SOURCE: August Pollak
We all know Dr. James Dobson as a frontrunner in the Christian right’s crusade against all things tolerant and reasonable. Dobson founded the über-conservative Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, and broadcasts a radio address that reaches an estimated 7 million American listeners each day. Utilizing Focus on the Family’s website, radio show, books and more, consumers can fill their heads with conservative advice on everything from movies to figuring out their husbands.
But most recently, Dobson has moved beyond his expertise comparing embryonic stem cell research to Nazi torture and supporting Roy Moore’s failed quest to display a 2.5-ton Ten Commandments monument outside the Alabama Supreme Court. His newest crusade is in favor of global warming. Yep, Dobson has openly criticized progressive evangelicals who believe that the destruction of God’s Earth is actually a bad thing.
Richard Cizik, the vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, has repeatedly called on Christians to address the issue of climate change. “To harm this world by environmental degradation is an offense against God,” he has said. Cizik’s focus on the issue has pissed Dobson off.
On March 1, 2007, Dobson and other right-wing fundamentalists, including Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council (which, don’t forget, Dobson founded), sent a letter to Dr. Roy Taylor, chairman of the board of the National Association of Evangelicals, in which they asserted that “the issue that is dividing and demoralizing the National Association of Evangelicals and its leaders is related to global warming.” This fissure is the result of “a relentless campaign orchestrated by a single individual in the Washington office, Richard Cizik.”
“Cizik and others,” says the letter, “are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children.” Cizik, much to Dobson’s dismay, survived the onslaught. Falling into the same mindset as many other conservatives, Dobson does not comprehend the importance of addressing global warming now, before it leads to ecological and humanitarian disasters.
Right-wing parents around the world rejoiced when Dobson finally revealed to them the key to child-rearing in Dare to Discipline. First published in 1972, the tome proved so popular it’s now out in a new and updated edition. Unlike most powerful Christian conservatives, Dobson isn’t a minister. He holds a Ph.D. in child development from the University of Southern California and worked in the field for decades, both as a teaching professor and an attending therapist at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. But if you assumed Dobson would be promoting peace, love, and nonviolence with a background like that, you’d be wrong. Dobson’s definition of discipline doesn’t mean threatening to withhold allowance, but spanking children as young as two years old with a belt or a paddle. His advocacy of spanking is one example of how Dobson’s books and advice place heavy emphasis on instilling unquestioning obedience to “rightful” authority—bad news for future activists who want to change the world and challenge the system.
In addition to hitting children, Dobson loves to compare those who disagree with him to the most genocidal and evil organizations in history. He has pulled the Nazi card on same-sex marriage proponents and supporters of reproductive freedom. “While we sleep,” he warns, “the Far Left is advancing a radical agenda” that Dr. Jim can’t help but describe as the “Nazi-esque barbarism known as partial birth abortion.” Aggrandizing the conservative misconception that most dilation and extraction abortion procedures occur in the third trimester, Dobson labels it “late-term murder.” But don’t fear if you disagree with him; he assures us that “everyone is entitled to change his or her position as long as it’s in the direction of preserving the sanctity of life.” Thanks, Dr. Dobson—it’s good to know you leave room for people to think on their own.
Of course, another one of Dobson’s favorite targets is the infamous “gay agenda.” According to Dobson’s 2004 book Marriage Under Fire, the homosexual agenda aims to “implement a master plan that has as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family.” What’s in this “master plan”? Dobson says the evil scheme includes “overturning laws prohibiting pedophilia [and the] indoctrination of children and future generations through public education,” among other things.
Unsurprisingly, Dobson vehemently opposes marriage equality, calling it a slippery slope leading to polygamy, bestiality, and general mayhem. If we permit marriage equality, he says, “How about group marriage? Or marriage between daddies and little girls? Or marriage between a man and his donkey?”
Dobson’s attacks on homosexuals aren’t limited to flesh-and-blood people—no, there’s also the world of cartoons to consider. In 2005, Dobson railed against SpongeBob Squarepants. Although Dobson insists he never called SpongeBob himself gay, he’s all worked up by the use of SpongeBob and his adorable animated pals “to promote the theme of ‘tolerance and diversity,’ which are almost always buzzwords for homosexual advocacy.”
Campaigns like these signal Dobson’s move from child development expert to political powerhouse. Nothing makes this shift more obvious than Dobson’s heavy participation in the 2004 elections. Consciously flexing his political muscle, he did everything from making the Biblical case for conservative positions to showing up at anti-gay marriage rallies in South Dakota. And it’s clear he’s not ducking out of the political limelight any time soon. Dobson’s gearing up for the 2008 elections. He cites the April 18 Supreme Court ruling upholding the Bush administration’s “partial-birth” abortion ban as a reminder “that elections matter.” In his newsletter, Dobson writes, “I believe pro-life voters are more committed to traditional values than ever and their participation will impact the outcome in 2008.” Heaven forbid the Democrats take charge, says Dobson, because when they do “they go straight for the jugular. They begin passing radical bills by the hundreds and doing everything within their power to stifle the opposition. The result is a left-wing revolution that turns the culture on its ear.” To combat this “revolution,” Dobson’s got more political capital than ever and aims to keep all ears in Washington, D.C. tuned to his station.
Illustration: August J. Pollak