Focus on the Family

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Focus on the Family is a cult-like "not-for-profit" evangelical Christian hate group founded by Dr. James "Show your children your penis in the shower so they don't become gay" Dobson[1] in 1977, with Jim Daly as its current president.[2] It is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It specializes in family issues approached from a fundamentalist standpoint, espousing anti-family views like homophobia and strongly supporting corporal punishment for children. Its meddling attitude can be summed up by the bumper sticker slogan "Focus on your own Damn Family!" In 2012, the group had an annual budget of $98 million and employed a staff of 655.[3]

Political advocacy[edit]

Focus on the Family's logo, depicting the battle between loving parents and the evil Big Government that wants to steal their children.

Although Focus on the Family itself is technically apolitical (in accordance with federal requirements for a tax-exempt religious organization), it created a political action committee called Citizen Link, which is utterly committed to ensuring that biblical values prevail in Washington. These values literally always line up with the Republican party line, not just on standard Christian issues which have a minute biblical basis (abortion, homosexuality, divorce) but on things which have no biblical basis (health care reform, taxation, labor unions). Citizen Link has also been very vocal in the ENDA controversy, arguing constantly for the right of Christians to discriminate against gays and Muslims. The group has not yet become famous for its ability to find "anti-Christian discrimination" in anything that happens anywhere, but rest assured that this will happen any day now. Focus on the Family has specifically been involved in trying to stop the legislature and the (then) governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, from signing a bill that would extend non-discrimination protections to LGBT people, using the common scare tactic that men will come into the girls' restroom.[4]

Although federal law would seem to require Dobson to limit his political outbursts to Citizen Link-related media, Dobson has, on several occasions, branched out into politics on the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcasts, doing everything from asking radical Republican lawmakers what hate crime legislation is really about (outlawing disliking homosexuals, obviously) to attempting to rehabilitate Tom Delay's image.

Focus on the Family also created a website called "True Tolerance," which is, of course, dedicated to intolerance and also features some of the Alliance Defense Fund's typically-idiotic free legal documents.[5] In 2009, they crafted "Stand for Christmas," which provides shoppers with a list of which retailers are "Pro-Christmas" (the site was very useful, inasmuch as it told a secularist which shops to avoid).[6]

Children's ministry[edit]

Focus on the Family has a long-running children's adventure series Adventures in Odyssey which is broadcast by radio, published on audio cassettes and CDs (often given away for free in kids' meals at Chick-Fil-A since 1990[7][8]), and available online (an animated TV series is also available on DVD). It mostly takes place in the fantasy of every fundamentalist, a small American town full of almost exclusively deeply religious people who never got the notice that the 1950s ended. Wacky hijinks inevitably lead the one new kid in town who isn't a Real True Christian to a saving knowledge of his Lord and Saviour. In the words of a pastor's testimonial on their website, "The stories provided a much-needed balance to the 'critical' method of approaching faith that I was being taught in the classroom." Who needs critical thinking when the cartoon that came with your 8-piece chicken nugget meal (with a small Coke® and fries) answers all the fundamental questions of the universe? In addition, the series has a Very Special Collection called "For God and Country" which teaches a... unique perspective on American history.

And surprisingly, despite being a product of Focus on the Family, Adventures in Odyssey is actually pretty good and has gained a huge cult following even among Focus on the Family's detractors, likely owing to co-creator Phil Lollar's claim that the show's goal is not to be "a preaching program" but to be an "entertaining program".

Focus on the Family also put out a series of teen novels that re-imagined Old Testament events as steampunk, giving the lunatics Jesus and God had to deal with on a regular basis access to 1800s technology and (white, very white) European sophistication. Like with Odyssey, they were actually quite good, as it turns out that whitewashing the tale of King David to make him not seem like a homicidal maniac, while ALSO giving him a gun, vastly improves the original story.

Ted Bundy[edit]

In 1989, Dobson interviewed notorious serial killer Ted Bundy shortly before Bundy was executed for murdering dozens of women. Rather than trying to persuade Bundy to confess to all his crimes and give the families of his victims some closure, all Dobson was interested in doing was promoting his evangelical anti-pornography campaign.

"Dr. Dobson wanted someone to testify against booze and pornography, and Ted wanted to leave us all talking about him. He wanted to blame someone else for his crimes, and by saying it was us who left all those bad magazines on the racks, he became innocent in his own mind".[9]

"I’m not blaming pornography,"[10] Bundy stated, before going on to blame pornography.

"Pornography made me do it" is the essence of Ted Bundy's last interview.[11]

Of course, as with everyone else who met him, Bundy was simply manipulating Dobson.

[Bundy] noted in a letter in 1977 that he almost never looked at porn magazines, telling future biographer Ann Rule, "Who in the world reads these publications? ... I have never purchased such a magazine, and [on only] two or three occasions have I ever picked one up."[12]

The very same day that Dobson interviewed him, Bundy assured two other researchers "that pornography was in no way the prime causal factor"[13] for his crimes.

Using a brutal psychopath's manipulative ramblings to promote your own moral crusade? Not a good look.

Scandals[edit]

Child sex scandal[edit]

In 2009, Focus employee Juan Ovalle was arrested on two felony accounts of soliciting sex with a child via the internet. Ovalle was arrested when he drove to Lakewood, Colorado, to meet a 15-year-old girl who he had cybered with online — the "girl" turned out to be an undercover police detective.[14] Ovalle worked in Focus's Spanish broadcasting department and was FOTF's Spanish-language narrator of their Bible in Spanish CDs and their "Adventures in Odyssey" radio show. However no other employees are known to have done anything similar or apologized for him, so this is more of a statement of the failings of an employee, rather than the organization.

Defender of Trump and Moore[edit]

During accused sexual predator Roy Moore's campaign for the US Senate, Dobson spoke out in defense of both Trump and Moore in a radio ad:

You know, last November I believe God gave America another chance with the election of Donald J. Trump. But he now needs the presence and leadership of Judge Roy Moore to make America great again.[15]

Jack Abramoff casino scheme involvement[edit]

In 2006, Media Matters reported:

On the February 17 broadcast of his radio program, Focus on the Family president James C. Dobson and Tom Minnery, the organization's vice president of public policy, sought to fend off questions arising from reports of their alleged collusion with convicted felon and former gambling industry lobbyist Jack Abramoff in a scheme to shut down competition to his [Abramoff's] clients' casinos.

While both Dobson and Minnery deny working with Abramoff, email exchanges between Abramoff and associates Ralph Reed and Michael Scanlon appear to contradict Dobson and Minnery's claim that Focus on the Family's activities in opposition to the expansion of a Louisiana casino had nothing to do with requests from Abramoff or Reed.[16]

Guns don't kill people, gay marriage and abortion do![edit]

According to Dobson, the Sandy Hook massacre was caused by abortion and same-sex marriage.[17] Because, of course, everything bad is caused by them.

Related organizations[edit]

Nebraska Family Alliance[edit]

The Nebraska Family Alliance is a conservative lobbying shop that seeks to make Evangelical Christianity into the law of Nebraska. When it was founded in 1988 it was just a bunch of local busybodies worried that people were getting divorced too often, but these days it is a state branch of Focus on the Family.[18]

Womens' Liberation Front (WoLF)[edit]

As well as founding Focus on the Family, Dobson was also responsible for funding Womens' Liberation Front, a TERF astroturf site disguised as a "feminist" organization.[19] Considering how hurting transgender persons has become "the way" for the Religious Right following the legalization of gay marriage in the United States, this should hardly come as a surprise.

Plugged-In[edit]

Plugged-In is Focus on the Family's pop culture review site. The site covers movies, music, television shows, and video games from the perspective of an evangelical "think of the children!" prude. The site is like Capalert without the dodgy clip art and dubious attempts at quantifying every naughty word.

Plugged-In is interesting in the sheer variability of the reviews. Some reviewers will actually manage to understand and show some basic grasp of the meaning of the works they are reviewing, while others will just list the number of swear words and other bits of naughtiness. The usual fallacy of believing that everything depicted or described in a movie or song is an endorsement of that practice crops up a lot.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. James Dobson's Patented Cure for the Gay
  2. James Dobson Was Pushed Out Of Focus On The Family, Says Influential Evangelical
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/09/us/focus-on-the-family-transforms-its-message.html
  4. Moreno, Ivan "Focus on the Family: Law allows men to use women's bathrooms" in the Denver Post on 30 May 2008.
  5. True Tolerance website.
  6. Stand for Christmas website, which since 2011 has been replaced by a health news blog.
  7. "Fast meals with kid frills". Houston Chronicle. September 21, 1990. p. 1.
  8. "Chick-fil-A Samplers" on Adventures in Odyssey Wiki
  9. https://www.deseret.com/1989/9/12/18823450/last-bundy-interview-called-con-game
  10. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/flashback-ted-bundy-says-porn-fueled-him-in-bizarre-last-interview-129458/
  11. https://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/18/opinion/ted-bundys-last-lie.html
  12. https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Ted_Bundy.html?id=h2GYjwEACAAJ&redir_esc=y
  13. Michaud, Stephen G.; Aynesworth, Hugh (1999). The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy. United States of America: Authorlink Press. p. 340. ISBN 1-928704-11-5. 
  14. http://bucknakedpolitics.typepad.com/buck_naked_politics/2009/04/via-memeorandum-the-colorado-independent-reportsa-colorado-springs-man-who-narrates-the-bible-in-spanish-on-cds-and--works.html;http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13601491
  15. James Dobson Releases Radio Ad Endorsing Roy Moore by Michael Stone (November 27, 2017) Patheos.
  16. http://bucknakedpolitics.typepad.com/buck_naked_politics/2009/04/via-memeorandum-the-colorado-independent-reportsa-colorado-springs-man-who-narrates-the-bible-in-spanish-on-cds-and--works.html
  17. Dobson: Connecticut Shooting was God Allowing 'Judgment to Fall Upon Us' for Turning Our Back on Him, Right Wing Watch
  18. Nebraska Family Alliance
  19. Fake “Radical Feminist” Group Actually Paid Political Front For Anti-LGBT James Dobson Organization. transadvocate.com.