The Associated Press has learned that James Dobson has resigned as chairman of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family.
Jim Daly, president and chief executive officer of the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based ministry, said Friday that Dobson will continue to host the organization’s flagship radio program and speak out on moral issues.
The departure of the 72-year-old Dobson as board chairman is part of a succession plan. He founded the group in 1977.
Dobson began relinquishing control of the group six years ago by stepping down as president and CEO.
Update: Here is a more in-depth description of the move:
Dobson’s resignation as board chairman “lessens his administrative burden” and is the latest step in a succession plan, the group said. Dobson began relinquishing control six years ago by stepping down as president and CEO.
“One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority,” Dobson said in a statement. “… Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do.”
On political matters, Dobson “will continue to speak out as he always has — a private citizen and not a representative of the organization he founded,” said Gary Schneeberger, a Focus on the Family spokesman. He said the nonprofit ministry and Focus on the Family Action — an affiliate set up under a different section of the tax code that permits more political activity — will continue to be active on public policy.
Dobson has a devoted following. His radio broadcast reaches an estimated 1.5 million U.S. listeners daily. Yet critics say his influence is waning, pointing to evangelicals pushing to broaden the movement’s agenda beyond abortion, gay marriage and other issues Dobson views as most vital.
“In the short term, in the near term, Dr. Dobson will stay committed to the issues close to his heart,” Daly said in an interview. “He’ll continue to speak out on those topics.”
Daly said there is no timetable for Dobson to leave the radio program, and the group will “look for the next voice for the next generation” while Dobson remains on the air.