Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.
"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."
Here's where evangelicals and myself part ways. Here's where I must draw the proverbial line and make the distinction between what is Caesar's and what is God's. Even if I agreed with Mr. Dobson right down the line (and believe me I do not), it is my firm belief that making proclamations on who is and who is not a Christian is, primarily and precisely, the reason why we have the separation of church and state.
So, can anyone tell me who died and made James Dobson the spokesperson for Christians? I am Christian and I can definitely say with an infinite amount of assurance that he does not speak for me.
It is said by many that Dobson's power and influence in the world of the evangelical right is second to no one right now; Robertson and Falwell have pretty much been replaced. The flock is now gravitated to him now and somewhere along the way, someone must've given him the impression that he is now in "kingmaker" status. But that's not all there is to this. What makes this even worse is the fact that there are many that listen to him and count his word as gospel.
Some in the evangelical right leadership have greatly miscalculated in their speech before. Some are no strangers to "foot-in-mouth-disease". We all know Pat Robertson has said things that were better left unsaid. Who can forget the need for Hugo Chavez's assassination comments? Jerry Falwell is another one. His righteousness has always preceded him and if you don't believe me, just ask him. He does well when he leaves politics out of his conversation.
The point I am trying to make here is not a difficult one. What I am trying to convey is politics has no business in religion and the same courtesy must be extended, when it goes the other way. There is nothing wrong with voting one's conscience and choosing to vote for those that reflect a person's values. But I do feel there is something to be said for picking against a candidate merely because they may not fill the specific mold of what they feel a Christian ought to be.
But let me be clear here, Dobsonites are entitled to their opinions and can certainly express them; just as the Left is entitled to theirs and to express them. They are entitled to stick up for their faith, if they feel it is under attack or if their individual constitutional rights have been or are being violated in some way. But if they make the same mistakes they have made in the past by attempting to drive the GOP train, they will seriously endanger the GOP's chance of winning in 2008.
Fred Thompson is just about as conservative as you can get. And relatively speaking, for a politician, he is of pretty sound character. There is no one that has championed the causes that many in the evangelical right have deemed important, than Mr. Thompson. He has been demonized by many on the Left, which are the same ones that now demonize Mr. Dobson. Yet, Mr, Dobson has now seen fit to act as kingmaker, judge, and jury against Mr Thompson? Someone help me out here. Just who does he want, anyway?
Look, if it's ideology differences, fine. If he's not strong enough on this or not lax enough on that, okay. But please do not allow anyone to influence you to cast your rightfully and constitutionally guaranteed vote -- based on who he/she thinks is or is not a Christian. But also know this, if you disregard this bit of advice, President-Elect Clinton will thank you for it.
(Note - Because this is one of those posts that could fall on either the political or religious side, I have cross-posted it at PPTG. If your comments lean toward the religious side, you can leave a comment there. If it's more toward the political, you can leave it here.)