James Dobson of Focus on the Family makes two main argument in a recent posting that was brought to my attention by 5280 magazine. First, the religious right didn’t really lose in the last election, and second, the religious right should continue to make explicitly religious arguments to advance their faith-based politics.
As I’ve pointed out, the religious right got trounced in Colorado. Voters rejected McCain and his evangelical running mate, picked a United States Senator who penned a particularly eloquent defense of the separation of church and state, ousted a House member known for her faith-based views, rejected an anti-abortion candidate for state senate, and defeated the “personhood” initiative (which Dobson endorsed) by 73 to 27 percent. The religious right hardly could have taken a worse beating.
To “refute” this obvious fact, Dobson points out that voters in “California, Florida and Arizona voted to define marriage in their constitutions as the union of one man and one woman…” But that hardly proves Dobson’s point. Defining marriage as heterosexual is hardly the same thing as endorsing the religious right’s vicious anti-homosexual agenda. It is common to want to restrict “marriage” to heterosexual couples and still confer full legal rights to homosexual couples. In this case, many voters side with the religious right by coincidence.
Dobson simply ignores all of the other electoral outcomes.
But here is the more substantive point: Dobson calls on Christians to attempt to enforce their distinctly religious views through politics. Dobson rejects Barack Obama’s stance that political policies must be based on “some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.” Dobson calls on Christians to reject the “invitation for believers to show up, but then only to be allowed to make arguments that are not based in their deepest beliefs.”
And what are Dobson’s priorities? “We will continue to stand up for the sanctity of human life, the sacredness of marriage and the right to have a say in the principles that will continue to guide this nation founded on biblical principles.”
Banning abortion is his first priority; discriminating against homosexuals is his second. (No serious person protests Dobson’s right of free speech; that’s hardly the issue.) And Dobson frankly admits that both these causes are particularly religious in nature. With an agenda like that, it’s no wonder that most Americans (particularly in the Interior West) have rejected the faith-based politics of Dobson and the Republican Party.