Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family founder and chairman James Dobson is perhaps the most influential right-wing Christian leader in the country, with a huge and loyal following that he can reach easily through an impressive media empire.

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Focus on the Family
8605 Explorer Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Founder: Dr. James C. Dobson
President/Chief Executive Officer:
James D. Daly
Established: 1977
Finances: $137,848,520 (2004 Focus on the Family revenue); $24,988,036 (2004 Focus on the Family Action revenue)
Board of Directors: Ted Engstrom, Bobb Beihl, Lee Eaton, Shirley Dobson, Don Hodel, Stephen W. Reed, Robert Hamby, Anthony Wauterlek, Daniel Villanueva; Lt. Gen. Patrick P Caruana, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, Steve Largent, Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., Dr. Kathleen Nielson (2004)
Staff: approximately 1,300 employees
Publications: 2.3 million subscribers to ten monthly magazines. Magazine titles include: Focus on the Family, Citizen Magazine, Parental Guidance, Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. Focus on the Family also publishes a wide variety of books, tapes, films and videos.
Media: Dr. Dobson is heard daily on more than 3,400 radio facilities in North America, in 15 languages, on approximately 6,300 facilities in 164 countries. Dobson's estimated listening audience is over 220 million people every day, including a program translation carried on all state-owned radio stations in the Republic of China. In the United States, Dobson appears on 80 television stations daily.
State affiliates: FOF is affiliated with 36 state groups such as the Pennsylvania Family Institute, the North Carolina Policy Council and the Rocky Mountain Family Council.
Affiliate groups: Focus on the Family Institute, FOF's college program, and Focus on the Family Action, which is FOF's cultural action organization formed under the IRS section 501(c)(4). FOF has 74 different international ministries and has established conservative Christian ministries for attorneys, doctors, teachers, and other groups.

Principal Activities

  • Focus on the Family's mission is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in disseminating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible, and, specifically, to accomplish that objective by helping to preserve traditional values and the institution of the family.
  • Focus on the Family (FOF) is the largest international religious-right group in the United States, a multi-media empire that includes its own "campus" and zip code in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • FOF is a strong supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act; since the decision of Massachusetts to recognize same-sex unions, FOF closely monitors the status of same-sex marriage prevention measures being enacted in each state across the country.
  • Focus on the Family Action launched an ad campaign in 16 states urging calls to U.S. senators in support of an up-or-down vote on President Bush's judicial nominees.
  • FOF provides "Evangelical Christian" self-help in a variety of forums, via radio and their publications, and by conducting seminars across the country to help evangelical Christians become involved in the political process. Focus on the Family uses its radio show and magazine, Citizen, to urge "pro-family" voters to become active in state and local primaries and caucuses.
  • FOF is anti-choice, anti-gay, and against sex education curricula that are not strictly abstinence-only. Local schoolbook censors frequently use Focus on the Family's material when challenging a book or curriculum in the public schools. FOF also focuses on religion in public schools, encouraging Christian teachers to establish prayer groups in schools.
  • FOF supports student-led prayer in public schools, although it points out that it doesn't support teacher-led prayer for fear that a teacher would encourage Christian students "to pray to Allah, Buddha or the goddess Sophia against the wishes of the parents and/or students." ("Religion in Public Schools," February 1998.)
  • FOF also supports private school vouchers, tax credits for religious schools, rejects education efforts that address multiculturalism or homosexuality, and recommends that Christian parents withdraw from the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) on the grounds that it has a liberal social agenda. FOF supports faith-based social services and "charitable choice."
  • FOF works against "special rights" for homosexuals and hate crime legislation, and supports "reparative therapy" for homosexuality, which has been widely discredited and rejected by the vast majority of doctors and physicians. FOF sponsors "Love Won Out," conferences held around the U.S. that claim to prove that "homosexuality is preventable and treatable," where many of the speakers are "ex-gays." "Love Won Out" is from the title of a book by John Paulk, an "ex-gay" who is the host of the conferences and is an employee of Focus on the Family.
  • For those ex-gays who cannot change, FOF considers sexual celibacy another option. FOF regularly asserts the idea that there is a "homosexual agenda" and associates homosexuals with pedophilia and recruitment of children as sex partners.


  • According to Ministry Watch, Focus on the Family is the eighth largest ministry in terms of revenues in their database. FOF receives a substantial portion of its revenue from its countless resources, including book, periodical, CD, video, and magazine sales, as well as conference and retreat costs, yet still, in its 2004 990 form, declares $118,263,318 of grants, contributions and gifts received from donors. Focus on the Family's ownership of its land (it prefers to own rather than rent its space) and buildings add up to $48 million on its books, and in 2004 they cited the cost of upkeep and improvements on their property to be over $101.5 million.
  • James Dobson pays FOF a yearly sum of $5000 for radio show fees.
  • Shirley Dobson, wife of James and head of the National Day of Prayer, works in conjunction with FOF for funding for the events of the National Day of Prayer; in 2004 the total cost of the events came to $164,000, which was apparently in part reimbursed by a $150,000 donation to FOF by the National Prayer Committee (NPC).


About Founder James Dobson

  • Dobson served as the President and CEO of the group from the time it was founded until he stepped down in Spring of 2003. Dobson still serves as the Chairman of the Board and the host of Focus on the Family radio broadcasts.
  • Dr. James Dobson is the author of 17 books, most of which deal with raising Christian children in a culture that he views as hostile to fundamentalist Christians.
  • Dr. Dobson has been heavily involved with Republican administrations as an expert on the "family." Dobson was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Advisory Commission to the office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1982-84. From 1984-87 he was regularly invited to the White House to consult with President Reagan and his staff on family matters. He served as co-chairman of the Citizens Advisory Panel for Tax Reform, in consultation with President Reagan, and served as a member and later chairman of the United States Army's Family Initiative, 1986-88. Dobson served on Attorney General Edwin Meese's Commission on Pornography, 1985-86.
  • Dobson also consulted with former President George H.W. Bush on family related matters.
  • In December 1994, Dr. Dobson was appointed by Senator Robert Dole to the Commission on Child and Family Welfare, and in October, 1996, by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission.
  • James Dobson also founded and helped establish another successful conservative group, Washington, DC's Family Research Council. Established in 1981 by Dobson, the group was designed to be a conservative lobbying force on Capital Hill. In the late 1980's the group officially became a division of FOF, but in 1992, IRS concerns about the group's lobbying led to an administrative separation.
  • James Dobson has a PhD in child development from the University of Southern California.
  • Read PFAW's in-depth report on James Dobson.

About President Jim Daly

Before coming to FOF Jim Daly worked at International Paper, where he gained experiences in banking, insurance, and product sales. He joined FOF in 1989, when he started out as the assistant to the President of Public Affairs. He eventually moved on to manage the International Field Director position which address relations in Asia, Africa, and Australia. His position now as President is the result of his experienced corporate and business skills, coupled with his ability to make cross-cultural ties.

Quotes from Dr. James Dobson

In response to 9/11: "Question: Has God withdrawn His protective hand from the US?"
James Dobson responds: "Christians have made arguments on both sides of this question. I certainly believe that God is displeased with America for its pride and arrogance, for killing 40 million unborn babies, for the universality of profanity and for other forms of immorality. However, rather than trying to forge a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the terrorist attacks and America's abandonment of biblical principles, which I think is wrong, we need to accept the truth that this nation will suffer in many ways for departing from the principles of righteousness. "The wages of sin is death," as it says in Romans 6, both for individuals and for entire cultures. "
– Focus on the Family website

"[The homosexual] agenda includes teaching pro-homosexual [sic] concepts in the public schools, redefining the family to represent "any circle of people who love each other," approval of homosexual adoption, legitimizing same-sex marriage, and securing special rights for those who identify themselves as gay. Those ideas must be opposed, even though to do so is to expose oneself to the charge of being "homophobic."
– "Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide" by James Dobson

"Does the Republican Party want our votes, no strings attached—to court us every two years, and then to say, 'Don't call me; I'll call you'—and to not care about the moral law of the universe?...Is that what they want? Is that the way the system works? Is this the way it's going to be? If it is, I'm gone, and if I go, I will do everything I can to take as many people with me as possible."
– Statement from 02/07/98 Council for National Policy meeting, Washington Times, February 17, 1998

Updated: September 2006

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Focus on the Family