Undercover among America’s secret theocrats
The 1934 truckers strike in Minneapolis was a seminal event in Minnesota labor history. It was one of the popular historian Hy Berman’s favorite subjects. According to the Minnesota Historical Society:
This strike, also known as the Minneapolis Teamsters’ Strike was one of the most violent in the state’s history, and a major battle in Minnesota’s “civil war” of the 1930s between business and labor. A non-union city, Minneapolis business leaders had successfully kept unions at bay but by 1934, unions were gaining strength as advocates of workers for improved wages and better working conditions. By early May 1934, one of the worst years of the Great Depression, General Drivers Local 574 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) had organized 3,000 transportation workers of the trucking industry into an industrial union. When employers refused to recognize the union, or its right to speak for all of its members, union leaders called a strike. Trucking operations in the city came to a halt.
Police, the National Guard, and thugs hired by the Citizens’ Alliance (a consortium of businessmen) clashed with the striking teamsters. The strikers finally won recognition on May 25, 1934.
It was the height of the Depression, and labor unrest was not confined to Minneapolis. There was also a west coast longshoreman’s strike that year, and all the labor unreset got a Seattle preacher pretty exercised.
The Family was founded in April 1935 by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant who made his living as a traveling preacher. One night, while lying in bed fretting about socialists, Wobblies, and a Swedish Communist who, he was sure, planned to bring Seattle under the control of Moscow, Vereide received a visitation: a voice, and a light in the dark, bright and blinding. The next day he met a friend, a wealthy businessman and former major, and the two men agreed upon a spiritual plan. They enlisted nineteen business executives in a weekly breakfast meeting and together they prayed, convinced that Jesus alone could redeem Seattle and crush the radical unions. They wanted to give Jesus a vessel, and so they asked God to raise up a leader. One of their number, a city councilman named Arthur Langlie, stood and said, “I am ready to let God use me.” Langlie was made first mayor and later governor, backed in both campaigns by money and muscle from his prayer-breakfast friends, whose number had rapidly multiplied: Vereide and his new brothers spread out across the Northwest in chauffeured vehicles (a $20,000 Dusenburg carried brothers on one mission, he boasted). “Men,” wrote Vereide, “thus quickened.” Prayer breakfast groups were formed in dozens of cities, from San Francisco to Philadelphia. There were already enough men ministering to the down-and-out, Vereide had decided; his mission field would be men with the means to seize the world for God. Vereide called his potential flock of the rich and powerful, those in need only of the “real” Jesus, the “up-and-out.”
That quote is from a 2003 article in Harper’s magazine titled “Jesus Plus Nothing.” “The Family” author Jeff Sharlet is referring to is the secretive organization that runs the National Prayer Breakfast. The article is behind a paywall — Harper’s is worth it, in my opinion — but you may be able to read the article once if you aren’t logged in. I was able to do that from a different browser. No guarantees though.
You really do need to be leery of people who claim to have had visitations. It may just be schizophrenia.
I will admit that I am a shameless fanboy of Jeff Sharlet. He’s a less flamboyant version of Hunter S. Thompson. It is no surprise to anybody who has any familiarity with his work that he is now a professor of journalism at Dartmouth.
An easy entrée into the world of the The Family, though, it to watch Sharlet’s documentary on Netflix called The Family. (What else would it be called?)
The politicians caught in flagrante delicto or committing some other serious misdeed are legion, and the number of them that flee to Jesus and are connected to The Family are also legion. Colson, Mees, Ensign, and Sanford are just a few.
Jesus saves, all right.
But The Family has a particular heart for Africa, where U.S. Family member political leaders have helped plant anti-LGBT sentiment on the continent. You can hear about that in the documentary, too.
Apparently, it has branched out from its anti-labor roots.
This is an organization worth knowing about, though, because it peddles influence in Jesus’ name.
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10/21/21 – Here’s an interesting article about the connection between the indicted Nebraska Republican house member, Jeff Fortenberry and The Family.
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