“The Fellowship” is a fraternity of baldly conspiratorial Christian fundamentalists near the center of American power. The group refuses to disclose its finances or membership, self-identifies as “The Family” or the “Christian Mafia,” and extols the subversive and revolutionary skills of Osama bin Laden and Lenin. For more than fifty years, it’s held the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. — a Jesus-themed gala of networking and schmoozing for the world’s top power brokers and politicians.
This year, President Obama spoke at the Prayer Breakfast. During his address, the famed orator could muster only an oblique remark about reports that the Family helped propose legislation in Uganda that would have gay people imprisoned or executed. Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, lambasted the President for attending. She noted that the Family uses its connections to ingratiate foreign dictators with the American government, and other critics pointed out that defense contractors partly bankroll its gala.
Now the JREF has learned that the 2009 Prayer Breakfast hosted an Albanian member of parliament, Fatmir Mediu, accused of helping scam the U.S. Army on a critical Afghan war contract.
Under cover of the Prayer Breakfast and its pretensions to faith and piety, the suspect Albanian met with Vice-President Joseph Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and a score of senators and congressmen, while subject to an escalating criminal investigation in Albania. Gary Kokalari, an Albanian-American activist in New York City, alerted the JREF to these meetings, which illustrate with uncommon clarity the perverse nature of the Family’s influence on government, and the way the group insinuates shifty characters into the corridors of power.
We skeptics are often eager to share the wonders of critical thinking with family, friends and associates. Good.
Some of us unabashedly and not very artfully seize the smallest opportunity to bring the topic into any conversation. Friend: “I have a new recipe for cookies.” You: “Sylvia Browne looks like she eats lots of cookies. Speaking of which, here is what the evidence says about psychics…”
Some of us find subtler ways. How many of you, like me, keep a copy of Why People Believe Weird Things in plain sight in hopes of prompting questions?
Once we get a conversation started, we trot out evidence, debunk, and recommend websites, books, magazines and podcasts. We hope that at least some of the people we thus regale will embrace skepticism.
There’s a word for that kind of activity. “Selling.”
Those of you who attended our very first TAM Talent Show – The Ham Party at TAM 7 – know that it was a roaring success, with many great performances and awesome contributions by host George Hrab and judges Sean McCabe, Alan Melikdjanian, and Richard Saunders.
Well, this year, at 9pm Friday, July 9th, we’re bringing The Ham Party 2 to TAM 8! We’re stepping it up even further and bringing you nothing less than the best talent program the skeptical world has ever seen.
Be sure to read through this whole article for a breakdown of what you’ll get if you purchase a ticket to The Ham Party 2, as well as the guidelines for submitting yourself as a contestant. If you are chosen as one of the performers for this event, your admission to The Ham Party will be waived, and you will be eligible to win some great prizes.
Hello, Chip Coffey. I hope you don’t mind my addressing you directly, since you are now apparently a reader of our webpage. And I hope you don’t mind if I am the first JREF staff member to publicly congratulate you for winning a Pigasus Award last week. Congrats, you old devil. You’ve earned it.
Of course, I would think so, since I’m the one that nominated you. I’m also the one that wrote the scathing editorial about your vicious, exploitive show — the one that sent you into spasms of frenzied Tweeting when you finally laid eyes on the thing last Friday. That’s right, Chip — it wasn’t James Randi. It was I. But how did you respond? By accusing Randi and the JREF of gay-bashing. Here’s your Tweet:
Summary: James Randi poses as Adam Jersin with a gypsy fortune teller. At the beginning of the video Randi enters the room and while walking to his seat he fakes some lower back pain. Once he sits down the reader asks him to shuffle the cards. Randi does so but in a fumbling manner. Once the reading begins the reader mentions a woman that Randi is involved with and then another woman in his future. Randi does a great job of leading the reader by feeding her questions that she may then elaborate on, trying to make them fit with the reading.