The spokesman for American theofascism speaks
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 1, 2008, 00:14
James Dobson has a Ph.D. in child development. He advocates
spanking. He was once known as �the
Religious Right�s New Kingmaker.� The �king� he helped make was George W.
Bush, who tops �the
list when American voters pick the worst U.S. President in the last 61 years.�
As a prominent character in the Bush-Rove nightmare, Dobson, according to Brian
Elroy McKinley, set "himself up as a religiously-based political dictator
bent on getting us to support his personal view of legislated morality.
"And what�s even worse, Dobson goes to great length to use Scripture to support his view,
and yet according to Time magazine he
doesn�t even have any formal theological training. In short, Dobson, using
his position as a radio psychologist, has
set himself up as our moral authority and asks us all to blindly follow.
His Focus on the
Family empire is considerable, although not as powerful as it once was. A
mid-September 2007 article from The Denver Channel.com reported, �Focus on the
Family is laying off 30 employees and reassigning 15 others, due in part to a
drop in projected revenue . . ."
Dobson and his organization have slowly but surely been
losing power. Perhaps that�s why the chairman needed to make more outrageous
statements to garner public attention and mobilize the sheeple �to blindly
follow� and contribute to his cause.
Dobson used his June 24, 2008 radio broadcast to make
preposterous claims and attack Barack
Obama. The attack was the
lead story on CNN.com:
A top U.S. evangelical leader is
accusing Sen. Barack Obama of deliberately distorting the Bible and taking a
�fruitcake interpretation� of the U.S. Constitution.
In comments to be aired on his radio show Tuesday, Focus on the Family founder
James Dobson criticizes the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee for
comments he made in a June 2006 speech to the liberal Christian group Call to
In the speech, Obama suggested that it would be impractical to govern based
solely on the word of the Bible, noting that some passages suggest slavery is
permissible and eating shellfish is disgraceful.
�Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?� Obama asked in
the speech. �Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that
eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which
suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just
stick to the Sermon on the Mount? . . . a passage that is so radical that it's
doubtful that our Defense Department would survive its application.�
The first and most
obvious question is �Why was this the lead story?� As Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out noted in his
reaction to the story, �Dobson is not an ordained minister, nor is he a religious
scholar.� Moreover, Dobson is notorious for twisting and misrepresenting
legitimate research: "In the past two years, at least seven researchers
have accused Dobson of manipulating or cherry picking their results to back his
anti-gay teachings. Letters and
documenting the concerns of these respected professors can be viewed at
"The first researcher
to step forward was New York University educational psychologist Carol
Gilligan, PhD. On Sept. 14, 2006 Gilligan wrote
a letter to Dobson that stated: �I was mortified to learn that you had
distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine . . . 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.�
"The most recent
scientist to claim Double-Talk Dobson distorted his
work was University of Minnesota�s Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H. In a letter
to Dobson, dated April 28, 2008, he wrote, �I want to draw your attention to a
gross misrepresentation of our research at the website of 'Focus on the
researchers who have taken issue with Dobson's use of their work include: Dr. Kyle Pruett,
Professor of child psychiatry, the Yale University School of Medicine; Dr. Robert Spitzer,
Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University; Angela Phillips,
Professor, Goldsmiths College in London; Dr. Elizabeth
Saewyc, Associate Professor, school of nursing, University of British
Columbia; and Dr.
Judith Stacy, Professor of Sociology, New York University."
So the question remains: why would mainstream media give
Dobson such front-page coverage without
qualification? As Mr. Besen said in his follow-up
article, "the wonderful 'liberal
media' continues to treat this man as if he is a God-fearing grandfather. What
disturbs me, is that the one time Dobson was truly exposed as a kook was when
he suggested Sponge Bob Square Pants might be gay. This was worthy of laughs,
but when some of the brightest minds in the world take Dobson to task for
manipulating years of hard work, the media is largely MIA. Isn�t it time the
media paint a full and accurate portrait of a man who has had the ear of many
presidents? . . . We urge the media to report the facts and allow America to
see the real James Dobson."
Dobson�s statements in his broadcast were nothing short of
megalomaniacal: �it is undemocratic to try to pass legislation that I find offensive to
the Scripture.� It seems Dobson thinks he alone knows THE �correct�
interpretation of scripture and, therefore, he and he alone should decide what
legislation is acceptable. Does this sound like the ranting of a theofascist
dictator to you?
Dobson�s other statements and accusations are thoroughly
addressed on a web site sponsored by �a coalition of pastors and other Christians, lead by Pastor Kirbyjon
Caldwell.� Appropriately, the site is titled JamesDobsonDoesNotSpeakForMe.com.
Dobson�s statements are compared, point by point, with what Mr. Obama actually
said in his 2006 speech which, by the way, warned against the dangers of
America become a theocratic state.
Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners was
both astute and eloquent in his reaction to Dobson�s radio broadcast.
It was also based on first-hand knowledge. Rev. Wallis was present at the 2006
sponsored the event and reported, "The clear purpose of the show was to
attack Barack Obama. On the show, Dobson says of himself, �I�m not a reverend.
I�m not a minister. I�m not a theologian. I�m not an evangelist. I�m a
psychologist. I have a Ph.D. in child development.� Child psychologists don�t
insert themselves into partisan politics in the regular way that James Dobson
does and has over many years as one of the premier leaders of the Religious
Right. He has spoken about how often he talked to Republican leaders � Karl
Rove, administration strategists, and even President Bush himself. This year he
tried to influence the outcome of the Republican primary by saying he would
never vote for John McCain or the Republicans if they nominated him, then
reversed himself and said he would vote after all but didn�t say for whom. But
why should America care about how a child psychologist votes?
"James Dobson is insinuating himself into this
presidential campaign, and his attacks against his fellow Christian, Barack
Obama, should be seriously scrutinized. And because the basis for his attack on
Obama is the speech the Illinois senator gave at our Sojourners/Call to Renewal
event in 2006 (for the record, we also had Democrat Hillary Clinton and
Republicans Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback speak that year), I have decided to
respond to Dobson�s attacks. 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."
In a missive dated �June 2008� and titled �Judicial Tyranny and California Lunacy,� Dobson
demonstrated once again how he distorts facts, cherry-picks the Bible, relies
on scare tactics, name-calling and irrationalities. For someone who claims to
be a defender of and believer in the Bible, Dr. Dobson seems completely
ignorant of Romans 13:1-2, NIV: "Everyone must submit
himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that
which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by
God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against
what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on
The duly elected and/or appointed judges -- the judicial arm
of the �governing authorities� -- who dared render a decision contrary to his
wishes, Dobson calls �imperious courts,� �judicial tyranny,� �powermongers [sic] in black robes,� �judicial
tyrants.� It would seem Dobson deserves nothing but condemnation, according to
the Bible that is.
Aside from name-calling, in �Judicial Tyranny and California Lunacy� Dobson railed against two
rulings by California courts: �The first
of these unfortunate decisions was issued by the Los Angeles-based Second
District Court of Appeal, which declared it illegal for parents without
teaching licenses to home school their own flesh and blood.�
Teachers are professionals and as such they have had
extensive training not only in pedagogy but in the subject matter they teach.
They�ve had to pass certification examinations and be licensed by professional
boards. To be sure, America�s public education system has its problems, but how
many home-schooling parents have pedagogical training plus academic training and expertise in ALL the various subjects they must teach? Dobson favors
home-schooling not because it aids in a child�s social, emotional and intellectual
development, but because it affords a means for some to indoctrinate children
into the �biblical worldview,� which includes such �facts� as the earth is
about 6,000 years old, Adam and Eve were real people, and dinosaurs played with
human children in Eden. This
clip from Jesus Camp makes the
point, as does this
response to it.
Dobson�s use of �their own flesh and blood� is a pretentious
emotional appeal that excludes adopted children. Apparently he has little time
and little concern for them. But he did have time to snipe at the judges of the
Second District Court of Appeal: �They
might not even be parents, or if they are, who knows how effectively they did
the job when their children were young.� Such a statement is not only
inappropriate, it shows how very small Dobson really is.
Not surprisingly, aside from again ignoring the Biblical
directive in Romans 13:1-2 and attacking
the judicial arm of the �governing authorities,� Dobson�s second subject was
one of his favorites: advocacy of legal discrimination and bigotry. "The second decision handed down from on
high a few weeks ago was even more egregious. The California Supreme Court, by
a vote of 4 to 3, overturned an electoral decision supported by 4,618,673
voters in the year 2000. It concerned Proposition 22, which defined marriage
exclusively as being between one man and one woman. . . . The Court sniffed,
'Not so fast, common people. We hold the trump card and you lose.'�
True, Proposition 22 -- like 1964�s Proposition 14 that
allowed real estate agents and landlords in California to reject home buyers or
tenants of their choice, even if their decision was based on racial discrimination
-- was passed by popular vote, but both were declared unconstitutional by due process of law. It�s doubtful a
Proposition 14 would ever be proposed today. Times and attitudes have changed
in relation to many social issues. Dobson, however, remains sequestered in the
Attitudes toward gay people and their right to civil
equality have also changed significantly since 2000. More and more people --
including a considerable
number of evangelical Christians -- have grown weary of Christiantist
leaders� vituperative attacks on gay and lesbian Americans and their obsessive
ranting about gay marriage, while ignoring virtually all other social concerns.
Over ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies now have
anti-discrimination policies that protect gays. More and more companies,
colleges and universities, states and municipalities are offering same-sex
domestic partner benefits, despite
challenges and litigation from the Christianist Right�s legal minions.
The Los Angeles Times
conducted a poll after the state�s Supreme Court�s decision. The question posed
was �Did the California Supreme Court make the correct decision?� The results,
as of May 18, reflect the changing times and attitudes. Of the 35,257
respondents 75.8 percent said �yes,� while only 24.2 percent said �no.� Other
poll results sound the same note:
percent say gay marriage is a choice
Jun. 3, 2008 04:46 PM
Six in ten Americans say the government should not regulate whether gays and
lesbians can wed the persons they choose, a new survey finds.
As same-sex couples start lining up to get marriage licenses in California on
June 17, the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found 63 percent of adults say same-sex
marriage is �strictly a private decision� between two people.
Then there�s reality and basic common sense. Jonathan Rauch,
senior writer with National Journal
and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, made the case in his June 21 Wall Street Journal article
�Gay Marriage Is Good for America�:
is not just a contract between two people. It is a contract that two people
make, as a couple, with their community � which is why there is always a
witness. Two people can't go into a room by themselves and come out legally
married. The partners agree to take care of each other so the community doesn't
have to. In exchange, the community deems them a family, binding them to each
other and to society with a host of legal and social ties.
This is a fantastically fruitful bargain. Marriage makes you, on average,
healthier, happier and wealthier. If you are a couple raising kids, marrying is
likely to make them healthier, happier and wealthier, too. Marriage is our
first and best line of defense against financial, medical and emotional
meltdown. It provides domesticity and a safe harbor for sex. It stabilizes
communities by formalizing responsibilities and creating kin networks. And its
absence can be calamitous, whether in inner cities or gay ghettos.
In 2008, denying gay Americans the opportunity to marry is not only inhumane,
it is unsustainable. History has turned a corner: Gay couples -- including gay
parents -- live openly and for the most part comfortably in mainstream life.
This will not change, ever.
Because parents want happy children, communities want responsible neighbors,
employers want productive workers, and governments want smaller welfare
caseloads, society has a powerful interest in recognizing and supporting
same-sex couples. It will either fold them into marriage or create alternatives
to marriage, such as publicly recognized and subsidized cohabitation.
Conservatives often say same-sex marriage should be prohibited because it does
not exemplify the ideal form of family. They should consider how much less
ideal an example gay couples will set by building families and raising children
out of wedlock.
Mr. Rauch�s statements are echoed by every legitimate
medical and sociological association in America and are well summarized in this fact sheet
from the American Psychological Association.
Dobson made two other statements in his June 2008 diatribe
that attest to his being out of focus not only in relation to American families,
but in relation to reality itself: "Has
it occurred to Californians to consider what amounts to another 'recall
election' for the four justices who have disregarded the institution of
marriage? . . .
"Marriage is not
simply a Judeo-Christian concept, although it finds its origins in the Garden
of Eden. The Creator said to Adam and Eve, 'For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one
flesh.'" [Genesis 2:24, NIV]
Anyone who doesn�t agree with Dobson is wrong, immoral and
anti-American -- sanctimonious megalomania at its darkest. To suggest judges
who upheld constitutional guarantees of equality for all citizens be �recalled�
speaks to Dobson�s theofascist agenda.
Apparently Dr. Dobson is unaware of the fact that the civil
institution of marriage is not a �Judeo-Christian
concept� and existed long before Jehovah was created. But the truly scary part
is that Dobson believes Adam and Eve were real people and lived in the Garden
of Eden . . . no doubt along with Tyrannosaurs Rex.
Since he obviously takes the Bible as literal history and
the final word on morality and living a truly �Christian� life, shouldn�t Dr.
Dobson hear, honor and obey the words of Jesus before he claims to �stand up for Christ� again: �Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.� [Luke 18:22, NIV]
Dobson and the other leaders of the Christianist Right live
large. One has to wonder how they justify that given Jesus� explicit directive. Or maybe that�s one
of those �outdated� Biblical edicts they feel so justified in ignoring when it
suits their social-political purposes.
The Focus on the Family chairman ended his �passionate� June 2008
message with more irrationality: "let
me remind you that California and the rest of the country would not be in the
mess it is in if the U.S. Congress had not ignored and run from their duty to protect the institution of the family.
All three presidential candidates voted against the Marriage Protection
Amendment, and to my knowledge, not a one of them has uttered a word about the preservation of the traditional family. Honestly, we have to assume that they don�t
give a hoot about marriage." [italics added]
�Protect the institution of the family?� If �the family� is in danger,
it�s certainly not from same-sex couples who have fought so hard for the right
to marry and have their families recognized. Perhaps Dobson has in mind a
constitutional amendment making divorce illegal. Probably not though, since
that would hurt his power-base as the 2004 Barna Group report,
titled �Born Again Christians Just As Likely to Divorce As Are Non-Christians,�
documented: �among married born again Christians, 35% have experienced a
divorce. That figure is identical to the outcome among married adults who are
not born again: 35%.� Barna also documented that �nearly one-quarter of the
married �born agains� (23%) get divorced two or more times.�
�Preservation of the traditional family.� Does Dobson really think that
gay and lesbian Americans marrying will cause heterosexuals to stop marrying?
Does Dobson really think that gay and lesbian Americans marrying will cause all
existing �traditional families� to self-destruct? Can anyone really be that
irrational, that delusional?
�We have to assume that they don�t give a hoot about marriage�: the
ultimate non sequitur. How typical
that a deceptive, deceiving charlatan prefaces such an absurdity with
Obviously Dobson wants to amend the U.S. Constitution so that it denies
civil rights rather than protecting them. A new version of the Federal Marriage
Amendment -- now dubbed the �Marriage
Protection Amendment� -- has been introduced into the U.S. Senate. Two of the
senators who �have
named themselves as co-sponsors of S. J. RES. 43� are particularly
Larry Craig (R-ID), who was arrested June 11, 2007 on charges of lewd conduct
in a Minneapolis airport terminal, is co-sponsoring the amendment along with
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
Craig, who entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, was
detained and charged for attempting to engage in sexual activity with a male
undercover police officer. His arrest and plea became public two months later.
At that time, Craig attempted to withdraw his plea and enter a new plea of not
guilty. To date, his efforts have been denied by the courts.
In July of 2007, Vitter was identified as a client of a prostitution firm owned
by the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, commonly known as The DC Madam.
Now that�s hypocrisy on a par with the antics of one of Dobson�s old
Haggard. It�s also akin to that of Rev. R. Albert Mohler, ninth president
of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the board of Focus on
the Family who, not surprisingly, supported Dobson�s
criticism of Mr. Obama. You remember Rev. Mohler, the �sanctity of life�
guy who had no problem with eugenics as long as those exterminated were gays.
On March 2, 2007, Mohler published an article titled �Is Your
Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?� In
it he implicitly acknowledged that sexual orientation has a genetic component
and/or is hormonally determined prior to
birth, but looked forward to the day when medical science could change
that: "If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then
developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to
heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should
unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual
temptation and the inevitable effects of sin . . ."
Biblical literalists have always
argued against any pre-natal meddling with a fetus, claiming that
whatever the fetus was, was its God-given birthright. Funny how that thinking changes
so radically when gay people are involved. Mohler�s pre-natal genetic cleansing
proposal is nothing less than a 21st century theofascist program of eugenics.
The more they pontificate, the more the self-righteous leaders of the
Christianist Right contradict themselves and expose their theofascist agenda. Yet
a considerable number of Americans continue to support these bigots and
hate-mongers who hide behind �religion.� Why? Could it be that they share the
same Schadenfreude needs? Or has religion just made them too scared to think
for themselves and see reality as it is?
memory of the late George Carlin and his reality-based thoughts
about religion . . .
Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor