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Who on earth is James Dobson?

25 Apr

On The Religion Report on Radio National at the moment is an interview with Dan Gilgoff (not Gilgoth as the ABC has it!), author of a new book called The Jesus Machine. A transcript will go up on The Religion Report tomorrow.

My first interview with James Dobson was pretty much a fluke.

It was just after Election Day 2004, and the entire Washington press corps was scrambling to report the story of how white evangelicals had handed President George W. Bush a second term. My editor at U.S. News & World Report called me into his office on the morning after the election with an assignment to write about these newly branded “values voters.” I had forty-eight hours.

At the time, I was only marginally aware of Focus on the Family. I thought of it as a conservative Christian advocacy group, one of many such organizations. Still, it made sense for me to call and request an interview with its chief spokesman, James Dobson…

My telephone interview with Dobson lasted just over twenty minutes, during which time he made several bold proclamations. He told me that President Bush had made a mistake in his first postelection press conference, when he brushed aside a question about the apparent religious divide between largely evangelical “red” America and more secular “blue” America. Dobson said that Bush should have taken the opportunity to thank evangelical voters for reelecting him. He also laid out an ultimatum for the President and his Republican allies in Congress: They had “four years to deliver” on issues like curbing abortion rights and passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage. If they failed, Dobson said, millions of evangelicals would stay home in the next presidential election.

In my story for U.S. News that week, I wrote about what a scary prospect that was for the GOP, since evangelicals had just delivered two of every five Bush votes. But what I didn’t know then was how potent that threat was coming from Dobson. I thought that activists with household names, like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, were still the most influential figures in the Christian Right. I had no idea that James Dobson had become the movement’s new standard-bearer, or that he was more powerful than either of them ever were…

The blog Daddy, Papa and Me (on my blog roll) often refers to Dobson and his organisation, and other similar organisations, which Trey, the blogger, sees as hate groups.

…What do these groups have against gay marriage? As the article states, its the ‘gay’ part. We are a disease that society must rid itself of. A quote from the article:

But for the anti-gay-marriage activists, homosexuality is something to be fought, not tolerated or respected. I found no one among the people on the ground who are leading the anti-gay-marriage cause who said in essence: ”I have nothing against homosexuality. I just don’t believe gays should be allowed to marry.” Rather, their passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself.

I have harped on this over and over and over again. These groups (American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and the ilk) are hate groups. The take a group of citizens (GLBT) and demonize them as diseased and worse.

Many in the religious right object when their speech is called ‘bigotry’ and even close to ‘nazi propaganda’ in its ferocity. The main argument they use is basically that we are ‘reducing the level of disourse’. I find it a strange argument. These groups and people affiliated with these groups will demonize me and other GBLT in some of the most hateful language, but then call ‘shill’ those who would call them on it.

The fact is, these groups demonize gays in nearly identical terms and ways anti-semitic groups and early Nazi propoganda did. These groups and their spokespeople use use hate speech not far removed from the KKK might say about blacks.

These are hate groups. There is no argument.

I know there are good individuals who are socially conservative (for example, Marty) and who might oppose gay marriage. I’ve met them and thank them. There might even be political groups that oppose gay marriage who don’t devolve into bigotry, but sadly I have yet to hear of a national and many state ones one that don’t…

The most recent entry there is It’s Official. I’m a member of a hate group. That entry tells how Trey inadvertently became a member of such a group simply by doing a poll on the organisation’s web site! “Oh well, guess I am now officially a member of a hate group. I guess that is how they can make it look like they have more members and supporters than they really do.”

Fortunately, there is growing opposition to Dobson, even in evangelical circles. The latest example of that on the God’s Politics blog is Ryan Rodrick Beiler: Christianity Today Challenges Dobson’s Hard Line which links to more articles. Beiler cites a Christianity Today editorial:

…restricting evangelicals to the narrower agenda of “conservative views on politics, economics, and biblical morality” is the bigger problem. This plays into convenient mainstream stereotypes of Christians being obsessed with sexual issues or pawns of the Republican Party.



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Posted by on April 25, 2007 in Faith and philosophy, gay life/issues, Religion, Weird

 

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