The New York Times confirms details about the unholy reasons for James Dobson’s separation from Focus on the Family.
Dobson’s son, Ryan, is a 39-year-old adulterer who tells youth audiences to “Be Intolerant” of their peers — and whose response to the Haitian catastrophe was to say, in his surfer-dude lingo, that the nation was always kinda “gnarly.”
The senior Dobson views his adulterous and less-than-humane son as the answer for a nation “in a moral decline of shocking dimensions. I have asked myself how can I sit and watch the world go by without trying to help if I can. That is what motivates me at this time.”
Focus on the Family refused Ryan a leadership position due to his divorce and Biblically invalid marriage to a second woman. One may regard FOTF’s position as morally principled, but apparently the Dobsons view it as unforgiving of a vice that the Dobsons seem to think is proof of heterosexual masculine virility.
Under new leader Jim Daly, meanwhile, FOTF has moved toward a big-government philosophy: one that uses government and private social-service agencies to recruit rigid Christian Rightists to adopt children who might otherwise be adopted by better-qualified, more loving, less ideological gay and lesbian parents.
No longer restrained by FOTF, the Dobsons’ new radio program may reveal heretofore unseen levels of self-righteousness, according to the Times.
“The organization has been trying to moderate its image,” said D. Michael Lindsay, a sociology professor at Rice University who studies evangelical leaders, “and I imagine that Dr. Dobson will now speak out on public policy issues with a louder voice than his organization exercised.”
The competition may further depress FOTF donations.
Paul D. Nelson, a board member with Focus and former chief operating officer, said that he had seen many ministries survive the exit of their founders, but that this situation with Dr. Dobson created a “big unknown.”
“Focus on the Family is losing its icon, it’ losing its face and its voice,” said Mr. Nelson, formerly the president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. “You have to reinvent yourself, but that reinvention is all about delivery, not about change of values.”
With these difficulties in mind, FOTF’s planned Super Bowl ads — expected to affirm perseverance and discourage abortion among couples with problem pregnancies — may be seen either as an effort to leap ahead of Dobson in the public mind, or as a $5 million act of desperation in a year when when the organization’s budget plummeted by $21 million.
Son Ryan was adopted as an infant — a curious development, since James and Shirley only have one other child, and they have devoted their lives to the idolization of procreative marriage.
Of Ryan’s book, “Be Intolerant: Because Some Things are Just Stupid,” Publishers Weekly said it had “all the subtlety of a two-by-four to the side of the head.”