Stories on the "stealth" ministry of Douglas Coe have been cropping up recently on blogs and online publications, linking him unfavorably to Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
Comparing Coe to Obama’s inflammatory pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote at HuffingtonPost.com, "When it comes to unsavory religious affiliations, she’s a lot more vulnerable than Obama."
But the story may not be so simple. Indeed, as Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign confirmed yesterday, he has also attended Coe’s prayer meetings.
Coe’s group, "the Fellowship," reportedly shuns publicity while focusing on ministering to those in power in the United States and around the world. In Washington, D.C., Coe sponsors a weekly Senate prayer breakfast and an annual National Prayer Breakfast regularly attended by U.S. presidents.
Coe’s group has been called "shadowy," and Coe has made some unusual comments which have raised more than a few eyebrows. In recorded presentations, he has seemed to praise Hitler and other totalitarian leaders for brutally enforcing their followers’ allegiance to doctrine over allegiance to family, and suggesting that was a model for teaching children about Jesus.
"[T]here is something deeply strange about the group," wrote the Atlantic magazine’s Joshua Green, who has reported extensively on Coe’s Fellowship and Hillary Clinton.
Ehrenreich and others have noted that Hillary has been a regular attendee at his weekly prayer meetings, and spoke warmly of Coe in her autobiography, "Living History."
But if Clinton has a Coe problem, then it seems Obama would also: a quick call to the Obama campaign elicited a confirmation that the junior senator from Illinois had also attended "a couple" of Coe’s meetings. And, like Clinton reportedly has, Obama spoke at one of the meetings about his faith, spokesman Bill Burton confirmed.