Skip to main content

"[It] functions invisibly like the mafia... They keep their organization invisible. Everything visible is transitory. Everything invisible is permanent and lasts forever. The more you can make your organization invisible, the more influence it will have." - Doug Coe

Executive Summary

It is unlikely that many Americans who watched Invisible Children's record-smashing viral video hit KONY 2012 were aware of IC's evangelical nature (1, 2) or of the nonprofit's early financing from foundations that back the hard Christian right, including one of the biggest funders of the 2008 push for California's anti-same sex marriage Proposition 8.

But Invisible Children, which has branded itself as welcoming cultural, religious, and sexual diversity, also enjoys extensive institutional and social ties to the global evangelical network known as The Fellowship (also known as "The Family") - which has been credited with inspiring and providing "technical support" [see footnote 1] for Uganda's internationally-denounced Anti Homosexuality Bill, also dubbed the "kill the gays" bill.

[image, right: Invisible Children leader (since 2005) Jared White, during 2009 Africa cross-country motorcycle trip with Fellowship members John Niemeyer, Eric Kreutter, and Blake Gaskill]

The Fellowship is a secretive U.S.-based brotherhood of international political and business leaders.  Founded in 1935, its growing political clout was brought to widespread public notice with a 2002 Los Angeles Times report by Lisa Getter, then exposed in subsequent articles and two books by journalist Jeff Sharlet: The Family and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat To American Democracy.

As stated by Fellowship member and Watergate felon Charles Colson, the group is a "veritable underground of Christ's men all through the U.S. government."  The Fellowship sponsors an annual National Prayer Breakfast in the U.S. and in countries throughout the world and sponsors training for youth including in Africa, where media materials repeatedly describe mentoring of a "new breed" of African leaders.

Since the 1970s, the preeminent leader of the Fellowship has been Doug Coe, who has stated that Christians should be as dedicated as were the followers of Hitler, Lenin, and Mao. Coe has also advocated that Christians should organize "invisibly" like the mafia - as Coe claims, Jesus advised.

Mike Timmis, a Fellowship leader and former chairman of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship and Prison Fellowship International, has heavily funded both the International Foundation of the Fellowship and its Uganda network.  The first effort was a hospital built at the request of President Yoweri Museveni, who had taken control over the country in a coup in 1986.  

The next project was Cornerstone Development, a network of projects initiated by Timmis' son Mike, who had been mentored by Fellowship leadership in Washington D.C., and two other young proselytes - John Riordan, who came to Uganda after being mentored at The Fellowship's Ivanwald house, and Tim Kreutter, who still leads the Cornerstone Development network.

[image, right: longtime Cornerstone Development instructor, mentor, and Fellowship member Paul Lukwiya, as featured on 2009 Invisible Children video]

The elder Timmis wrote, "The young leaders of Cornerstone Development saw that it would be much easier to form a new generation of African leaders than to persuade the present leaders to reform."  Photos from the early days of the first Cornerstone school show both Yoweri Museveni and the Fellowship Doug Coe on location.

This new breed of leaders being mentored by The Fellowship is to bring peace, prosperity, and harmony to Africa and the world through obedience to their unique brand of faith, one in which those of all religions - Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu - worship Jesus together while maintaining their ethnic identity. In his writings Jeff Sharlet describes the family as embracing "biblical capitalism" or an allegiance to free enterprise as the foundation for all other freedoms.

Family teaching eschews divisive theological doctrine; Catholics, Protestants and non-Christians are urged to unite under what Sharlet describes as the twin pillars of American fundamentalism - the privatization of resources and the public regulation of morality. Sharlet describes the The Fellowship as having brought Museveni, formerly a  "left-wing" dictator, to one of their Washington, D.C. houses, the Cedars, where Museveni was transformed into a believer and a "key [Family] man in Africa."

Both The Fellowship and Invisible Children have partnered closely with the government of Uganda which, under longtime president and Fellowship member Yoweri Museveni, stands accused of a wide array of human rights abuses [see footnote 2] and has helped produce evangelical propaganda demonizing, and blaming for their own suffering, Acholi victims of Joseph Kony's Lord's Reformation Army.

During the last decade, Fellowship members in the U.S. Congress helped turn Uganda's highly successful "ABC" HIV/AIDS reduction approach, which had promoted both abstinence, marital fidelity, and condom use, towards an approach that stressed fidelity and abstinence but not condoms. Uganda's HIV/AIDS rate reduction "miracle" subsequently reversed, so that the country is the only nation in East Africa with a rising HIV rate. Writing from one of Cornerstone Leadership Academy's graduates suggests that the "abstinence-only" approach is still favored by The Fellowship in Africa [see footnote 3].

[image, right: Paul Lukwiya, who sits on the Advisory Board of Restore Academy with Tim Kreutter, the Fellowship's longtime American on the ground in Uganda, is reported to have supervised the mentors in Invisible Children's educational program in Uganda]

At least two of Invisible Children's programs have involved collaboration with The Fellowship and and its members, and by 2007 -- according to accounts from both Invisible Children and Fellowship members -- Invisible Children had partially merged its developing school and mentoring programs in Uganda with The Fellowship's Ugandan educational and leadership training system, which works to raise up a cadre of elite Jesus-centered leaders who will transform their nation along "Biblical" lines - with one apparent objective being the categorical elimination of homosexuality.

Another Cornerstone/Fellowship activity in Uganda is sponsoring and organizing Uganda's yearly National Prayer Breakfast. At Uganda's 2010 National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, Ugandan MP and Fellowship member Cecilia Ogwal delivered a prayer (footage of Ogwal, from event) in which she declared,

"We are binding the evil of homosexuality. We are binding all sorts of forces of evil, where the devil has taken an upper hand... and we are raising the banner of Christ!"

Like The Fellowship's educational approach in Uganda, Invisible Children's stated philosophy for its Ugandan educational programs is, rather than enable large numbers of children to get an education, to focus its available financial resources on a small, elite group who will emerge as national leaders.

While the humanitarian nature of The Fellowship's efforts is invariably stressed, individuals associated with the Fellowship (and with Invisible Children) are founding a fast-growing array of Uganda-based for-profit businesses, such as Apolis Global, that capitalize on The Fellowship's privileged, high-level international political networks.

Among the current and past Invisible Children leaders and employees with professional and social ties to Fellowship members are Jason Russell, Laren Poole, Ben Keesey, Ben Thomson, Adam Finck, James A. Pearson, and Jared White - who in late 2009 went on a cross-Africa motorcycle trip with three young Americans who are working to develop The Fellowship's programs in Uganda, including Eric Kreutter - son of Tim Kreutter, The Fellowship's longtime American leader on the ground in Uganda.

Kreutter oversees Cornerstone Development, the principal umbrella effort of The Fellowship in Uganda. A leading Cornerstone initiative is its educational programs. Head Cornerstone Education Director Paul Lukwiya has been reported to be overseeing Invisible Children's mentoring program in Uganda.

Ties between IC founders Jason Russell and Laren Poole, and alumni of The Fellowship's National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF), predate the founding of the Invisible Children nonprofit, tracing back as early as 2004.

The US-based National Student Leadership Forum's partner institution in Africa is the African Youth Leadership Forum (AYLF), co-organized by Ugandan Fellowship member MP David Bahati [see footnote 1]. The AYLF has sent members to the United States, to give presentations at NSLF forums and attend The Fellowship's Washington National Prayer Breakfast events.  

Invisible Children's connection to The Fellowship's network provides an explanation of IC's early access [see footnote 2] to internationally powerful politicians; less than a year after the nonprofit was launched in 2005, Invisible Children had already gained political backing, from U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, both important Fellowship members.

[you can read the rest of the report, with full documentation on Invisible Children's ties to The Family here]

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Sharoney, Alumbrados, Mimikatz, Sylv, DeminNewJ, vicki, CJB, BOHICA, Radiowalla, grollen, teacherken, Trendar, glitterscale, tikkun, importer, mickT, Gooserock, mimi, PeterHug, wytcld, Bob Love, Shockwave, wu ming, LynChi, Pescadero Bill, Andrew C White, cotterperson, SanJoseLady, hyperstation, LEP, Stein, celdd, moira977, xynz, Voodoo, Woody, HarlemUSA, grover, NoisyGong, entlord, concernedamerican, bronte17, TracieLynn, EricS, sponson, Wee Mama, wonkydonkey, Kraken, ask, Time Waits for no Woman, highacidity, KMc, SCFrog, roses, Frederick Clarkson, fumie, Cedwyn, antirove, high uintas, KathleenM1, sidnora, NMRed, manneckdesign, psnyder, sockpuppet, Kamakhya, Dr Colossus, 2laneIA, roseeriter, BMarshall, NYFM, dwahzon, Steven Payne, Catte Nappe, lcrp, wordwraith, alizard, clarknyc, Sophie Amrain, Matt Esler, randallt, ScienceMom, Little Red Hen, homogenius, vacantlook, AaronBa, Gowrie Gal, sb, nailbender, G2geek, jabney, marina, jrooth, Unit Zero, Alice Venturi, Bcre8ve, terrypinder, myeye, Brooke In Seattle, YucatanMan, ratzo, eru, SaraBeth, Sun Tzu, skyounkin, Sandino, LucyandByron, Shotput8, Ginny in CO, berkshireblue, Rogneid, Unduna, kkjohnson, noweasels, darbyo, martini, gwilson, tarheelblue, myboo, edwardssl, BlueInARedState, tobendaro, mmontanaman, tonyahky, KenBee, deha, arlene, Son of a Cat, fou, luckydog, blueoasis, MJ via Chicago, StrayCat, gatorcog, real world chick, JVolvo, joe shikspack, tommyfocus2003, BlueSue, rage, CA Nana, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Dianna, fiddlingnero, blueoregon, kurt, katasstrophy, leighkidd, ms badger, AllanTBG, markthshark, Nulwee, tegrat, old wobbly, Sapere aude, pgm 01, Loudoun County Dem, tgypsy, ninkasi23, devis1, gloriana, edsbrooklyn, DvCM, rgjdmls, Mary Mike, Matt Z, terabytes, sfbob, ballerina X, bnasley, ubertar, mudslide, millwood, gchaucer2, Librarianmom, uciguy30, cloudbustingkid, cacamp, trueblueliberal, the1sage, cville townie, gizmo59, rogerdaddy, gundyj, VelvetElvis, aztecraingod, Clio2, BobBlueMass, kimoconnor, OleHippieChick, mamamedusa, Sixty Something, Youffraita, AshesAllFallDown, bythesea, elwior, VL Baker, monkeybrainpolitics, here4tehbeer, rssrai, Ocelopotamus, Cassandra Waites, hwmnbn, Snarky McAngus, carver, petulans, sewaneepat, chemborg, 59stevenm, magicsister, ekyprogressive, HoosierDeb, dmhlt 66, GrannyOPhilly, statsone, JBL55, maggiejean, Mrs M, McGahee220, rubyclaire, weaponsofmassdeception, thorn in your side, spacecadet1, litoralis, Scott Wooledge, The Dead Man, RenMin, juca, cantelow, banjolele, Carol in San Antonio, be the change you seek, LeftOfYou, petral, COwoman, histOries Marko, Kysen, Question Authority, jfromga, deviant24x, Larsstephens, tash123, Nalepoc, Lefty Ladig, BlueOak, pyegar, NJpeach, little lion, gramofsam1, politik, David Harris Gershon, SeattleTammy, fidellio, legalchic, Eddie L, cordgrass, gulfgal98, cai, nirbama, ericlewis0, Oh Mary Oh, fiercefilms, soaglow, not2plato, translatorpro, kerflooey, MidwestTreeHugger, NYGrandma, Plox, Oldowan, afisher, jm214, Mr MadAsHell, freesia, BPARTR, squidflakes, asterkitty, kevin k, page394, molunkusmol, Cinnamon Rollover, thomask, dle2GA, Sabazinus, muddy boots, smoothnmellow, createpeace, wintergreen8694, antimony, Wood Dragon, Merry Light, StateOfGrace, bakeneko, cailloux, Dbug, Friendlystranger, Hayate Yagami, credstone, KingofSpades, imlpdx, DRo, Nightshade Q, Mentatmark, ParkRanger, drawingporno, No one gets out alive, Dream It Real, SuWho, AnnetteK, 50sbaby, livingthedream, quill, weatherdude, JTinDC, MNGlasnant, OldDragon, Heart n Mind, anodnhajo, angry marmot, Siri, done lurking, Joieau, a2nite, Trotskyrepublican, congenitalefty, chipmo, peachcreek, Halandri, MartyM, Brown Thrasher, sexgenderbody, Margd, tytalus, AverageJoe42, freshwater dan, AuntieRa, wasatch, Robynhood too, Kurt Sperry, ShoshannaD, koseighty, SwedishJewfish, Chaddiwicker, doesnotworkorplaywellwithothers, semiAdult, countwebb, JayRaye, OurMissEwenice, ggfkate, Frank Knarf

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site