Will Dr. James Dobson Damage the Christian Vote?

Deal W. Hudson
October 2, 2007

Dr. James Dobson is the founder of the largest, most influential, Evangelical organization in America, Focus on the Family. His radio show reaches two million listeners every day, and he’s easily the most important Evangelical leader in the country.

As a result, Dobson’s political pronouncements carry a lot of weight among Christian voters. But these comments, covering all of the GOP presidential candidates, threaten to divide and marginalize Christians in the upcoming election.

You see, Dobson has painted himself, and those who follow him, into a corner.

Proof of that was the story reported yesterday in the New York Times. At a meeting last weekend of conservative leaders in Salt Lake City, the discussion centered around the proposal for a third party response to the possible nomination of Rudy Giuliani.

I have verified independently the discussions that took place among Dobson, Tony Perkins, and other religious and pro-life leaders. The idea of a third-party was not treated as a hypothetical, but an imminent possibility.

This Dobson-led threat of a third party effort was the predictable outcome of his public statements since October 2006.

The dilemma for Dobson is simple: He has disavowed every GOP hopeful except Newt Gingrich. With Gingrich now saying he will not run, there’s no one left Dobson can support:

October 2, 2006: As a guest on the Laura Ingraham radio show, Dobson says of Mitt Romney, “I don’t believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon, but that remains to be seen, I guess.”

January 11, 2007: As a guest on the Jerry Johnson Live radio program, Dobson says, “Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances.”

March 9: Newt Gingrich appears on Dobson’s radio show to deliver the mea culpa for his extra-marital affair while pursuing Clinton’s impeachment in 1994. “There are certainly times when I’ve fallen short of God’s standards,” says Gingrich.

March 23: An article initiated by Dobson is published in U.S. News and World Report. Dobson describes Fred Thompson: “Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for. . . [But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression.”

May 17: Dobson writes, “Rudy’s Not the One” for WorldNetDaily. “I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008. It is an irrevocable decision,” adding if the choice is between Giuliani and Clinton or Obama, he might not vote at all.

September 20: The Associated Press reports a private e-mail circulated by Dobson again criticizing Fred Thompson, saying, “He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent ‘want to.’ And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!”

The only satisfactory candidate for Dobson evidently is Gingrich, who announced on Saturday he would not be a candidate. So where do Dobson and his followers go? And will they respond to a third party call?

What happens to the religious conservatives already committed – rather evenly – among the four leading candidates? Would they follow Dobson, Perkins, and other movement leaders out of the GOP?

Dobson gave Newt Gingrich a second chance by inviting him on his radio show to offer a public repentance. Perhaps he will offer the other candidates a chance to explain positions troubling to him and his listeners?

I’m sure they would leap at the chance.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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