Tuesday, June 24

Dobson Says Obama Distorting Bible

News agencies are reporting that on today's broadcast of Focus on the Family's radio show, James Dobson accuses Sen. Obama of distorting the Bible and pushing a “fruitcake interpretation” of the Constitution.

FoxNews reported that The Associated Press received an advanced copy of the show's transcipt with these excerpts:

Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy - chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, “a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application.”

“Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles,” Obama said.

Dobson accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament.

“I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology,” Dobson said.

“… He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.”

Dobson reserved some of his harshest criticism for Obama’s argument that the religiously motivated must frame debates over issues like abortion not just in their own religion’s terms but in arguments accessible to all people.

He said Obama, who supports abortion rights, is trying to govern by the “lowest common denominator of morality,” labeling it “a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.”

“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?” Dobson said. “What he’s trying to say here is unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe.”


Check the Focus on the Family website for a listing of the radio stations in your area that will carry today's show.

35 comments:

Six in the Mix said...

Obama is to Christian as Harvard is to Presbyterian.

Dave said...

Perhaps Mr. Dobson needs to take the Jesus Test at http://www.sentforlife.com/jesus.html .

He will probably fail miserably.

Melissa said...

Does anyone else think it a mute point to argue that Obama is a Christian? Do we really need to even go there? Don't his actions clearly speak for him? I'm not certain whoever is voting for Obama really cares what his "religious" views are anyway....they are far too memorized by his so-called charisma and rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Dobson is completely missing (or distorting) Obama's central message, which is that "democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason." What he’s saying is that it’d be unfair and unconstitutional to make official policy based on a religous argument (i.e., the God of the Bible said it, therefore it's true and should be law). You're fully entitled to fight for what you believe, but if you’re going to turn it into law, you need a better justification as a legal matter than “Because God says so.” Otherwise, the only people who will understand it — not agree with it, necessarily, but understand it (i.e. who’ll find it “accessible”) — are people of your own faith.

Dr. Dobson does his faith and the causes he supports a disservice by using religious arguments to promote a civil law agenda. A good example of this is the gay marriage issue. "Because God said so" is not a sufficient argument for why our civil government should not grant legal status to gay unions. The government has nothing to do with the sanctity of anyone's marriage. We all have civil unions, but for the commitments we make to each other before God as recognized and sanctioned by our particular churches (which is not required by the state to get married). The state merely applies a set of legal rules to the union, whether or not the union is "blessed" by God through a church. The reason those opposed to gay marriage are increasingly losing the battle is that they have failed to make effective non-religious civil arguments in support of their position. Opponents repeatedly come back to the sanctity argument, which, again, has nothing to do with the state's authority.

Senator Obama is right to challenge religious people to bring their non-religous arguments to the public square if they hope to advance their causes before a civil government. All are welcome to the debate, but please bring something more than, "because the Bible told me so."

Anonymous said...

Dobson is to Christian as Osama is to Muslim.

See, it's just not nice to play these kinds of games.

Anonymous said...

Uhm... no. There are plenty of good arguements on both sides of this issue but Obama is not an evangelical Christian. He may very well believe in God and wish to be called a Christian but there is actually some definition of what an evangelical Christian believes and he does not hold those beliefs. And Dobson is not a terrorist. Get a grip.

Melissa said...

Dear Anonymous #1,

If the Creator of our Universe gives us a direction, it is usually for our own good. I will not debate with you the issue of homosexual civil marriages, but just ask most homosexuals and their families if they grew up hoping to be that way and most would probably say "no". God did not design the human race to operate that way and therefore just like any commandment He gives us, to recognize it as acceptable would be wrong. The list goes on and on about why God gives us the direction He does; you must look at the whole picture and not just the list of do's and don'ts. It is to help us and not to just oppose a set of useless rules because He's in charge.

To bring this back to a political perspective, Senator Obama may call himself a "Christian", but I do not see him as being a follower of Christ based on his policies. And, honestly, I'm not sure most people understand this. I think Dr. Dobson is a voice for the evangelical community and that's okay. Not everyone will agree with him on every issue.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous #3:

You seem to be implying that being an evangelical Christian is the measure for someone to be a "true" Christian. Is Obama even claiming to be an evangelical? Does it matter? These conversations are very disheartening and remind me that the ugly side of evangelicalism is still alive and well, though becoming increasingly diminished.

Signed,
Jeff aka Anonymous #1-2 (because I'm too lazy to login to anything I don't have to)

Anonymous said...

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for proving my point. It's all well and good that you have a religious argument for why we should not legally recognize same-sex marriages, but what do your religious beliefs have to do with public policy in a secular civil government? Why should someone not of your religious persuasion support your position? What is the civil argument? If you can't articulate a non-religious justification for your position, why should we adopt it as public policy? Until Christians, like Dr. Dobson, start advocating in terms that are useful to discussions about public policy, then they should not be surprised that their voices are minimized.

Signed,
Jeff

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous #3:

No, of course, Dobson's not a terrorist (it's called sarcastic hyperbole). Again, you're missing the point. My point is that casually belittling Obama's claim to faith is just not nice, like comparing Dobson's faith to that of a terrorist who is equally convinced of his claims to Truth.

Signed,
Jeff

Melissa said...

Jeff,

I'm not out to prove you wrong or anyone wrong. I know I can't possibly change your mind, any more then I am going to agree that gay unions should be legal. Marriage from the onset is between a man and a woman. If we hold to your opinion, then what is stop someone from marrying their cat? Because, how can that hurt anyone? Right?

Believe it or not, I'm not at all religious. I happen to believe that Jesus came to set the captives free and I love Him. It's simple. But, I think that there has been a lot of compromise over the years that has led to a lot of the problems our nation and the world are facing. I believe there is only One answer to those problems and I guess that may be the place we're not seeing eye-to-eye.

So, if I proved your point, I'm okay with that. We are just as much "under God" as we are "one nation" and that's a good enough reason for me.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

You said: "If we hold to your opinion, then what is stop someone from marrying their cat?" Nothing, just like nothing prevents anyone from marrying their cat today. The question is what are we going to recognize under the law. I'm not advocating for one side or the other, but it is entirely reasonable to ask those with a religious conviction on an issue to articulate a reasoned, non-religious basis for their position. Otherwise, it's just one person's religion versus another person's religion. This was the essence of Obama's speech that Dobson was criticizing. In fact, Obama affirmed the role of religious conviction in public policy discussions, saying that it is inevitable and appropriate for people's political views to be informed by their religious perspective; but at the end of the day, public policy must reflect reasoned consideration supported by a non-religious justification. I'm not sure what it is about Obama's comments Dr. Dobson finds so offensive to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Sorry.

Signed,
Jeff

Melissa said...

Jeff,

I understand what you're trying to say. I really do. Why would Senator Obama say that it is inevitable and appropriate to discuss religious perspective, but then at the end of the day we toss all that aside and come to a non-religious justification? What is the point then? If we rely only on our human interpretation of law and governance then we are doomed to fail. Yes, that is my opinion from a "spiritual" perspective and I would never try to force someone to believe what I believe. However, I cannot agree to support legislation for any act that God see as a sin....and, when our country was founded our laws were designed to protect those standards. Again, not to just say do this and do that, but so that people would be happy, peaceful, united and healthy. I know not everyone believes what I do, but there has been a standard set and if we begin to redefine marriage and other issues to suit our changing culture then the generations to come are going to have an even bigger mess to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I'm not suggesting that religious perspectives be tossed aside. In fact, I agree with Obama that religious-motivated values play a critical role in shaping and informing our laws and should be heard and respected. However, if we are unable to express a compelling civil, non-religious justification for a position, the law will likely (rightly, in my opinion) see the issue as primarily a religious matter best left to individual conscience without interference from the state. This whole discussion came about because of Dr. Dobson's attack on Obama's faith, which completely misses the point of Obama's speech. As Christians, shouldn't that kind of divisiveness from such a prominent Christian leader bother us? At the very least, don't we have an obligation to not perpetuate that kind of religious zealotry. Dr. Dobson does a lot of great things for families, but his abrasive political rhetoric, in my opinion, is often beneath the dignity of a man in such a prominent position. My two cents.

Signed,
Jeff

Anonymous said...

A group of religious leaders have published a website to challenge Dr. Dobson's charges against Obama.

http://www.jamesdobsondoesntspeakforme.com/

Jeff

Melissa said...

Jeff,

Apparently we have found something that we agree on. Dr. Dobson is a bit too abrasive on such matters, but he is a man with strong conviction who is dedicated to helping families. Thank you for keeping the discussion civilized; despite our disagreeing.

Natalie said...

A lot of good discussion here. I want to listen to Dobson's entire broadcast and read the Obama transcript before I make any specific comments, but I think the challenge of politics is to create policies and legislation that stay true to the founding fathers original intent, are in the public's best interest and that meet the litmus test of the Constitution.

Since our founding fathers founded this country on religious convictions, it would make sense that religion would still play a significant part in our political landscape.

The difference is that now religion has become so diverse that trying to instill it into today's politics is much like walking through a field filled with landmines.

Finally, I don't think a candidate can win without expressing a personal faith. I think to most Americans it is still a quality they want in their leader.

Anonymous said...

I agree, except the founding fathers founded the country on non-sectarian religious principles. They searched for universal values, not sectarian values. They certainly were not using the modern version of evangelical Christianity as their point of reference. Everyone should be free to bring their values, wherever derived, to the public policy table; but if you expect to turn those values into law, you should be prepared to translate them into universal values that can be reasonably accessed by people of all faiths (including the faith of no faith). I don't know what it is about this viewpoint that is so offensive to Dr. Dobson to provoke him to consider it a constitutional fairytale, unless his constitutional measure is determined by whatever matches his own theological opinions.

Jeff

Hands-Free Heart said...

I read a transcript of Obama's Call to Renewal speech several months ago, and yesterday I heard the Focus on the Family broadcast.

I haven't had a chance to reread the speech, but I did sense Dobson was stretching his arguments and using "sound bytes" as kindling. Based upon my recollection of the speech, I felt that Dobson did not really understand the speech, or was just on the defensive to the point of not being able to listen objectively. In fact, the whole reason for the show was that Dobson just became aware that Obama had mentioned him in this 2-yr old speech, contrasting him with Al Sharpton. Dobson was offended by this, basically admitted to it (in not-so-many words) at the beginning of the show.

For those of you who want more details without reading everything:

The website Jeff mentioned,

http://www.jamesdobsondoesntspeakforme.com/

provides a comparison each of Dobson's statements and quotes (in context) from Obama's speech. (Scroll down below the statement/petition section to find the comparison.)

The website/group doesn't add its own opinions in the comparison section, other than its choice of what to quote.

Anonymous said...

Hands Free,
I think that's probably correct. Dobson heard his name mentioned in the same sentence as Sharpton and had a knee-jerk angry reaction and decided to publicly drag Obama's faith through the mud. Although, it couldn't have been too knee-jerk because he planned a whole radio program around it. The crazy thing is, Obama's reference to Dobson in the speech was not at all critical. He was simply using Dobson and Sharpton as examples of people with very different ideas of what it means to be a Christian.

Dobson said in his radio program that he is neither a reverend, a minister, a theologian, or an evangelist. He's a psychologist with a Phd. in child development. Indeed. We should remember that his views on religious matters are just his own and are no more credible than anyone else's just because he has a microphone.

Jeff

Six in the Mix said...

I'd like to correct my first comment. Harvard started as a Puritan school. It was Princeton that was Presbyterian.

My point was to show that Senator Obabma may claim roots in a religion, but by his actions (shown in his policy) I am not convinced that he is what he claims.

My aim wasn't to mud sling at Obama or Harvard, just to point out the duplicity.

Anonymous said...

One other thing. I also think Dobson's intent may be to tear down Obama's claim to faith because of Obama's appeal in certain evangelical circles. Obama is making concerted efforts to reach out to evangelical voters, which must really drive Dobson crazy. If he can tarnish Obama's claim to faith, then perhaps his appeal will be diminished. Although, his criticisms are so ridiculous, it makes him look small compared to Obama and will probably have the opposite effect. Obama almost looks more like a Christian leader than Dobson.

Anonymous said...

Six,

Do you draw the same conclusion about President Bush? Are all of his policies sufficiently Christian to make him authentic? Don't get me wrong, I understand and appreciate how one's religious beliefs can make a certain candidate unacceptable due to policy concerns, but I think it's a dangerous game to start categorizing people's faith as authentic/inauthentic based solely policy differences. I also think it's entirely possible for a person to have personal convictions about an issue while defending the rights of others to believe differently and to recognize the limits of the government's ability to legislate in areas that many people believe are personal matters (i.e., abortion). I'm not saying I necessarily agree all the time, but I don't think it's fatal to a politician's Christian faith to refrain from legislating their faith in areas that are filled with so many moral grey areas.

Anonymous said...

Sorry.

Signed,
Jeff

Anonymous said...

Here's a question I would like to pose to the readers here. Is a Roman Catholic politician inauthentic in his faith if he is religiously opposed to birth control but believes the Constitution protects the right of individuals to use birth control? Is he doing violence to his faith by not demanding a Constitutional Amendment that would allow the government to regulate birth control and make it illegal?

Anonymous said...

Sorry.

Signed,
Jeff

Hands-Free Heart said...

Jeff, you have posted a great question. Aside from pointing out what basis we can or can't judge the authenticity of someone's profession of faith, I also challenge readers who are anti-abortion but have no moral objection to birth control to consider how their interpretation of civil rights would change if Catholics successfully championed legislation to outlaw the use of birth control.

You can argue the moral difference all day, but the scientific difference is very little. I've heard (but I'm no expert) that most birth control pills, shots, patches and IUDs create a hostile environment in the female for the potentially conceived child. Since these methods actually can produce a viable pregnancy, they also can produce a viable fertilized egg/child who cannot find a viable environment to implant and is therefore spontaneously aborted from the body and the life is lost (without the mother even knowing it).

One of many sites with info on this: http://www.prolife.com/BIRTHCNT.html

So if abortion becomes illegal based on a life begins at conception argument, scientifically this would easily carry over to most forms of birth control.

(personal disclaimer: Please don't jump in to assuming that I am condoning abortion.)

Melissa said...

It's taken me awhile to catch up here! Jeff, you posed an interesting question and I have been mulling it over. I do not think it is fatal for a politician to try and legislate everything to match up with their own personal and religious (for lack of a better word) agenda. However, I do believe if a politician is elected it is his or her responsibility to hold to the Constitution and values that this country was founded on. Okay, so in answer to your question, there are some forms of birth control that are exactly like an abortion so then, yes, that elected official has a responsibility to do whatever is in his or her power to preserve life at conception. Murder is not a grey area. God will place people in office for this very reason. He has done it throughout the Bible and He still does it today. Not everyone placed in those positions will make wise choices because that is where free will and human error come into play. To grasp this you have to exercise more then intelligence, you must exercise faith.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
Thanks for your comments. You're right, murder is not a grey area, but you're assuming everyone agrees about what constitutes murder.

I think it's fair to say most evangelical Christians would not consider the use of a condom to constitute murder. But should the law favor the Roman Catholic position against condoms? Whose morality should our law respect over all others? There was a time, not too long ago, when states could, and did, criminalize all forms of birth control.

I'll be the first to acknowledge that abortion poses very difficult and serious moral questions. I'm not at all saying that those opposed to its legality don't have legitimate arguments. What I am saying, however, is that many people, including many Christians, recognize the difficulty of the issue as a legal matter, and that well-intentioned people can come to different opinions about what constitutes protectable life such that the legal interests of the fetus supersede the interests of the woman. However, I have a hard time accepting the position that our law should require a woman to carry, against her will, a severely deformed fetus to full term knowing that the fetus will die at birth, if not before or soon after.

For a politician (or anyone, including Christians) to take the position that the issue is fraught with such moral ambiguity that we should, as a legal matter, preserve a zone for individual conscience is, in my opinion, a reasonable position to take. Even though I generally disagree, as a legal matter, with how Roe v. Wade was decided, this is essentially the balance the court tried to strike. We can argue over whether the issue should be left to the states (until such time as we're able, if ever, to define and enact a Constitutional Amendment regarding a right to privacy, which I think is needed), but on the merits of the issue, I think the law has no choice but to try to balance the competing insterests.

Thanks for engaging.

Jeff

Anonymous said...

Hands-Free,

Thanks for the background information. It further demonstrates just how difficult these issues are, not only on a personal level but on a legal level as well, which is what we've been discussing. I guess if the Roman Catholic politician considered the use of birth control (of any type) to constitute murder, then he would be obliged to try to legislate against it. Although, I think he/she would also recognize that his position is primarily a matter of faith and that unless he can demonstrate why the law should favor his/her interpretation of life (in the context of protectable legal rights), then the law will likely not impose it as a universal value.

Jeff

Melissa said...

Jeff,

Sadly, like other legislation, Roe vs. Wade was taken out of context and abused again and again for the last several decades. Abortion is now a form of birth control in this country and that was never the intention of this bill. Which is why I keep going back to governing the people in a way that is pleasing to God. We are left with just too many "grey" areas doing this any other way. And, look where we are headed. I am not preaching a "fire and brimstone" sermon here; however, I believe in the "reaping what we sow". We must carefully consider what laws we redefine because of our ever increasing sensitivity to what is politically correct in today's society. It is staggering how far we've fallen away from God in a nation that is so blessed.

Six in the Mix said...

Jeff,

Senator Obama and President Bush may both have a relationship with Jesus, as they claim. You are right to say that I am not to be the judge. I do, however, have to vote this fall, and will do so according to whose policy lines up more with the moral compass I find in the Bible--because I believe that God blesses those who follow His Word and I want my country to be blessed and live in peace.

About the question you posed, I would say that freedom is the higher standard, honored by God and the U.S. Constitution. The freedom belongs to the people. And the people are even free to elect losers, but that will bite them in the end.

So, SHOULD the politician legislate according to moral conviction? Yes and no.

Yes, he better have a line he won't cross--stand for something. No, his line better not infringe upon my back yard--hence, the gray area.

Christians in America have put their faith in the wrong thing: American government. That is why they lobby so vehemently against abortion and homosexuality. But should Christians be surprised that those who do not share their faith act outside the perameters of it?

My neighbor sleeps with men to whom she is not married. Do I correct her and pat myself on the shoulder for having asked her WWJD? I don't think that would foster an environment where she would ever be receptive to receiving Jesus.

So why is it that Christians try to ask a secular government WWJD? Christians do it in veiled ways that smack of hypocricy, but still they do it. I believe that Dr. Dobson falls into this category. He sees the American family falling apart and it breaks his heart and he wants to do something about it. He sees that if God's ways were instituted the American family would be greatly helped. So, he begins to lobby Congress to legislate the laws that will straighten everyone out so that the American family will be healed. But the error that Dr. Dobson and tons of Christians make is that they put so much faith in government to make things right.

Melissa made a wonderful point--the law of sowing and reaping. But the sowing should not be done through the government; it should be done by its people directly to its people.

A life well lived in front of my neighbor, being her friend and being faithful to her even though I don't want my children to know what is going on in her house . . . this counts for more than lobbying against her via the government or to her face.

"The kindness of the Lord brings us to repentance." and it can bring my neighbor there too. If it can bring my neighbor there, it can bring her friend there. It spreads in hearts, not in court rooms or in halls of debate.

This is why I stopped supporting Right to Life. Though I hold abortion in contempt, I can't control women through lobbying the government. I don't want to control women. I want each woman to find the creator who makes her whole and secure and values her live so much that He laid down his life for her, and then she will want to lay down her live for another and believe that there is purpose in the pregnancy.

The other side of the coin is that I can not justify voting for a candidate who supports that which I abhore.

So, Senator Obama might be a Christian, but . . . if it smells like rotten chicken, are you going to eat it?

Anonymous said...

Six,

I understand where you're coming from, but I don't think Obama has said he supports abortion--he supports abortion rights. I think we need to be careful to distinguish between the legal and the moral. As you said, freedom is the higher value, honored by God and the Constitution. This means the law will sometimes allow people to make immoral personal decisions. I think everyone would agree that there should be limits to what the law can dictate. Abortion is a legal dilemma because it involves competing interests. Obama isn't saying that abortion is just dandy (he talks frequently about the need to reduce abortions); he's saying it's a messy legal and moral issue and the law should allow people to make these decisions according to their personal beliefs. Obama may share your abhorence for abortion but still believe that the law should protect the rights of others to make that choice. Supporting a right is a different thing than supporting an act protected by the right.

Jeff

Six in the Mix said...

Jeff,

"America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." -
-- Alexis de Tocqueville

I love that quote.

I think it is sad that abortion rights is an issue at all. Is God such a stranger to Americans that goodness must be relative? Perhaps so. We're free--even to kill our unborn children.

Senator Obama supports the rights of women to abort a fetus/murder an unborn child. The interpretation is left up to the individual.

Because there is no gray area in me about this issue, I can't support someone who supports that. We'll see how America votes.

I pray that hearts will turn.

 

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