Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So Now He's a Bad Christian?

I really wish the VRWC would make up their minds already. Last week, it was the terrorist fist jab. Today, he’s bad a Christian, this smear, via the Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family. Dr. Dobson resurrected a 2006 speech by Senator Obama on the need for progressives to reach out to people of all religious faiths, including the traditionally Republican evangelical Protestants:

But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognize some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of "thou" and not just "I," resonates in religious congregations all across the country. And we might realize that we have the ability to reach out to the evangelical community and engage millions of religious Americans in the larger project of American renewal.

Here is the offending passage:

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.

According to Dr. Dobson, Obama was “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter” and “distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own…confused theology.” Apparently, there is only one good way to read the Bible. That’s bad news for the millions of Christians, myself included, who believe that Dr. Dobson’s selective interpretation of the Bible is a distortion of Jesus Christ’s message of love, forgiveness, charity, and tolerance.

Of course, distortion is a tool regularly used by Dr. Dobson. In December 2006, Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice-president Dick Cheney, announced that she and her partner of 15 years were going to have baby. The right wing religious groups that have supported the Bush administration, who had been able to overlook Mary Cheney’s homosexuality up until that point, reacted with disgust and outrage. Dr. Dobson responded by writing a guest column for Time in which he argued that being raised in a home with same-sex parents was harmful to children:

With all due respect to Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, the majority of more than 30 years of social-science evidence indicates that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father. That is not to say Cheney and Poe will not love their child. But love alone is not enough to guarantee healthy growth and development. The two most loving women in the world cannot provide a daddy for a little boy--any more than the two most loving men can be complete role models for a little girl.

The social-science evidence he cited was conducted by Dr. Kyle Pruett and educational psychologist Carol Gilligan. Both experts were outraged that Dr. Dobson attempted to use their research to discredit same-sex parents.

From Dr. Kyle Pruett:

Dr. Dobson, I was startled and disappointed to see my work referenced in the current Time Magazine piece in which you opined that social science, such as mine, supports your convictions opposing lesbian and gay parenthood. I write now to insist that you not quote from my research in your media campaigns, personal or corporate, without previously securing my permission. You cherry-picked a phrase to shore up highly (in my view) discriminatory purposes. This practice is condemned in real science, common though it may be in pseudo-science circles. There is nothing in my longitudinal research or any of my writings to support such conclusions. On page 134 of the book you cite in your piece, I wrote, “What we do know is that there is no reason for concern about the development or psychological competence of children living with gay fathers. It is love that binds relationships, not sex.”

From Carol Gilligan
Dear Dr. Dobson:
I am writing to ask that you cease and desist from quoting my research in the future. I was mortified to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine. Not only did you take my research out of context, you did so without my knowledge to support discriminatory goals that I do not agree with. 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.

With Obama actively reaching out to the evangelical community, this attack should come as no surprise. However, Dr. Dobson is no friend of John McCain, having recently repeated his pledge not to vote for him. CNN alluded to more personal reasons for Dr. Dobson having lashed out at Senator Obama. He was apparently angry at having been compared to Rev. Sharpton, whom many conservatives perceive as racist.

Regardless of his motives, expect Dr. Dobson and others to continue their attacks on Senator Obama and his family. With conservatives on the defense, unable to provide a positive image of America to voters, their only path to victory is on the road of fear and hate. He’s a Muslim. He’s a terrorist. He attended a racist church. His wife is an angry, black woman. She hates “whitey.” He wants to negotiate with terrorists. He’s a sexist who doesn’t respect women.

Be aware. Be ready. Fight back.

Note: During the primaries, I made it clear that I was unimpressed with the speeches that so excited Senator Obama’s supporters and I didn’t understand how those words qualified him for the presidency. However, as an Obama critic, I must acknowledge that this speech on religion is impressive. It is well worth a read.


Taylor Marsh said...

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