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.
News and World Report Cover-
Fails to Expose It
By Don Romesburg
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
James Dobson's War on America, by Gil Alexander-Moegerle, Prometheus
Books, 1997, 307 pages, cloth $25.95