A Different Perspective On 'The Family' And Uganda

Bob Hunter

Bob Hunter worked for the Federal Insurance Administration under Ford and Carter. Consumer Federation of America hide caption

itoggle caption Consumer Federation of America

In November, Fresh Air talked to Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

Sharlet has spent years researching The Family, a well-connected but not well-known religious group that several U.S. senators and congressmen — including Tom Coburn, John Ensign, Joe Pitts, Jim DeMint and Sam Brownback — are affiliated with.

After Sharlet's interview last month we received an e-mail from Bob Hunter, a longtime member of The Family who was mentioned in the interview. He wanted to respond to things that were said about him and about The Family, which he says is better known as The Fellowship.

So we invited Hunter to talk with us. In an e-mail he sent us prior to the interview, he expressed concern that he had been portrayed as a right-wing fundamentalist, when in fact he is a longtime consumer activist and is now the director of insurance with the Consumer Federation of America. He served in the Carter and Ford administrations.

Hunter's work with the Family came up in our interview with Sharlet when we were discussing Uganda, where harsh anti-gay legislation has recently been proposed; the bill would impose the death sentence on some gay people and imprison anyone who doesn't report those known to be gay. Sharlet talked about the The Family's connections to Uganda and their possible influence on the bill.

The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, was brought into The Family by Bob Hunter, who has been working with hospitals and charitable groups in Uganda since the '80s. Hunter says neither he nor anyone he knows in The Family supports the Ugandan bill — and that's one of the things he told Sharlet in a meeting they had recently.

Sharlet has since blogged about their conversation, clarifying and correcting some of what he told us in last month's interview. Now Hunter himself joins us for a further conversation about The Family and its work.

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