Our Common Good


Focus On The Family’s Candi Cushman said at a CPAC panel titled “In the Name of ‘Tolerance’: Countering Sexual Identity Politics in Schools & Wait No More” said that anti-bullying policies aimed at protecting gay students have led to “thought control.”

The panel, according to CPAC’s program, was focused on how to “respectfully and practically counter activist agendas in public schools and protect parents’ and students’ rights, as well as how we can work to find ‘forever families’ for the more than 100,000 legal orphans waiting in our country’s foster-care system,” and was sponsored by CitizenLink (which was formerly known as Focus on the Family Action).

So just let kids be driven to suicide by bullies.  Those are some real family values.

The “Thanksgiving Family Forum” was organized and sponsored by three groups: the James Dobson-founded Focus on the Family, a religious right powerhouse known for its bizarre cultural agenda; the National Organization for Marriage, perhaps best known for its unintentionally hilarious anti-gay commercials; and The FAMiLY Leader, an Iowa-based group of extremists that put together “The Marriage Vow” for GOP candidates, which argued, among other things, that slavery wasn’t that bad for African-American families.

Despite — or more likely, because of — the radicals behind the forum, six GOP presidential hopefuls showed up to pander to the religious right voters, each vowing to be more pious than their rivals. The only two candidates who weren’t there were Mitt Romney, who declined an invitation, and Jon Huntsman, who wasn’t invited at all.

The result was an event that was tough to watch.


So, what did we learn from the event? That for all the focus on economic and fiscal issues at the national level, much of the Republican base is still preoccupied with a culture war — and most of the Republican presidential candidates are only too pleased to tell these voters what they want to hear.

In video released Tuesday morning from a secret religious right-wing event titled “One Nation Under God,” Focus on the Family founder James Dobson warned Americans that if they don’t vote right-wing in 2012, they’ll be in “serious trouble” with God.

Dobson: U.S. in ‘trouble with God’ if Obama reelected | The Raw Story

These religious organizations really need to lose their tax exempt status if they insist on playing politics with god.

This weekend, hundreds of pastors, including some of the nation’s evangelical leaders, will climb into their pulpits to preach about American politics, flouting a decades-old law that prohibits tax-exempt churches and other charities from campaigning on election issues.

The sermons, on what is called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, essentially represent a form of biblical bait, an effort by some churches to goad the Internal Revenue Service into court battles over the divide between religion and politics.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit legal defense group whose founders include James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, sponsors the annual event, which started with 33 pastors in 2008. This year, Glenn Beck has been promoting it, calling for 1,000 religious leaders to sign on and generating additional interest at the beginning of a presidential election cycle.


Participating ministers plan to send tapes of their sermons to the I.R.S., effectively providing the agency with evidence it could use to take them to court.

But if history is any indication, the I.R.S. may continue to steer clear of the taunts.

The site has a short poll to allow readers to take a side. Vote: Should churches be allowed to campaign?


I’m just going to go ahead and say this: Focus on the Family is not a Christian organization.

I don’t say this lightly. I’m one of those Christians willing to tolerate a pretty big tent. If you want to call yourself a Christian—and you’re at least vaguely trying—great. There’s room for people of faith to disagree. But .. there’s not quite enough room for Focus on the Family. Not in my tent. Not anymore.

Driving through rural Ohio sometimes means some … limited radio options. In practice, this means I’ll occasionally listen to Christian Talk radio. It ranges from goofy to challenging to boring to vaguely disturbing. But today’s selection was beyond the pale.

The broadcast featured a compelling witness by a Holocaust survivor that concluded with an appeal to ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten. I think that sort of thing is important to put on the radio. But the commentary afterward was entirely unacceptable.

The Focus on the Family folks proceeded to discuss that the Holocaust is what happens when the church becomes marginalized, when the government rescues the economy, and when the government educates children. “Hitler,” the man explained, “was a brilliant politician.” Nobody explicitly said that Obama is literally Hitler … but the nudging and winking was pretty obvious. The broadcast then urged Christians to be politically active.

So here’s the deal. I’m a Christian. I’m politically active. And I’m seriously pissed at Focus on the Family.

It’s not just that their history is bad. Hitler didn’t marginalize the church. He appropriated it. The Deutsche Christen attempted to synthesize Christianity with Hitler’s hateful ideals. The church allowed itself to be appropriated by a hateful and nationalistic political movement. A lot of people calling themselves Christians also called themselves Nazis. The Church was tested. Much of it failed.

It’s also not just Focus on the Family’s willingness to exploit the most graphic elements of the Holocaust for political gain. This isn’t just drawing a Hitler moustache on your political opponent’s picture. This was a graphic description of the atrocities of the concentration camps followed by the serious and deliberate implication that if we don’t vote for Republicans the same thing could happen to us.

It’s not just Focus on the Family. So called “Christian” radio, that feeds and nourishes Christians across America, but predominately the heartland, features many “voices”, much in alignment with the sentiment captured in this excellent post by squashed. Take a look (or tune in longer) at any local broadcast station program schedule — which I would estimate that a third of the radio dial is devoted to “Christian” radio, all with similar style programming) — you will find many more programs in much the same vein. Jay Sekulow Live, American Family Association, John Hagee, The Line of Fire, talk shows like Janet Meffered, Janet Parshall, etc.… Probably just as sinister are the informercial programs, mainly centered on wealth “empowerment”, dressed up as amicable fellow Christian chatter.

For those of us plugged into tumblr, or conversant in the multitude of internet offerings, this seems a wretched joke. But for millions of Americans, this type of fare may comprise the bulk of their media input. Worse, it has an insidious effect upon their local church leaders and pastors, where unwittingly, they are put to the same standard as these whacky radio preachers.