Well that was fast! Within hours of broadcaster James Dobson’s attack on Senator Obama, one of the most prominent ministers in Texas (along with others) has lept to Obama’s defense, establishing a website bluntly titled, “James Dobson Doesn’t Speak for Me.” The site, the creation of the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, pastor of a vast United Methodist congregation in Houston and a minister who has long been on friendly terms with President George W. Bush, plays a three-part role.

One, it takes the form of a petition, which site visitors can sign. Two, it’s a statement, listing items* on which Dobson “doesn’t speak for” the signers. And three, it lists five instances in which it suggests that Dobson’s radio broadcast distorted Obama’s speech. (As a reminder, Dobson made his remarks as a reply to an Obama speech on religion and public policy, delivered June 28, 2006; Dobson said he had not learned of the speech until very recently.)

Among the items:

James Dobson doesn’t speak for me when he uses the beliefs of others as a line of attack;

He doesn’t speak for me when he denigrates his neighbor’s views when they don’t line up with his…

Although the text is relatively brief, the site grounds itself in biblical references, citing no fewer than seven from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, not least this:

The apostle John speaks for me in reminding us of Jesus’ command to love one another. The world will know His disciples by that love.

If nothing else, the site indicates that, influential Dobson may be, but he and other leading religious conservatives can expect to be directly responded to–in religious language–in this election cycle. And that is a very different situation from what has prevailed in recent presidential elections past.



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