Christians Turn on James Dobson June 25, 2008

Christians Turn on James Dobson

James Dobson, the Focus on the Family founder and a leader of the Religious Right, was attacking Barack Obama recently because he says Obama was “deliberately distorting the Bible” and has a “fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.”

Dobson was referencing a speech Obama made two years ago. (He’s a fast one, that Dobson.)

Why did he do it? Perhaps because he knows his leverage among Christians is waning and he was trying to make a power move.

Don’t believe his support is dwindling? A group of pastors headed by (friend of George W. Bush) Kirbyjon Caldwell began a website called

Their core statement reads:

James Dobson doesn’t speak for me.

He doesn’t speak for me when he uses religion as a wedge to divide;

He doesn’t speak for me when he speaks as the final arbiter on the meaning of the Bible;

James Dobson doesn’t speak for me when he uses the beliefs of others as a line of attack;

He doesn’t speak for me when he denigrates his neighbor’s views when they don’t line up with his;

He doesn’t speak for me when he seeks to confine the values of my faith to two or three issues alone;

What does speak for me is David’s psalm celebrating how good and pleasant it is when we come together in unity;

Micah speaks for me in reminding us that the Lord requires us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him;

The prophet Isaiah speaks for me in his call for all to come and reason together and also to seek justice, encourage the oppressed and to defend the cause of the vulnerable;

The book of Nehemiah speaks for me in its example to work with our neighbors, not against them, to restore what was broken in our communities;

The book of Matthew speaks for me in saying to bless those that curse you and pray for those who persecute you;

The words of the apostle Paul speak for me in saying that words spoken and deeds done without love amount to nothing.

The apostle John speaks for me in reminding us of Jesus’ command to love one another. The world will know His disciples by that love.

These words speak for me. But when James Dobson attacks Barack Obama, James Dobson doesn’t speak for me.

If you’re a Christian who agrees with the statement, you’re welcome to sign a statement on the site saying so.

Those pastors support Obama in their individual capacities, by the way, not on behalf of their churches.

Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners (a “progressive Christian commentary”), also has issues with what Dobson said about Obama. In fact, Obama’s comments were made at an event sponsored by Wallis’ group.

He writes about Dobson’s remarks:

… In most every case they are themselves clear distortions of what Obama said in that speech. I was there for the speech; Dobson was not.

… The United States is not the Christian theocracy that people like James Dobson seem to think it should be. Political appeals, even if rooted in religious convictions, must be argued on moral grounds rather than as sectarian religious demands — so that the people (citizens), whether religious or not, may have the capacity to hear and respond. Religious convictions must be translated into moral arguments, which must win the political debate if they are to be implemented. Religious people don’t get to win just because they are religious. They, like any other citizens, have to convince their fellow citizens that what they propose is best for the common good — for all of us, not just for the religious.

Nice to hear members of the Religious Left turning on the Religious Right. It’s about time. I’m looking forward to the day when religion won’t play such an important role in elections but, right now, that’s unrealistic.

In the meantime, we need to support those Christian leaders who are not using their faith as a weapon to influence political leaders and who want to see an end to their faith being distorted by the likes of Dobson.

[tags]atheist, atheism, Christianity[/tags]

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  • Darryl

    As usual the cable media is doing a lousy job of identifying the rift in evangelicalism between the Dobson types and the more liberal types. I can’t for the life of me understand why CNN always has that knee-jerk fundy Tony Perkins on as a representative of the Christian position. These people aren’t good Christians because they put their handful of hot-button sexual issues above everything else. They’re ignorant hate-mongers plain and simple. They haven’t had an original thought in years. I hope they drown in their own bile.

  • Gabriel

    For the 10 years that I was a christian I was a member of the Church of Christ. A very conservative evangelical church. (They think that a piano in church will send you to hell) but what ;they taught was so far to the left of James Dobson that it is hard to see them as members of the same community. I was taught that Jesus came to earth to help the poor and the helpless not enrich the wealthy and powerful.

  • Milena

    It’s a good move in that it shines a light on the fact that the Christian Right doesn’t speak for all Christians. Dobson loses a lot of credibility when it is exposed that even followers of his own faith reject his views. However, I wish this outcry had come as a result of some of Dobson’s other statements. Talk about messages of “love thy neighbour” in the Bible is fine and all, but it’d be nice if they had rejected Dobson’s views on homosexuality, for example. It just seems a little more concrete and powerful. Still, it’s a nice gesture.

  • Hemant said,

    Nice to hear members of the Religious Left turning on the Religious Right.

    Actually I think it is waaaaay too simplistic to characterize this as “Religious Left” turning on the “Religious Right”. It depends what you mean by left and right. Tony Campolo is not liberal by any stretch of the imagination – he is evangelical left. As for Rick Warren – well even calling him evangelical left is a bit of a stretch; apart from the newfound AIDS concern he’s always been pretty corporate / socially conservative to my knowledge.

    You need a 2D chart here, with both a political (left-right) axis and a theological (evangelical-liberal) axis. This isn’t liberals entering the fray, its evangelicals telling one of their own to shut up.

  • I was definitely more to the right when I was a Christian. I was a biblical literalist. I also was disgusted by the James Dobsons and Pat Robertsons of the world. Neither one of those power hungry bastards could show me a single Bible verse telling Christians to run for office and legislate their own morality.

  • Personally I think it betrays the gospel when they seek to coerce non-Christians into conforming with Christian ethics through legislation.

  • If Barack Obama was running for bible-scholar-of-the-year then perhaps we need to be interested in how he interprets passages of scripture. But come on, do I as a Christ follower seriously expect him to quote passages as proof to churchworld that he’s a good enough “christian” to be president. Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!! Maybe this is Dobson’s niche in the christian community and I don’t understand. I just think we’re better off trying to work together than picking playground fights.

  • Reagan Hawkins

    Not that Dobson does this, but this reminded me of a thought I had the other day – As a Gulf Coast victim of hurricanes, it always angers me when this happens, but have any nutbag preachers made the claim that the horrible Midwest floods are God’s retribution for farmers planting two different crops in the same field yet? If not, how long will it take?

  • What Dobson needs is a visit to the guy in Seattle who spanks people with a spatula for money. He has a lot of issues he really needs to work out.

    He and his “Focus on the Freakshow” ministry have been doing great damage to believers and unbelievers alike for a long time. He enables hate and tries to pretend that his moralism is a must-have for anyone who claims to Christianity.

    I’m not happy to see them saying this. I’m angry that they haven’t been saying this for the past three decades.

  • eliana
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