Focus on the Family is certainly established as a ministry and a political powerhouse. And just as it kicks off a massive effort to get two man-woman-only marriage proposals onto Colorado’s November ballot, the Colorado Springs-based nonprofit appears to also be attempting to morph into a mainstream news organization.
Fox News, move on over.
Focus’ latest activities in Colorado alone are merely highlights of how the ministry has implemented wide-ranging national success in promoting its worldview that gays can be “cured” and that marriage must be legally defined as being between a man and woman only.
Federal law prohibits the ministry from formally endorsing political candidates, but it can certainly promote political causes and issues. So far this year, Focus has contributed $55,000 to one group that is pushing an initiative to define marriage as between a man and woman, and $2,000 to another outfit seeking a similar constitutional measure. As Focus founder James Dobson recently said during a recent radio program, “marriage is under vicious attack … from the forces of hell itself.”
The ministry is also looking for people to go out, kick butt and take names. In a letter obtained by Colorado Confidential, addressed to Dear Friend and sent out to thousands of Coloradans earlier this month, Focus executive Tom Minnery issued a call for petition-gatherers to ensure they get enough signatures so the measures can make it onto the November ballot.
As Minnery puts it:
A warm greeting from your friends here in Colorado Springs! On behalf of our entire staff, I’d like to take a moment to extend our heartfelt appreciation for standing with us in the fight to defend the beliefs and freedoms so many of us hold dear. As you’re undoubtedly aware, this battle is intensifying almost daily, and the opposition is extremely formidable. Nonetheless, the stakes are simply too high for us to back down.
In his letter, Minnery details who to call for petitions, how to collect signatures, and notes that they can be returned to Focus on the Family to be submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office by July 31.
“Focus on the Family passionately supports and is involved with both of these efforts… Time is very short,” he writes.
Critics are already calling Focus’ efforts an Amendment 2 redux. In 1992, the then-relatively unknown ministry was a driving force behind the statewide initiative to prohibit gays and lesbians from seeking protected class status. The law was ultimately struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s only been in the past four years that the national media has realized the breadth and scope of Dobson’s power and influence. But Republicans have long realized that to win national elections, they must go well beyond paying lip service to one of the most influential fundamentalist religious leaders in America. In 1996, for example, every single GOP presidential hopeful came through Colorado Springs for the Dobson ring-kiss, with the hopes of securing his support.
And now, in addition to its well-established international radio and magazine empire, Focus, which reported nearly $138 million in revenues last year, appears to be beefing up efforts to be recognized as a legitimate, even mainstream, news organization.
On July 9, Focus posted an ad seeking a special investigations editor for its special interest magazine, Citizen, on journalismjobs.com, an online resource job source for journalists. The job promises, by Colorado Springs standards, a hefty salary of $45,000-$50,000 plus benes.
The Special Investigations Editor exists to research, report and write investigative reports for publication in Citizen. Creates original copy and manuscripts, organizes facts, interview quotes, and other material into the most compelling form.
Bachelor’s degree in Journalism or Communications. 10+ years successful investigative reporting experience. Membership in Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) or similar investigative reporting organization.
The advertised essential duties and responsibilities are much like those of a traditional newsie: do interviews, research and report, write investigative pieces, proofread, etc.
But here’s some of the the small print, what it takes to be an “investigative journalist” for Focus on the Family, which is further described on Focus’ website in their current job listings
Is a consistent witness for Jesus Christ; maintains a courteous, Christ-like attitude in dealing with people within and outside of Focus; adheres to the Standard of Moral Conduct and Statement of Faith; upholds Focus on the Family’s ministry in prayer
Demonstrates behaviors aligned with FOF core values.
Applicants must also possess additional personal characteristics of being gracious and having team spirit.