A tale of two generations: From Dobson to Jesus Camp
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 30, 2007, 00:11
According to Luke 17:21, Jesus said, �Behold, the kingdom of
God is within you.� Perhaps that�s why the leaders of the Christianist
Right are so full of hate
and a desire to harm others. They can see and do outwardly only what�s
within them, and what�s in there is the exact opposite of the Christian
message. Perhaps that�s also why more and more true Christians are turning
their backs on these fanatics and their organizations.
The old guard of the Christianist Right is being buried by
its own pomposity and twisted rhetoric. Consider the Gospel According to James Dobson:
Move over George Washington. James
Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, wants to take your place as father of
our country. But rather than being a true father -- one who helps us mature
into individuals -- he is little more than another Pharisee, setting himself up
as a religiously-based political dictator bent on getting us to support his
personal view of legislated morality. . . .
[one] could go on quoting James Dobson and other media who watch him and Focus
on the Family. But the point is painfully clear. Dobson uses his position as a
radio psychologist to present his untrained biblical interpretations as our
spiritual, moral, and political guidelines. With the fervor of a prophet,
Dobson calls us to action as if he had a mandate from God to do so. And by
doing so, Dobson has set himself up as nothing less than a twentieth-century
Pharisee, misleading millions of believers in the name of Righteousness and
In his megalomaniacal lust for power, Dobson will use any
means, any tactic to convince the sheeple to do as he says. In March 2007,
criticized then potential GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson:
�Everyone knows he�s [Thompson] conservative and has come out strongly for the
things that the pro-family movement stands for . . . [but] I don�t think he�s a
Christian; at least that�s my impression.� Dobson was upset Thompson didn�t
wear his religion on his sleeve and didn�t attend church regularly. It seem the
Focus on the Family chairman was more interested in the trappings of �religion�
than anything else.
A September 2007 e-mail
Dobson addressed to �Dear Friends� was leaked to the Associated Press. In it,
the FOF chairman further trashed Thompson: "Isn�t Thompson the candidate
who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes
there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors
McCain-Feingold, won�t talk at all about what he believes, and can�t speak his
way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?
"He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent �want to.�
And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many
conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"
Aside from public displays of religion, Dobson�s litmus test
was support for an amendment designed to embed religion-based discrimination
into the U.S. Constitution. No surprise there:
[October 9, 2007]
Dr. Dobson says, �It�s not just marriage that
is at stake, it�s absolutely everything.�
In just a few years,
traditional marriage could lose support under the law. On Wednesday's Focus on
the Family radio broadcast, Dr. James C. Dobson and his guests urge pro-family
Americans to do something about it.
�This has been an ongoing struggle that burns in our hearts,� Dr. Dobson says.
�And now, marriage is really on the brink, and I don�t know how to emphasize
that more. . . ."
Such hysterical deceptions are common in the rhetoric of
James Dobson. He specializes in distorting, misrepresenting and twisting
legitimate research -- and common sense -- to serve his pro-discrimination
agenda. He�s been caught doing it more than a few times: see �Out of Focus on
the Family: A Response to Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage,� Popular Culture Review, 16:1 (February
Dobson�s tactics are legendary in academic circles. His
December 12, 2006 Time magazine article,
�Two Mommies Is One Too Many,� is a case in point, as Insider
Higher Education noted: "When academics feel that their work has
been distorted in the press, they frequently have to settle for griping to
colleagues or writing a letter to the editor. But for Carol Gilligan, a
prominent psychologist and author of In a
Different Voice, a mere letter did not suffice. When she was alerted that
James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, referenced her work in a Time magazine column, she denounced his
interpretation of her research -- posting her views Monday in a video on
�'I was stunned to hear that James Dobson quoted me in Time magazine,' Gilligan says in the video.
'I had no idea. I was mortified.' She says that there is nothing in her
research that would lead anyone to agree with Dobson�s claim that same-gender
families are unhealthy for children."
Media Matters also
covered Dobson�s deception
and posted some of the letter Dr. Gilligan sent to the FOF chairman: "I am
writing to ask that you cease and desist from quoting my research in the
future. I was mortified to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a
guest column you wrote in Time Magazine. Not only did you take my research out
of context, you did so without my knowledge to support discriminatory goals
that I do not agree with. What you wrote was not truthful and I ask that you
refrain from ever quoting me again and that you apologize for twisting my work.
. . .
"Finally, there is nothing in my research that would
lead you to draw the stated conclusions you did in the Time article. My work in
no way suggests same-gender families are harmful to children or can't raise
these children to be as healthy and well adjusted as those brought up in
Dobson was also busted for �cherry-picking� and
misrepresenting the research of psychologist Dr. Kyle Pruett. In his Time article the FOF chairman cited
Pruett's 2001 book Fatherneed: Why Father
Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child to argue against
Dr. Pruett was as incensed as Dr.
Gilligan: "I was startled and disappointed to see my work referenced in
the current Time Magazine piece in
which you [Dobson] opined that social science, such as mine, supports your
convictions opposing lesbian and gay parenthood. I write now to insist that you
not quote from my research in your media campaigns, personal or corporate,
without previously securing my permission.
"You cherry-picked a phrase to shore up highly (in my
view) discriminatory purposes. This practice is condemned in real science,
common though it may be in pseudo-science circles. There is nothing in my
longitudinal research or any of my writings to support such conclusions. On
page 134 of the book you cite in your piece, I wrote, 'What we do know is that
there is no reason for concern about the development or psychological
competence of children living with gay fathers. It is love that binds
relationships, not sex.'�
The other leaders
of the Christianist Right twist research and distort reality as much as
Dobson for the same purposes: encourage hate and discrimination and, of course,
add to their organizations� coffers and their own political clout. For example,
there�s the rabidly homophobic Louis P. Sheldon, or �Lucky
Louie� as he was known to his one of his organization�s supporters:
"You know the Rev. Lou Sheldon as the anti-gay leader of the
California-based Traditional Values Coalition, but star lobbyist Jack Abramoff
-- now the sultan of pleading guilty -- knew Sheldon as �Lucky Louie.�
"The Washington Post reported in October  Sheldon
helped gambling interests who did business with Abramoff -- and Sheldon. In
2000, eLottery, an Abramoff client -- sent a $25,000 check to the Traditional
Values Coalition, as per Abramoff�s instruction. Then, the anti-gambling
Sheldon lobbied enthusiastically against a bill to curb online gambling. At
Casa Sheldon, grease is a traditional value."
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, �Rev.� Sheldon argued
against giving aid to the
surviving members of gay and lesbian partnerships and their children. Is that
what a Christian would advocate after such a tragedy?
And who could forget the Christianist leader who enjoys putting
people out of work because their employers support equality in the
workplace and/or advertise in gay-related publications? The goal of Don Wildmon
and his grotesquely misnamed �American Family Association� is to demean and
disenfranchise gay and lesbian Americans and their families in any way
possible. That those efforts may hurt other people is of no matter to Wildmon.
Collateral damage is acceptable in AFA�s Schadenfreude business.
Currently �Rev.� Wildmon and his AFA are trying to destroy
Ford Motor Company because it supports equality in the workplace and advertises
in gay-related publications. How many families -- including Christian and
�traditional� ones -- could be adversely affected by AFA boycotts and the
destructive social bigotry they inspire?
Does Wildmon and the AFA care? Obviously, they don�t give a
damn. Theirs is a
business that thrives on and
profits from hate. As Dana Curtis Kincaid noted in her article
�The AFA Wants to Take Your American Jobs Away�: "Old Don doesn't care
about you folks. He runs a multi-million dollar empire designed to bring him
money and power by teaching hatred and intolerance. He wants to put people out
of work because he is convinced that his puritanical views are the only views
"Funding the Wildmon family
"According to AFA�s 2005 IRS 990 (its tax return),
founder Donald E. Wildmon received about $110,000 with benefits, plus over
$30,000 in expense account and other allowances -- including a housing
allowance of over $31,000. AFA president Tim Wildmon [Don�s son] got about
$100,000 . . ."
On September 29, Dobson and other leaders of the
Christianist Right met behind closed doors in Salt Lake City to plot their
political strategy for the upcoming presidential primaries and beyond. Only
problem was they couldn�t agree. No GOP candidate was sufficiently fanatical or
On October 4, Dobson�s statement
appeared in The New York Times:
"After two hours of deliberation, we voted on a resolution that can be
summarized as follows: If neither of the two major political parties nominates
an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we
will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate. Those agreeing with the
proposition were invited to stand. The result was almost unanimous. . . .
"Speaking personally, and not for the organization I
represent or the other leaders gathered in Salt Lake City, I firmly believe
that the selection of a president should begin with a recommitment to
traditional moral values and beliefs. Those include the sanctity of human life,
the institution of marriage, and other inviolable pro-family principles. Only
after that determination is made can the acceptability of a nominee be
Dobson and the other leaders of the Christianist Right
continually demonstrate that their �traditional moral values and beliefs�
advocate discrimination against gay Americans, their families and their
children. Do those sound like �Christian� values to you?
As Richard Rothstein accurately pointed
out, "Of course, we�re not really talking about Christianity here;
we�re talking about American provincialism, bigotry, ignorance and big business
led by megalomaniacal greedy villains who have hijacked Christianity and turned
it into something rather dark, foul and profit-driven. James Dobson, for
example, reported a 2006 tax-exempt income of $138 million. Pat Robertson
enjoyed a 2006 tax-exempt income of $459 million.
"And, if TIME
magazine is right, people are finally starting to notice, Non-Christian and
Christian alike. Hallelujah . . ." [link added]
Indeed people are
noticing, especially young people, as reported in an October 12, 2007 article,
image is turning youths off," from the Religion News Service:
"Young people have graded Christianity, and so far, the report card
doesn�t look good. Majorities of young people in America describe modern-day
Christianity as judgmental, hypocritical and anti-gay. What�s more, many
Christians don�t even want to call themselves �Christian� because of the
baggage that accompanies the label."
So let�s hope James Dobson and the rest of his sanctimonious
buddies keep their word and abandon the GOP and run their own candidate.
Someone who acts according to Christianist beliefs: a dominionist
who, like them, self-identifies as �pro-family� . . . someone like Alan Keyes who threw
his own daughter out of the house because she was gay. Now that�s a genuine
2007 �pro-family� Christianist.
And by all means, let�s have more fanatical ranting
such as that directed at the city and citizens of San Francisco by Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas of Elijah
Ministries on October 15: "The state has also failed in its duty to punish
the sins and crimes of abortion and homosexuality that your city and others
like it parade like Sodom. Though man may fail in their duties and
responsibilities, God cannot deny Himself. Therefore know for a surety that if
you continue in these abominations, according to God's Word, you do so at your
"The tragedy of New York and the disaster of New
Orleans are merely first fruits of the many woes that will devastate San
Francisco and send shockwaves throughout California, America, and the world.
God stands poised with his flaming sword ready to strike your city. He is
prepared to exchange Sodom and Gomorrah with San Francisco to serve as a
warning to all cities and nations of men 'do not follow in their pernicious
ways.' Your city will be turned into a scarecrow and used by God as His enemy
to warn future generations, lest you repent and turn from your wicked ways of
child sacrifice, which is the shedding of innocent blood and homosexuality. You
must stuff these abominations back in the closet of illegality and punish these
criminal acts as God prescribes or your entire house (city) will collapse upon
your wicked heads. With all diligence, take heed to this warning, repent or
perish, Christ or chaos."
Using the reverend�s �reasoning,� God must be pretty pissed
off at the Bible Belt to have sent such a severe drought.
The leaders of today�s Christianist Right won�t be around
forever, or even much longer. Dobson, Sheldon and Wildmon are all in their
�golden years.� So a new batch of fanatics has to be created. Pastor Becky
Fischer ran a training camp for the next generation of Christianist
theofascists. If you have not seen Jesus Camp, you might want to
. . . as
soon as possible.
Josh Timonen provided a brief synopsis in "Surviving
�Jesus Camp�": "One of the first points of business is to condemn
every child�s favorite 'warlock.' Pastor Becky explains that 'had he been in
the Old Testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death!' . . .
"With arms in the air, they are 'instructed' on how to
let the spirit take over their bodies and speak in tongues. The children
imitate. Many of them cry. Some fall to the ground and shake on the floor in
what looks like an epileptic seizure. More cry. I wanted to cry with them, or
more accurately for them. . . .
�'A lot of you say you�re Christians, but how many of you
are leading two separate lives?' Pastor Becky lays it on thick over the PA. She
leads the children on through ideas of what they might be sinfully doing at
school with their friends, and how they should be ashamed of themselves for it.
. . . She asks the children to gather around her and reach out their hands if
they wish to be cleansed of these newly uncovered sins. Their cleansing source:
A 20 oz. bottle of Nestl�-brand water poured over their grouped hands. . . .
"[A] 'Pro-Life' man passed around a boxed set of
plastic fetuses at different stages of development . . . He then placed red
gaffe tape with the word 'LIFE' written on it over each child�s mouth . . .
"The sermons are rife with politics, and Pastor Becky
leads the children in chilling chants such as 'One nation under God!' and
'Righteous Judges!' She preaches of war and the mission for their 'key
generation.' She asks if they would lay down their lives for Jesus . . .
"As Pastor Becky later explains to the interviewer, 'I
want to see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as
the young people are to the cause of Islam. I want to see them as radically
laying down their lives for the gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel
and Palestine and all those different places . . . Excuse me, but we have the
Pastor Becky�s very sick but slick boot camp -- �Kids on
Fire� -- was designed to brainwash kids as young as six-years-old. The
�training� included covering kids� faces with green and black commando-style
paint in order to enlist them into �God�s army.� Induction also required a
pledge to sacrifice their lives �for Jesus� if necessary: As Pastor Becky
[explained] to the interviewer, �'I want to see young people who are as
committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of
Islam. I want to see them as radically laying down their lives for the gospel
as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different
places . . . Excuse me, but we have the truth!'�
That�s the same �truth� Dobson fabricates in his writings,
and the same �truth� that was underscored near the end of Jesus Camp when some of the graduates of Pastor Becky�s camp
attended a service led by Rev. Ted Haggard at
New Life Church in Colorado Springs. At one point Haggard looks straight into
the camera, points his finger, and says, �I think I know what you did last
night [crowd laughs]. If you send me a thousand dollars, I won�t tell your
You remember Ted. He was the founder and leader of the New
Life megachurch, the former head of the National Association of Evangelicals
and a vociferous crusader against homosexuals and their relationships. He fell
from grace in disgrace when his relationship with a male prostitute and use of
crystal meth (a favorite snort of some gay men out for a night of unbridled
SEX) were exposed. As Haggard finally admitted in a November 5, 2006 letter to his
former congregation, �I am a deceiver and a liar.�
Less than a year after Jesus
Camp debuted in theatres, Haggard was in the news again when he asked �Christians�
to send him money:
In Gay Sex Scandal Pleads For Cash
(Colorado Springs, Colorado) The Rev. Ted Haggard, who left the megachurch he
founded after admitting to �sexual immorality,� has asked supporters for
financial assistance while he and his wife pursue their studies.
The former New Life Church pastor plans to seek a master�s degree in counseling
at the University of Phoenix while his wife studies psychology, he said in an
e-mail sent this week to KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs. . . .
�It looks as though it will take two years for us to have adequate earning
power again, so we are looking for people who will help us monthly for two
years,� the e-mail said. �During that time we will continue as full-time
students, and then, when I graduate, we won�t need outside support any longer.�
. . .
Haggard received a salary of $115,000 for the 10 months he worked in 2006 and
an $85,000 anniversary bonus before the scandal broke, The Gazette reported.
Haggard�s severance package included a year�s salary of $138,000, and he
collects royalties on his book titles, the newspaper reported.
El Paso County records show Haggard�s home, which has been up for sale, has a
market value of $715,051.
Haggard�s personal �ministry� is out of business, as is
Pastor Becky�s �Kids on Fire� camp, but Dobson, Wildmon and the other leaders
of Christianist organization continue to bilk the sheeple and offer a mindless,
disingenuous approach to life. That seems to be the message of Christianist
evangelism: don�t think, don�t ponder the complexities of life, just listen,
just do and vote as we tell you to and you�ll be fine in this world and the
there any more succinct expression of theofascism?
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