Excising Dobson

If it sounds too good to be true, well, sometimes it is.

On Nov. 23, Rocky Mountain News reporter Hector Gutierrez wrote a story about Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson’s appearance the day before on Larry King Live.

Simple enough, except it appears the demons in the reporter’s ears apparently got the best of him. The story, headlined “At war with himself,” originally carried this subhead:  “Dobson: Haggard not a hypocrite, just in need of exorcism.”Whoa! What? Was the head going to spin around?

“James Dobson said Wednesday that disgraced evangelical Ted Haggard was not a hypocrite for preaching against homosexuality while engaging in “sexual immorality” with a gay escort, but was a man “at war with himself,” went the news story.

“Dobson, the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, told CNN’s Larry King Live that evangelicals are not perfect, and when they don’t practice what they preach they need to undergo an exorcism.”

“Well, he obviously was, again, at war with himself,” said Dobson, a child psychologist and Christian media advocate.

By the next day, Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family had alerted the Rocky of an embarrassing error. Call it an exercise in semantics. Here’s the correction:

This story incorrectly stated that James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, believes people who don’t practice what they preach should undergo an exorcism. His quote, in a TV interview about reaction to the firing of evangelical leader Ted Haggard for “sexual immorality,” was: “Everybody gets exercised (worked up about it) when something like this happens, and for good reason.”

The exorcism has since been excised from the online version of the story. But for what it’s worth, these other Rocky snippets of Dobson worldviews as expressed on Larry King Live more than made up for the earwax problem.

Dobson quotes on Larry King Live

On forgiving Ted Haggard “His sin was not against me. God has to do the forgiving. I continue to love him. He is a friend. He will always be my friend, and I’m sorry for what happened, but God has to forgive him. I mean his relationship with his wife has to be one of forgiveness. It’s not my job to do that.”

On whether one becomes gay because of genetics “What homosexual activists especially would like everybody to believe is that it is genetic. That they don’t have any choice. And if it were genetic, identical twins would all have it. If you had homosexuality in one twin, it would be there in the other. So it can’t be simply genetic.”

On disgraced Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley “That was most unfortunate. I thought the media did everything they could to discourage values voters from voting, and I don’t think Mark Foley had anything to do with that.”

On Republican electoral losses “Republicans were given a marvelous opportunity. They had a 10-vote margin in the Senate – that’s about as good as it gets, and a 29-vote margin in the House. And they essentially sat on it and did very little that so-called values voters care about. And I think people remember.”

On his support for the Iraq War “I don’t believe it was a mistake. You know if you go back to World War II, people have been very critical of (President) Roosevelt for not responding earlier to the Holocaust that was going on. In fact, he was tone deaf to that misery. Well, that’s what was happening in Iraq. You know, Saddam Hussein killed, as far as we know, a million people. Murdered them in cold blood. And that required some kind of response. I think what the president did was right and correct to do that. But now we’re in a mess, and I admit that, and I’m very concerned.”

On liberals “Those again on the liberal end of the spectrum are those who have no value system, or at least they say there is no moral and immoral. There’s no right or wrong. . . . But when a religious leader, or especially an evangelical, falls, guess who is the most judgmental of him and calling him a hypocrite? . . . Those that said there is no right and wrong in the first place. The truth of the matter is there is right and wrong. And we all within our midst have failures, and they do occur.”