In their book "Blinded by Might" conservative Christians Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson chided Religious Right leaders for becoming too involved in politics. In one chapter entitled "Focus on the Family, Not on Politics," Thomas critiques comments and actions by James Dobson.
Dobson books on display at recent "Stand for the Family" rally in Nashville.
"It is our concern that his current focus on politics will derail and dilute the good he is doing through Focus on the Family," Thomas argued. "Furthermore, we fear that this focus on politics will help to obscure the central message of the gospel, which is about personal, not political, redemption."
Sadly, Dobson did not heed the plea to quit focusing so heavily on politics. Instead, it seems that since that time Dobson has only become more involved in pushing Republican politics. From "Justice Sunday" rallies to get-out-the-vote efforts to endorsing Republican candidates for office, Dobson has become a political preacher.
In perhaps reaching a new low, Dobson's guest on his Focus on the Family radio program on Oct. 23-24 was conservative commentator Ann Coulter. In her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, Coulter attacks Democrats for being anti-religion and for faking religious faith.
When Dobson asked her about the title of the book and its attack on liberals, Coulter responded, "They are the opposition party to God." However, Coulter does not appear to be a member or regular attender of any church.
Coulter also reportedly swears, drinks and smokes. Additionally, Coulter's over-the-top rhetoric and ad hominem attacks—such as those on women who lost their husbands in the tragic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—bear little resemblance to the biblical model of being loving or careful in what one says.
Despite these problems, Dobson not only gave Coulter two days of his show but also lavished her with praise throughout the interview. He encouraged her to come on the show again and expressed his "hope" that she would be a guest on the show many times "through the years."
"It is obvious why you drive the liberals absolutely crazy, and it's fun watching you do it," he told her. "You are a good lady. … And I appreciate what you're trying to do."
During the interview, Coulter and Dobson mocked Senator John Kerry's faith and military service. Dobson complained that during the 2004 election, Kerry's five votes against a partial-birth abortion ban were not very widely reported.
Coulter responded with the sarcastic response, "No, what we heard was that he was an altar boy." As she laughed, Dobson added with a chuckle, "Yeah, repeatedly." Coulter would later again state sarcastically, "He was an altar boy" as Dobson chuckled at her response.
Yet, how can they know his sincerity since they cannot know his heart? After all, "James Dobson is no Jesus."
In the midst of this segment making light of Kerry's religious dedication, Dobson also mocked Kerry's military service in Vietnam. He injected with a light-hearted tone, "And by the way, did you know he fought in Vietnam?"
Both Dobson and Coulter laughed at the remark. Yet, even if one accepts the Swift Boat version that Kerry's record was not as heroic as he claimed, he should be praised for actually going and serving his nation in harm's way.
During the interview, the two attacked Hollywood, the media, the courts, affirmative action, stem-cell research, public schools, concerns about torture, environmentalism, feminists and evolution.
Most of the attacks centered on "liberals," their influence on society and their supposed attempts to suppress Christianity and the family.
Dobson repeated and affirmed Coulter's claim in her book that "Liberals are anti-science." Coulter also attacked claims that liberals care about the poor and argued that they instead try to keep people poor and kill the poor.
"Liberals don't care about the poor," she retorted. "That is part of the point of the book to wake people up who are decent people who call themselves 'liberals.' I don't think there are that many of them left, though."
At one point, Dobson asked which institution Coulter would most want to take control of because of its importance.
"The public schools," Coulter responded. "What is being taught in the public schools, I think would make most parents to go out and boil the teachers unions' officials in oil."
Dobson, who has attacked public schools before, chimed in by claiming, "There is no redeeming social value, I think, in the National Education Association." Coulter expressed her agreement with this statement.
Near the end of the interview, Coulter dismissed concerns about how prisoners are treated at Guantanamo Bay. She argued that the idea that one should "shower [your enemies] with kindness" is merely "a liberal idea that will not die." So much for turning the other cheek or praying for your enemies.
Following the interview, Dobson exclaimed on the air, "I really enjoyed this interview." Yet, after the two episodes, one question arises: is this picture of conservative Christianity and family values?
How is it Christian or pro-family to invite someone like Coulter on to attack the faith of people who regularly attend church? How is it Christian or pro-family to resort to mean-spirited attacks and name-calling? How is it Christian or pro-family to twist the facts and mislead people to support a particular political agenda?
Dobson has also recently defended the Republicans in the midst of the congressional page scandal involving former Representative Mark Foley. It seems that supporting Republicans has become more important than standing up for family values.
In Blinded by Might, Cal Thomas argued that "Dr. Dobson's greatest power is not in his focus on politics, but in his Focus on the Family."
It could do Dobson quite some good review the critique of Thomas. Dobson should return to focusing on families and leave the hateful politics to the 'Godless' author Ann Coulter.
Brian Kaylor is communications specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.