PEOPLE 
James Dobsonís Darker Side:  
A Carefully Kept Secret
 
U.S. News and World Report Cover- 
Story Fails to Expose It 


By Don Romesburg
GLAAD Publications Manager
 
 
The cover story of the May 4 U.S. News and World Report is an uncritical look at radical religious leader James Dobson which completely avoids his connection to hate groups and active, aggressive fight against equal rights for lesbians and gay men. 

Solely looking at his call for the G.O.P. to kow-tow to a far-right Christian party line, U.S. News and World Report paints Dobson as "not a preacher or political activist. He is a psychologist, and his authority comes from an ability to connect with people right at the level of their problems....The effect is completed by the slight drawl on a country doctor."  

It hails his view as "a traditionalism humanized by common sense and flexibility....He urges discipline for the big issues and tolerance on the smaller stuff." It discusses disagreements Dobson has had with other radical religious groups opposing equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation. But it side-steps views of Dobson by major mainstream organizations, including those seeking to ensure basic rights for lesbians and gay men.  

Coming away from the article, a reader could see Dobson, his non-profit group, Focus on the Family , and his $100 million media operation as homespun Christians looking out for what they see as the moral and political needs of the country.  

A closer look at Dobson, however, reveals a much darker side totally hidden by U.S. News and World Report. During the battle over Colorado's infamous anti-gay Amendment 2, which was later ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, the anti-gay group leading the charge was Colorado for Family Values. .Focus on the Family is one of five national radical religious groups represented on their board.  

According to anti-gay Christian group watcher Jean Hardisty, "it is widely agreed that the 1991arrival in Colorado Springs of James Dobson and Focus on the Family was an important catalyst for...Colorado for Family Values."  

In 1992, Focus on the Family gave an $8,000 donation to Colorado for Family Values. From 1988-1992, Focus on the Family was merged with the virulently anti-gay Family Research Council. Together they published and distributed a false, gay-baiting tract entitled The Homosexual Agenda: Changing Your Community and Nation."  

Focus on the Family separated from the Family Research Council only after the IRS questioned Focus on the Familyís  ties to the Council's anti-gay lobbying efforts. In a 1990 Focus on the Family newsletter, Dobson claimed "I am familiar with the widespread effort to redefine the family. It is motivated by homosexual activists...who see the traditional family as a barrier to [their] social engineering." In a 1991article, he equated sexual orientation to bestiality, saying, "There are people in our society who find sexual satisfaction from engaging in intercourse with animals...Would anyone suggest that these groups deserve special protection?"  

As Hardisty said, "The skillful manipulation of homophobia by the right wing creates anti-gay sentiment and actions that bolster and promote intolerance." Would this be the "common sense" or the "flexibility" to which U.S. News & World Report refers? 

Tell U.S. News & World Report that an uncritical, glowing profile of such a dangerous man as James Dobson is as misleading as his own propaganda. It does a disservice to the magazine's readers and is an embarrassment for such a respectable, normally thorough news outlet. 

Contact: Harrison Rainie, Managing Editor, U.S. News & World Report, 2400 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20037-1177, fax: 202.955.2685, e-mail: letters@usnews.com 

Suggested Reading:  James Dobson's War on America, by Gil Alexander-Moegerle, Prometheus Books, 1997, 307 pages, cloth $25.95