James Dobson, co-founder of Focus on the Family, publicly announced his resignation today as chairperson of the organization which serves as flagship of the Christian Right’s culture-war network.
Dobson, who inaccurately presents himself to the public as FOTF’s sole founder, was quoted by AP (via SFgate.com):
One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority. … Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do.
But Dobson, now 72, did hold the reins of leadership too long. His authoritarian management style and his personal animus against women and ethnic minorities drove away at least one organization co-founder, Gil Alexander Moegerle, and ensured that the organization would drift from its original pro-family mission into political trench warfare for the preservation of white male evangelical privilege in a nation of numerous and increasing faiths, denominations, and cultures.
Dobson filled the organization’s top ranks with like-minded managers and successors who would carry on his amoral, almost all-consuming, preoccupation with just two issues: abortion and homosexuality. Dobson’s obstinate and ignorant policy positions against sex education ensured that millions of unprepared women would unnecessarily become pregnant and seek abortion when underequipped religious and secular charities failed to offer viable alternatives. Dobson’s efforts to smear, silence and discriminate against gay students and young adults ensured that millions of persons struggling with their faith and sexual orientation would resort to unsafe and compulsive behavior instead of informed and disciplined management of their values and sexuality.
As Dobson’s health declined in recent years, his successors have gradually taken over for him — and Truth Wins Out will spotlight these successors in the coming days. Many of them are, unfortunately, as uncompassionate, partisan, amoral, and closed-minded as Dobson.
Dobson may be on his way out, but Focus on the Family may continue to threaten family values, accuracy in science, civil political discourse, and national unity for years to come.