October 9, 2005


Dobson spiritual empire wields political clout (Brian MacQuarrie, October 9, 2005, Boston Globe)

''Two starkly contrasting worldviews predominate today's moral and cultural debate," [James C. ] Dobson said in an e-mail response to questions from The Boston Globe. ''One side defends the traditional values that have made this nation great for more than 225 years; the other works to chisel away at that foundation."

Dobson stands in the vanguard of a crusade by evangelical Christians to place their agenda at the forefront of public debate over presidential and congressional elections, judicial appointments, gay marriage, and the ''life issues" of abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem-cell research. Dobson, 69, is arguably the dominant ideologist of the movement.

His influence is so considerable among conservatives that, before President Bush nominated Harriet E. Miers for the Supreme Court, White House adviser Karl Rove reportedly called Dobson with private assurances about Miers's judicial philosophy.

Other key figures range from Richard Land, the politically connected Washington lobbyist of the Southern Baptist Convention, to Rick Warren, an evangelical pastor who has built an enormous following both at his Southern California mega-church and through his best-selling book, ''The Purpose Driven Life."

Some are deeply involved in politics, others simply preach a message that reinforces conservative values. With the pending retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a key swing vote on the bench, these and other conservative leaders see their best chance in decades to steer American culture firmly to the right.

In addition to his support for Miers, Dobson backed Judge John G. Roberts Jr., the president's nominee to fill the chief justice position that opened upon the death of William H. Rehnquist.

In the last few years, Dobson marshaled enormous resources of media, money, and mailing lists in preparation for these high-court vacancies, which he calls ''a watershed moment in American history."

In his view, Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, has caused the ''biggest holocaust in world history"; the Supreme Court is guilty of ''judicial tyranny" that threatens religious liberties; wide approval for gay marriage would send the nation ''hurtling toward Gomorrah"; and the federal judiciary is a despotic oligarchy that represents ''the last playground of the liberal left."

Millions of people who have turned to Dobson for family advice apparently are willing to accept his political counsel as well. The share of white evangelical Protestants who voted for Bush increased to 78 percent in 2004, a sharp increase from 68 percent in 2000. Dobson is credited by many observers as playing a critical role in their mobilization.

''I'm going to promote the values I think are best for our country, and of course I hope that laws that reflect them are enacted," said Dobson, who rarely grants in-person interviews. ''Isn't that how a democracy operates?"

It's how it was designed to operate, but the Left would prefer that anyone whose values are moral rather than rational not participate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 9, 2005 7:58 AM

Why all the scare quotes around phrases such as 'judicial tyranny' (Mass. gay marriage ruling, the Pledge ruling),'biggest holocaust in history' (40 million dead babies since Roe)? These are self-evident to everyone but the reporter and readers of the Boston Globe.

Posted by: Melissa at October 9, 2005 8:47 AM

Dobson headed a pogrom against Wayne Pederson when Pederson became head of the National Religious Broadcasters because of an interview where Pederson said that Christian broadcasters ought to place a higher priority on promoting the gospel ahead of politicking.

For that Dobson tarred and feathered Pederson and ran him out of the radio business. Pederson is the most Christian man I know. He was our marriage mentor and did the prayer at our wedding. His politics are as conservative as anyone.

All Pederson said was "put Christ first, politics second". For that Dobson ran a campaign to smear Pederson with threats and false accusations and wrecked his career. Dobson is an un-Christian hypocrite and a liar.

Posted by: Gideon at October 9, 2005 2:14 PM


From the story:

Pederson took office the first week of January, but controversy began to brew January 5, when portions of an interview Pederson gave to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune were published in an article. In the story, Pederson said that Christian broadcasters should focus more on preaching the gospel than on participation in political matters. Pederson said he would like to change the image of the NRB from its strong association with the “far Christian right.”

Several of the prominent members of the 58-year-old broadcasting association felt Pederson’s statement indicated that NRB would make a dramatic shift away from taking stands on public-policy issues. Some, including American Family Association President Don Wildmon and author Tim LaHaye, called publicly for Pederson to resign. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson made personal contact with Pederson, saying several top NRB leaders, himself included, wanted him to resign.

Dobson told NRB leaders he might leave the association over the Pederson controversy. Dobson, in a short interview with CT, said, “My concern was where NRB was going. Not with regard to Wayne Pederson . The issue was whether NRB would move [from its current stance]. If it did, I would not want to be associated with it.”

Hardly a pogrom.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 2:25 PM

"However you may feel about the issues, as they’ve been reported and greatly exaggerated, I trust that you will unite around a common cause. Preaching the gospel is our highest priority. And in doing that, and adopting a biblical standard, we will impact the culture. Setting our spiritual priorities in such a way, we will impact our culture with the gospel.” The NRB board gave Pederson a standing ovation after his remarks.

Battle for NRB Heats Up as Dobson, Moody Square Off

Conservative online news site WorldNetDaily reported yesterday that Moody Broadcasting Network vice president Robert Neff is demanding Pederson's reinstatement. "I do not take any pleasure in having to write a letter like this," Neff wrote to the NRB executive board. "However, I cannot be silent for fear that silence could be perceived as an endorsement of what took place. I do not, and have serious reservations over the process and feel disgust over how certain individuals conducted themselves." WorldNetDaily reports that the in the letter, dated February 21, "Neff targets for criticism certain 'power boys' and '600-pound gorillas' in the organization, who, he says, are quick to pick up their marbles and leave when things don't go their way." Neff (no relation to Christianity Today Editor David Neff) didn't explicitly name any names, but in the evangelical media world, "600-pound gorilla" (or alternatively "800-pound gorilla") has in the past been code for Focus on the Family head James Dobson. And he reportedly hates the nickname.

Posted by: Gideon at October 9, 2005 2:36 PM

Never wise to pick a fight with an 800 lb gorilla.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 2:51 PM