The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power

“Just when we thought the Christian right was crumbling, Jeff Sharlet delivers a rude shock: One of its most powerful and cult-like core groups, the Family, has been thriving. Sharlet’s book is one of the most compelling and brilliantly researched exposes you’ll ever read — just don’t read it alone at night!”
Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch

Coming soon from HarperCollins, the new book by Jeff Sharlet — the untold story of the eliteChristian fundamentalism that has shaped the faith of the nation and the politics of empire from the first Great Awakening to the present day. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power dramatically challenges conventional wisdom about American fundamentalism, revealing its crucial role in the unraveling of the New Deal, the waging of the Cold War, and the no-holds-barred economics of globalization. The question Sharlet believes we must ask is not “What do fundamentalists want?” but “What have they already done?”

Order now. Order now!

Jeff Sharlet, editor of The Revealer, is a contributing editor for Harper’sandRolling Stone, coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible, one of Publishers Weekly’s 10 best religion titles of 2004, and an associate research scholar at New York University’s Center for Religion and Media.

Advance Praise for The Family


“Utterly original.”

“Brilliantly reported.”

“Wildly entertaining.”

“Of all the important studies of the American right, The Family is undoubtedly the most eloquent. It is also quite possibly the most terrifying. This story of a secretive and unmerciful church of “key men” goes way beyond Jesus Christ, CEO—it’s Jesus Christ, lobbyist; Jesus Christ, strikebreaker; and maybe even Jesus Christ, fuhrer.”

Thomas FrankNew York Times bestselling author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?

“Forget what you think you know about the ‘Christian Right’; Jeff Sharlet has uncovered a frightening strain of hidden fundamentalism that forces us to revise our understanding of religion and politics in modern America. The Family is a brilliant marriage of investigative journalism and history, an unsettling story of how this small but powerful group shaped the faith of the nation in the 20th century and drives the politics of empire in the 21st. Anyone interested in circles of power will love this book.”

Debby Applegate, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for biography for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

“This is a gripping, utterly original narrative about an influential evangelical elite that few Americans even know exists. Jeff Sharlet’s fine reporting unveils a group whose history stretches from the corporate foes of the New Deal to the congressional lawmakers who gather each year at the National Prayer Breakfast. The ‘Christian Right’ will never look the same again.”

Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: the Life of William Jennings Bryan and The Populist Persuasion: An American History

“Jeff Sharlet has an incredibly rare double talent: the instincts of an investigative reporter coupled with the soul of a historian. He has managed to infiltrate the most influential and secretive fundamentalist network in America, and ground his reporting in the most astute and original explanation of fundamentalism I’ve ever read. For anyone interested in the enduring influence of the Christian right, The Family is indispensable.”

Hanna Rosin, former religion reporter for the Washington Post and author of God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save the Nation

“Jeff Sharlet is one of the very best writers covering the politics of religion. Brilliantly reported and filled with wonderful anecdotes, The Family tells the story of an influential group that you haven’t previously heard of, and need to know about.”

Ken Silverstein, Washington editor of Harper’s and author of The Radioactive Boy Scout

“I was once an insider’s insider within fundamentalism. Unequivocally: Sharlet knows what he’s talking about. He writes: ‘Our refusal to recognize the theocratic strand running throughout American history is as self-deceiving as fundamentalism’s insistence that the United States was created a Christian nation.’ Those who want to be un-deceived (and wildly entertained) must read this disturbing tour de force.”

Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy For God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.

“Un-American theocrats can only fool patriotic American democrats when there aren’t critics like Jeff Sharlet around — careful scholars and soulful writers who understand both the majesty of faith and the evil of its abuses. A remarkable accomplishment in the annals of writing about religion.”

Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

“One of those rare books that changes how one looks at the whole world, providing a profound corrective to a range of well-established misconceptions. Not only does The Family help us to grasp the true threat posed by ‘Christian fundamentalism,’ but, even more important, it also utterly explodes the tidy leftist view that those who run the show are merely cynical, interested only in the numbers, and using ‘faith’ only to keep the masses hypnotized, the better to pick their pockets. While there surely is such cynicism at the top, the situation is, as you demonstrate, far more complex than that, and therefore a lot scarier.”

Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform

The Family offers the reader an astounding entrée to a fascinating Christian network unknown to most Americans. Jeff Sharlet has managed to peel back the curtain and reveal an elusive organization that wields an unsettling amount influence over our country’s lawmakers as well as business and political leaders worldwide. The Family is a must-read for any American who wants to know who is actually pulling the strings at the highest levels of power.“

Heidi Ewing, co-director of Jesus Camp

“Jeff Sharlet provides a fascinating account of how part of American Christianity has gone off on a dangerous tangent. It should worry everyone–maybe especially those of us who understand the Gospels to be a call to help the powerless, not prop up the powerful. In the last few years evangelicals have begun to reconsider their automatic support for the status quo; The Familywill help accelerate that important renewal.”

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and The Bill McKibben Reader

“The organization of influence these men constitute may remind readers of a Rotary Club—but it is a Rotary Club equipped with nuclear weapons. When the Family’s members say ‘Let us pray,’ they are not just making a suggestion.”

Michael Lesy, author of Wisconsin Death Trip

“The author of that Harper’s piece is the fearless and fantastically talented Jeff Sharlet, who just came out with a book about [the Family]. I can’t recommend the piece or the book strongly enough.”

–Noam Scheiber, The New Republic

Love & Hate
Evangelical and conservative leaders on Jeff Sharlet’s writing about
American fundamentalism

The stupidest of their students become journalists… [such as] Jeff Sharlet.”

Ann Coulter, writing on liberal professors in Godless: The Church of Liberalism.


“This article is no more than a juvenile rant… a distasteful exercise.”

Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, on the 2003 Harper’s feature, “Jesus Plus Nothing,” that was the beginning of THE FAMILY. Neuhaus has served as one of George W. Bush’s chief religious advisers.


“A major voice in the roundtable was Jeff Sharlet, a confessed non-evangelical whom top evangelical organizations might be wise to hire — and quick — as a consultant. As an outsider, [Sharlet] sees what a lot of us insiders need to see: that it’s time to augment our deeply-held concern for private morality with a new vision for addressing systemic injustice.”

Brian Mclaren, one of Time’s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals” and bestselling author of The Secret Message of Jesus and A Generous Orthodoxy



Ted Haggard, fallen leader of the National Association of Evangelicals.


“I am encouraged by people like Jeff and Hanna [Rosin] who are willing to dig past the stereotypes. That journalistic integrity is going to be sorely needed…”

David Kuo, former special assistant to President George W. Bush for faith-based initiatives and author of Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction.

Don’t make Ted Haggard any sadder — order the The Family.