Dobson Assailed From All Sides

UPDATE: The odd fissure between anti-abortion factions continues, with Dobson’s old pal, Colorado state Sen. Dave Schultheis, weighing in. See comments section, below.

James Dobson can’t get a break today. Thank goodness – for him – he has his own $150 million ministry and media empire to fight back from attacks on all sides – including from anti-abortion groups and the godless secular 4th Estate.

As reported by the Associated Press, four groups this week purchased a full page ad in the Colorado Springs Gazette assailing Dobson’s position on, of all things, abortion. Their beef? The anti-abortion leader of the Springs-based Focus on the Family “wrongly characterized” the Supreme Court’s April ruling as a victory for abortion foes.

According to the AP report, “The ad said the ruling will actually encourage medical professionals to find ‘less shocking’ methods than late-term abortions, which abortion opponents often call ‘partial-birth abortion.’

“Dr. Dobson, you mislead Christians claiming this ruling will ‘protect children.’ The court granted no authority to save the life of even a single child,” the ad said. It concluded by asking Dobson to “please repent.”

The letter in the ad was signed by Brian Rohrbough, president of Colorado Right to Life; the Rev. Tom Euteneuer, president of Human Life International; Flip Benham, director of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America; Judie Brown, president of American Life League; and Bob Enyart, pastor of Denver Bible Church.

Shortly after the April ruling, Dobson issued the following statement, in an online story published by Focus on the Family’s political newsletter CitizenLink:

“We thank God that the Supreme Court has affirmed the value of human life by banning the Nazi-esque barbarism that is partial-birth abortion,” Dobson said.

“A majority of justices have recognized what most Americans have long known: there is no constitutional right to slay a healthy, nearly born baby by stabbing it in the back of the head and vacuuming out its brains – all without even anesthetizing the child.”

Meanwhile, the folks at Focus continue to be seriously chagrined over Dobson’s statements, and how they were presented, in a March 28 story in U.S. News and World Report. In the story, Dobson questioned whether possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson is a Christian, while at the same time praising Newt Gingrich as the “brightest guy out there.”

As Colorado Confidential reported, here are Dobson’s statements made in the article, which were later clarified by his spokesman, Gary Schneeberger:

“Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for,” Dobson said of Thompson. “[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression,” Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party’s conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson’s characterization of the former Tennessee senator. “Thompson is indeed a Christian,” he said. “He was baptized into the Church of Christ.”

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson’s claim. He said that, while Dobson didn’t believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless “has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian-someone who talks openly about his faith.”

“We use that word-Christian-to refer to people who are evangelical Christians,” Schneeberger added. “Dr. Dobson wasn’t expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to ‘read the tea leaves’ about such a possibility.”

Dobson’s comments were widely disseminated, including by most mainstream news organizations. Though is is unclear exactly which part of the report was incorrect, Focus attempted, in a prepared statement, to refute Dobson’s own comments: “Never in the 30-year history of this ministry has there been more misreporting and outright distortion of his beliefs and teachings.”

This week, Dobson’s organization announced he had taken to the airwaves – on nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck’s show – to again repudiate the story in U.S. News and World Report.

“You know very well you can’t believe what you read in the media, especially about evangelicals,” Dobson told Beck. “That was spun by the media. I’m getting sick of that. It’s an effort to marginalize you, to make you look foolish, and to distort your views.”

Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at cdegette@coloradoconfidential.com

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Cara Degette

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