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June 24, 2008 / compassioninpolitics

James Dobson and Focus on the Family should stay out of the political spin game

Political Spin Games: Why the Focus on the Family Should be a Real “No Spin Zone”

I generally have a great deal of respect for James Dobson and his efforts at Focus on the Family. From most all accounts he and his organization seem to be committed to Christian principles even if I don’t always agree with particular policies they endorse or pursue.

However, when James Dobson and those like him become so emeshed in the political dogfight and the actual spinning of political rhetoric–his mission has perhaps gone awry. The Associated Press points out:

He said Obama, who supports abortion rights, is trying to govern by the “lowest common denominator of morality,” labeling it ``a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.”

I worry that such mud flinging and name calling is hardly constructive or Christian. Moreover, in doing so he ceases to be an independently minded Christian and becomes a virtual mouthpiece of Fox News broadcasts. Instead of being the voice of God in the world, he becomes a more of a political huckster and much more Rovian in nature.

Erasing and Ignoring Minorities = Not Factual, Not Statistical, and Anti-Christian
The broadcast went further, suggesting that we were only a Christian nation, even by its own statistics it pointed out that were 2% other. The implication seemed to be one in which any all Christian morality could be imperialistically installed into law, without reference to the first amendment guarantee of the separation of church and state. Second, these stats seem radically misapplied–on face I doubt their scientific and statisical validity–even in the most conservative places on the planet like Nashville, TN. (perhaps they polled in Utah or rural Colorado) Also, I fail to see how this is constructive to say we shouldn’t respect and take into account this supposed other 2%–which I would argue is far closer to 20-40% (they claimed self-proclaiming Christians made up about 70% of the American populous) . It also begs the whole “self-identify” as Christian vs. “live” as Christian distinction–which is a distinction I’m quite sure Mr. Dobson applies in the opposite ways consistently on other broadcasts. The story of the Samaritan–is anything if not the story of respecting minorities, be they white, black, brown, yellow, or purple. Tactics aimed to power charge the will of the majority at the price of legitimate minority rights (ie freedom of religion, excluding harm to another) has warped the Sermon on the Mount along with the rest of the mission of Jesus.

Dobson Should Speak, Just Not Spin and Encourage Theocratic Control:
I’m not saying that Christian leaders can’t have political views or can’t voice them–but when the unsaid premises they rely on suggest (and even encourage) unChristian values and their actions contradict Christian values when they lower themselves into the political quicksand of spin politics, something has gone dramatically, dramatically wrong. Coerced faith on the part of non-believers isn’t faith at all. Conversation and bridge building seems to be the solution to these types of disagreements in most cases. In these cases arguments can compellingly be made in the name of rights, responsibilities, and communities which create a civic language that respects others and nurtures a civic community that is the basis of any hope of constructive change at home and abroad.

If Christian values represent truth, and I firmly believe they do, there is positively no need to resort to manipulation and name calling and political spin, rather than logical and compelling discourse.

I think as commentator Tad Delay aptly concludes:

I think the Church is coming to see what happens when you hop in bed with political parties and fail to acknowledge that each have good and bad, and that neither are a more Christian party. Let us repent of our allegiances that we have prostituted out in exchange for political power. Let us always seek a third way.

Endnote: I can’t find a transcript of Dobson’s speech, I’m my humble opinion he should have released in an easy to access location on his website. Without it, it makes it hard to fully develop the above insights.

My summary of the The Associated Press exchange:

“Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?” Obama said. “Would we go with James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s?” referring to the civil rights leader.

Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy – chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, “a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application.”

As a sidenote, I don’t think Obama probably should have instigated when happened, don’t get me wrong. His larger point about Leviticus and gays (may) be correct–its certainly open to interpretation. In such a gray and muddy water, its misguided to name call with such impunity.

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11 Comments

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  1. lea / Jun 25 2008 1:52 am

    Thanks, I was looking for a comment I could send to Mr Dobson…I may paraphrase some of yours.
    I really dislike his language….another old man loosing sight of the truth.

  2. WarEagle / Jun 25 2008 3:49 pm

    Since when did James Dobson lose his rights to comment upon political candidates who attack him?

    Why do so many leftists believe that Christians lose their rights to participate in politics because they attend a church leftists don’t like?

    Why is it that leftists love “religious leaders” who have clearly abandoned Christianity but condemn those who accept it?

    Could it be that leftists are trying to use “religion” to their advantage but object when people of faith who disagree with their Stalinist views speak out against them?

  3. WarEagle / Jun 25 2008 3:52 pm

    “Endnote: I can’t find a transcript of Dobson’s speech, I’m my humble opinion he should have released in an easy to access location on his website. Without it, it makes it hard to fully develop the above insights.”

    Had you half a brain you would know that Dobson was speaking as a private citizen and his remarks where in no way connected to Focus On The Family and that it would be unacceptable, if not illegal, for a 501c3 organization to publish his poltical remarks on their web site.

  4. WarEagle / Jun 25 2008 7:24 pm

    Obama never had the “truth” in view to begin with.

    You were looking for a comment? You can’t think for yourself? This seems to be typical for Obama supporters. Why don’t you go visit his web site and see what his instructions are. I am sure he has posted some new talking point that will be suitable for you.

  5. taddelay / Jun 25 2008 7:32 pm

    by the way, WarEagle, you know how you said “Had you half a brain you would know that Dobson was speaking as a private citizen and his remarks where in no way connected to Focus On The Family” ??

    Well, you might wanna double check next time, because Dobson aired his remarks on the Focus on the Family radio program. So you might wanna go ahead and apologize for that

  6. drd / Jun 25 2008 10:48 pm

    Dr. Dobson is not a reverend and does not pretend to be.

    I can’t he have a view?

    He’s not being christian? Please!

  7. zoecarnate / Jun 26 2008 3:44 am

    I appreciate your post! Thank you for saying what needs to be said. Dobson should have stuck with child psychology, but when his kids grew up he largely shifted to politics. I’ve seen a healthy, vigorous Christ-centered politics…and Dobson ain’t it.

  8. compassioninpolitics / Jun 26 2008 4:11 pm

    Please realize. First, my post is about him staying away from politician spinning. My call is a call for truth, respect, dignity, and love.

    Even Dobson speaking at a private citizen using the resources and leverage that his Focus on the Family platform provides him. Dobson would never have made the AP if he was “just another private citizen.” That gives him a special obligation to speak with love, dignity, and truth–not rhetorical manipulation.

    Otherwise he becomes another talking head in the political muck.

  9. marilyn VanGogh / Jun 29 2008 5:38 am

    Someone calling himself “WarEagle” responds in defense of a hatemongering politically motivated hypocritical false prophet – who WAS NOT ATTACKED by Sen Obama, [unless youre a BLINDED BY RAGE AND IGNORANCE hypocrite of a Christian.

    Indeed! Who has half a brain? This "eagle" is a blinded by faith follower who resists USING his brain and his "eagle eyes" and instead lashes out at anything or anyone who doubts or questions the mouthings of his favorite false prophet!

    Hey WAR EAGLE - how about you go fight in YOUR WAR [IRAQ] so MY SON AND HUSBAND can come home and go to church without returning to it in a pine box?

    WHat a perfect example of the self righteous ignorant hate spewing hypocricy that so many of Dobson’s Zombie followers seem to exemplify? Only those who suffer by living in the shadow of Dobsons militaristic fortress could comprehend his malignant force. He spends not a DIME on the local families and focuses not an iota of his energies on local family services and aid programs! ONLY ON HIS OWN NON PROFIT AND VERY RICH RELIGIOUS BUSINESS AND POLITICAL LOBBY INTERESTS!

    But then what can you expect from those who were reared under the child killing philosophy of “If their will isn’t broken -then hit ‘em HARD” Dobson!? Violence begets violence,..or maybe you didnt read THAT in the bible?

    How can Dobson hate and denigrate and sit himself as judge of so many – and still be considered a “good” Christian? This stuns me!

  10. Ike / Jun 29 2008 5:35 pm

    I agree Dobson, Hagee, Robertson and all other religious righters should stay out of politics, and if they do not, their tax exempt status allowed for religious institutions should be removed. I think God is not pleased by this type of behavior since the ‘church’ is called to minister to the sick, the needy, the hungry, the downtrodden. In my opinion many of these people will stand before our Maker and hear Him say to them “Depart from me, I never knew you!” I have an interesting post on my blog titled “Why the Religious Right Has Hurt America.” The religious right movement has their own political agenda and one way they think to grow their own base is to scare people, threaten them with doom and gloom, while at the same time, encouraging their member to SEND MONEY! IT is absurd!

  11. LCdruid / Jul 16 2008 5:29 am

    You quoted Dobson, then accused him of name calling, I don’t get it. Criticizing someone’s ideas is not name calling.

    Maybe you could clarify?

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