Back in 2008, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against the National Day of Prayer and named White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, and National Day of Prayer Task Force Chairwoman Shirley Dobson in the lawsuit.
The case is on-going, and Dobson is being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (which just so happens to have been founded by Shirley’s husband, James Dobson, and others). As such, the case was the cover story of the ADF’s latest issue of its publication “Truth and Triumph” … and I have to say that ADF’s attempt to liken the lawsuit to a hostage-taking episode that unfolded at Focus on the Family headquarters more than a decade ago seems a bit over-the-top:
The receptionist for Focus on the Family had just come back from lunch when she heard the disturbance at the glass doors in front of her. She looked up into the very intense face of a man demanding to talk immediately with Dr. James Dobson, head of the ministry.
Graciously, the receptionist began explaining that Dr. Dobson was with his wife, Shirley, in Washington, D.C., that afternoon for National Day of Prayer observances …but she quickly became distracted.
The man, she realized, was holding a gun. And tied around his waist were what appeared to be some kind of explosives.
The Dobsons had just returned to their hotel room when the phone rang with word that the receptionist and three others were being held hostage at the ministry in Colorado Springs. The couple immediately paused to pray for the Focus staff and the gunman, and began asking others around them to pray, too.
Soon, word came that the gunman had surrendered, without hurting anyone – though he did fire his weapon, tearing a hole high on the wall behind the receptionist’s desk.
When Mrs. Dobson enters the front doors at Focus, she walks right by that gash. It remains unrepaired – a reminder of God’s powerful intervention one long, frightening afternoon nearly 14 years ago.
These days, though, it’s also a quiet reminder of something else. For these days, it is the National Day of Prayer itself that’s endangered. And it’s Shirley Dobson who is under the gun.