we hear the ancient bells growling on a Sunday morning we ask ourselves: Is it really possible! This, for a Jew, crucified two thousand years ago, who said he was God’s son? The proof of such a claim is lacking.”
One philosophical fellow traveler of Vereide was the German Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger, a colleague of Leo Strauss, the father of American neo-conservatism and the mentor of such present-day American neo-conservatives as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Strauss’s close association with Heidegger and the Nazi idea of telling the big lie in order to justify the end goals – Machiavellianism on steroids -- did not help Strauss in Nazi Germany. Because he was Jewish, he was forced to emigrate to the United States, where he eventually began teaching neo-conservative political science at the University of Chicago. It is this confluence of right-wing philosophies that provides a political bridge between modern-day Christian Rightists (including so-called Christian Zionists) and the secular-oriented neo-conservatives who support a policy that sees a U.S.-Israeli alliance against Islam and European-oriented democratic socialism. For the dominion theologists, the United States is the new Israel, with a God-given mandate to establish dominion over the entire planet. Neither the secular neo-conservatives nor Christian fundamentalists seem to have a problem with the idea of American domination of the planet, as witnessed by the presence of representatives of both camps as supporters of the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century, the neo-conservative blueprint for America’s attack on Iraq and plans to attack, occupy, and dominate other countries that oppose U.S. designs.
What bound all so-called “America First” movements prior to World War II was their common hatred for labor unions, Communists and Socialists, Jews, and most definitely, the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Vereide’s Prayer Breakfast Movement, pro-Nazi German groups like the Bund, and a resurgent Ku Klux Klan had more than propaganda in common – they had an interlocking leadership and a coordinated political agenda.
Not only was Vereide pro-Hitler, he was the only Norwegian of note, who was not officially a Nazi, who never condemned Norwegian Nazi leader Vidkun Quisling, a man whose name has
become synonymous with traitor and who was executed in 1945. Vereide and Quisling were almost the same age, Vereide was born in 1886, Quisling in 1887. They both shared a link with the clergy, Vereide was a Methodist minister and Quisling was the son of a Lutheran minister. The Norwegian link to the Fellowship continues to this day but more on that later.
Another pro-Nazi Christian fundamentalist group that arose in the pre-Second World War years was the Moral Rearmament Movement. Its leader was Frank Buchman, a Lutheran minister from Philadelphia. Buchman was a pacifist, but not just any pacifist. He and his colleagues in the United States, Britain, Norway, and South Africa reasoned that war could be avoided if the world would just accept the rise of Hitler and National Socialism and concentrate on stamping out Communism and Socialism. Buchman coordinated his activities with Vereide and his Prayer Breakfast Movement, which, by 1940, had spread its anti-left manifesto and agenda throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Buchman was effusive in his praise for Hitler. He was quoted by William A. H. Birnie of the New York World Telegram, “I thank Heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler, who built a front line of defense against the anti-Christ of Communism.” Buchman also secretly met with Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Gestapo and controller of the concentration camps. Buchman was at Himmler’s side at the 1935 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg and again at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The predecessor of Buchman’s Moral Rearmament Group, the Oxford Group, included Moslems, Buddhists, and Hindus. Buchman and Hitler both saw the creation of a one-world religion based largely on Teutonic, Aryan, and other pagan traditions mixed with elements of Christianity. Buchman saw Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism as being compatible with his brand of Christianity. Hitler, too, had an affectation for Islam and Buddhism as witnessed by his support for the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the anti-British Muslim Brotherhood, and Tibetan Buddhists. But Buchman had no sympathy for the Jews who Hitler was persecuting. Buchman told Birnie, “Of course, I don’t condone everything the Nazis do. Anti-Semitism? Bad, naturally. I suppose Hitler sees a Karl Marx in every Jew.”
Such global ecumenicalism is a founding principle for today’s Fellowship. With total devotion to Jesus and not necessarily His principles at its core, the Fellowship continues to reach out to Moslems (including Saudi extreme Wahhabi sect members), Buddhists, and Hindus. Its purpose has little to do with religion but everything to do with political and economic influence peddling and the reconstruction of the world in preparation for a thousand year Christian global dominion. Post-millenialist Fellowship members believe that Jesus will not return until there is a 1000-year pure Christian government established on Earth. It is this mindset that has infused the foreign policy of George W. Bush and his administration. The desire for a thousand year political dominion of the world is not new. Hitler planned for a “Thousand Year Reich” over the planet. It is not a coincidence that Hitler desired and the so-called Christian dominionists/reconstructionists now contemplate a thousand year reign. The Christian dominionists are the political heirs of Hitler, the Norwegians Vereide and Quisling, Buchman, Opus Dei founder and fascist patron saint Josemaria Escriva and their political and religious cohorts.
The Unsuccessful Right-Wing Coup Against a Democratic President
Vereide and Buchman had important allies on Wall Street. According to Marine Corps
General Smedley Butler, shortly after Franklin Roosevelt was elected President in 1932, he was approached by a group of wealthy Republican industrialists to lead an anti-Roosevelt Fascist coup against the government. As with today’s Fellowship, Vereide and Buchman were merely front men for anti-Socialist big businesses who hid behind the façade of a Christian evangelical movement. To them and their bankrollers, Roosevelt was some sort of anti-Christ who was going to go to bat for the workers, blacks, the poor and women while, at the same time, menacing the ultra-rich and the rising Nazi and Fascist specter in Europe. The coup was to be financed mostly by the J. P. Morgan and Du Pont financial empires. General Butler, who had no time for these industrialists since his military forays into Central America and the Caribbean as a foot soldier on behalf of wealthy capitalists, rejected their overture. Gerald MacGuire, a Wall Street bond salesman and former Commander of the Connecticut American Legion, was the chief recruiter for the coup plot. Butler informed Congress of the plans for the coup. However, Congress was owned by Wall Street and no charges were ever brought against the plotters. Butler was incensed and went public but he was dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. Not until 1967, when journalist John Spivak uncovered the secret Congressional report, was Butler’s version of the events validated. In the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Nazi Propaganda Activities in the United States, Rep. Samuel Dickstein (D-NY) concluded that there was evidence of a coup plot by the right-wing against Roosevelt. However, much to Butler’s chagrin, no criminal action was taken against the plotters.
Butler said MacGuire’s plan was for Butler to force Roosevelt to declare he had become too sick from polio and create a powerful new Cabinet position, the Secretary of General Affairs, to run the government on his behalf. The New Deal, something the U.S. fascists and Nazis referred to as the “Jew Deal,” would have be scrapped. The comparison between the Secretary of General Affairs and the present Secretary of Homeland Security is striking. If Roosevelt did not agree to the coup plotters’ demand, a half million American Legion veterans would march on Washington to physically remove Roosevelt from office. But MacGuire decided that the perception management campaign would work and an armed force would not be required. He told Butler, “You know the American people will swallow that. We have got the newspapers. We will start a campaign that the President’s health is failing. Everyone can tell that by looking at him, and the dumb American people will fall for it in a second…” Shortly after his testimony before the House investigation committee, MacGuire died of pneumonia at the age of 37.
The perception management concerning the attempted right-wing coup against FDR was a harbinger of more ruses that would come from the same right-wing elements: that the first
Secretary of Defense James Forrestal was suffering from mental illness when he threw himself out of the sixteenth story of Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1949, that John F. Kennedy was killed by a lone, pro-Communist assassin, and that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The coup plotters involved some of the biggest names in American business and politics, including Irenee Du Pont of the wealthy chemical company family and founder of the pro-Fascist American Liberty League; J. P. Morgan officers Grayson Murphy and John Davis; General Douglas MacArthur; southern segregationist Governor Eugene Talmadge of Georgia; and, in what represented a sea change for the extreme American right-wing, two influential Catholics, former Democratic presidential candidate Al Smith, who had become very anti-Roosevelt, and John Raskob, a senior Du Pont official and a high ranking member of the Catholic Knights of Malta. The concordat between right-wing Protestants and Catholics presaged a later alliance between The Fellowship and the proto-Fascist Opus Dei movement.
Buchman, who was also involved in the creating the psychologically abusive Alcoholics
Anonymous (which enticed many converts from booze to “Jesus”), created an organization called First Century Christian Fellowship. In 1939, while preaching against life’s extravagances, Buchman set up his headquarters in New York’s posh Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Buchman also found common cause with right-wing racist groups. In addition to his anti-Semitism, Buchman had no time for the civil rights movement. Like Vereide, he rejected women’s suffrage and the labor union movement. When the United States entered the war in December 1941, many of Moral Rearmament’s leaders sought conscientious objector status in the draft as “lay evangelists.” As with today’s fundamentalist Christians, Buchman was rejected by his fellow evangelicals and mainstream religious leaders, including his old evangelical colleague Sam Shoemaker and Dr. Franklin Clark Fry, leader of the United Lutheran Church in America, who called Buchman’s connection with Lutheranism “minimal.” After Senator Harry S Truman received the 1944 nomination for Vice President, he also dropped his past tenuous connections to Buchman. Reinhold Niebuhr, the famous theologian, and George Orwell both labeled Buchman’s Oxford Group and his successor Moral Rearmament Movement as “fascist.”
The Wartime Nazi Invasion of Washington You Never Heard About
Meanwhile, Buchman’s co-ideologist Vereide made his first entrée into the U.S. Congress. In 1942, he began to hold small and discreet prayer breakfasts for the U.S. House of Representatives. The next year, the Senate began holding prayer breakfast meetings. Vereide’s Prayer Breakfast Movement was formally incorporated as the National Committee for Christian Leadership (NCCL). Its headquarters were in Chicago. In 1944, while Vereide’s friends in Germany were being pummeled by the Allies, especially by the Soviet Red Army, NCCL changed its name to International Christian Leadership (ICL), an indication that Vereide saw an immediate need to extend his influence abroad in the wake of a certain Nazi defeat. Vereide also made plans to move his headquarters to Washington, DC. In 1944, his first ICL Fellowship House was established in a private home at 6523 Massachusetts Avenue. In 1945, Vereide held his first joint Senate-House prayer breakfast meeting. In 1945, Vereide quickly got together a group of powerful right-wingers for a prayer breakfast following the death of President Roosevelt, one of Vereide’s and Buchman’s most despised politicians. Roosevelt did not comport with a President who followed the dictates of “God’s Will,” a major Vereide and Buchman principle. At the breakfast were Senators H. Alexander Smith (R-NJ), Lister Hill (D-AL), and World Report publisher David Lawrence. Lawrence was an ardent foe of the New Deal.
After President Truman announced that he was going to continue FDR’s programs – what he called the Fair Deal – the religious right of Republicans and southern Democrats decided to attack Truman. His vulnerability to charges that Communists were embedded in his administration would give rise to the cancer of McCarthyism. However, for the religious right of Vereide, Buchman, and their political allies, this was a necessary and God-driven form of political and moral cleansing. The radical right would also force Truman to consolidate power in a new post-war intelligence agency that would replace the Office of Strategic Services – the Central Intelligence Agency.
Senator Smith was a colleague of fellow Republican and anti-New Dealer Senator Prescott
Bush from Connecticut (father of George H. W. Bush and grandfather of George W. Bush). According to Smith’s archived papers, he was also active with Buchman’s Oxford Group. Prior to the war, Alexander’s New Jersey was a hotbed of Nazi activity. The home of German admirer Charles Lindbergh (and the crime scene for a Nazi conspiracy to kidnap and murder his son) and the first port of call for the ill-fated Nazi airship, the SS Hindenburg, New Jersey was friendly territory for groups like Moral Rearmament, the Bund, the Ku Klux Klan, and Vereide’s Prayer Breakfast Movement. One of Alexander’s predecessors as a New Jersey Senator, J.P. Morgan investment banker Hamilton Fish Kean, was also a strenuous opponent of the New Deal until he left the Senate in 1935. His grandson, Thomas H. Kean would serve as New Jersey’s governor and co-chair of the controversial 911 Commission.
It was odd that Lister Hill would have been associated with Vereide and Buchman. He had been a major supporter of the New Deal, which greatly benefited Alabama. However, Hill was also staunch opponent of Roosevelt’s other major initiative, civil rights. The evangelical Christian movement championed segregation. Vereide and Buchman could always be relied upon to come up with a Biblical reason for segregation and that was good for Hill’s political future.
The connection between Vereide and segregation was highlighted by his close relationship with a Senator who was not only a member of the Ku Klux Klan but was engineered into office by them. But, surprisingly, this Senator was not from Alabama or Mississippi but from
Maine. Republican Ralph Owen Brewster was not only a member of Vereide’s ICL, an anti-New Dealer but also anti-Catholic. This was yet another irony of the pre-Fellowship. Religious contradictions among its members were not as important as the drive for political and financial power. The contradiction exists today with the Fellowship: Orthodox Jews, secular-oriented neo-conservative Jews, conservative Catholics, evangelical Protestants, and fundamentalist Sunni and Wahhabi Moslems all cooperate to further an agenda that uses Jesus as a de facto corporate logo.
Brewster was the consummate “religious” politician-businessman of his time. He was the person who personally introduced Vereide to many of his colleagues, including Senator Harold Hitz Burton (R-Ohio), a future Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Played by actor Alan Alda in the movie about Howard Hughes, The Aviator, Brewster engaged in a backroom illegal deal on behalf of Pan American Chairman Juan Trippe to force
Hughes to sell Trans World Airlines to Pan Am in return for Brewster dropping a congressional investigation against Hughes for alleged war profiteering. One of Pan Am’s directors at the time of the feud between Hughes and the team of Brewster and Trippe was Prescott Bush. The grandfather of George W. Bush had seen the assets of Union Banking Corporation, on whose board he served, seized after the beginning of the Second World War by U.S. Treasury agents. It turned out that Bush’s bank was operated by Bush and his boss Averell Harriman on behalf of Nazi Germany. Prescott’s father-in-law, George Herbert “Bert” Walker, also represented Nazi German interests through his Brown Brothers, Harriman investment company and affiliated firms with names like American Shipping & Commerce, Harriman Fifteen Corporation, Holland Amercian Trading Corporation, Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation, Silesian-American Corporation, and Hamburg-Amerika Line that were tangled together in a circuitous spider’s web. This would be a blueprint for future Bush family/right-wing oil and intelligence enterprises involving election fraud, drug and weapons smuggling, and political assassinations.
Perhaps because of his first name and his ties to Florida and Latin America, Juan Trippe was often thought of as a Cuban. However, he was of English ancestry and was born in Sea Bright, New Jersey.
Like Pan Am director Prescott Bush, Trippe’s close friend and business partner Charles
Lindbergh also had a run in with the U.S. government. After being awarded the Service Cross of the German Eagle medal by Hermann Goering, Lindbergh, an ex-Army Air Force colonel, was not permitted to have his commission as an officer restored under direct orders from Roosevelt himself. Roosevelt always believed that Lindbergh was a Nazi. Lindbergh became an advocate for the United States avoiding war with Germany through his activity with the America First Committee – yet another group sprung from the pro-Nazi right-wing in America. According to Lindbergh biographer Laura Muha, Lindbergh said that he was suspicious of American Jews because of “their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our Government.” It was a claim that many years later would be repeated by the guardian angel of the Fellowship, Reverend Billy Graham.
Meanwhile, Howard Hughes spent much of his own capital on prototype aircraft for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Hughes hired his own gumshoes to spy on Brewster and Trippe and dig up dirt on them. Their connections to Vereide and his pro-Nazi religious friends was likely their biggest “catch” and something the secular right-wing Hughes would later use as political capital. When the right-wing religious Republicans mounted a challenge against Richard Nixon at the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami using Ronald Reagan as their standard bearer, Hughes’ money and influence would ensure Nixon’s nomination and the religious right’s defeat. The Fellowship would have its revenge against Nixon and his backers in the late summer of 1974.
Onward Christian Soldiers!
After the war, Vereide moved to consolidate right-wing groups in Europe. His hated Communists and Socialists had taken over governments across Eastern Europe and were on the verge of achieving power in Western Europe. Winston Churchill had been swept from power by a very leftist-oriented Labor government headed by Clement Atlee. For the
Gedat. The German clergyman had been a leading anti-Semite before and during the war. During the same year that Vereide began his prayer breakfasts in Seattle, from the pulpit Gedat thundered that, “God ordered the Germans to hunt down Jews.” Gedat became an apologist for top Nazi officials. He was an activist against tracking down Nazi war criminals, such as former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, a personal friend of the current Republican Governor of California and fellow Austrian, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It should be noted that Schwarzenegger’s father, Gustav Schwarzenegger was a volunteer in the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA), also known as the Brown Shirts, in Austria and served in the German Army.
As a member of the West German Bundestag, Gedat brought about the cancellation at the Cannes Film Festival of the showing of a movie about a family of Jewish refugees from Prague during the Nazi regime. At the same time, Gedat was one of three of Vereide’s International Council for Christian Leadership (ICCL) representatives in Europe. The other two were also Nazis, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands (married to Queen Juliana) and German Prince Max von Hohenlohe. The latter served under SS head Walter Schellenberg and, according to SS documents captured by the
Soviets, Hohenlohe engaged in direct negotiations during the war with Allen Dulles of the OSS. Like Vereide and Buchman, Dulles was a strong anti-Semite who saw Communism and Jews through the same lens. Through the OSS’s and CIA’s “Rat Line” program, such infamous Nazis as Klaus Barbie (the “Butcher of Lyon”), Nazi “mad scientist” and butcher Dr. Joseph Mengele, concentration camp vaccine “tester” Kurt Blome, and SS Commander Adolf Eichmann, escaped from Europe to South America with the assistance of Opus Dei collaborators in the Vatican.
In January 1947, Vereide sponsored the first Washington meeting of ICCL. representatives from the United States, Canada, Britain, Norway, Hungary, Egypt and China. In 1949, Vereide sent Wallace Haines to represent ICL at a meeting of German Christians held at Castle Mainau in Switzerland. Haines would become Vereide’s personal emissary to Europe. Haines was replaced in 1952 by the virulent anti-Communist Karl Leyasmeyer. In 1953, Vereide made his first entrée into the White House when President Dwight Eisenhower agreed to attend the first Presidential Prayer Breakfast. By that time, Vereide’s congressional core members grew to include such senators as Republicans Frank Carlson of Kansas and Karl Mundt of South Dakota. Both were virulent anti-Communists who established close ties with Vereide and his worldwide anti-Communist movement. Vereide also became very close to one of the Senate’s most ardent segregationists, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, the man who led the Dixiecrat revolt against the Democratic Party in 1948. Thurmond would be a key part of the strategy of Vereide to evangelize poor whites in the South. For Vereide, it would bring converts to his peculiar brand of Christianity; for Thurmond, it would bring into the Republican Party former New Deal Democrats who saw their party straying from segregation and embracing civil rights. For the United States, the strategy would bring a radical form of fundamental zealotry closer to taking control of the country.
Buchman, clearly wishing to obfuscate about his pro-Nazi ties before the war, turned his attention towards Asia, particularly Korea. One Korean Presbyterian preacher, who took an interest in Buchman’s Moral Rearmament principles of a universal religion and total personal submission, was Yong Myung Mun of North Korea. He later changed his name to Sun Myung
Moon and, after being expelled from the Presbyterian Church for preaching heresy, he established a right-wing, nominally Christian sect called the Unification Church. Like Vereide and Buchman, Moon began to spread his influence globally.
By 1957, ICL had established 125 groups in 100 cities, with 16 groups in Washington, DC alone. Around the world, it had set up another 125 groups in Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Ethiopia (where Emperor Haile Selassie gave ICL property in Addis Ababa to build its African headquarters), India, South Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Guatemala, Cuba, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Bermuda. ICL’s international activities coincided with activities in countries where the CIA was particularly active – an obvious by-product of the close cooperation between Vereide and the CIA’s Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton. Angleton and his close associate, Miles Copeland, favored using private businessmen to conduct operations that the CIA was barred from conducting statutorily. The ICL fit the bill very nicely. And although the Fellowship despised homosexuals, that did not stop FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was strongly rumored to have been gay, writing a prayer for Vereide.
With the end of colonial rule in large parts of Africa and Asia, Vereide and his new disciple, an Oregonian Christian youth worker named Douglas Coe, set out to make contacts in a number of the newly-independent nations. Coe soon became Vereide’s heir apparent. ICL also established an Asian headquarters in Hong Kong.
Graham Crackers and Moon Rise
In 1958, Representative Albert H. Quie (R-MN) became an important core member of Vereide’s group. The Presidential Prayer Breakfast became an annual Washington institution. Since Billy Graham became a regular fixture at the misnamed “Presidential” prayer breakfast, many attendees figured that the event was officially sponsored by the White House. They were wrong, very wrong. Had they understood the Nazi and Fascist pasts of Vereide and his associates, it is doubtful that the annual prayer breakfast would have taken on such trappings of a state function. Early attention to the group may have prevented them from gaining a toehold in the White House and Congress.
One of Buchman’s followers in the military was General Edwin A. Walker, fired by President
John F. Kennedy for insubordination. It was later alleged that Lee Harvey Oswald had attempted to assassinate Walker, a laughable charge considering the right-wing affiliations of both.
As the world reeled in horror at the shooting death of President Kennedy in Dallas in November 1963, the ICL moved into a new Fellowship House at 2817 Woodland Drive in northwest Washington, DC near the Shoreham Hotel. Later it would move to 1904 North Adams Street in Arlington, Virginia, just a few blocks from 2507 North Franklin Road where another virulent right-winger and anti-Semite named George Lincoln Rockwell had set up his own national headquarters. From another one of his Arlington headquarters, nicknamed Hatemongers Hill, Rockwell flew the Nazi flag, blared the Nazi Horst Wessel anthem into the street and menaced trespassers with two vicious dogs – one named Gas Chamber, the other dubbed Auschwitz. Rockwell, a retired U.S. Navy Commander, was the Fuehrer of the American Nazi Party. Rockwell and Vereide shared something in common other than the same neighborhood: absolute hatred for Jews and homosexuals.
In 1965, an aging Vereide resigned as director of ICL and was succeeded as acting director by Richard Halverson, a Presbyterian minister who later became the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. Vereide continued as Director of Fellowship House. According to Jeff Sharlet of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University and the author of a 2003 Harper’s article on the Fellowship, Vereide often exhorted his followers to emulate the cadres of Hitler or Mao Tse-tung in spreading their form of militant Christianity.
In 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated after he won California’s Democratic primary by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian émigré to America. Kennedy was succeeded in the Senate by Charles E. Goodell, appointed by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Goodell was also a core member of the Fellowship.
On January 30, 1969, Vereide, Billy Graham, and newly-inaugurated President Richard Nixon gathered for the Presidential Prayer Breakfast. There is little doubt that Nixon had been tipped off years before by his friend and bankroller Howard Hughes about Vereide’s ties to Pan Am’s Trippe and his bought-and-paid for senator, Brewster. Nevertheless, Nixon, a Quaker, became close to Billy Graham, the North Carolina-born evangelist and one-time student at Bob Jones University who is also the Fellowship’s patron saint. Obviously, Nixon shared the Fellowship’s and Graham’s anti-Semitism.
The Nixon tapes reveal that in 1972, Nixon, Graham, and H.R. Haldeman had a conversation in the Oval Office in which the Jews were targets:
Graham: “This [Jewish] stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.”
Nixon: “You believe that?”
Graham: “Yes, sir.”
Nixon: “Oh, boy.” So do I. I can’t ever say that but I believe it.”
Graham: “No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something.”
Graham: “By the way, Hedley Donovan has invited me to have lunch with [the Time Magazine] editors.”
Haldeman: “You better take your Jewish beanie.”
Graham: “Is that right? I don’t know any of them now . . .A lot of Jews are great friends of mine . . .They swarm around me and are friendly with me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.”
Nixon: “You must not let them know.”
The tapes reveal the inconsistencies of the Fellowship. On one hand, their Nazi and Fascist past and tendencies make it seem unlikely that they would be supportive of Israel. Yet, support for Israel is not only something advocated by Graham but also by the shock troops for today’s fundamentalist movement, the so-called “Christian Zionist” wing of the Fellowship.
Although Nixon would later come to distrust the Fellowship, one of his closest confidants,
Charles Colson, would become one of the key figures in the group. Colson served time in jail as a result of his involvement in the Watergate scandal. He would later re-emerge “born again” and serve as a covert adviser to the very same elements who would propel George W. Bush into office as President. No longer would the Fellowship have a paranoid, moderate Republican like Nixon or corny, superficially Christians like Reagan or George H. W. Bush in the White House. For the Fellowship, Nixon, Reagan and the first Bush served their purposes but they were not true believers. In their minds, after an unsuccessful coup against Roosevelt and war with their brethren in Germany; the uncooperative and “left leaning” administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson; a paranoid administration in Nixon; a transitional Gerald Ford; a born again Christian anomaly in Jimmy Carter; partial entrees to power with Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush; and absolute disgust with Bill Clinton, the Fellowship believed it was God’s will that they would have one of their very own core members wielding power in the Oval Office and carrying out God’s (the Fellowship’s) dictates. In George W. Bush, who had been indoctrinated into the total submission to Jesus (the Fellowship) after his involvement with alcohol and drugs, fundamentalists would not only be able to remake the United States but, indeed, the entire world.
Additional tapes indicate that the Internal Revenue Service had Graham under investigation in September 1971. Since Graham was so close to the various Fellowship front activities and foundations, it is likely that the IRS was looking at the illegal mixing of tax-exempt religious groups with political campaigns. When Graham informed Nixon of the IRS probe, Nixon was not happy as the tapes indicate:
Nixon [to Haldeman]: “Please get me the names of the Jews, you know, the big Jewish contributors of the Democrats ... Could we please investigate some of the cocksuckers?...Here IRS is going after Billy Graham tooth and nail. Are they going after Eugene Carson Blake [president of the liberal National Council of Churches]?”
Unlike Graham, the Fellowship would not have any problem with its taxes. A letter from the Department of Finance and Revenue of the District of Columbia to Douglas E. Coe of International Christian Leadership, Inc., dated October 21, 1971, granted the group tax- exempt status on its property located at 2817 Woodland Dr., N.W. Washington, DC. In his request for tax-exempt status, Coe listed some of the activities that took place at Fellowship House. They included a Tuesday morning bi-monthly prayer meeting for Foreign Service wives; a Thursday morning “Mattie Vereide Bible Study” (Mattie was Abraham’s wife); “training and orientation activities,” including “regular sessions with associates from around the world;” “how to run small groups;” “how to set up prayer breakfasts;” “regular dinners involving the leadership of the world;” and “meetings to which students, blacks and other groups are invited by business and government leaders to discuss the importance of a strong spiritual foundation in our country.” The last activity would prove fruitful for grooming future young African-American and other political activists who would oversee the Fellowship’s ultimate seizure of political power in America. The Fellowship was camouflaging its Nazi roots and accepting into its fold those minorities it considered useful for its political goals.
Billy Graham also supported the war in Vietnam. On April 15, 1969, just a few months after the National Prayer Breakfast, Graham sent a secret letter to Nixon from Bangkok, where the evangelical preacher was meeting Fellowship missionaries from South Vietnam. Graham and the missionaries urged Nixon to step up the bombing of North Vietnam and include in the campaign the bombing of dikes to “overnight destroy the economy of North Vietnam.”
In 1969, Vereide died and was succeeded by Coe. It is amazing how this right-wing Nazi sympathizer has been eulogized by Fellowship adherents. Norman Grubb’s biography of
Vereide, titled Modern Viking — The Story of Abraham Vereide, Pioneer in Christian Leadership, offers the following description of Vereide’s biography:
“This is the story of a Norwegian immigrant to the United States who was the founder of International Christian Leadership, the legal name of what is popularly called The Fellowship, the origin of the Prayer Breakfast movement. While pastoring in Seattle, he also founded the first Good Will Industry. Vereide was a single-minded pre-World War II pioneer. The book is a narrative of meetings, people and letters as Vereide befriended government and business leaders in the name of Christ. He was a world-class leader whose legacy is thriving today on every continent.”
Buchman died in 1961 and his Moral Rearmament Movement in the United States soon gave way to the Unification Church of Moon. Moon began to penetrate the United States with his “missionaries” in the 1960s. In 1972, Moon made his first journey to the United States. His number one priority was to take over control of the U.S. government by getting his followers elected to office. Moon traveled the country in what he called his International One World Crusade. As with Buchman, Moon kept his initial meetings small – house parties were used to entice converts – and like Vereide and Coe, groups were organized into small “cells.” And as with Vereide’s prayer breakfasts and Buchman’s “crusades,” hundreds of politicians around the country were duped into extending official welcomes to the enigmatic Korean.
In August 1974, as Richard Nixon’s administration was coming to an end after the constitutional crisis caused by the Watergate scandal, Moon dispatched his minions to the steps of the U.S. Capitol in defense of Nixon as the House was voting to impeach the president. Moon’s defenders of Nixon were joined on the Capitol steps by members of
Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Baruch Korff’s National Citizen’s Committee for Fairness to the Presidency. Korff had been a strong Zionist supporter of Israel. Meanwhile, according to Ohio Republican Party sources, a wealthy Christian fundamentalist from Cleveland had an important meeting with Nixon in the White House.
Fred Lennon was a kingpin in Ohio conservative politics. The owner of Crawford Fitting Company, Lennon built a fortune in manufacturing valves and fittings for the oil and aerospace and chemical industries. Du Pont was one of his biggest customers. Lennon became the majority owner in Swagelok Companies, the parent of Crawford Fittings and held half the shares in Lubrizol, the largest oil additive company in America before it was bought by General Motors. A right-wing Catholic, Lennon, like Vereide and Coe, adopted a simple motto for his business: “Secrecy
is Success. Success is Secrecy.” Lennon, who insisted that his employees avoid beards and wear conservative suits with white shirts and ties, was a major financial contributor to conservative Christian Republicans, including Ronald Reagan and the late Republican Representative John Ashbrook of Ohio. Lennon criticized Ohio Republican Representative
Steve LaTourette for wearing a beard even though the congressmen had received campaign contributions from the billionaire.
Lennon later established the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs to advance the cause of “traditional conservative values.” Women’s rights foe Phyllis Schlafly and neo-conservative pamphleteer and pundit William Kristol later sat on the Ashbrook Center’s board. Ashbrook’s big claim to fame was that he opposed Nixon because he, like Lennon, thought the president was too liberal.
Lennon even pressured his various industrial suppliers to ante up for the Republican cause. Lennon was not the only Republican right-wing Mr. Money Bags in Ohio. Raymond Q. Armington, the wealthy Cleveland-based founder of Armington Engineering Company, which later merged with Euclid Road Machinery Company, also donated generously to right-wing causes. Armington later ended up on the board of General Motors. Armington was fond of introducing up and coming conservative politicians like Dan Quayle to “influential people.” Armington bequeathed a large portion of his estate to California’s Pepperdine University, a breeding ground for future right-wing Republican politicians. Pepperdine would eventually name President Clinton’s chief inquisitor and tormentor Kenneth Starr as Dean of its “Christian” law school. The influence of wealthy Ohio conservative Christian businessmen like Lennon, Armington, and Cincinnati’s Carl Lindner of United Fruit (later Chiquita Foods) would have far reaching effects. Ohio would become a haven for the activities of the Fellowship and their affiliated organizations and churches. In 2004, the inculcation of these forces in Ohio politics would have drastic and far-reaching effects for the United States and the world.
It was the “secrecy is success” philosophy that prompted Lennon to pay a visit to the beleaguered Nixon in August 1972. When Lennon said he had an offer to make Nixon, the president pulled him into a closet off the Oval Office. Lennon asked Nixon how much money it would take to salvage Nixon’s presidency from the Watergate crisis. Nixon replied that it was all over. And, for Nixon, as far as the Christian right was concerned, over it was.
The word went out to Christian right-wing circles and people who never really trusted Nixon that he was history. Shortly thereafter, two members of the Fellowship, Representatives Quie and John J. Rhodes (R-Arizona) met with Vice President Gerald Ford at a special “prayer meeting” on Capitol Hill. The date was August 8, 1974, the day before Ford was sworn in as President. On August 7, Rhodes accompanied two other Republican congressional leaders to the White House to tell Nixon it was over. The powerful Fellowship lurked behind the political maneuverings that led Nixon to decide to quit. After Nixon resigned, some Fellowship members, including Colson, made attempts to try to get Nixon to join their group as a way to salvage his legacy. Nixon would have nothing to do with them.
The Born-Again Nativity of George W. Bush
Yet another influence convinced Nixon that for the good of the Republican Party he should resign. He was the individual Nixon named as chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973. His name was George H. W. Bush, the man whose grandfather and father had championed the very same interests who were behind the pseudo-Christian Fellowship and Moral Rearmament – the Nazis and Fascists.
Bush had reason to be thankful to the Christian fundamentalists. They helped his son, George W. Bush, avoid a certain court martial and prison time. On or about April 18, 1972, the Houston Police arrested First Lieutenant George W. Bush of the Texas Air National Guard for possession of cocaine. Bush and a friend were booked into the Harris County jail. Bush’s father, who was serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, hurriedly flew to Houston from New York and began to make the required phone calls to keep his son from receiving a court martial, dishonorable discharge, and a prison sentence. As one senior Bush business partner recalled, then-Ambassador Bush knew that junior was in “deep shit.” Senior Bush arranged for his son to serve at a religious drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in San Diego between May and November 1972. Conservative San Diego was a major center for Fellowship activities.
The time Bush spent in religious rehab in San Diego represents part of the famous “gap” in Bush’s National Guard service record.
According to a fitness report on Bush issued by the White House in 2004, Bush was “Not rated for the period 1 May 72 through 30 Apr 73. Report for this period not available for administrative reasons.” This represents the time Junior Bush was being shown the way from drugs to Jesus in San Diego and afterwards, his court-ordered community service penance in Houston. The senior Bush arranged to have the arrest record on Junior expunged and even his name removed from the police blotter. Later after rehab, Junior Bush went to Alabama to work on the Republican Senate campaign of Winton Blount and Blount introduced Bush to Journalist John Caylor who was interviewing Blount for newspaper owner Terry Everett a close friend of U.S. Congressman William Dickinson Chairman of of the Armed Services Committee it was Dickinson who was the man behind stealing Avionics and selling Israel the equipment for their fighter jets to win the Six-Day War land grab against Eqypt in 1967. Dickinson and his comardes in the Department of Defense almost set off a coup against the United States to expand Israeli territory. Democratic President Lyndon Johnson wanted to prosecute Dickinson and his co-conspirators for treason but Billy Grice and John Hugh Caylor two supply spervisors at Fort Rucker, Alabama took the fall winding up in federal prison in exchange for payoffs. Newspaper man Terry Everett (Israel's Mouthpeice) later became an Alabama Congressman. Journalist John Caylor remembers Bush Sleeping it off with his baby blue dress shirt and cowboy boots on in the motel room next door at Montgomery's Southern Bypass.
After drug rehab, Bush returned to Houston to perform prior court-arranged community service with Project P.U.L.L. (Professional United Leadership League), a Houston inner-city program to help troubled and mostly minority teens. It was run by John White, a former tight end for the Houston Oilers, who died in 1988. White’s assistants told Knight-Ridder in late October 2004, that because the senior Bush was honorary co-chairman of Project P.U.L.L., he asked White to do him a favor by placing Junior Bush into a volunteer slot. One of White’s administrative assistants told the news service that White recalled that Junior Bush had “gotten into some kind of trouble” but was not more specific. Willie Frazier, another former Houston Oiler and a P.U.L.L. volunteer in 1973, recalled to Knight-Ridder that the senior Bush impressed on White that an “arrangement” had to be made for the Junior Bush. P.U.L.L. closed its doors in 1989, a year after White’s death but several P.U.L.L. associates remembered that unlike other volunteers, Junior Bush’s hours as a volunteer had to be accounted for because he was in some kind of “trouble.”
Senior Bush had a few other chores to take care of. One was to thank Harris County District Attorney Carol Vance, a past president of the National District Attorneys’ Association, for helping to drop the drug charges against Junior and expunging the arrest record. According to close Bush associates, in appreciation, Mr. Vance was rewarded with a partnership at the prestigious Houston law firm of Bracewell & Patterson. First International Bank (later InterFirst Bank), on whose board Senior Bush served, was a major client of Bracewell & Patterson. InterFirst and its predecessor served as a primary money conduit for Saudi and other foreign money that was pumped into the business and political campaign coffers of both George Senior and Junior.
Vance also had links to the organization that would become Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries, an adjunct of the Fellowship. Vance, an evangelical Methodist, ministered to inmates in solitary confinement in Texas prisons. Later, Vance would team up with Colson in a variety of prison ministry projects in the United States and Brazil. Governor Ann Richards appointed Vance to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the entity that oversees the state’s Correction’s Department. Vance convinced newly-inaugurated Governor George W. Bush to establish faith-based prisons in Texas, a move that was endorsed by Colson. Bush also permitted ministers to act as detoxification counselors without professional training and certification. In addition, churches were allowed to operate day care centers without state accreditation. Vance became one of the leading advocates of evangelical-run prisons in the United States – something that Colson, Bush, Coe, and the Fellowship all advocated. Vance also saw Satan as being behind Ouija boards and the game Dungeons and Dragons – cultural smears that would be extended by his fellow evangelicals to other innocent children’s icons like Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz’s Good Witch of the North and Wicked Witch of the West, the Vulcan Mr. Spock in Star Trek, and Jedi Knight Yoda in Star Wars, all accused of spreading Satanism and the Teletubbies character Tinky Winky, SpongeBob SquarePants, Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, Buster Baxter the Bunny from Public Broadcasting’s Postcards from Buster, and Barney the Dinosaur, all charged with promoting homosexuality.
Junior Bush’s time in San Diego at a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is where the future President of the United States would first be given large doses of Jesus indoctrination. With Nixon’s resignation in disgrace and the Republicans taking a beating in the 1974 elections, little did the Fellowship realize what a huge catch they had made in George W. Bush. Gerald Ford’s administration vainly tried to salvage the Republican cause – but Ford would be defeated in the 1976 race against a born-again Christian, nuclear submarine commander, and former peanut farmer from Georgia named Jimmy Carter. True, Carter was an evangelical Christian but he was not the type favored by the Fellowship and their big business allies, especially two key members of the Ford administration, Chief of Staff Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And Ford’s CIA Director, George H. W. Bush, was miffed when Carter did not invite him top stay on as spy chief. Bush would have his revenge against the upstart former Governor of Georgia and peanut farmer soon enough.
Fellowship of the Kingmakers and Assassins
Coe continued to expand his influence in Congress through the National Prayer Breakfast (it changed its name from “presidential” to “national” in 1970). Both sides of the political aisle were tapped as members and friends of the Fellowship. Democratic Senator Harold Hughes, a confirmed liberal, was a core Fellowship member as was liberal Republican Senator Mark
Hatfield of Oregon. Hatfield was no real surprise. As an evangelical lay leader, Hatfield had a natural inclination to be drawn into the Fellowship. Moreover, Hatfield had gone to college with Coe in Salem, Oregon. But Hughes was different. He was a recovering alcoholic and a bitter enemy of Nixon and his administration. However, given the fact that the Fellowship and its allied arm, Alcoholics Anonymous of Buchman, preyed on those with drug and alcohol problems, Hughes fit into the Fellowship very nicely. The Fellowship provided Hughes with “Christian” cover in case he fell off the wagon. It was the case with many Fellowship politicians. They could be forgiven for their transgressions because they had submitted to God (the Fellowship). A number of observers of the Fellowship claim politicians love to get involved with the group because it is a way for them to escape accountability for their actions.
Hughes actually struck up a close relationship with Nixon’s Watergate consigliore Colson. Tom Phillips, the chief executive officer of Raytheon, where Colson once worked as general counsel before he joined the Nixon administration, arranged a meeting through Coe between Colson and Hughes. They immediately discussed how they had unconditionally accepted Christ and afterwards became great chums. Colson had already been converted by Phillips, a man who made most of his company’s profits from arms sales to the U.S. military and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ironically, the Saudis, who championed the extreme fundamentalist form of Wahhabi Islam, despised Jews and Christians alike.
The aftermath of Watergate had a disastrous effect on mainstream Republicans, many of whom went down to defeat in the 1974 elections. But Watergate permitted a new breed of Republicans, those of the right-wing fundamentalist Christian variety, to advance up the political ladder. After Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” which saw large numbers of Democrat white segregationists in the South convert to the Republican Party, the fundamentalist conservative Republicans had a ready-made flock of supporters.
Several foot soldiers of the extreme right would emerge from this period. One young Texas college apprentice of Nixon’s chief dirty tricks sorcerer Donald Segretti, Karl Christian Rove,
was one of them. There were also credible reports that Segretti used members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist White People’s Party in Los Angeles to engage in dirty tricks on behalf of the Nixon campaign. Another suspected Nazi sympathizer with the Nixon campaign was his White house aide Fred Malek. Nixon was also deputy director of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). Nixon ordered Malek to find out if there was a “Jewish cabal” within the Bureau of Labor Statistics and he ordered him to make a list of Jews in the agency. Later, in 1988, Malek was George H. W. Bush’s liaison to Eastern European right-wing “ethnic community” leaders who were members of the Heritage Groups Council. Many of these ethnic leaders were ex-Nazis. They included Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross officer Laszlo Pastor, Romanian fascist Iron Guard official Father Florian Galdau, and Radi Slavoff of the Bulgarian National Front, the successor organization to Bulgaria’s wartime Nazi and Fascist parties.
Like Vereide, Rove was a Norwegian-American with a penchant for evangelical politics. Rove’s decidedly un-Christian method for going below the belt politically earned him the attention and interest of the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, George H. W. Bush. The 22-year-old Rove, who dropped out of college, decided to run for Chairman of the College Republicans. The coordinator of his campaign in the southern states was Lee Atwater, another noted dirty tricks operator. Both Rove and Atwater would rise to prominence as members of the Bush Dynasty’s inner circle.
Rove’s opponent to head the GOP College Republicans was Terry Dolan, a conservative but also a rumored homosexual. Rove, whose political attack skills were honed in the 1972 presidential race, wasted no time in feeding the rumor mill about Dolan. Rove defeated Dolan, who then went on the head the National Conservative Political Action Committee and coordinated his efforts with such right-wing “Christian” luminaries as Jerry Falwell, Paul Weyrich, and Richard Viguerie. All three were connected to televangelist Pat Robertson,
another “Christian” with a bon vivant past, who was also the son of Virginia’s segregationist Democratic Senator Willis Robertson. With the help of Weyrich, Falwell started Moral Majority. In 1988, after his own failed attempt to wrest the Republican presidential nomination away from Vice President George H. W. Bush, Robertson would launch the Christian Coalition headed by himself and another young Republican operative, Ralph Reed. The Bush Dynasty and the right-wing Christians decided to reach a concordat. Senior Bush’s intermediary with the Christian right was his “converted” son George W. Bush. After some fits and starts with booze and drugs, George W. Bush was ready for prime time and, with the fervent backing of the Fellowship and its subordinate and allied organizations – Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, the Unification Church, he was being groomed to enter national politics.
In 1973, Weyrich and Joseph Coors (after all, “Jesus” and beer are not mutually exclusive) started the right-wing Heritage Foundation, a spawning ground for future Republican politicians and policy planks. Many of their policy initiatives, including the dismantling of Roosevelt’s New Deal, Truman’s Fair Deal, and Johnson’s Great Society, were to have their genesis in the Heritage Foundation.
Rove helped George W. Bush in his failed 1978 campaign for a congressional seat in Texas. Although Bush got his first dose of “Jesus” control in 1972 in San Diego, he was not a very good disciple. In 1978, he was still drinking heavily. A failed oilman in west Texas, it would have been easy to write him off politically. But this son of George H. W. Bush would prove extremely useful for the Fellowship and its allies.
Another troubled young man who was exposed to Christian evangelism but who became active in right-wing Nazi causes was John W. Hinckley, Jr., the Texas-raised son of the
wealthy head of Vanderbilt Energy Company, John W. Hinckley, Sr. Eventually, the Hinckleys moved from Dallas, Texas to Evergreen, Colorado. Hinckley, Jr., like Rove, dropped out of college. After a failed attempt at becoming a songwriter in Hollywood, Hinckley returned to Evergreen, where he worked as a busboy in a nightclub. In late 1980, at the same time George H. W. Bush was planning his meeting in Paris with emissaries of the Islamic regime in Iran to convince them to hold on to U.S. embassy hostages taken captive in Tehran in 1979 until after the presidential election -- in order to deny President Carter an “October Surprise” -- Hinckley began stalking Carter. He also stalked presidential candidate Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. When Nashville Airport baggage metal detectors identified two handguns in Hinckley’s luggage, he was arrested, had his weapons confiscated, fined $62.50, and released. President Carter was making a campaign stop in Nashville the day Hinckley was arrested but the Secret Service decided not to make any more inquiries. Hinckley then purchased two more handguns.
John Hinckley’s brother Scott, who was Vice President of Vanderbilt Energy, was a friend of Neil Bush, George H. W. Bush’s Colorado-based son who would later go on to infamy in the Silverado Savings & Loan scandal. George H. W. Bush was sworn in as Vice President of the United States on January 20, 1981. Instead of a surprise that would help Carter win re-election, the October Surprise turned out to be a Bush surprise that cost Carter the election. True to their agreement with Bush, the Iranians released American embassy hostages they very moment Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. A few weeks later, Reagan appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Hotel along with Vice President Bush. Longtime Fellowship leader Albert Quie, then Governor of Minnesota, gave the keynote message.
A little over two months later, John W. Hinckley, Jr., stepped from a crowd gathered outside the very same hotel where Reagan had prayed in February with the Fellowship. Hinckley fired six shots from his Rohm R6-14 handgun in the direction of Reagan. One struck the president in his left chest, the bullet lodging an inch from Reagan’s heart. George H. W. Bush was literally one inch from the presidency. But the Bush dynasty’s total seizure of the White House would have to wait.
At George Washington Hospital, Reagan was erroneously given a cold blood transfusion, something that a number of medical experts later saw as contributing to the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. White House Press Secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent, and a Washington police officer were also wounded – Brady so severely he became an invalid. Ironically, the next evening, Neil was to have hosted Hinckley’s brother Scott at a dinner party at his Colorado home. Immediately, the media began to concentrate on the connections between Reagan’s attempted assassin and the Bush family. NBC’s John Chancellor was particularly interested in the connection between Bush and Hinckley. According to the Houston Post, Bush spokeswoman Shirley Green called the connection “a bizarre happenstance, a weird occurrence.” For a family whose imprimatur is connected to so many American scandals, bizarre and weird should have been replaced with commonplace and expected.
John Hinckley and Neil Bush both lived in Lubbock, Texas during 1978. Neil was in Lubbock to work as manager for his brother George’s 1978 congressional campaign. Also in Lubbock was John Hinckley, Jr., who lived there since 1974. Rove was also a frequent visitor to Lubbock as a campaign strategist for the Bush campaign. It was yet another nexus between the Bush Family and other nefarious events. After all, George H. W. Bush’s address and phone number (“Bush, George H.W. [Poppy] 1412 W. Ohio also Zapata Petroleum Midland 4-6355”) were found in the address book of George de Mohrenschildt, a Texan and Russian émigré with a fascist past in Europe who befriended Lee Harvey and Marina Oswald after the future accused assassin of President Kennedy returned from the Soviet Union. The pro-Nazi Allen Dulles was appointed by President Johnson to serve on the Warren Commission, which ensured the investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination never went beyond the self-described “patsy,” Oswald, to include his right-wing friends and associates.
And the Nazi thread was also strong with both Oswald and Hinckley. Oswald had the Arlington, Virginia Nazi Party headquarters address of George Lincoln Rockwell in his address book when he was arrested following Kennedy’s assassination. Hinckley was a member of the National Socialist Party of America, which continued to function after Rockwell’s assassination in Arlington in 1967. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Hinckley, Jr. had participated in a march honoring Rockwell.
The senior Hinckley had been involved with World Vision, a Christian evangelical association involved with a number of covert U.S. intelligence operations abroad. Like the Fellowship, World Vision acted as a Trojan horse for U.S. intelligence and business interests in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and Central America during the illegal U.S. support for the Nicaraguan contras. In fact, a number of World Vision officials, including two of its presidents, have been core members of the Fellowship. World Vision continues to involve itself in such hot spots as Iraq and Congo. According to Jeff Sharlet’s 2003 article in Harper’s, Coe admitted to having a close relationship with Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, the dictator the Sandinistas overthrew in 1979. While the senior Hinckley headed up World Vision, one of its youthful volunteers was Mark David Chapman, also a native of Texas. He would later assassinated ex-Beatle John Lennon on a New York City street. Like John W. Hinckley, Jr., another right-wing would-be assassin and busboy was Arthur Herman Bremer from Milwaukee.
An ultra-rightist who shaved his head in the Nazi style, Bremer despised George McGovern and stalked him during the 1972 presidential election. But McGovern would not ultimately be his target. On May 15, 1972, Bremer, sporting a “Wallace for President” button, approached Alabama Democratic Governor and presidential candidate George C. Wallace at a campaign stop at a Laurel, Maryland shopping center. Bremer fired five bullets into Wallace, who was paralyzed for the rest of his life. Wallace, of course, was not what the new right-wing Republicans wanted to see grab the Democratic nomination. After all, Republican Winton Blount’s senatorial campaign in Alabama against veteran Democrat John Sparkman was intended to help wrest control of the South from the Democratic Party. It was a campaign that George W. Bush participated in by making cameo appearances between Christian drug rehab sessions in San Diego. Wallace stood to derail the Republican’s “Southern Strategy.” By sidelining Wallace, Bremer helped propel the GOP’s new Southern Strategy. The strategy would be refined in 1973 by the new chairman of the Republican National Committee – George H. W. Bush, -- who would have two young and ruthless assistants to help him – Karl Rove and Lee Atwater. With the help of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones, and other fundamentalist Christians, the South would eventually fall under almost complete control of a Republican Party that emphasized intolerance and a de facto return to Jim Crow laws. Ironically, Wallace, a former segregationist, would later win back the Governorship of Alabama with a majority of the African-American vote.
The world would not hear the last of Rockwell and his disciples. His Nazi Party would change its name to the National Socialist White People’s Party and remain in Arlington. Eventually, it would change its name to “The Order” and move to the West where it became even more violent. One former Rockwell assistant, William Pierce, would form the neo-Nazi National
Alliance. Pierce had worked with Rockwell in Arlington in the 1960s. He later joined the National Youth Alliance, headed up by another neo-Nazi, Willis Carto, who also led the Liberty Lobby. Using the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald, Pierce would pen “The Turner Diaries,” a neo-Nazi rant that called for the overthrow of the U.S. government and the extermination of non-whites and Jews. Pierce was the inspiration behind the founding of the Aryan “Christian Identity” movement. One of Pierce’s fans was Timothy McVeigh, found guilty of bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people, including a number of children. According to Jersey City Police sources, when arrested, McVeigh had the business card of a Jersey City social services worker in his possession.
Jersey City was a major base of operations for Ramzi Yousef, who masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Mohammed Atta and Marwan al Shehhi, who piloted two passenger jet liners into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. This would not be the only connection between right-wing Nazis and radical Islamists. The Fellowship and Doug Coe reached out to the most radical elements in the Islamic world, including members of the Saudi royal elite who bankrolled Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda followers. According to the Los Angeles Times, as early as 1979, Coe had a special relationship with the Saudis when he arranged a meeting between a Pentagon official and the Saudi Minister of Commerce. In 1988, Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Saud, read passages from the Koran at the National Prayer Breakfast. This was at a time the Afghan mujaheddin was coming under the radical influences of Saudi Wahhabis through the “good offices” of Osama bin Laden and other radicals. Coe and his Cedars members also kept in close touch with such Muslim leaders as Presidents Suharto and Megawati Sukarnaputri of Indonesia, General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Mohammed Siad Barre of Somalia (who offered Coe that he would convert to Christianity from Islam if he could be assured of U.S. weapons sales to combat aggression from Soviet-armed Ethiopia), Kuwaiti officials, and even Saddam Hussein. At the same time, Coe heaped praise on the “covenants” Bin Laden, as well as Hitler, established with their respective followers.
In 1990, just prior to George H. W. Bush launch of Desert Storm against Iraq in response to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, Fellowship core member Senator David Durenberger (R-MN) led a Fellowship delegation to Baghdad. That same year, the Senate Ethics Committee ordered Durenberger to pay over $124,000 in restitution for shady book and real estate deals. Such ethical lapses were the rule rather than the exception with many politician members of the Fellowship.