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Evangelical Leader Dobson Leaving Radio Show

James Dobson, the voice of conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, will no longer host its flagship radio broadcast and is cutting formal ties with the organization that he founded more than 30 years ago, the evangelical group said Friday.
Dobson, 73, and the board of directors both agreed about the moves, which will go into effect at the end of February, ministry officials said. The decision to part ways was amicable and long anticipated, said Gary Schneeberger, spokesman for the Colorado Springs-based group.
Dobson has distanced himself in recent years from the organization he founded in 1977 and built into an influential force – both as a political powerhouse and provider of conservative family and moral advice. Dobson resigned as Focus on the Family president in 2003 and as chairman of the board in February.
“The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season – and Dr. Dobson’s season at Focus on the Family has been remarkable,” Jim Daly, Dobson’s successor as president, said in a statement. “He has done a superlative job in modeling the graceful transition of leadership from one generation to the next.”
Dobson did not issue a statement on his departure. Dobson’s “health and attitude are great,” Schneeberger said. Dobson suffered a minor heart attack in 1990 and a mild stroke in 1998.
Daly, however, made clear that Dobson “will continue to make his voice heard in the public square.”
“Dr. Dobson is a wordsmith, but one word I don’t suspect we’ll hear him using is ‘retirement,'” he said.
In announcing his resignation as board chairman earlier this year, Dobson said: “One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority … Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do.”
Earlier this year, Focus on the Family laid off 8 percent of its work force, casualties of a donation shortfall. That came on top of another round of layoffs last year.
A child psychologist and author, Dobson has become more vocal about politics in recent years. He sharply criticized Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the buildup to the 2008 election, saying Obama distorted the Bible and had a “fruitcake interpretation” of the Constitution – characterizations Obama rejected.
Critics portray Dobson as part of an older generation of evangelical leaders whose influence is waning, and point to younger leaders who are taking up the environment and poverty as political causes.
Daly, 48, who has taken on a higher profile as Dobson has receded from the public stage, shares Dobson’s beliefs about culture wars issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, but hasn’t been as political. Daly complimented Obama for his efforts to promote responsible fatherhood but has said he disagrees with Obama’s policies on most other issues.
Dobson will stop writing the Focus on the Family monthly newsletter – which he used to plead for funds in lean times – and turning it over fully to Daly, Schneeberger said.
No decision has been made about how to fill Dobson’s absence as host of the daily radio show, which reaches an estimated 1.5 million U.S. listeners daily. Schneeberger said Dobson will appear as an occasional guest.
The radio program was a key vehicle for Dobson’s message, and replacing him could prove difficult, said Corwin Smidt, executive director of the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“It’s going to be hard to replace him given his centrality,” Smidt said. “That doesn’t mean Focus on the Family and its radio program can’t continue to be important. It suggests a challenge before them.”
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

  • cknuck

    I like the guy and although I haven’t listened to him lately I’m going to miss him. I will rush to buy several of his broadcasts that I enjoyed and some of his teaching tools.

  • pagansister

    No tears here.

  • Denise

    May God bless Dr. Dobson for all he did to nurture and help families across the world, and for his work in defending the institutions of marriage and family in this country.

  • JohnQ

    May God forgive Dr. Dobson for all he did to torture gay and lesbian youth as well as gay/lesbian families across the world, and for his work in delaying equality for gay/lesbian couples/families in this country.
    pagansister, not only are their no tears for this announcement in our home….we are celebrating!

  • 007

    This is great news, now if Pat Pobertson would quite parading around with his trust fund, blood diamond, race horsing BS, and oh yeah his “diet drink” that he had to pull off the market, right after he sold the family channel to the highest bidder so he could give shares of stock to his family all while it was being built on tax exempt status.

  • Richard

    Yaaay! One less right-wing bigot to deal with! With D James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell passing away and Swaggart disgraced that leaves only Pat Robertson and John Hagee to keep polluting our airwaves with their faux Christianity!

  • Henrietta22

    Quote: “It’s going to be hard to replace him given his centrality,” Smid said.
    No it won’t, I “betcha” if they call Sarah Palin, and send her a ticket to Colorado Springs……

  • pagansister

    Sarah Henrietta? Now that is truely a scary thought!

  • cknuck

    Clinically Ms Palin cannot hold a candle to Dr. Dobson. And as conservative as his views were he did have explanations for them. I don’t think he hurt homosexuals, although he did fight for traditional family values and for homosexuals who sought to change family as God designed it I guess to them he was hurtful.

  • EBurkeDisciple

    God bless you Dr. D. You are an example of great leadership in providing for a smooth transition for a great organization and in your years of sacrificial service to a cause you believed in. You don’t see that among Democrats and sadly few Republicans. You have shown us what can be done by one man following Christ and we are all better for it.

  • Mordred08

    cknuck, do you honestly believe that homosexuals are the only ones who don’t fit into Dobson’s “traditional family values”?

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