With these words, conservative activist and Clinical Psychologist Dr. James Dobson recently announced his resignation as Chairman for the non-profit Focus On The Family organization. This decision reflects Dr. Dobson’s extraordinary character, and should not be taken lightly, because it is rare when a personality of his magnitude can make such a difficult choice.
As Focus On The Family now contemplates its future, the entire social conservative political movement needs to do the same. And the movement should begin by asking itself this question: “what is our purpose - - to preserve our existing institutions, or to do what it takes to advance vital ideas in the future?” These two objectives are not incongruous, but neither are they the same thing.
The last Republican primary election cycle vividly illustrates this. During that time, Dobson devoted most of his public political commentary to critiquing the candidates, and, while from a distance it appeared that he thought highly of Governor Mitt Romney, he nonetheless declined to offer a public endorsement. Finally, on primary election day in his home state of Colorado, Dobson cautiously admitted in an interview that he voted for Romney, but made it clear that his vote was not to be construed as support for the Mormon Church, to which Romney belongs.
It's possible that Dobson refused to endorse Romney because, had he done so, it would have appeared in the minds of many Evangelicals as an endorsement of a “cult member” - - and this potentially could have been harmful to Focus On The Family. If this is correct, then it appears that, perhaps out of necessity, Dobson chose to protect his organization, rather than publicly support his preferred presidential candidate. And thus, my question, what is the purpose of this movement - - to preserve its’ existing institutions, or to do what is necessary for the future?
This scenario also begs another question: when considering a statesman, why is it that some (perhaps many) social conservatives would place theology and religious affiliation above all other considerations? The social conservative movement was begun largely by Evangelicals, yet today America is far more religiously pluralistic, and less exclusively Evangelical, than it was even a decade ago.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.