Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Dobson Phenomenon

I have minced very few words in my disdain for the far-Left ideology (and in many cases, tactics). But the far-Right certainly doesn't settle well with me either, and here's why.

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.)


Greg said...

Well, a lot of the evangelicals lined up to vote for W and aren't happy with what they got on abortion, stem cell research, school prayer, etc. Would Dobson prefer another faker?

Paraphrasing what Mike Huckabee said last Sunday in reponse to a question about the congressmen who recently came out of the aetheist closet, I prefer someone who is honest about their beliefs than someone who claims to be a Christian but ain't; and there are many of the latter, but not many of the former. What kind of Christian looks at his brother and says, "I reject you because you aren't Christian enough for my liking"?

LASunsett said...

//Well, a lot of the evangelicals lined up to vote for W and aren't happy with what they got on abortion, stem cell research, school prayer, etc.//

It kind of sounds like the bill of goods the Dems sold the hard left, doesn't it? Maybe both extremes should break away from their respective parties and form their own. That way, reasonable people that just disagree on methods of reaching agreed upon outcomes can get something done without listening to threats and intimidations along the way.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

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.

I think instead of a "train" I picture it more like a ping-pong ball on the ground with all of the interest groups blowing on the ping-pong ball to influence its direction of movement. There is a circle of acceptibility, so there are two dangers. One is that a single group gains control and blows it out of the circle. The other is that there are so many differing opinions in the big tent that the ball simply gets blown around aimlessly.

This probably makes sense to nobody, but it's my two cents.

Mustang said...

I suspect that it must be impossible to separate religious training from who we are . . . and yet, I see “radicalism” common to all religions. The Zealots among us would destroy our freedom; the most important of these is to decide for ourselves how to govern our lives. The “big picture” does not apply here because salvation – if ultimately there is such a thing – will not come to us by our religious affiliation, but rather in the manner in which we individually implement God’s teaching. But most assuredly, one way to ensure that I don’t vote for a candidate will be for that person to wear religion on his or her sleeve. Zealotry, whether in religion or politics, is inimical to the good order of a free society, and in my view, Pat Robertson is every bit as dangerous to human liberty as Osama bin-Laden.

Always On Watch Two said...

I know a lot of Christians who put great stock in every word which Dobson utters. I find that cultlike.

Dobson has zero business making pronouncements such as the one you've cited here.

LASunsett said...


//This probably makes sense to nobody, but it's my two cents.//

No, it makes perfect sense. The problem with Dobson saying crap like this is, it can force the ping-pong ball back to the left.

LASunsett said...


//I see “radicalism” common to all religions.//

Yes sir. There are what I call Shiite Christians too. It would appear tha Dobson may be the shepherd to some of them.

LASunsett said...


//I know a lot of Christians who put great stock in every word which Dobson utters. I find that cultlike.//

I have known a few too. Some of them are well-meaning, I am sure. But they are not thinking for themselves and are not encouraged to do so, by their leadership. The Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on guilt, that's for sure.