Focus On Fruitcake: Dr. Dobson's Half-Baked Recipe For Theocracy
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 02:18:56 PM EST
As Fred mentioned elsewhere on this blog today, Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson is at it again. Dobson grabbed newspaper headlines this morning with an attack on U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. According to Dobson, Obama holds a "fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

Dobson's salvo on Obama is based on a 2006 speech the Illinois senator gave to a group of moderate evangelicals. During the speech, Obama pointed out that in the United States, laws must have a secular basis. People can oppose abortion, he noted, but they should not expect the government to ban the procedure just because some people say the Bible calls for that.

Obama did not say religious people have no right to oppose abortion. He merely said that they need an argument that goes beyond the words in the Bible or a papal decree. To Dobson, this is a "fruitcake" interpretation of the Constitution. If so, our Founding Fathers must have been fruitcakes as well because they believed in secular government. After all, they gave us a Constitution that separates church and state.

Pundits will spend the next few days parsing Dobson's remarks and their likely political impact. I think it's pretty obvious he's worried about Obama's outreach to evangelicals and wants to block it. It's the same old partisan politics from the would-be ayatollah of Colorado Springs.

Dobson's broadcast makes one thing clear: He remains a "my-way-or-the-highway" guy. Dobson is as dogmatic as they come. On this morning's broadcast, he comes dangerously close to saying that the views of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and other non-Christians can be safely discarded because they are in the minority.

Interestingly, some new data about religion in the United States shows that Dobson's rigid approach to theology is less and less appealing to Americans. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life yesterday issued an in-depth poll of religion in America. Its findings will probably give Dobson a scare.

Americans remain an overwhelmingly religious people - but increasingly they say that no one faith has an absolute lock on truth. Seventy percent said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life. Sixty-eight percent also backed the idea that their own religion can be interpreted in different ways.

These beliefs were found even in surprising places. "More than 60 percent of those who said they were Southern Baptists said many religions can be right about how to get to the hereafter," reported the Dallas Morning News. "And about eight in 10 Catholics said there was more than one true interpretation of their faith."

The survey also showed a drop in acceptance of scriptural literalism. Most Americans - 63 percent - believe that various sacred texts are the word of God, but only 33 percent say these books must be interpreted literally.

Dobson and the Religious Right leaders who believe like him are, of course, free to insist that their interpretation of the Bible is the only correct one and that everyone who disagrees even in the slightest way is destined to spend eternity in a lake of fire. They do not, however, have the right to insist that their narrow interpretation of faith become the basis for laws that all must follow.

Dobson has the right to believe what he wants about his faith. But if current trends continue, it may be the fewer and fewer Americans are interested in buying the dogmatic product he's been peddling for so many years. If we're lucky, they will loudly reject his divisive politics as well.


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