One of the most influential religious groups in the world happens to be one that few have heard of, and it's called the Fellowship Foundation. Netflix introduced us all to the all-male "pious frat" through Jeff Sharlet's limited docu-series, The Family, and it's left viewers with a slew of questions.
After watching The Family's five episodes, many are wondering who Fellowship Foundation leader Doug Coe was, and what exactly happened at Washington D.C.'s C Street Center, plus who lives there today.
Keep scrolling for everything we know.
C Street, like the whole Fellowship Foundation, operates under a code of silence.
Few have looked into the Fellowship Foundation as much as Jeff Sharlet, who wrote a successful book called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power following his time infiltrating the association undercover.
He reveals the non-profit organization known as The Family as a secret all-male society who refer to themselves as "the movement," devoting themselves entirely to Jesus. "What they offer their followers is a sense of belonging, a kind of unquestioning 'we're with you through thick or thin,'" the documentary explains.
Moreover, the participants (there is no official membership) refer to each other solely as "friends of The Family." "What I discovered was that this organization that denied it was an organization was really one of the greatest networks of powerful people in the world," Jeff tells the camera.
By breaking down the teachings of Jesus, leader Doug Coe — who insisted he was "not the leader of anything" — attracted the most powerful people of the world, from Hillary Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush to "African diplomats, Russian nationals, congressmen, and senators."
C Street made waves because of political infidelity scandals. Does The Family's group home still exist today?
C Street is explored in-depth in Episode 2 of The Family, when the documentary explains how it came to be exposed through an array of political scandals. The Washington D.C. residence served as something like a dormitory for the Democratic and Republican political elite.
"The first rule of C Street is that you don't talk about C Street," Jeff explains. "The house on C Street is a three-story red brick townhouse on a very lovely street right on the top of Capitol Hill. And it's for congressmen who want to live in brotherhood, the way the Ivanwald brothers did."
Following years of bible study, "The notion was floated [among Washington leaders], 'What if we lived together? In a bipartisan way, Democrats and Republicans, where we could actually experience this walk through Congress together."
The C Street Center managed to go totally unnoticed until 2009.
That's when Nevada Senator John Ensign, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and former Mississippi representative Chip Pickering all admitted to having adulterous affairs; all three were residents of C Street. "I was a part of a group called C Street when I was in Washington," Mark Sanford admitted to the press.
"It was, believe it or not, a Christian Bible study group," he continued. "I've been working with them to try to get my heart right because I disappointed them."
Since The Fellowship was registered as a church, they were able to pass their tax-exempt perks on to tenants who lived in the 12-bedroom, 8,000 square-foot house in one of D.C.'s most expensive neighborhoods for $600-900 a month.
"It was like a private club, except it was designated a church," the documentary explains. After the infidelity scandals caught the attention of the Office of Congressional Ethics, C Street's exempt status was revoked in 2009.
These days, the C Street Center (and its residents) is just as nebulous as it was prior to the scandal. It's unclear whether The Family continues to occupy the residency, but they are certainly very much still a major unseen force in Washington today.
To learn more about C Street and about the Fellowship Foundation, stream The Family on Netflix.
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