When it was announced back in February that James Dobson was giving up some of his responsibilities and control at Focus on the Family, there was lots of speculation that this signaled an end to his role as central figure in the Religious Right’s political establishment and a sign that the movement itself was in decline.
As we noted repeatedly, it was no such thing, but that idea was only reinforced last week when it started getting reported that, in addressing Focus on the Family staff after announcing the decision, Dobson had conceded defeat in the culture wars. As we pointed out then, Dobson was not so much announcing that the battle was lost and that they were giving up as he was urging his staff to keep pressing and defending their agenda and vowing to fight on.
But that didn’t seem to matter, as the narrative that the Religious Right was already established, despite their proclamations to the contrary.
And so you know it was just a matter of time before Dobson weighed in to set the record straight – and that is exactly what Focus on the Family is announcing that he’ll be doing on “Hannity” tonight:
Focus on the Family founder and chairman emeritus Dr. James Dobson is scheduled to appear on tonight’s episode of the Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” to set the record straight about media reports indicating he has “conceded defeat” in the so-called culture war.
Dr. Dobson plans to spend two segments in an exclusive interview with his friend Sean Hannity beginning at 9 p.m. EDT.
Dr. Dobson requested the opportunity to appear on the show to clarify erroneous media reports that have gained nationwide attention in recent days claiming he has given up fighting for pro-family causes like the sanctity of human life and the defense of marriage. The misinformation stems from a story in London’s Telegraph newspaper, which quoted Dr. Dobson’s comments to Focus on the Family staff in February announcing his resignation from the ministry’s board of directors. His actual words were truncated and not put in their proper context to create the impression the paper wanted to create — that he was “throwing in the towel” on standing for principles that have been his passion for more than three decades.
Here’s what the Telegraph reported he said — words that have been picked up by scores of other media outlets over the past few days: “We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”
Here’s his full quote; note the intentional dropping of his last words in the statement: “We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?”
Dr. Dobson’s comments that day were an encouragement to staff to join him in continuing to fight for righteousness in the public square, even though recent events had not turned out the way he or they would have hoped. Yes, he acknowledged some momentary defeats in skirmishes in the battle for public policy that strengthens families. But that is hardly akin to “conceding defeat” in the “war.” At least that’s the way he meant it and his audience understood it. But the media, with their own agenda, chose to twist his words to get the story they wanted.
We have to admit that it is a little odd to find ourselves in this situation siding with Dobson and people like Tony Perkins, but here we are. They are not conceding defeat – in fact, they are vowing to fight even harder.
And for everyone who thought that Dobson and Religious Right were losing their political influence and about to disappear, this ought to dispel that notion.