Dr. James Dobson walked into a media maelstrom stoked by the Obama for President campaign and ironically led by the minister who recently officiated at the wedding of Jenna Bush. In less than 24 hours, the exchange split evangelicals and led to the creation of a new Web site highlighting Christians attacking Dobson.
It all started earlier in the week when Dr. Dobson, a child psychologist and founder of the Christian ministry Focus on the Family, accused Senator Obama of distorting the Bible saying, "I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology."
Obama claims to be a Christian despite his denial of basic Christian tenets. For example, Obama does not believe that acceptance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is necessary for salvation. Obama has repeatedly said belief in Jesus is only one of many paths to salvation.
At one campaign stop, Obama said that his mother was in heaven despite her atheism and outright rejection of Christ. While speaking at a town hall forum in North Carolina on March 26, 2008 he said his late mother was “not a believer.” He continued, "But she was the kindest, most decent, generous person that I have ever known," Obama said. "I'm sure she is in heaven, even though she may not have subscribed to everything that I subscribe to."
A basic tenet of Christianity is that profession of faith in Jesus Christ is necessary to gain the reward of eternal life in heaven. Christians do not believe the door of heaven is open to every “kind” and “generous person.” Christians do not believe that adherence to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or other religions opens the door to eternal life in heaven with God. That is why Christians send missionaries seeking the conversion of these religions’ practitioners to Christian beliefs.
When faced with Dobson’s remarks, the Obama campaign became unglued, going on the attack. They even launched a new Web site to slam and disparage the psychologist. The anti-Dobson Web site address is www.jamesdobsondoesntspeakforme.com. Senator Obama himself got into the act saying that Dobson was “making things up.” The Web site features Methodist pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell. Caldwell is a spiritual advisor to President Bush and recently endorsed Obama. He is the leading Obama attack dog in the campaign against the more conservative Dobson.
Dobson is concerned that Sen. Obama has misled evangelicals about his own theology during his continued aggressive outreach campaign. Early in the campaign, Obama’s team hired a former Assembly of God associate minister, Joshua DuBois, to handle the outreach effort to evangelicals. His job is to vouch for the authenticity of the senator’s faith with evangelicals and he maintains a “faith forum” for discussions about the role of faith in politics at the candidate’s Web site. In addition to that, DuBois posts updates of Obama’s latest media and events related to religion on the Web site.
Obama’s campaign wants to split the Christian vote. Obama regularly attends mega-evangelical churches, those never before visited by Democratic politicians. Obama is working to convince evangelicals that a liberal agenda is consistent with the Bible. Obama articulates the idea that federally funded abortions, and poverty and foreign aid programs are congruent with Biblical mandates to help the less fortunate. He especially likes to quote passages from the teachings of Christ about outreach to the poor.
Two issues of particular concern to Dobson are homosexuality and abortion. Dobson believes that the Bible maintains that both are sinful. Obama has embraced both practices as healthy and safe. Obama advocates civil unions giving government benefits to homosexual couples similar to those of heterosexual married couples. He also believes that abortion should never be limited. He supports abortion until the ninth month of pregnancy. Obama also has supported transporting minors across state lines to receive abortions without parental consent. His abortion advocacy has earned him the endorsement of the National Abortions Rights Action League.
Obama’s efforts courting Christians could easily win him the presidency. Regular church attendees have been an important part of President Bush’s coalition for victory. Obama only has to split this group to be successful. Dobson’s remarks are sure to get the attention of some Christians, but the success of his efforts to hold Christian voters together remains to be seen. Many Christians seem willing to embrace Obama despite his heretical theology and views on homosexuality and abortion.