Good cop/bad cop: Dobson denied attacking Obama's faith, while co-host Minnery questioned Obama's sincerity "with the way he talks about religion"

Good cop/bad cop: Dobson denied attacking Obama's faith, while co-host Minnery questioned Obama's sincerity "with the way he talks about religion"

››› ››› MAX BLUMENTHAL

In his July 7 Focus on the Family broadcast, James Dobson insisted that he and co-host Tom Minnery were "not throwing stones at Senator Obama for his faith" during an earlier show. However, later in the same broadcast, Minnery questioned if Obama is "even sincere with the way he talks about religion."

During the July 7 broadcast of the Focus on the Family radio program, Focus on the Family founder and chairman James Dobson denied that he and co-host Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's senior vice president of government and public policy, had launched personal attacks on Sen. Barack Obama during a June broadcast of Focus on the Family. Responding to an ad that accused "certain people" of "attacking the faith of presidential candidates," Dobson said: "[W]e're also not throwing stones at Senator Obama for his faith," Dobson declared. "That's off the wall. We are responding to his comments about the Bible and about us and about the Constitution." But during the same July 7 broadcast, Minnery questioned if Obama is "even sincere with the way he talks about religion."

During a June 24 broadcast, Dobson accused Obama of upholding a "fruitcake interpretation" of the Constitution. "I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said of Obama. "He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter." Focus on the Family sent a pre-taped segment in advance to the Associated Press on June 23.

As Media Matters for America noted, Dobson falsely suggested during the broadcast that Obama claimed Dobson "wants to expel people who are not Christians" from the United States. In fact, what Obama had said was, "And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would it be James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's?"

During the first week of July, the Matthew 25 Network -- a new political action committee created to cultivate support for Obama from evangelical voters -- aired an ad on Christian radio stations in the Colorado Springs, Colorado, area, where Focus on the Family's headquarters are located, accusing "certain people" of "grabbing headlines by attacking the faith of presidential candidates." The ad's narrator continued, "With all these stones being cast at Senator Obama, it can be hard to know what to believe." Then, the ad segued into a statement by Obama: "I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people's lives. Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to his will and dedicated myself to discovering his truth."

Responding to the ad on July 7, Dobson asserted that Obama had "mentioned me in that speech in a very derogatory way." Dobson also stated that he was trying "to correct those biblical misinterpretations and the constitutional misinterpretation from our point of view" made by Obama in his speech. Dobson later claimed that he and Minnery were "not throwing stones at Senator Obama for his faith. That's off the wall." Then, later in the same broadcast, after playing the segment of the Matthew 25 Network's ad featuring Obama talking about his faith, Minnery stated, "We have to wonder if he's even sincere with the way he talks about religion." Minnery also attacked Obama's pro-choice views, asserting that Obama's "voting record does not match his verbal rhetoric in this commercial. He has one of the most liberal records of any senator on the subject of abortion."

After Minnery's comments, Dobson concluded the segment: "[W]e did want to make this statement because we don't want to leave it on the record that we're throwing stones at Senator Obama to grab the headlines. That's very offensive to me personally, and I'm sure it is to you as well."

From the July 7 broadcast of Focus on the Family:

DOBSON: Before we get to that, however, Tom and I wanted to address something that is happening at this time. You may remember that back on June 24th, we did a broadcast where we talked about the outrageous ways that presidential candidate Barack Obama chooses to interpret both the Constitution and the Bible, and there were just many errors in what he said in a speech given in 2006 at an event called "A Call to Renewal." Those comments that we made that day were widely misinterpreted and misreported, and you know, it was even said that we had launched an attack on Senator Obama. The truth of the matter is he mentioned me in that speech in a very derogatory way, and then we tried to correct those biblical misinterpretations and the constitutional misinterpretation from our point of view.

Well, now, an organization called Matthew 25 Network has been running ads that we think are also very, very misleading, and they're being aired on Christian radio stations -- we don't know how broadly -- but they do need to need to be responded to. Now, Tom, first I want our listeners to hear just a clip from that 60-second ad, and then I want to make a comment about it, and then I'd like you to comment on the balance.

MINNERY: Well, OK, let's do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE [audio clip]: You know it's an election year when certain people start grabbing headlines by attacking the faith of presidential candidates. With all these stones being cast at Senator Obama, it can be hard to know what to believe. But in Luke, Jesus taught us that we must listen to what a man says because out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks. So here are words from Senator Obama's heart.

DOBSON: Well, that's the beginning of this highly seductive message, Tom. You can almost hear the woman crying. She sounds wounded as she talks about this. But it's also misleading, as I indicated. For one thing, nobody is trying to grab headlines. Who needs 'em? I get 'em without even trying, even if I wanted them. And we're also not throwing stones at Senator Obama for his faith. That's off the wall. We are responding to his comment about the Bible and about us and about the Constitution. And that was the point of what we had to say.

MINNERY: And it's also true that the Bible has other things to say about how people speak and the tongue. The tongue can be deceitful, and people don't always speak the truth. And there's some reason to doubt what it is we're about to hear.

DOBSON: OK, the announcer who set this up then included a portion of a speech made somewhere, we don't know when, by Senator Barack Obama. And this is what he said.

[begin audio clip]

OBAMA: I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people's lives. Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to his will and dedicated myself to discovering his truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paid for by Matthew 25 Network, Matthew25.org. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Matthew 25 Network is responsible for the content of this ad because we think it's time for a better Christian witness in politics.

[end audio clip]

DOBSON: Now, Tom, as you know, it's been widely reported in the media that Senator Obama is going to make an effort to draw evangelicals toward him, and it's obvious that this ad was aimed in that direction. But comment on the content of what the senator said.

MINNERY: Sure. Well, it's not enough to believe the words, as seductive -- as you said -- as those words are. He's a politician. It's important to understand his voting record, and his voting record does not match his verbal rhetoric in this commercial. He has one of the most liberal records of any senator on the subject of abortion. Back in the Illinois state legislature, he even stood against the idea that there should be medical help for a child who survived an abortion. That's very radical.

DOBSON: In fact, he stood up as the only member of that legislative body to oppose legislation to protect that child who managed to limp into the world after an abortion and made some statements that we have in front of us that are very, very dramatic.

MINNERY: And his abortion views don't stop there. He favors experimenting on living human beings at the embryo stage. He favors allowing minor girls to be transported across state lines for abortions. He wants taxpayer money to be used for abortion. This is one left-wing liberal on the issue of abortion.

DOBSON: He made this statement just a month or so ago, that if one of his own daughters were to get pregnant, he wouldn't want to see her get, quote, "punished," unquote, by having a child. That's the way he views a child being brought into the world -- as a punishment.

MINNERY: And we have to question whether he's even sincere as he speaks so lovingly about religion. You remember over a month ago he was at a high-level, hoity-toity event, fundraising event in San Francisco, and he was commenting on some of the blue-collar working people that he met in Pennsylvania. Here's what he said about those working-class people. It's not surprising, he said, that they get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment. So despite what this commercial says, that's what he says when doesn't think he's going to be quoted.

DOBSON: Well, we need to get to the program that we prepared for today, but we did want to make this statement because we don't want to leave it on the record that we're throwing stones at Senator Obama to grab the headlines. That's very offensive to me personally, and I'm sure it is to you as well.

MINNERY: And I appreciate you wanting to defend the evangelical beliefs in the Bible.

Person
James Dobson
Show/Publication
Focus on the Family
Stories/Interests
Religion, Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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