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ANALYSIS: The Family’s man

David Bahati links to secret American group revealed

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | David Bahati, the MP for Ndorwa West constituency who is also the Minister of State of Finance for Planning is among the leading subjects of a new Netflix docu-series called `The Family’ which examines a mysterious religious network which operates in the shadows of political power in America and the world.

Released on Aug.09, the series was inspired by a book of the same name written by Jeff Sharlet, a journalist and former “member’ of The Family. Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with 130 million memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and features.

Sharlet says The Family believes in defending political power at any cost. They believe that people in power are more “chosen” than the rest of the population and deserve unwavering support.  So they concentrate on introducing powerful men to Jesus, in order to affect important behind-the-scenes acts of diplomacy around the world.

The contents of the docu-series have shocked viewers around the world who are questioning whether it is all conspiracy or reality.

The David Bahati character features in episode 4 when the series reveals how The Family created the “Kill-the-Gays” Bill in Uganda.

In the episode, the Bahati character cites as friends he made through The Family, Mitch McConnell, the current Senate Majority Leader and then Nevada Sen. John Ensign, a born-again Evangelical and rising star in the Republican party, and a possible presidential contender—a significant recruit for The Family.

Writing a thread on the episode on Aug.04, Jeff Sharlet who wrote the book which is the basis of the five-part mini-series adds bits of information, he says, viewers will not see because they could not fit into the show.

It’s scary

“It’s scary…,” writes Sharlet, a 47-year old American journalist and author who has written for publications like The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and the New Statesman.

He is best known for his two books: `The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power’ published in 2008 and `C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy’ of 2010. “C Street” is a three-story, brick row house in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington D.C., where a group referred to as The Family, or sometimes The Fellowship, convenes.

Sharlet says the members of the secretive religious group have an important first rule.

“The first rule of C Street is that you don’t talk about C Street,” he says.

Before writing these books, Sharlet was invited to live in Ivanwald, another Fellowship Foundation house in Arlington, Virginia in April 2002.

After leaving the facility, he undertook further research at the organization’s archive, of which he told a blogger that what he found there “both shocked and intrigued.”

In the thread he says TheFamily’s `Kill-the-Gays’ Bill moved by Bahati in Uganda was the most draconian in the world; Death penalty for homosexuality, prison for “promotion of homosexuality” and knowing a gay person and failing to report them.

In episode 4, Bahati is identified as a Fellowship Associate. He’s the head of the Ugandan branch, a frequent guest at the Cedars; a Family house in Arlington, Virginia USA.

Sharlet writes that some Americans assume Ugandan members of The Family are somehow “cruder or less educated” and points out that Bahati went to Wharton at Penn and the Leadership Institute outside Washington, a well-connected program of “political technology” for elite conservatives.

Bahati also started spending a lot of time with The Family, from which he learned at the National Prayer Breakfast that the greatest sin was not murder – it was democracy, “the human choice… to control one’s own life.”

Bahati has a Master of Business Administration degree from Cardiff University, an executive certificate in strategic management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an executive certificate in campaign leadership from the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia that teaches “political technology.” Its mission is to “increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists” and to “identify, train, recruit and place conservatives in politics, government, and media.”

It is here that he met a group of mainly influential social conservatives, including politicians. The group became a base of inspiration and technical support for Bahati’s anti-homosexuality bill. According to a story in The New York Times by Josh Kron, Bahati said the idea for the bill first sprang from a conversation with members of The Fellowship in 2008. Three American evangelicals who specialize in “sexual orientation correction” participated in a 2009 anti-homosexuality conference in Kampala.

But in the same Episode, Bahati sees another side of the Family when its leaders try to distance themselves from the Gays bill. In 2010 Hunter publicly called on Bahati to withdraw the Bill and by 2012, when the Bill was drawing criticism; Bahati said he felt abandoned by the Family.

“In Africa we value friendship,” Bahati reportedly told the journalist, “But the West is different.”

Richard Carver, who said he served as president of The Fellowship until August 2011, said members of his group were actively involved in Uganda but the group never took an official position on the Anti-gays Bill.

Bahati says Hunter had other concerns when they talked. “He was talking about the pressure the gay community is putting on the Fellowship… He was trying to do damage control.”

Bahati, who is constantly referred to as the “Ugandan Family leader,” reportedly emphasized to Sharlet that Hunter “has never said, ‘David, what you are doing (with Kill-the-Gays) is a problem.'”

Sharlet says the Anti-gays Bill was not conceived at TheFamily’s C St House or its Arlington mansion— The Cedars in Arlington. The Ugandan branch of the Family launched the bill.

“The Family didn’t pull the trigger; it provided the gun. The weapon was an idea, God-led government in lieu of democracy…,” Sharlet writes.

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