If any Religious Right commentators were still bashful in knocking Barack Obama’s Christianity, James Dobson’s decision to attack Barack Obama on theological grounds is like a permission slip for them to come out of the woodwork.
“When you enter into that conversation, you open your theology and your policies up to scrutiny,” claimed Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “And that’s what Dr. Dobson did.” Rick Scarborough—who is revamping his “Patriot Pastor” church rallies—said he “was appalled by the Senator’s remarks … [T]he presumptive Democratic nominee is no friend of Bible-believing Christians.”
Mike Huckabee, who once came to the defense of Jeremiah Wright but now is working for both Fox News and John McCain, also joined the amen corner, accusing Obama of “reinterpret[ing]” religion and claiming that “what Barack Obama has done is to drive his campaign into a sink hole by saying some things regarding religion that I think will make people who are religious very uncomfortable.”
And Baptist Press, the media outlet of the Southern Baptist Convention, also promoted Dobson’s attack. BP’s executive editor Will Hall wrote that the senator “disrespected a portion of the Word of God simply because it does not fit his worldview” on the issue of homosexuality. “Obama’s misappropriation of Scripture to fit his political perspective is more grave than its implications for a presidential election,” he added, calling the supposed scandal “biblical in proportion.”
Published next to the report on Dobson’s comments and Hall’s piling-on, Baptist Press also featured the words of Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Convention’s political spokesman:
“I think to go into the particular beliefs of a particular faith and to try to grill a candidate on that is an intrusion into his personal faith,” Land said. “I think what we want to know in a campaign is how that person’s faith impacts them.
Wait a minute—it sounds like Land is defending Obama and repudiating the “intrusion” of James Dobson! Indeed, Land said it was fine for candidates to talk about faith and their values, but that “they shouldn’t either be asked to be or volunteer to be a spokesperson for their faith tradition, in other words talking about the particulars of their faith.”
Of course, there’s a catch: Land was speaking nearly three weeks before Dobson made his comments.
When Dobson attacked Land’s favored presidential candidate Fred Thompson—even saying he didn’t “think he’s a Christian”—Land called Dobson’s words “harsh and unwarranted.” Will Land hold Dobson to the “intrusion” standard this time?
And what about Obama’s statement that the U.S. is “no longer just a Christian nation,” which Dobson and his lieutenant also attacked? Land said at the above event that he “was, as a Baptist, somewhat appalled by John McCain’s assertion that the Constitution created America as a Christian nation.” Will he say he’s “appalled” by the Focus on the Family version?
Well, we’re not going to hold our breath. Land has been trying to rally the Right to John McCain, even as some complain about McCain’s faith talk. “I’d rather have a third-rate fireman than a first-class arsonist,” Land said recently of the two candidates.