Friday, July 11, 2008

Religion AND Politics, Woohoo Part Two!

Continued from previous post:

Regarding Obama’s keynote address at the “Call to Renewal” conference:

So what would a professed evangelical like James Dobson take umbrage to in this?

The obvious answer should be: naturally, while disagreeing with issues unrelated to the speech (such as Obama’s stand on abortion), Dobson agrees with the content of this particular speech – especially the call to bring faith into the discussion of public policy.

Of course, that isn’t the answer – there is nothing in the speech that Dobson agrees with. And why is that?

Because Dobson does not like it that someone who disagrees with him on abortion gave this speech.

(Dobson’s words can be found here.)

Dobson claims that Obama is “deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit ... his own confused theology.”

Remember, the theology that Dobson is attacking isn’t any of Obama’s liberal stands.

The speech that is being used to attack Obama comes to these theological conclusions:
-faith matters;
-personal faith needs to be part of public political life;
-people should be reading their Bibles more;
-and (the one that seems to upset Dobson the most) – doing all of the above should be treated in a serious manner with an understanding of how complex it is to live under God’s will.

In order to make his arguments (and here is where I am personally disappointed in Focus on the Family), Dobson and his guests distort and quite blatantly lie about what Obama was saying.

I have to confess, it was very frustrating and maddening for me to listen to Dobson’s program, as point by point they claim that Obama said the opposite of what Obama really said.

Obama points out how critical and strong the role of faith is in America.

(“…we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people's lives…” and “…we first need to understand that Americans are a religious people.”)

Dobson, clipping that quote, tells us that Obama started out doing the opposite -- diminishing the role of faith in America.

Then, Dobson takes offense because he claims that Obama equates Dobson with left wing Al Sharpton. Dobson is naturally hurt, because he is the polar opposite to Al Sharpton.

Which is exactly what Obama says in his speech. He doesn’t equate them, he uses the two of them as examples of polar opposites on the Christian spectrum.

Throughout his talk, over and over again, Dobson takes Obama’s words, rephrases them to mean the opposite of what the senator clearly intended, and then points out why the Dobson-respeak isn’t good theology.

Also on his website, Dobson has a “special message” where he responds to those claiming that he is attacking Obama’s personal faith – Dobson declares vehemently that he has not done that, but has only attacked Obama’s statements about the Bible and the constitution.

He specifically takes Obama’s words, “But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.”

Dobson and his guest both aver that this is a lie, that Obama could never have possibly given his life to Jesus, because Obama’s political views do not match what Dobson thinks that they should.

In other words, Dobson attacks Obama’s personal faith, under the pretext of explaining that he of course would never attack Obama’s personal faith.

In fact the “special message” does not address in any way Obama’s statements about the Bible and the constitution – it only attack’s Obama’s personal faith.

By the way, in ultimate irony, Dobson admits that he doesn’t know when and where Obama made those comments about his personal faith.

It was in the Obama’s keynote address at the “Call to Renewal” conference – the very one that Dobson attacked that lead to this very post.

Apparently Dobson didn’t feel a need to actually listen to or read Obama’s speech to be qualified to condemn the content.

Which also explains why his paraphrases of Obama’s speech do not align in any way with what the Senator actually said.

Dobson’s actions, in effect, say this: it is okay to use lies as a weapon here, since Obama isn’t pro-life.

Which goes to where I started:

I guess I’m just not an “ends justifies the means” guy.

Just my thoughts,



Linds said...

Wow - that's such a wonderful critique! I kept trying to write one, but my anger at Dobson's blatant disregard for truth and the Body of Christ meant that it kept devolving into a rant. Thanks for being the cool-headed respondent!

Janet said...

Excellent, Sean. Just excellent. I expect to be sending links to these two posts to many many people as they send me those nasty "beware of Obama" e-mails that are floating around.

Thank you.

Burr Deming said...

Our site takes a somewhat unbalanced view of Brother Dobson. Yours is about as charitable, but has the virtue of detailed clarity. Thanks for adding your comment to the blogging universe.