Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

What James Dobson Has Against Fruitcake and Barack Obama

When he accused Presidential candidate Barack Obama of taking a “fruitcake interpretation” of the Constitution, it was clearly no compliment and neither was his accusation that Obama was “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.” So for starters, what does Reverend Dobson have against fruitcake? I mean we all like to make fun of it, and my wife’s theory is that there are only a few of them which are re-gifted every Christmas, but still…. Next he’ll be calling such interpretation “chopped liver” and for me, them’s fightin’ words!
But more troubling is Dobson’s assessment of Senator Obama’s comments, which strike me as well reasoned and genuinely valuable to anyone who takes both the Bible and contemporary experience seriously. He did not get it totally right, but more about that later. Now to the three dangerous claims made by Dobson, with whom I often disagree but rarely find this ugly.
First, why must Reverend Dobson insist that Obama’s “mistaken” interpretations are a “deliberate distortion”? Can’t someone be wrong anymore without being accused of lying? I appreciate that Dobson thinks Obama is wrong, but there is no evidence here that he is lying, too. And confusing disagreement with disingenuousness turns ugly pretty quick and serves nobody well. Not to mention that when he suggests that Obama is “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter” because he offers an interpretation which differs from his own, he is telling all Jews, Muslims, and Christians who differ from him that we are guilty of the same dragging. If that is so, then I am proud to share that gutter with Obama and will leave the street to the ugly triumphalists who would defend Dobson’s claim.
Second, while Dobson may be correct that Obama is “worlds away in the views of evangelicals,” his claim is based on the fact that “Evangelicals…take Bible interpretation very seriously,” which he believes Obama does not. Why? Because James Dobson assumes that if you don’t share his conclusions about the Bible, you must not take it seriously. Ironically, taking the Bible seriously is the one thing that all interpreters actually share. If they didn’t, they would not bother to interpret the text, they would simply ignore it! But sadly, for a man who claims to love the Bible, I suspect that is what Dobson would prefer.
Third, the Reverend would apparently prefer a world with people who share his view of the Bible, or have so little connection to it that they have no view at all. This makes it genuinely frightening when he accuses Senator Obama of wanting everybody to agree about how to interpret the Bible. He perfectly locates the sin of spiritual arrogance, which really does get people killed, and claims that those who oppose it are most guilty of it! Well, I guess he knows that the best defense is a good offense, or in this case, the ability to be offensive.
I do hope that in the future Senator Obama will not suggest that interpretations with which he disagrees are inherently not “amenable to reason.” But that is something about which we can talk when we stand together in that “gutter” where Reverend Dobson thinks we both belong. Hey, maybe we’ll make it a picnic and I’ll bring the fruitcake.

  • Paul

    Dr. Dobson should return his focus on the family and stop focusing on political ideology. He is fastly losing credebility. with his tirades agianst Obama. People are beginning to snicker when he talks because he can’t back up what he says anymore. I disagree wit Dobson on many points, but when he talks about family he’s on point.
    Get off the soap box, Dr. Dobson and talk about what you really know.

  • Corey Nathan

    I am an Evangelical Christian and I am more concerned about the unwieldy influence of the likes of James Dobson than I am about almost anything in our church or our culture. Dr. Dobson has proven beyond any doubt that his political views take precedence over any proclaimed moral or theological views. This is especially dangerous because he has influence over so many well-meaning Christians. Many Christians I know don’t pay close enough attention to see through Dobson’s transparent priorities such as when he hypocritically backed Mitt Romney over Mike Huckabee during the Republican nomination process. Not only that, Dobson doesn’t allow for the possibility that anyone who even remotely disagrees with any of his views could have any nuance or reasoning behind those views. He has the marks of someone who uses Scripture as a weapon to push through his particular brand of social order. I pray that guys like this are revealed for who they really are and are rendered mute once and for all.

  • Chloe

    I encourage anyone who agrees with Brad’s posting and the above comments to view and consider signing

  • Alan Ridge

    Great post Brad! You’re definitely on point. I attended a Calvinist college during my graduate study and the whole community there was flooded with the ideology of Dobson and the like. What a depressing sort of cloud to live under! Paranoia, fear, guilt, shame, and groupthink made of unforgiving concrete. Pass me the fruitcake!

  • Brian Horan

    Check this out if you think Dobson doesn’t know his own crap stinks:

  • Charlieford

    Great response. A minor quibble: Dobson is not ordained and hence not a “Reverend.” He has no formal theological education. Nor has he ever done any formal studies in history, law, or politics. He is a psychologist.

  • James Rose

    I just love the way that Dobson has revealed himself to be the hypocrite that he his. He opposes the teaching of evolution because, according to his own arguments, he believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible, in this case Genesis, a book that is even more antiquated than that of Leviticus.
    He also opposes the homosexual lifestyle, spreading malicious lies about this group of people all in the name of ‘faith’. He opposes the homosexual lifestyle because it is condemned in the Bible. Guess where one of the pivotal passages regarding homosexuality in the Bible comes from. Yep, Leviticus (Leviticus 18:22 to be precise), the book in the Bible that according to Dobson is antiquated and no longer relevant in the modern day.
    Apparently, at least according to Dobson, the book of Leviticus is no longer relevant because it is superseded by the New Testament. Really, show me the passage in the New Testament where it is God’s Word that says “hey, Leviticus is no longer relevant, you can ignore it”. If Leviticus is so antiquated, so out of date and so unnecessary to modern life why is it the world’s population of Jews follow the teachings of Leviticus in regards to their diet, and why is it the world’s followers of Islam have their diets influenced by what is contained in Leviticus?
    No, in my opinon, all Dobson has done with his breathtaking statement regarding how his ‘literal’ intrepretation of the Bible is show how, in fact, his view of the Bible is about as literal, accurate and well put together as a Pick’n’Mix from the local Woolworths. Most of the world already knew that this man has the moral authority of a rabid hamster, now his own words have proven it.

  • Chris

    Wow. Some things in the Bible are clearly spelled out in both the Old and New Testament, like God’s views on Homosexuality and Abortion. Then when Obama twists the scriptures to say that they are irrelevant and someone calls him on it, that person is labeled a bad person. It is very scary to see so many liberal Christians who only want to take only parts of the Bible and ignore the rest.
    James Dobson is accurate with his assessment of Obama, and not just from a speech two years ago. But I believe that everyone should do their own research to draw their own conclusions. People need to look past the snippets of information that the media gives and research the whole story.
    As for what the Bible says, people really need to read the whole thing for themselves instead of being told what to believe or just reading the parts that agree with what they want to believe. People should know why they believe what they believe.

  • Rev. David F. Harwood

    I am a reverend and have spent my vocation helping people to understand that not only is the Bible worth taking seriosly (but never literally), and that if there’s one word to describe Jesus’ ministry it is reconciliation. Our sin is that we are perpetually trying to drive assunder thosewhom God has joined together, reminding me of that story about Harry who spent his whole life hating homosexuals, Muslims and poor people only to discover upon entering his long-sought eternal life that who should be there waiting to welcome him but homosexuals, Muslims, and many of the unwashed, unconverted masses, including an inconsequential Jewish peasant called Jesus.

  • Jim

    A major issue is Dobson coloring peoples interpretation of what Obama said. Although his popularity has gone down, there are many people that will immediately believe anything Dobson says.

  • Dave Macy

    Holy Moley! I cannot believe for one minute that true Christians who actually read the bible fo all it is worth, would agree with Senator Obama’s statements from two years ago.
    First, for Rev. Harwood. Tell me about your story! Where was this afterlife? Certainly not Heaven. Anyone who has not believed in his heart and confessed with his mouth that Jesus is LORD will be in Heaven. Yes, in Hell, there will be unrepentant unconverted Muslims, homosexuals, and all sorts of non-believers–and Harry who hated them because no one can claim to love God and hate his neighbor. However, Jesus won’t be among them. He is no longer an inconsequential Jewish peasant as you state–but is glorified with the Father in Heaven.
    Remember Rev., Jesus said YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN. Do you take His words literally? I hope you do.

  • Marian Neudel

    Why is Dobson raising all this ruckus about a speech that happened two years ago? Is it possible that he’s just trying to make trouble?
    BTW my old family recipe for fruitcake starts with soaking a batch of dried fruit in rum for 24 hours. How can you go wrong with that?

  • Scott R.

    Gee Chris, what is an “Old Testament”? Never heard of it. I know of a Tanakh/Hebrew/Jewish bible. But an “Old Testament”? Nah.
    Hey Dave – I’m a Jew. Am I going to hell? Jews don’t have a hell. Is there a special Xian one for us? I do know that fundamentalists who are also bible worshipers (i.e. idolaters) will avoid hell – there is a far worse fate for them.
    Should we trade stories of who will have a worse end?

  • Edith Ladd

    I don’t think any one of us would agree with another person regarding, religion, politics or much else COMPLETELY, but I think Dr. Dobson has a better grasp on it than Obama does. I think Obama may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing so to speak. We definitely need someone that has had a LOT more experience than Obama. We need a lot of help right now and I don’t think it should be Obama. We need to remember that God is not mocked. He has put up with our pride, greed, complacency, disregard for His word a long time and we keep getting worse. So guess what people, we had better mend our ways as I think God is running out of patience. Also for people who think there are many ways to heaven, any Bible I have read says it is only through acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior that we can be saved.

  • Tim Wu

    I’m not convinced McCain’s platform is in anyway more “Christian” or “Biblical” than Obama’s.
    Yes, Dobson can harp on issues of a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage, and the “muslim threat”. But in reading the four gospels, I do believe the Jesus of the Bible was more concerned with the down-trodden and the poor, social justice, and with peace than with banning marriages.
    (And while on this issue, divorcees re-marrying is unbiblical too, should we ban this as well? In fact, divorce is unbiblical, maybe we need another constitutional amendment?)
    And in reading the way Hebrew society was setup according to the Old Testament, I’m not sure a more hand’s off Republican government which refuses to step in with aid programs to those who need help is in line with God’s heart of compassion.
    And lastly, look.. we’ve just had 8 years of Bush. I don’t care how Biblical Bush’s views are. He did a crap job. This was Dobson’s endorsement last time around. Fool you once, shame on Dobson and the current Republican party. Fool you twice, shame on you. If you vote according to Dobson’s personal opinions again and get another 8 years of crap, this time, you deserve it.

  • wwhitesitt

    Thanks for doing this….
    It is really too bad that a large percentage of evangelicals have been duped by their pastors and culture to take a George W. Bush approach to Christianity. “If you’re not with us you’re against us”. That would assume that the “Evangelical Brand” is infallible and any other Christian organization is not really Christian. Evangelicals talk about being pro life while 96% of evangelicals supported an unjustified war (“just war theory”)
    that has led to the death of as many as 500,000 innocent Iraqi children through violence, disease and starvation, not to even mention other innocent civilians and the sacrifices of our military. It is also quite interesting that this same mindset allowed Christians to tolerate Slavery (Mark of Cain…come on…really?) and genocide of our Native American population under the political guise of “Manifest Destiny”.
    If Evangelicals could get off their rhetoric and look to policies that would minimize the number of Abortions we could make some progress. It makes me wonder if Evangelicals are more interested in dogma or actually saving the lives of the unborn. Pull the beam out of your eye my brothers so you can better see to extract the slivers from others.
    It is hard to take Dobson serious, after all, he is the one that proclaimed Sponge Bob gay.

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