The C Street House, the Capitol Hill religious enclave that Mark Sanford, John Ensign, and Chip Pickering have in common, is more than a residence that happened to shelter three lawmakers involved in recent sex scandals, writes Jeff Sharlet in Salon. "If sexual license was all the Family offered the C Street men, that would merely be seedy and self-serving. But Family men are ... followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to 'advance the Kingdom.'"
Though the 74-year-old Family once mulled registering as “a lobby for God's Kingdom,” its founder decided it would wield more influence through personal connections to politicians, says Sharlet, who wrote a book on the Family. "The more invisible you can make your organization," its leader preaches, "the more influence you can have." Current advisees include Sens. Tom Coburn, Chuck Grassley, and Jim DeMint. The chosen look out for one another in many ways, Sharlet writes; protecting each others' secrets is only one of them.