The Impending Demise of Dobson’s Dynasty - Act I: Denouement

Wouldn’t ya know it? In last week’s post, which might have been read by 30 people worldwide, I praised a part of Obama’s 2006 “Call to Renewal” speech. I guess my praise upset James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family (FotF) in Colorado Springs, because this week, he vehemently criticized the parts of Obama’s two-year-old speech that I had praised! I didn’t realize that my comments would be so powerful – or is it my readers?

Comments in Dobson’s radio broadcast (concocted as if Tom Minnery, a senior vice president of FotF, was interviewing Dobson) included:
He [Obama] is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter… I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology… [He’s proposing to govern by the] lowest common denominator of morality… Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the lives of tiny babies?… What he’s trying to say here is, unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe.… [He’s pushing] a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.
Talk about “the lowest common denominator of morality”! Talk about “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter”!! Talk about a “fruitcake”!!! Okay, then, let me talk a bit about James C. Dobson.

If readers from other nations don’t know who he is, lucky you! During the past three decades, arguably he’s been the most powerful figure in “the Christian Right” (or, some say, “the Christian Reich”, while others say, “the Christian Wrong”). In an article in The New Republic entitled “The religious right’s new kingmaker”, senior editor Michael Cowley wrote:
… no one helped [George W.] Bush win [the 2004 presidential race] more than Dr. James Dobson. Forget Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who in their dotage have marginalized themselves with gaffes… Forget Ralph Reed, now enriching himself as a lobbyist-operative, leaving the Christian Coalition a shell of its former self. Forget Gary Bauer, now known chiefly as a failed presidential candidate… Dobson is now America’s most influential evangelical leader, with a following reportedly greater than that of either Falwell or Robertson at his peak.
Actually, though, and to be fair, Dobson deserves credit for creating such a dynasty (using the original meaning for the word ‘dynasty’, from Greek dunasteia, meaning “lordship, power”), especially for creating it out of thin air – or actually, not so much “thin air” as “hot air”. He’s a real talker.

For example, he broadcasts a daily radio program called Focus on the Family, which his website claims is “heard daily on more than 3,000 radio facilities in North America… on approximately 6,300 facilities in 116 countries, and appearing on 80 [US] television stations daily”, having an “estimated listening audience [of] over 200 million people every day.” But, skeptic that I’ve become, I’d like an independent assessment of that estimate.

In his broadcasts, Dobson mixes together selected Biblical myths (probably picked up from his family; he’s the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Nazarene evangelists) with pop-psychology myths (mostly from the 1960s, especially those dealing with the then-popular “self-esteem” kick) to pollute and pervert people’s minds. I’ll provide some illustrations below.

Dobson is also a prolific writer, not only with his monthly Focus on the Family bulletins but also authoring or co-authoring 36 popular, pseudo-psychological, pseudo-theological, un-scientific, “self-help” books. He claims to have his Ph.D. in psychology, but in their book, James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem and Psychology, Martin and Deidre Bobgan state that he didn’t earn his Ph.D. in Psychology but in Education, with a major in Child Development.

In any case, Dobson is severely criticized both by psychologists and “theologists” for not knowing what he’s talking about. I don’t want to go into criticisms of his theology, since all such arguments (e.g., about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin) are pointless – or more accurately, data-less. As Bertrand Russell said:
When two men of science disagree, they do not invoke the secular arm; they wait for further evidence to decide the issue, because, as men of science, they know that neither is infallible. But when two theologians differ, since there [are] no criteria to which either can appeal, there is nothing for it but mutual hatred and an open or covert appeal to force.
Nonetheless, readers might be interested in at least glancing at why Dobson has such trouble with Christian theologians. For example, imagine how they cringe when they read Dobson’s idea in his book Hide or Seek,
What a concept! If Jesus is now my brother, then that puts me in the family of God, and guarantees that I will outlive the universe itself. And that, friends, is what I call genuine self-esteem!
As you might expect, not many Christian clerics agree that Jesus died on the cross to build the self-esteem of Dobson’s followers!

Truth be known, though, I agree with Dobson: above all, Christianity is an ego trip (as is Islam), in which believers obtain social sanction to imagine that they’re important to no less than the creator of the universe. As Robert Ingersoll said:
Think of the egotism of a man who believes that an infinite being wants his praise!
It’s self-esteem gone berserk – which, come to think of it, is quite an apt description of Dobson.

Anyway, instead of reviewing such religious nonsense, consider some of Dobson’s more general “advice” along with some of its criticism, starting with his ideas about morality – along with my own criticism [in square brackets, in blue]
…what we read in Scripture is not a series of suggestions but these are commandments. These are absolutes. [So, don’t try beating your slaves to death or selling your daughter into slavery by other than approved methods!] These are eternal truths [for closed systems, not for reality. It reminds me of H.L. Mencken's: "Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong."]. There is an immutable understanding of the nature of the universe, and this is the permanence of marriage, and this is the offense of premarital sex and extramarital sex – it’s all of these things. It’s the value system that comes out of this. [Isn’t it amazing that the first symmetry-breaking fluctuation in the total void, leading to the Big Bang and then this universe, finds “premarital sex and extramarital sex” so offensive? Yet, if Dobson says that such is the “immutable understanding of the nature of the universe”, then who am I to say that he’s a raving idiot who belongs in a loony bin.]
Dobson then goes on to describe the horrible concept of secular humanism, which I’ll call scientific humanism:
[Scientific humanism] begins with the assumption that God doesn’t exist [which actually isn’t correct; it begins with the assessment that the concept of ‘God’ has no meaning; it’s just an abbreviation for “I dunno”]; therefore there are no immutable truths and you make up your own rules as you go along. [Which is the way it should be, i.e., always use your brain as best you can!] The policies are set by what seems right… and in that whole understanding there are no absolutes [Well, that’s not correct: there is the ‘absolute’ that people should always use their brains as best they can] – you live on the basis of what seems right. [Which is a helluva lot better than living your life on the basis of pure unadulterated balderdash!] This is the culture of death [Gimme a break – it’s the culture of the scientific method]; this is abortion and infanticide and euthanasia and AIDS. [Riiiiiiight] This is death. [Because, doncha know, obviously black is white.]
And then, Dobson goes on to describe his glorious alternative to scientific humanism:
This is a grand strategy. This is a grand design. It may look simplistic but there’s really great wisdom in it, because it is saying, “As the world goes to hell, we’ve got to become even more of a beacon, not of psychological truth but of ultimate truth and continue to campaign for righteousness.” [Again, Mencken comes to mind: "The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it."] I want you to understand something. This is really important. You hear me talk about the evil of abortion, homosexuality, and safe sexology and all this stuff going on – and all these are very, very important – but there is a foundational issue below that. Those are all social and political issues that flow out of something that is more important to me, which is the defense of righteousness. [Happiness is defending ‘righteousness’ – if only the Christianists and Islamists could agree on what it means.]
Where the Christianists and Islamists apparently do agree, however (besides the need for people to pay them for pedaling such trash, so the clerics can avoid working for a living) is that children shouldn’t learn to think for themselves; instead, they’re to be indoctrinated in religious stupidity. Further, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, apparently many of them agree that, if necessary, religious rubbish should be beaten into children’s heads.

In fact, Dobson first “made a name for himself” by publishing his book Dare to Discipline, which apparently soothed the guilt of many parents who wanted to continue to abuse their children, just as they (and Dobson – and, for that matter, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Huckabee) had been abused when they were children. To sell his method of child abuse (and his books), Dobson doesn’t rely on his scientific capabilities (of course) but on his story-telling abilities. Thus, as stated by Martin and Deidre Bobgan in their book Psychological Savior: An Examination of the Teachings of Dr. James Dobson:
Dobson uses the story-telling mode, which not only keeps his readers interested but gives a seeming reality to everything he says. Rather than relying on research, which may actually prove just the opposite of some of his conclusions, he uses case histories which emphasize and especially dramatize the points he wants to make.
Some quotations from Dobson, along with refutations compiled by Eric Perlin, are the following:
James Dobson: “Contrary to what it might seem, [a child] is more likely to be a violent person if his parent fails to [spank him], because he learns too late about the painful consequences of acting selfishly, rebelliously, and aggressively.”

Psychologists Ronald Slaby and Wendy Roedell: “[O]ne of the most reliable predictors of children’s level of aggression is the heavy use by parents of harsh, punitive discipline and physical punishment… Parental punitiveness has been found to be positively correlated with children’s aggression in over 25 studies… [P]arental punishment is one important aspect of a general pattern of intercorrelated parental behaviors that influence the child’s aggression.”

James Dobson: “A spanking is to be reserved for use in response to willful defiance, whenever it occurs. Period!”

Protect Your Child by Laura Hutton: “Every child should be taught that he has personal rights that should be respected by all adults… ‘I have the right to say no if someone touches or wants to touch the private parts of my body’.”

James Dobson: “Two or three stinging strokes on the legs or buttocks with a switch are usually sufficient to emphasize the point, ‘You must obey me’.”

Protect Your Child: “I have a right to scream for help even if I am told by a molester to be quiet and obey… l don’t have to obey someone who hurts me or wants to hurt me.”

James Dobson: “By learning to yield to the loving authority… of his parents, a child learns to submit to other forms of authority which will confront him later in his life – his teachers, school principal, police, neighbors and employers.”

The Safe Child Book by Sherryl Kerns Kraizer: “We need to look at the ways in which we teach our children to be blindly obedient to adults and authority figures. Most children do not know they can say no to a police officer, a teacher, a principal, a counselor, a minister, a baby-sitter, or a parent when an inappropriate request is made.”

James Dobson: “Minor pain can... provide excellent motivation for the child... There is a muscle, lying snugly against the base of the neck... When firmly squeezed, it sends little messengers to the brain saying, ‘This hurts; avoid recurrence at all costs’.”

The Safe Child Book: “Young children tell me that some of the ways they don’t like to be touched are: kisses on the mouth, getting their shirts tucked in by grown-ups, being picked up, having their hair stroked, having to kiss Grandma and Grandpa or Mom and Dad’s friends... They can be unwanted touch, just as sexual abuse is unwanted touch... It is important to respect children’s preferences. By learning to say no to one type of touching, children learn to say no to the other.”

James Dobson: “An appropriate spanking from a loving parent in a moment of defiance provides [a] service. It tells [the child]… he must steer clear of certain social traps… selfishness, dishonesty, unprovoked aggression, etc.”

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention - Tips to Parents: “Other behavioral signals [that indicate a child may have been sexually molested include]… aggressive or disruptive behavior…”
As to where Dobson got his ideas about beating children, it certainly wasn’t from scientific investigations. Dobson frequently tells his listeners and readers that he has his “Ph.D. in psychology”, apparently trying to suggest that his scientific credentials and the scientific community support his wacky speculations, but he certainly isn’t a reputable scholar.

To obtain evidence to support that statement, if you’ll type “James Dobson” in Google Scholar, you’ll get 186 hits (mostly to his books and to references in which his books are criticized). In fact, at Google Scholar, there appears to be only one scientific publication that was co-authored by Dobson, with him a junior author: “The Concurrent and Congruent Validities of the Wide Range Achievement Test”, Kenneth D. Hopkins, James C. Dobson, and O.A. Oldridge, Educational and Psychological Measurement, Vol. 22, No. 4, 791-793 (1962), a copy of which is unfortunately unavailable “without further authentication”. Given the date of that publication, it might represent his contribution for his master’s thesis. Apparently he didn’t publish the results of his Ph.D. research, which is usually fatal for a future researcher. In fact, having one’s thesis accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed, respected, scientific journal is a not uncommon requirement for being awarded a Ph.D.

For contrast, if you’ll type “Carol Gilligan” into Google Scholar, you’ll get almost two orders of magnitude more hits, i.e., 12,600 hits. She’s the Ph.D. educational psychologist at New York University who, on 14 September 2006, was the first respected scholar to write to Dobson complaining that he had misrepresented her research results:
I was mortified to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine... What you wrote was not truthful and I ask that you refrain from ever quoting me again and that you apologize for twisting my work.
Thus, apparently, Dobson not only can't write scientific reports, he can't even read them! Further, Wayne Besen reports:
Other leading researchers who have taken issue with Dobson’s use of their work include: Dr. Kyle Pruett, Professor of child psychiatry, the Yale University School of Medicine; Dr. Robert Spitzer, Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University; Angela Phillips, Professor, Goldsmiths College in London; Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, Associate Professor, school of nursing, University of British Columbia; and Dr. Judith Stacy, Professor of Sociology, New York University. Never before has such an array of venerated professors courageously stood up and turned the ivory tower into a watchtower to protect scientific integrity. What each [scientist] has in common is that he or she was shocked and outraged when informed how his or her work was used and abused [by Dobson].
Instead of reaching his understanding via the scientific method, Dobson gained his understanding (that children should be beaten) from his experience beating his dog. For a full description, see the post by Bruce Wilson. I encourage you to read it all – and weep for all the children Dobson has harmed. In particular, Wilson quotes the following anonymous essay, which (based on its reference to Dobson’s comments on Obama’s speech) must have been written last week.
How Obama-Critic James Dobson Whipped The Mini Weiner Dog Rebellion

Lately there’s been a bit of a flap over Dr. James Dobson’s public declaration that Barack Obama has “fruitcake ideas” about the US Constitution and church-state separation. Although he has no degree in Constitutional Law, in choosing to go head to head with Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, who taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago for twelve years, Dr. Dobson is at less of a disadvantage than it might seem at first. No intellectual lightweight, he is a pioneer and titan in the field of child-rearing. Dobson’s blockbuster books The Strong Willed Child, which sold over 1.75 million copies and Dare To Discipline, which sold a whopping 3.5 million copies, have informed an entire generation of parents and empowered them with Dr. Dobson’s core insight that, from a disciplinary standpoint, children are like dogs. But, Dobson’s revolutionary “child-whisperer” child-rearing methods did not arise from floofy navel gazing. Dobson’s theory was born from praxis and struggle, in an epic battle between Dobson and his 12-pound miniature Dachshund “Siggie” - to force the little Weiner Dog off its napping spot on a fuzzy toilet seat cover. For Dobson, the incident gave rise to a core insight into the need for parents, and society, to forcefully combat, overcome and whup those satanic urges which drive all rebellions and rebelliousness - against parental authority, against society, against President George W. Bush.

In The Strong Willed Child the nationally celebrated child-rearing expert and Christian family values champion James Dobson describes the titanic clash, between man and vicious, snarling miniature weiner dog - which led to Dobson’s breathtaking, radical insight into core, basic behavioral similarities between human children and Dachshunds or, more generally, dogs:

“That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt.”

From that description would seem that in a certain stage of the struggle the Dachshund had wrested control of the belt, to whip Dobson, but that is almost certainly a stylistic flourish on Dr. Dobson’s part. The high pitch of the drama suggests the saga might be grist for a musical, even an opera, especially for the added complexity of the almost Oedipal cast of the narrative - which seems to concern what was, at base, a sexual and dominance struggle:

“The greatest confrontation occurred a few years ago when I had been in Miami for a three-day conference. I returned to observe that Siggie had become boss of the house while I was gone. But I didn’t realize until later that evening just how strongly he felt about his new position as Captain.”

Who knows what that dog had been up to while Dobson was away? To those inclined toward such crude perspectives (which is to say almost anyone, at least on a subconscious level) Dachshunds are in effect mobile phallic symbols, on legs. Dr. James Dobson was thus compelled, forced to reassert his Biblical and God-given authority over wife and family, and over his suggestively elongated mini weiner dog:

“At eleven o’clock that night, I told Siggie to go get into his bed, which is a permanent enclosure in the family room [sounds like a doghouse]. For six years I had given him that order at the end of each day, and for six years Siggie had obeyed.

"On this occasion, however, he refused to budge. You see, he was in the bathroom, seated comfortably on the furry lid of the toilet seat. That is his favorite spot in the house, because it allows him to bask in the warmth of a nearby electric heater. . .”

As any colonial power with staying power well knows, rebellions are to be put down with absolute, prejudicial brutality. In the movie Burn!, about a Nineteenth-Century Caribbean Island slave revolt, British Colonial authorities were too timid to put down the rebellion and had to call in Marlin Brando to take care of the mess. Which he did. But, by the time of the 1920’s British occupation of Iraq, the British had learned better and showed the Iraqis “tough love” - by bombing and strafing Iraqi villages for non-payment of taxes. Had the British lacked such disciplinary resolve it’s hard to even imagine what a mess Iraq might be in today.

As did Marlin Brando, Dr. James Dobson, faced with a similarly dire, even apocalyptic rebellion, rose to the challenge. Dobson, now head of the over $200 million dollar a year nonprofit behemoth, Focus On The Family, wisely made a tactical decision to integrate a force-multiplier (a belt that is) into his counterinsurgency battle plan:

“When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie’s way of saying. “Get lost!”

“I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me ‘reason’ with Mr. Freud.”

James Dobson seems to have been concerned that his rebellious miniature Dachshund “Siggie” (short for “Sigmund Freud”) might usurp Dobson’s spot as head of the family and the household, and the sexual danger and threat of mini weiner dogs is legendary - as is their tenacity in battle. A relative of mine has a miniature wire-haired miniature Dachshund that obsessively fetches rocks, even fairly big ones, thrown into the pond in her backyard. I’ve seen firsthand how single mindedly tenacious and fierce these wee Dachshunds truly are. One wouldn’t want to be on their bad side or allow them to get the upper hand - ever.

It was man against brute beast, touch and go:

“What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!”

Dobson chose to showcase this gripping personal account in his book of child rearing advice, on how to cope with “strong-willed” children, and the saga fits perfectly - as many relevant experts, enlightened by Dobson’s bold insights, have come to appreciate, Dachshunds are remarkably like human children. Both are bilaterally symmetrical chordates, mammals with four limbs and relatively large brains, both are more or less omnivorous, both are highly social and travel in packs, both engage in dominance struggles. Both respond to operant conditioning. The similarities would seem endless.

As a recent episode of South Park has amply demonstrated, dog training techniques work marvelously well on troublesome children and James Dobson was an early pioneer and leader of this revolutionary, breakthrough school of child rearing:

“But this is not a book about the discipline of dogs; there is an important moral to my story that is highly relevant to the world of children. JUST AS SURELY AS A DOG WILL OCCASIONALLY CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITY OF HIS LEADERS, SO WILL A LITTLE CHILD -- ONLY MORE SO.” (emphasis Dobson’s)

Woof. Woof woof.

There’s a religious, metaphysical component to this as well, and it is that textual, narrative richness which could lend the story to the musical/opera format - moving past the mere mechanics of human/Dachshund mortal combat and also the realm of canine/toddler psychology, Dobson brings the discussion into the realm of deep metaphysical, theological inquiry:

“Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of ‘original sin’ which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster.”

As with the invention of the wheel, or fire, or the principles of geometry and basic math, many revolutionary human breakthrough discoveries seem transparently obvious in retrospect such that all look back, in astonishment, with the same question: “Why didn’t I think of that?”

But, no one had grasped it before James Dobson and the insight may well place Dr. Dobson in the pantheon of greats such as Einstein, Fermi, Leonardo, Tesla, Madam Curie and other such pioneers of human inquiry. Dobson’s hypothesis, ventured in The Strong Willed Child, places blame for human conflict, wars and strife, historical evils of all sorts, stemming from the breakdown of the core human social institution, the family, squarely where it truly belongs: on toddlers.

Dr. James Dobson’s epiphany, his satori was the realization that because the family is the most basic, irreducible element and building block of the human social order, the very genesis of evil in human family life, the original sin, the first taint, has to therefore originate in the blasphemous refusal of very young children to toe the line and obey parental authority. That is why it is of such paramount importance to beat such inclinations out of children - with each and every mother and father who choose to mollycoddle their children rather than practice the discipline of tough love, the very social order and fate of the world as we know it are put at risk.

For James Dobson and a growing cadre of supporters armed with Dobson’s breakthrough theory and insight, the only sane approach parents can take towards childhood rebellion is to beat it out of them. Otherwise chaos, socialism and Satan will prevail.

In truth it’s the moral duty, the obligation of Christian parents who take their faith seriously, unlike those alleged Christians who merely mumble the tenets of their faith during their sporadic Sunday forays to degenerate liberal church services rife with pagan ritual and coded Satanic-sexual symbolism, to break the will of their children to resist and rebel much like torturers break the wills of prisoners to resist and rebel - in the end, it’s for their own, and society’s, best interest. The enterprise is, in a very real sense, the project of chasing out the devil, demonic spirits that otherwise can infest children and lead them into ruin, into future lives corrupted with iniquity and sin, drug and alcohol abuse, gayness and liberal political opinions, feminazi bigotry and eco-terrorism, into apartments in New York or San Francisco and the wearing of sexually suggestive or sexually ambiguous clothing, into the consumption of tofu and tempeh rather than proper sirloin, proper bacon, into seductive lifestyles leading inexorably to eternal torment in the flaming pits of Hell.

That cosmic battle of Good versus Evil, writ small, is one in which one party alone, you the parents, must come out on top; so give no quarter; crush their resistance! - if you don’t they’ll take over and through them Satan will rule. The family, society even, will break down and devolve into a Hobbesian war of all against all. Chaos will rule. Cannibalism and Buddhism will flourish, as will gay marriage. Teletubbies will proliferate on Television and gays in Black Helicopters will swoop down to seize our guns, take our property, sodomize us and teach our women and wives to talk back to our authority. . .

So, Dr. James Dobson had to conquer the little weiner dog. Thus was The Family, and perhaps even Christianity itself, saved on that day.
Kudos for the author, whoever you are!

Meanwhile, Dobson’s personal insights (of course with zero scientific support) for “curing” homosexually are no less stunning. He “believes” (so he says) that male homosexuality isn’t physiological but psychological:
…that it has to do with an identity crisis that occurs too early to remember it, where a boy is born with an attachment to his mother and she is everything to him for about 18 months, and between 18 months and five years, he needs to detach from her and to reattach to his father.
So the “cure” for male homosexuality, according to Dobson, is:
[T]he boy’s father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son’s maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.
And what’s more, the terrible homosexuals need to be cured, because according to Dobson:
Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.
As for Dobson’s promoting the teaching of “Intelligent Design” rather than evolution, promoting only “abstinence only” sex education, and disparaging women’s liberation and concerns about global warming, let alone his nutty ideas about abortion, there’s not much point in my going into them. In summary, using his word, the guy’s a “fruitcake”.

But again, ya gotta give Dobson some credit: although he plays on people’s fears and sells his hate, he’s good at it. As Brian McKinley writes:
Playing on people’s fears is a great way to make money. Advertisers use it every day. If you don’t want dandruff, use this. If you don’t want to smell bad, use that. If you don’t want to end up sick or dead, eat our stuff instead of their stuff. And if you don’t want homosexuals [and those horrible secular humanists, women libbers, abortionists, etc.] taking over our schools, support our cause by sending in your donations. Fear sells. Whether intentional or not, the truth is the Religious Right rake in a great deal of money every time they claim homosexuals are threatening our nation’s families, or worse, our children. The former vice-president of Focus on the Family, a leading Religious Right organization, stated in his book, James Dobson’s War on America (Dobson is the founder and president) that when their donations went down, they could simply broadcast a scary special about the gay agenda (or the evil women’s movement or the even more evil abortion rights groups - but never remarried people since that would drive away nearly half of their listeners) and their revenues would increase substantially.
For example, as given in the most recently filed tax return, his tax-exempt Focus on the Family (FOF) “religious organization” raked in more than $120 million in “direct and indirect public support”. The same tax return doesn’t show how much of that money Dobson has been able to salt away for himself, but the President of the Board of FotF got a nice, neat annual salary of $197,224 (plus $11,619 in benefits), and in 2004, “the revenue from all Dobson-family material… [his personal business] was $781,000.”

Given the money that’s supporting him, you don’t want to get on Dobson’s hate list. Poor old John McCain is on that list: Dobson plans to withhold the presidency from McCain, because McCain seems to have taken “the wrong side” (i.e., not Dobson’s side) on the abortion issue. And Obama, of course, is on Dobson’s hate list, not only because of the abortion issue, but apparently Obama doesn’t show sufficient hate for homosexuals, women’s libbers, and for those horrible secular humanists.

Yet, there are welcome signs that Dobson’s dynasty is dying. The revenue from his sales of books and tapes are “down from $781,000 in 2004 to $307,000 in 2006”, and FotF “expenses have exceeded its revenues for two years… by $4.1 million in fiscal 2006 and by $9.9 million in 2005 (Figures for 2007 have not been released [as of 24 January 2008]).”

I expect that his dynasty is dying, in part, because some of his followers are tired of hearing (and paying for) the same old tripe. In part, too, there was the apology from one of the co-founders of FotF, grandfather Gil Alexander-Moegerle. At a press conference that he called, grandfather Gil humanely and bravely stated the following:
I have come to issue just such an apology for certain actions and attitudes on the part of the Christian Right in general and James Dobson and Focus on the Family in particular:
First, I apologize to the women of America for the sexist attitudes all-too-often displayed by James Dobson and the organization I helped found.

I apologize to African Americans and other ethnic minorities who are concerned by the continuing vestiges of intolerance in the land and by the dangerous role James Dobson, a wealthy, powerful, white, heterosexual male, plays in promoting intolerance.

I apologize to lesbian and gay Americans who are demeaned and dehumanized on a regular basis by the false, irresponsible, and inflammatory rhetoric of James Dobson’s anti-gay radio and print materials.

I apologize to Jewish Americans as well as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and atheist Americans who are also victims of the dangerous words and divisive political actions of James Dobson, who claims quite falsely that this is a “Christian nation” that should be “ruled” by fundamentalist Christians and their doctrines.

I apologize to the American media, specifically to radio, television and print reporters, who have been ridiculed and demonized by Dobson and his staff and guests. I am ashamed of my former colleagues for their attacks on you and for their pattern of slamming the doors of reasonable access in your face. And I encourage you to bang those doors down, to investigate, and to report the truth about the threat James Dobson and other religious extremists pose to the American tradition of tolerance, inclusivity and the separation of church and state.

And I apologize to my fellow Christian Americans, many of whom have been misled by a man I once loved and trusted. I hope you will not make the same mistake I made in letting my personal loyalty to an old friend blind me to the unchristian and un-American words and actions of James Dobson and so many of his Focus on the Family guests.

I apologize to any American who has felt the sting of James Dobson and the Christian Right wagging their holier-than-thou fingers in your face, shrieking that because your views differ from theirs, you are ungodly, evil and unworthy of the rights of full citizenship.
And I expect that part of the demise of Dobson’s dynasty may simply be that it and Dobson are getting old: his dynasty is an old cling-on (or Klingon) empire, desperately trying to hold onto the “old ways” (of the 1950s). Meanwhile, thankfully, nature’s way is to push aside the old ones with their worn-out ways, and to welcome the new generation, more willing and able to adapt to change.

In any event, as a result of his falling popularity, Dobson’s political clout has weakened and seems to be floundering. Thus, Dobson first let it be known that he supported Romney as the Republican presidential candidate, but when Romney saw that he didn’t have a chance and bowed out of contention, Dobson publicly supported Huckabee. But then, Huckabee bowed out to McCain –who (as I already mentioned) Dobson says he won’t support. Many of us are pleased that the result is that Dobson is left out in the cold – but unfortunately, he can still try to clobber Obama.

Yet, this week, what an amazing reaction there’s been to Dobson’s criticism of Obama! Originally for this post I was planning to defend Obama’s speech. But not only have so many others done it so well, I don’t think anything more need be said than what Obama said about Dobson: “He’s making things up.”

Yes, Obama: he’s been “making things up.” As with all clerical leaders, Dobson has built an empire, gaining fame and fortune, by “making things up.” And let me add: if this has been an illustration of how you handle “fruitcakes” in the “gutter”, then Right On!

Further, now I see that you plan to visit Colorado Springs next Wednesday! Do you plan to…? I suppose it could be good experience should you decide to meet with Iran’s Ahmadinejad: the two are amazingly similar.

In any event, good luck to you in your bid for the presidency.


During the past six months I’ve been posting on this blog every week. The titles of the first two posts were “Ridiculing Romney’s Religious Rant” and “Huckster Huckabee Hawks his Hubris”; the titles of two most-recent posts were “McCain’s Christian Constitution” and “Obama’s Judeo-Christian Junk”. Yet, that evidence to the contrary not withstanding, not all posts (or even those posts) have dealt just with politics. In any event, I’ll call the posts to date, “Act I”, and this post, “The Impending Demise of Dobson’s Dynasty”, is the denouement of Act I.

In less dramatic and more descriptive language, my plan is to discontinue posting once per week. My reason isn't because I need a summer break (although that would be good) or because I’m discouraged that in total during the past six months this blog has received fewer than 1,000 hits (I know it takes a long time for even good blogs to become established) but because keeping this blog going is taking too much of my time as well as what little creative energy that I might have, which I need to redirect for a few years, to finish writing two appendices for my on-line book. Simultaneously, though, if some news-item moves me sufficiently, then I expect that I’ll post something about it (as part of Act II), but I doubt if it’ll be more frequently than monthly – and even then, I’ll try mostly just to call readers’ attention to the topic.

During the past two years, I’ve been sending my oldest granddaughter (and others) a chapter of my book every week. I chose that pace in part because that’s the pace I hoped she would read the chapters and in part because the book is a work in progress. The book is entitled Love Letters from Grampa – about Life, Liberty, and the Zen of Zero, and the chapters are labeled from A to Z. Eighteen months ago and on the same schedule, I started posting the chapters at my website, and next week, I’ll have finished posting the last of the X-chapters – all 35 of them! But if truth be known, I had most of the chapters in fairly-close-to-final form before I started posting any of them (after working on the book ever since I retired, more than a decade ago); so, not too much work was needed before posting them. Not so, however, with the Y and Z chapters; therefore, my need to redirect my energy. And besides, surely drama critics would agree that, this week, James C. Dobson provided a tremendous final scene for Act I!


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