After James Dobson’s decision to launch an ill-tempered and tendentious attack on Barack Obama’s faith (with follow-up broadcasts), the Focus on the Family founder couldn’t have been surprised to hear criticism—even from his own side. “If Christian conservatives want to be taken seriously, they need to make serious arguments and speak with intellectual integrity,” wrote Peter Wehner of the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center. “In this instance, Dobson didn’t. He has set back his cause and made some of us who are evangelicals and conservatives wince.”
But Dobson mustered an impressive showing of umbrage against a pro-Obama ad from a group called Matthew 25 Network. “You know it’s an election year when certain people start grabbing headlines by attacking the faith of presidential candidates,” the ad says. “With all these stones being cast at Senator Obama, it can be hard to know what to believe.” The ad then quotes Obama describing the power of faith, without discussing politics or particulars: “Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to his will and dedicated myself to discovering his truth.”
Dobson, taking the ad to be directed at himself, responded with a segment at the beginning of his radio show yesterday.
DOBSON: For one thing, nobody is trying to grab headlines. Who needs ‘em? I get ‘em without even trying, even if I wanted them. And we are also not throwing stones at Senator Obama for his faith. That’s off the wall. We are responding to his comment about the Bible and about us and about the Constitution and that was the point of what we had to say.
TOM MINNERY: And it’s also true that the Bible has other things to say about how people speak, and the, the tongue, the tongue can be deceitful, and people don’t always speak the truth, and there’s some reasons to doubt what it is we’re about to hear.
According to Minnery, a vice-president at Focus, Obama’s description of his conversion is “deceitful” because the senator is “one left-wing liberal on the issue of abortion.” Furthermore, Minnery said “we have to question whether he’s even sincere as he speaks so lovingly about religion.”
Now, it may sound like Dobson and Minnery were once again directly denying the validity of their political opponent’s profession of Christianity. But Dobson, seconds later, took personal offense at such a notion:
DOBSON: Well we need to get to the program that we prepared for today, but we did want to make this statement, because we don’t want to leave it on the record that we’re throwing stones at Senator Obama to grab the headlines. That’s very offensive to me personally, and I’m sure it is to you as well.
MINNERY: And I appreciate your wanting to defend the evangelical beliefs in the Bible.