You may have heard of the National Prayer Breakfast, which presidents of both parties have participated in for decades, but little is known about the organization that puts it together. It’s called, at least by outsiders, The Foundation, and it’s been infiltrating the highest levels of governments here and abroad for years, with their mission of bringing more religion into government. A new docuseries gets an inside look into this powerful, and mostly invisible organization.
THE FAMILY: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: A group of young men are piling on one of their friends, holding him down to the point where he says “I can’t breathe!”
The Gist: The Family, produced by Alex Gibney and directed by Jesse Moss, examines this organization, which is nicknamed “The Family” by those on the inside, and its leader, Doug Coe. The first episode focuses exclusively on writer Jeff Sharlet, who became a “brother” in the organization in the early ’00s and wrote two books on the topic.
The docuseries combines interviews, archival photos and videos with extensive dramatic recreations, with David Rysdahl playing Sharlet and James Cromwell playing Coe, among others. What Sharlet and Moss try to explain during the docuseries is that the organization puts Jesus first, before families before governments, before everything. But, it’s non-denominational and bipartisan; we see Coe over the shoulders of both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, for instance.
One of the biggest things that Sharlet discovered during his time in The Family is how low key it and Coe is. Every month, they meet with members of Congress at a Washington, DC hotel, and Sharlet can see how persuasive Coe is about his mission to put religion back into government, but Coe also makes sure that the organization (which isn’t even really an organization) doesn’t call attention to itself. “The more you can make your organization invisible, the more influence it will have,” he says in one of the few archived speeches available. Read more