"C Street Center, Washington, DC" by John Phelan / CC BY-SA 3.0

Almost-Blockbuster Netflix Series ‘The Family’ Exposes a Christian Network Whose God is Power

Sep 11, 2019

By Peter Laarman

Mark Sanford’s move to position himself as the savior of the Republican Party—as the white knight who brings the GOP back to its authentic birthright as the immigration-friendly party of Big Business—may be complicated by more than just the hilarity (already picked up on by Trump) of his concealed affair with an Argentinian paramour.

Sanford’s affair, we recall, gave “hiking the Appalachian Trail” a whole new meaning. But as Kate Storey’s excellent reporting in Esquire points out, Sanford also has a long history with the shady global “Christian” network known as The Family, a.k.a. The Fellowship, a.k.a. The Most Powerful Organization You Never Heard Of. As it happens, the then-governor of South Carolina inadvertently gave many in the mainstream media their first scenting of The Family’s existence when he told reporters that he’d received “counseling” from members of the group in connection with his adultery. Storey’s piece also brings to light Sanford’s extensive role in the Family’s embrace of extremely unsavory global actors: butchers like Sudan’s al-Bashir and Indonesia’s Suharto.

All this makes me wonder whether Netflix executives now regret their failure to give the excellent new five-part miniseries on The Family more of a promotional boost. As someone who greatly admires Jeff Sharlet, whose books on the organization inspired the series, I’ve been peeved and somewhat puzzled that the streaming behemoth didn’t do a better job of bringing more eyeballs to what is really a blockbuster project. To take one example, a search for press materials on Netflix’s media center yielded no result. I’m still peeved (Reed Hastings lets me down, yet again), but I can’t say I’m really that puzzled the more I think about it. After all, as the film makes eminently clear, this is one Family you don’t want to mess with. Their humility and their devotion to Christ might get you killed. It may well be that Netflix is already getting some heat for presenting what some will erroneously call an “anti-Christian” show.

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