Focus Speaks Out (Very, Very Quietly) On Sanford

Yesterday we noted that the most influential Religious Right group in South Carolina couldn’t decide if Gov. Mark Sanford should resign.

Dan Gilgoff wrote a semi-related post on the same topic, commenting on the noticeable silence coming from Religious Right goups on the issue:

One week after Mark Sanford admitted to his affair with an Argentine woman—and a day after he called his mistress his “soul mate” and acknowledged further indiscretions—I’m struck by the total silence of pro-family groups.

The Family Research Council has been completely quiet on the South Carolina governor’s affair. So has Concerned Women for America. Ditto for Focus on the Family.

The wall of silence is all the more striking given that 10 Palmetto State senators in Sanford’s own party have called for him to step down. Does the pro-family movement burn up credibility if it looks the other way when Republican allies own up to extramarital affairs?

Today, Gilgoff writes that Focus on the Family took exception to his claim:

Focus on the Family’s vice president of communications E-mails to protest my post about the silence of family values groups on Mark Sanford’s affair. Focus, he says, has hardly kept quiet, responding to interview requests from Politico, the Washington Times, and a small New England newspaper.

Gilgoff wisely notes that these few examples are not particularly impressive “given what Focus’s powerful media ministry is capable of,” but I’d take it a step further by pointing out that I can find no article from Politico quoting the organization on Sanford’s affair and the Washington Times quote doesn’t exactly take what anyone would consider a particularly strong stand:

Focus on Family’s Carrie Gordon Earll agreed.

“If anything, it hurts the nation,” she said. “Any time you have an elected official who has a moral failure, I think it affects people’s general confidence in leadership. Decisions have consequences, and Gov. Sanford is experiencing that today.”

She said voters have one standard when it comes to marital fidelity, regardless of party. “Adultery is a moral failure, and I think the pubic doesn’t have a stomach for it,” she said.

Maybe Focus spoke out more forcefully in whatever small New Englad paper it is referring to, but if it did, I haven’t seen it.

Until today, the only Religious Right leaders we had seen call for Sanford’s resignation was Rob Schenck:

I humbly offer to you this pastoral advice: First, when these sins overtake us and ruin what is best of our lives, it is better to say less to the public and more to God and to those who have been injured by us. I urge you to now observe an extended period of public silence and address your interior spiritual life and the repair of your family. I also admonish you to immediately step down from public office. It has been my experience and that of many others in the ministry, that such turbulent and injurious human failings, such as this one in your life, require our complete and undivided attention.

And now this call has been echoed by Al Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

Governor Sanford is no King David, and the people of South Carolina — as well as the watching world — now observe the sad spectacle of a man who, while admitting to wrongdoing, shows no genuine repentance. As the Christian church has long recognized, true repentance is reflected in the “detestation of sin.” This is a far cry from what we’ve heard from Governor Sanford.

If the governor is really serious about demonstrating character to his four sons, he should resign his office and give himself unreservedly to his wife and family. He must show his sons — and all who have eyes to see — how a man is led by the grace and mercy of God to hate his sin, rather than to love it. Until then, the governor must be understood to indulge himself in wistfulness for his affair and in a desperate determination to maintain his office. His remaining days in office are like a Greek tragedy unfolding into farce. The whole picture is just unspeakably sad.

Despite it claims to the contrary, aside from this one article on FOF’s CitizenLink discussing efforts to voice support for Sanford’s wife, Focus has been noticeably silent on the entire issue.