America’s favorite bloodsport — scandal — has thrust the Family, the subject of my 2008 book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, back into the news. Lucky for me, the revelations of Senator John Ensign’s and Governor Mark Sanford’s sex scandals — and their links to the Family — come just as the book is being released in paperback. At first, I was reluctant to comment — what’s a sex scandal compared to the real business of the Family? Not cover-ups for congressmen but the projection of American power through the lens of piety and the sacralization of free market fundamentalism.
Then Mark Sanford invoked King David as a justification for staying in power, an unorthodox reading of scripture I was familiar with from my time as a member of the Family. In short, Sanford was telling the public that he’s governor not because they elected him but because he was chosen by God. That, to me, is a lot more disturbing than the news that he has a libido.