Welcome to The Family

Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Featured, Thoughts | 8 comments

America and the Middle East have a reputation for religious nuttery. It comes in may forms, but almost always it’s the fundamentalists and Biblical/Koranic literalists that are at the helm of the nuttery. But this nuttery is not limited to the USA and the Middle East. Not by a longshot. Religious nuttery is found all over the world even in Australia.

It is at this point that I introduce you to The Family. The Family International (TFI) describe themselves as:

The Family International (TFI) is an international Christian community committed to sharing the message of God’s love with people around the globe. Founded in California during the late 1960s, the Family International has expanded into a worldwide organization with members in over 90 countries.

Their website is plastered with examples of all the “good” they do in the world, from humanitarian work to education programs for children. They are on hand when disasters strike, offering food, shelter and medical help where they can. And they are a perfect example of why I wont give to religious charities, because along with the “good” they do for humanity, there’s a catch.

Our volunteer efforts extend beyond humanitarian assistance to those in need, to providing spiritual support to people from all walks of life. Today’s world is a complex, materialistic one, where the important values of love and faith are often neglected. Family International volunteers strive to meet the need by providing counsel and support to young and old alike, helping them in their hour of need.

And apart from offering “help” in the form of spiritual counseling, they are also biblical literalists that hold the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments to be self-fulfilling.

I was first made aware of The Family via a pamphlet I found left on the steps of the old post office in Melbourne. The headline of the pamphlet reads in big lolcats lettering:

“AFRAID OF BEING LEFT BEHIND?”

showing a sad looking cartoon of a guy, obviously being “LEFT BEHIND” as his three friends drive off in a Jeep. The caption reads:

“WERE YOU EVER excluded from a party? On a scale of one to ten, with ten representing the best memories, being left behind snags a minus one.”

It’s every teenager’s nightmare, being “LEFT BEHIND” as your friends zoom off across town to the best rave in history, while you’re standing there looking like a chump. Of course this is not a pamphlet about parties per se; it is of course about being left behind after The Rapture. The inside of the pamphlet talks about how in heaven, there’s the best party every going on, and if you don’t give yourself to Christ, you’ll be “LEFT BEHIND” when The Rapture comes. At the party, if the illustration is anything to go by, there’s wine being served by winged waitresses with cleavage showing, winged topless dudes carrying around plates of hors douvres, a swimming pool, and lots of dancing. There’s even a band, which from the picture looks like The Partridge Family. Statues! Lights! Chandeliers! BEST PARTY EVER!

But not all is well in the stylised heaven of cartoonland. The last paragraph on the inside reads:

“Anyway, according to the party host, Jesus, there’s going to be a time of great trouble on Earth before the party happens. It’s going to be a showdown between good and evil.”

The back cover shows a picture of a man, who according to the pamphlet, is Satan incarnate. And if you don’t blah blah blah Jesus, he’ll get you, tattoo your forehead and hands, and, well, you’ll be “LEFT BEHIND”!

The closing remarks on the pamphlet says something along the lines of “So proselytise everyone, cos we wouldn’t want them missing out would we?” and shows a picture of a suave Jesus, doing his best Steve Jobs impersonation in his black velvet jacket and tee-shirt. He’s got funky hair too, and he’s obviously the doorman at this party, because he’s lifting up the velvet rope for the smiling teenagers who have invitations.

And I laughed when I read this. Surely they don’t really believe this, do they? I mean, the pamphlet is a metaphor or something right?

Wrong.

On visiting their website, I stumbled across an article titled “What’s Ahead—An Overview“, which goes into painstaking detail about exactly how the biblical prophecies have not only already come true, but the worst is yet to come! That’s right, the cartoon dude from the pamphlet is not only coming, but he’s probably coming from the USA, and looks like a Nazi officer. After the author shows his or her skill in statistics (“For instance, there are over 400 prophecies about Jesus Christ, all written down hundreds of years before His birth, that were fulfilled during His lifetime on earth. The chance of even eight of those prophecies being fulfilled in one man have been calculated at one chance in one hundred million billion.” I have no idea how they could even start to make a calculation like this, since prophecies aren’t real), the author then goes on to to highlight the 14 key points or prophecies which SHOW that the revelations are true.

From “The Sign of the Times” all the way down past Armageddon and the bit where Jesus rules over the earth for a thousand years afterward, these passages are littered with claims of knowledge and certainty, peppered with just enough belief that if it doesn’t come true, it can be dismissed as just another failed doomsday. Sound familiar?

Back to the pamphlet, it is done in such a way as to appeal to teenagers. Not only do they encourage early intervention and indoctrination for the children, they also promote homeschooling children with a focus on faith (their education blurb includes this : “The Family International has specialized in early childhood education, and has produced numerous in-house publications, books, Christian books, videos, and teaching aids for this level of education.”), and also are trying to prey on teenagers, who as I remember teenage years, are hard enough without having to worry about the apocalypse. In fact their website includes a children’s bookstore and an entire section devoted to children, titled “Children – Hope of the Future”.

But hang on a second, the pamphlet and the article about Armageddon told us that the future is dire!

They don’t tell us when the apocalypse is (it’s always tomorrow), but they know it’s coming. I think, given what I’ve read about The Family, if these are the kinds of people that will be at the afterlife party, I’d rather be “LEFT BEHIND” than have to pretend to have any respect for this kind of foolishness.

UPDATE (CORRECTION): This is not the same “The Family” that is linked by association to Julian Assange.

UPDATE: The Family is more controversial than first I thought too.

UPDATE: Rose Mc Gowan speaks here about her childhood inside The Family.

UPDATE: It seems that The Family are also linked to the recent KONY film and related controversy.

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8 Comments

  1. Is this the same “The Family” as the one connected to Jason Russell and his “Invisible Children, Kony 2012” project reported on in Daily Kos? 
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/05/1080853/-New-Report-Ties-Invisible-Children-To-The-Family-Extensively

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  2. We can hardly exaggerate the power of an idea like ‘good versus evil’ dualism.
     
    I see that meme used to justify a lot monotheistic anxiety about infidels and godless institutions. God help us if we insist on a liberal principle like equality.
     
    Even those who don’t buy a literal ameggedon, hell, and satan… still tend to take very literally the “god versus evil” metaphor when it comes to giving ground to non-christian thinking in a politico-religious debate on policy. Apostates seems to trigger that proud call-to-arms to defend christendom, clergy, and church teachings.
     
    I suspect that is why Atheism and Secularism is to bible followers of all stripes –in any sense of the word– their antichrist.

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  3. Jeff Sharlets book ‘the family’ makes for an interesting read. Vicariously linked to the acl as well.

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  4. And, as an aside, it’s the spiritual armor which keeps them safe as they move silently among the demonic atheist (and other) hordes doing their spiritual warfare.

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  5. I’m not so sure about the Assange link Marty, do you have some more detail?

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    •  @ColinMackay Ah yes, sorry, in investigatiing  there seems to be many people who have made this connection wrongly. See the link above (in the correction). The Australian “The Family” were based around the teachings of a yoga teacher named Anne Hamilton-Byrne, not the same group at all. see this article for THAT “The Family”. http://www.news.com.au/national-old/anne-hamilton-byrne-leader-of-the-family-unrepentant-but-ready-to-die/story-e6frfkvr-1225762020614
       
      Sorry for any confusion.

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      •  @martinspribble thanks Marty, given the very real danger presented by this group (also associated with campus crusade and prison ministries here) I thought I’d better clarify.

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  6. The “nuttery” of fundamentalism does seem to be everywhere.  On my blog, I tend to focus more on the American side of things, as that is where I live.  However, The Family, seems to be as toxic as anything we have here.  This type of nonsense needs to be called out and reasonably criticized whenever and wherever we see it.

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