Friday, June 27, 2008

Dobson's a dork

Found this blog on She really breaks down Dobson's attack on Obama point by point. Great stuff.

Dobson's a dork

Thu, 06/26/2008 - 11:33am — Barbara.

Okay, not really a dork. But still.

Now this is going to get awfully long, and I apologize, but Dr. Dobson's broadcast really pissed me off.

In case you missed it, Tuesday Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and the unofficial leader of the Christian Right, the man millions of Americans turn to for direction in voting decisions, decried Obama as "confused" and a "fruitcake." He did so in a scathing deconstruction (his discussion of Obama starts at the 11 minute mark of his broadcast) of Obama's brilliant 2006 "Call to Renewal" speech on the place of faith in politics.

Now, I don't know if Dobson has watched or read the entire speech. But I have done so several times, and the delivery is one of the finest in a generation of politics. Either Dr. Dobson did not read the entire text, or worse, if he did, he deliberately distorted the meaning and purpose of Obama's remarks.

Dobson takes segments of the speech out of context to suggest that Obama

1. lacks the Biblical understanding necessary to derive appropriate political direction from the Scriptures.
2. desires an entirely secular government based on the "lowest common denominator of morality."
3. endorses legislation of ethics/morality only if 100% of Americans agree, thereby rendering any ethical legislation impossible.
4. "doesn't give a flip" about the preservation of the family.

Here is my response to Dr. Dobson's allegations:

1. Dr. Dobson uses Obama's discussion of Exodus, Leviticus, and Matthew, to suggest that Obama is equating Old Testament law with New Testament grace, and that Obama somehow believes OT law offers political direction just as legitimate at that derived from the Sermon on the Mount.

That's absurd. Anyone listening to the entire context of Obama's remarks would understand that Obama is simply suggesting that we cannot rely on any one sacred text alone to determine our colective political course. The decisions of government must be rooted in the will of the people (which indeed is often determined by our beliefs and our faith) combined with the written parameters defining the scope and purpose of our government.

2. Dr. Dobson continues his analysis in suggesting that because Obama does not see Scripture alone as a valid source for law, Obama is proposing a secular state, an amoral state. Again, that's not what Obama was saying. Why would he even make such a proposal while speaking at a church venue in a forum dedicated to the renewal of faith in politics?

What Obama is suggesting is that when we as Christians desire to effect change in political direction, we cannot rely simply on our own Scriptural interpretation to do so. We must appeal the law of our land and the purpose of our government when forming our arguments. It is possible to ground most of our moral and ethical arguments in these, and in doing so our arguments and movements become legally stronger, not weaker.

3. Dobson suggests that because 70% of Americans are self-proclaimed Christians, the Christian voice effectively serves as a majority voice, and majority rule. He caricatures Obama as believing that 70% is not enough, that "we the people" means every last person must be in agreement in order to effect any change. But obviously Obama is not suggesting a need for unanimity in direction.

What Obama is suggesting is that this nation was founded on the notion that there will be no official American relgion no matter how great the number of adherents. Neither 70% nor even 100% of the population following one religion is enough to make that religion the foundation of our laws. This is why Obama rightfully asserts that we as Christians must be able to make our policy arguments independent of Scriptural citation. If we as Christians are allowed simply to appeal to Scripture to make policy changes, we've effectively become the state-sponsored religion.

4. Dr. Dobson says that none of the three candidates has uttered "a single word" on the importance of preserving the family. This is patently false. Obama has won accolades by being unafraid to challenge Americans to stop making excuses and start effecting change in their own homes. He's said we have to turn off the TV and start spending time with our kids. He's said we need to get "Uncle Willie" off the couch and help him find a job. He's said we need to show our youth how to invest in the community to help break the cycle of broken families. And Obama, unlike his opponent, has honored his commitment to his marriage.

Throughout the broadcast, Dobson and Minnery are openly mocking of Obama's message, his church, and his faith. This strikes me as the utmost in hubristic self-righteousness and utterly inappropriate for a Christian leader. Last I checked judgmentalism was not among the fruits of the Spirit, and it is His throne, not ours, that was established for judgment.

At one point Dr. Dobson and the show's moderator have this exchange:

Tom Minnery: I think he is dragging Biblical understanding through the gutter, I just don't know whether he's doing it willfully or accidentally.

James Dobson, replying to Minnery: I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theoogy.

Well, this is my take. Dobson and Minnery are clearly dragging Obama's message through the gutter. I just don't know for certain whether they're doing it willfully and accidentally. But when I think about it, it seems they're deliberately distorting Obama's remarks to fit their own political views and their own confused agenda.


Anonymous Barbara said...

Thanks for the props, Keith. I think it's important that we get out the message that the Republicans don't have a monopoly on faith and Dobson certainly doesn't speak for all Christians.

There's a book you might like called The Soul of Politics. It's a bit dated but makes some great points.

Great blog! Keep the faith!


7:56 AM  

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