James Dobson is offended that anybody took offense at his hyper-partisan National Day of Prayer speech last month, and feels that he was slighted not only by a Democratic congresswoman who walked out during his address but also by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, whom he is accusing of “disrespectful” treatment.
Writing in his June newsletter, the Focus on the Family founder calls President Obama the “anti-religious freedom president” and suggests that he is the first president to propose federal funding to Planned Parenthood. In reality, Planned Parenthood has received federal funding since 1970.
You may have read one of the hundreds of blogs and articles that were critical of Shirley and me following the recent National Day of Prayer event in Washington, D.C. Most of the criticism was aimed at me, which I’ll address in a moment. Almost all of the angry editorials were written by liberal activists who were apparently looking for an excuse to damage the prayer event in the nation’s capital. They are hostile to any public display of religious fervor. The writers of these blogs despise conservative Christians, especially those of us who stand firm for what we believe.
Remember that I reported to you two months ago that the President’s proposed federal budget for the next fiscal year, 2014-2015, included $286,000,000 for Planned Parenthood and other abortion enterprises.vii That has never been done in history. Fortunately, Congress rejected this budget out of hand and refused to pass it.
That evening, Shirley and I accepted an invitation to appear live on the Fox News television program, The Kelly File, hosted by Megyn Kelly. It took us nearly two hours to get to the studio and wait our turn. When it came, we were given four on-air minutes, all of which was taken with Megyn challenging what I had said that day. Perhaps you saw it. Shirley was treated disrespectfully. Megyn asked her only one question, and before Shirley could say a word, the host said they were out of time.xii Off Kelly went to a commercial and another story.
Dobson ends the newsletter by comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln and the founding fathers, whom he said established the “freedom to worship” as “the first and most foundational of our freedoms.”
Interestingly, in the run up to the 2012 election, Dobson was furious that Obama spoke about the “freedom of worship,” which Dobson and other Religious Right activists continue to claim is part of a plot to undermine the freedom of religion.
Our Founding Fathers referred to such a moment when they answered the call to arms. They knew the task before them would cost them dearly. In the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence, the writers said, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”xviii For us, the path you and I must follow is also clear, even if we are threatened by powerful people. If we live, we live, and if we die, we die. We will render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but in no wise will we render unto Caesar that which belongs to God.xix Every baby, born and unborn, is His and they deserve our love and protection. I’ll say the obvious: what is at stake here is not just the right to pray in public. It is our obligation to defend the Constitution of this great nation that grants Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims and Hindus the freedom to worship as they please. Or they can choose not to worship at all. This is the first and most foundational of all our freedoms, and future generations depend on it. All others listed in the Bill of Rights flow from this basic liberty. It is what brought the Pilgrims to this new land, establishing Plymouth Colony in 1620. They were willing to suffer severe hardships in order to live as free men and women. That passion to worship according to our individual consciences has defined us as a nation.
I will leave you with one more thought. When Congresswoman Hahn protested that a prayer service was an inappropriate place to speak for unborn children and religious liberty, a colleague of mine, Dick Bott, reminded me of a speech given on March 6th, 1860, by Abraham Lincoln. He had been warned not to speak of the contentious issue of slavery. Here is a paragraph from that thoughtful speech:
There is no place where you will even allow it to be even called wrong. We must not call it wrong in the Free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the Slave States because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion; we must not bring it into the Tract Society or the other societies, because those are such unsuitable places, and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong.
There is a tragic similarity between the horrors of slavery and the murder of infants. Both have deprived human beings of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” What Lincoln said about the first is what I would say about the second. Our countrymen continue to kill more than a million babies every year, and yet there is no appropriate gathering or venue to call it evil. Not in churches, not in Synagogues, not in polite society, not in businesses or corporations, not even in a prayer service where we have come in a solemn assembly to call on the name of God Almighty, to humble ourselves and seek His face, and to turn from our wicked ways. If we, His people, will meet those conditions, He promises to hear our cries from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. (2 Chron. 7:14.) Where, other than the National Day of Prayer, is it more appropriate to confess our guilt, and ask the Lord to forgive us? And what better place than the nation’s capital is there to call attention to the efforts of our leaders to strip away our Constitutional rights to worship according to our consciences, and to speak the truth in love? Inappropriate, indeed!