Call 1.800.597.DOOR (3667) for authenticated reprints
The DOOR Interview with
Focus on This
[The portions in BLACK are the original text. RED
texts are current clarifications and additions]
2001--In his Nationally syndicated Column Date Janurary 7, 2001 [pmi-note that:
1. Dr. Dobson never quotes God's Word on the subject of tough love through confrontation.
2. Secondly, he promotes a secular process/organization.
3. Thirdly, the tough love confrontation that is Biblical-though not identified as Godly, and the nature of the problem-denial, that Dr. Dobson does mention are the same Biblical steps that he has so stubbornly rejected towards himself, for many years.
4. Fourth he suggests children can go for help without their parents knowing--isn't this the same principle he opposes about teens getting abortions without their parents knowlege?
5. Dr. Dobson send people needing help to this secular organization and not to God's body where they can get everlasting help and life.
God says leave this man alone and stop supporting him until he falls and repents...just like Dr. Dobson says should be done to alcoholics. Everyone who supports Dr. Dobson and Focus On The Family with money, gifts, verbal and non-verbal support contribute to his willfull sinning and the destruction of those who do not know better...May God have mercy on their souls...
ALCOHOLIC MUST BE CONFRONTED IN SPIRIT OF TOUGH LOVE, Dr. Dobson writes:
"Q. My husband drinks excessively. Aside from getting help for my family, what should I do specifically for him? How on earth am I going to get him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous or some similar treatment program? He is deep in denial, and I'm not even sure he's thinking right now. He couldn't make a rational decision to save his life. How am I going to get him to cooperate?"
A: Youíre right about the difficulties you face. Begging won't accomplish anything, r husband could be dead before he admits he has a problem. Indeed, thousands die each year while denying that alcoholics.
Thatís why Al?Anon teaches family members to confront with love. They learn how to remove the support systems that prop up the disease and permit it to thrive. They are shown how and when to impose ultimatums that force the alcoholic to admit his or her need for help. And sometimes they recommend separation until the victim is so miserable that his or her denial will no longer hold up. In essence, Al?Anon teaches its own version of the love?must be?tough philosophy to family members who must implement it.
I asked Bob, a recovered alcoholic, if he was forced to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, the program that put him on the road to recovery. He said:
"Let me put it this way. No one goes to AA just because nothing better to do that evening. Everyone there has been forced to attend initially. You just donít say ďOn Monday night we watched a football game and on Tuesday we went to the movies. So what will we do on Wednesday? How about going over to an AA meeting?' It doesn't work that way. Yes, I was forced ? forced by my own misery. Pauline allowed me to be miserable for my own good. It was loving duress that moved me to attend."
Though it may sound easy to achieve, the loving confrontation that brought Bob to his senses was a delicate maneuver. I must re?emphasize that families should not attempt to implement it on their own initiative. Without the training and assistance of professional support groups, the encounter could degenerate into a hateful, vindictive, name-calling battle that would serve only to solidify the drinker's position.
Al-Anon Family Groups and Alcoholics Anonymous are both listed in local phone books. Also to be found there is a number of the Council on Alcoholism, which can provide further guidance. For teen?agers of an alcoholic parent there is Alateen. Teens can go there and share without their parents' permission or knowledge, and its free.
AS of August 1, 2000 (Chuck who sought the information from FOTF executives) is saying that "Dr. Dobson IS a member of a local Nazarene church but is not allowed to give out the name"--which functionally means there is still no biblical recourse to address using Matthew 18 and Luke 17. Dr. Dobson's shameful behavior continues and now includes his so called church since they do not hold Dr. Dobson accountable for his actions.
August 1, 2000: 11:18am CDT, upon calling many Nazarene Churches in Colorado Springs I found Rev. Zell Woodworth is Dr. Dobson's pastor at the Nazarene Church Eastborough 4123 E Pikes Peak Ave COLORADO - SPRINGS, CO 80909 719-596-1929 I will attempt to bring these issues to Eastborough ruling Elders for the continuing of Matthew 18-Third Step of "Telling it to the Church". http://www.eastborough.org and Pastor Zell's email is PastorZell@eastborough.org
August 1, 2000:2:28pm CDT Rev. Zell Woodworth wrote back saying,
"Dear Sir, Eastborough, nor it's Church Board, are interested in hearing about your dispute with Dr. Dobson.
His, Pastor Woodworth" Enough said to now treat them as a non-church...Lord, Lord Lord...
DOOR Magazine - November/December 1997
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The DOOR Interview with
Focus on This
Long-time DOOR-knobs will remember our classic 1989 issue No. 108 titled "Fracas in the Family." You know, the one with the not-so-classic fluorescent yellow/orange cover. See, we were trying to make it look like an old-timey wrestling poster, pitting James Dobson and Gil Alexander-Moegerle. But it ended up just looking goofy.
Fortunately, Gil eventually forgave us.
Which is good, because when his new book James Dobson's War on America (Prometheus Books) came out, we reallllly wanted to interview him again. After all, this is the man who was there from the beginning, helping Dobson create the most powerful parachurch organization in the history of the world.
But Dobson canned him when Gil went through a painful divorce. Our first story was a relatively impartial (OK, only slightly skewed) account of Alexander-Moegerle's attempt at reconciliation with Big Jimbo.
When that failed, Gil began to notice little things going wrong in his life. Like: he couldn't get work, his new wife Carolyn couldn't get work, no one in his immediate family could get work, and no one who'd ever spoken to Gil (like us) couldn't get work. Stuff like that.
So, despite an incredible resume in Christian empire-building, Gil took a regular job. And,
as part of the healing process, he wrote War on America.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most chilling books we've ever read.
And, by the way, both Prometheus' lawyers and our lawyer (well, she's not really a lawyer, but she did get out of a traffic ticket once) have read this reeeeeeal carefully. Still, what you're about to read ain't pretty.
(Alexander-Moegerle is serious about this stuff. He recently held a press conference in Colorado where he publicly apologized on behalf of Dobson and Focus on the Family for his part in their treatment of gays and lesbians, African-Americans, divorced people, and for misusing its considerable political clout. Here at The DOOR we applaud Gil's efforts. We just didn't think he went far enough. We also asked him to apologize for Continental Drift, the Hole in the Ozone, the deficit, AIDS, anthrax, acid rain, and Tim Allen's last two movies.)
DOOR: Who is James Dobson and why should our readers care or even think about James Dobson?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: He is certainly one of the most extraordinarily influential men among us - if "us" is Americans following Christ on the conservative side of things. He's got to be one of the four or five most influential leaders within that group. The reason we should care and we should think about some issues involving James Dobson is because with that influence, I think he has progressively begun to do more harm than good. And I think we ought to at least be in dialog with each other as members of the body of Christ about that possibility.
DOOR: What is your experience with Dobson?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I met him in 1977 when he was an author and a public speaker and tired of speaking. He wanted to replace traveling with the media and I had been doing media for 10 years as a producer, director, writer, and on-air talent specifically for religious broadcasters. At the time I was the VP of the Domain Agency in Chicago, which specialized in fundamentalist or evangelical broadcasters. Dobson said, "I want to do media." Our agency did media, and I was assigned as the project manager.
DOOR: So it would be accurate to say that you were the founding producer of the Dobson radio broadcast?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Yes. I was also the original editor of the Dobson magazine. I was the first person to do fund-raising for Dobson and I was a founding member of the board of directors of the "Focus on the Family" program. I was with him for 10 years.
DOOR: After those 10 years, a split occurred. What were the details of that split?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Looking back on it, it had two parts to it. First, I could see now that we were drifting apart philosophically and spiritually. There were numerous incidents where I was beginning to see that we were no longer colleagues spiritually or philosophically.
DOOR: Like what?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: We had been into politics. When we had the parting of the ways, we had been into the political thing about seven years and it was beginning then to get more and more extremist, dogmatic and exclusive. Now it is to the point where, last year, Dobson heavily influenced the Republican party to write a platform statement that said, "You can only be a good Republican if you're this, this and this." I was beginning to see that kind of thing and I was becoming uncomfortable.
DOOR: What were the circumstances that led to the split?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: The personal stuff. Jim talked to my former wife behind my back. Jim talked to my therapist - the most extraordinarily invasive stuff - all based on being panicky that if I lost my first marriage, it would somehow be a commentary on everything he's ever written about marriage. It was like Jim was thinking, "I've got 49 principles for how to hold your marriage together and Gil, my main man, just lost his. That means all 49 principles are out the window."
Then I met Carolyn, my current wife, at Focus on the Family and we fell madly in love. After a couple of months of courtship, we took Jim and Shirley to supper. The whole time, I'm thinking that Jim probably cares about me. I'm thinking that what has just happened is so wonderful because I had been through several tough, tough years trying to solve some marital stuff in counseling. Two years, $10,000 of marriage counseling - and we couldn't solve it. So we lost that first marriage. I'm thinking that the fact that Gil is madly in love with this wonderful woman that Jim knows and loves will prompt Jim to say, "God is making up for the years of the locusts in Eden." So I said, "We're gonna be married."
Ten days later, we were fired.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Both of us. We went to supper and all the while I was thinking, "Boy, this is gonna be a celebration," because I mistakenly thought all along that I had a friendship with Jim Dobson. I can see now that it was purely utilitarian. I was valuable to Jim, I knew how to do certain things in the media and that had great value to him. The minute I had no value to him, we had no relationship. I didn't see it coming. It was very painful at the time.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: He knew there was no affair. He told his people, "I absolutely guarantee there was nothing inappropriate in this relationship. I guarantee it." And there wasn't.
DOOR: When you spend $10,000 on marriage counseling, do you get it back when it doesn't work out?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I went to therapy with Jim's best therapist friend, only to discover that Jim's best friend was telling him what was going on in therapy.
DOOR: I know this sounds funny coming from us of all people, but isn't that, like, a breach of ethics or something?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Slightly. I think it would fit in that category.
DOOR: What would Jim say if he were sitting in that seat of why he fired you?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I assume he'd say what he said then - unless he wants just a wholesale distortion of history. What he said then included the most extraordinary line in the book. It was said during his speech to the staff - that Focus on the Family constituents will go to hell if they begin to believe that we are not what we say we are. And what we say we are is opposed to divorce. There's too much possibility of misunderstanding about what has happened to Gil's life. So we're saving people from going to hell.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Yeah, just a good ol' kind of guy. I thought I knew him. I thought I had a friendship. But obviously I had nothing because the minute he saw a threat to his own reputation and to this company, it was very easy for him to say "Please go away." We went away. We went away in good fundamentalist fashion, real quietly, not confronting him.
So the whole summer goes by. It's now September and not one word from the man and frankly - it hurt. So I called his secretary and said, "Gee, I sure would like to have lunch. I'd kind of like to continue our 10-year relationship. Is Jim available?" The call came back - yes, he'd be glad to have lunch. We met for lunch and I could tell within five minutes that the relationship was over. He had no interest in me and what had happened and where I was going. I was unemployed; I couldn't find employment for quite some time. He never asked. You could just see it in his eyes that he was on to other things.
Anyway, we're talking along and I'm saying, "Jim, there's trouble here. You've got some personal work, you've got some stuff to do. There is some correction that is needed." I wasn't very forceful, I wasn't in his face, I wasn't angry.
After 10 years together, I went through a list of maybe five concerns. The last was, "There's a real problem when you terminate someone's employment and say absolutely nothing about it. It's a problem for me. People think I had an affair because you're the one that ended the relationship and you won't tell people why because you can't tell people why. After all, who fires somebody over the possibility of a false rumor? That's why I was fired. You haven't said anything publicly about me and my wife. You've cast a shadow over both of our reputations by the way you handled that."
His response? "Gil, one of the reasons I have not made a public announcement is because the best thing for Focus on the Family would be if all of our constituents thought you were still in the film department making films."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Jim said, "So I don't want you around, but the best thing is if everybody thought you were still around so I don't have to answer any questions about that."
DOOR: Were you blacklisted after that?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I think so. I have to be careful saying that because one of the problems I have in telling my story is the likelihood that I might start sounding embittered and end up throwing big darts in every which direction. But I think I was. I couldn't find work and you have to ask yourself why. Because I'd had a phenomenal career up until that point.
I have a call from a friend of mine, a manager of another radio station, saying that Dobson's VP said I had an affair and we had to let him go.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: That's when I took step one and said, "Jim we have to meet in front of a Christian panel and we have to get to the bottom of some things." Jim said, "No."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Josh McDowell wrote me and he said, "I can't believe you had an affair!" The three evangelical broadcasting clients that I was doing some consulting work with at that moment, trying to resuscitate my career, all dropped me within a week of that press release. Whatever the word blacklisting means, I feel like something like that happened.
DOOR: One of the themes of the book is the lack of accountability. Where is Dobson's accountability?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: If there is any one question that I have been asked more than any other, it is, "Where the heck is the board?" That's a very personal question to me because I was a founding member, a voting member of the board, and I attended every board meeting for 10 years. I don't feel about them in an impersonal way or like they're this august, strange group, or that I don't quite know the dynamics. I know every one of them - at least until '87. There are a lot of them that are still original board members. It's easy to say, "What a bunch of wimps. What a bunch of rubber stamps." But there are some strong people on that board. "It was such a wonderful, relieving experience for me, years and years ago, to break with that Holiness thing and to be able to say, 'My God, I'm a sinner.' The easiest way for me to understand how much a sinner I am is to recognize the sins of omission."
There are some very specific dynamics about that - dynamics I tried to work on in the book. One of the most intriguing to me is that he doesn't take a salary. He has structured his financial relationship so they don't pay him for what he does. Now think about that for a second. Here's a group of people and none of those people on that board raise $125 million a year. That's the budget. Jim raises it. They don't.
Second, they don't pay him a paycheck. So on what basis - other than just sort of esoteric, free form morality - do they say, "Jim, don't lead this organization that way." Are they prepared to say, "If you don't like what we think as a board, we'll jolly well get somebody else to raise that $125 million. You can go someplace else." I don't think so. I think it's much easier to come together three times a year, hear the phenomenal reports, praise God together and go home. And they may be very strong elsewhere, but that is not a strong group in that sense, in that context.
DOOR: Okay, who is Dobson's pastor?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: His pastor for quite a long time was his cousin, H.B. London. H.B. is now his employee. He's left the Nazarene church and become an employee of Dobson's. Jim has no accountability. I never once in 10 years saw Jim in an interpersonal relationship with somebody where it was quite clear that the power was equal.
DOOR: But he's a member of a church in Colorado Springs, right?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Yeah. But remember - Jim's an only child. I don't know if that's an unfair way of getting at what we're working on. He's an only child who came to power and influence early in his life, who shuns real accountability and really enjoys the exercise of power and control. In a perverted sort of way, you would say that one of the things he's best at is the expression of isolated, independent power.
DOOR: Has it always been that way?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I was there in the formative years. I attended those staff meetings where we were putting the board together. He deliberately, consciously, overtly, verbally, put together a board to his own liking. And he verbalized - looking back on it, at least he should have kept his mouth shut - that he was looking for board members that would not rock the boat. So Peb Jackson was our vice president to the wealthy and influential. That was his job description. He was on the road meeting and making friends for Jim and for Focus. As long as you were wealthy and influential, that was all that was required for Peb to have a meeting with you. Peb was the point person to find the next board member and the next board member. The criteria was - and it was talked about openly on the record - "Will they go with the flow? Are they cooperative types of people? Are they rich, are they influential?"
DOOR: At one point in the book, you say that - theologically - Jim Dobson believes he is without sin. Surely that is an overstatement.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: The publisher wanted a book for two reasons. One, Dobson's political influence is skyrocketing. Number two, outside of his religious group, very few people know anything about Jim Dobson. Let's introduce people to a very powerful, political person. The book is written to address that need.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Right - and I know it like the back of my hand because I was raised Christian Missionary Alliance - which is one of the Holiness denominations. I even went to Asbury College, which is a Holiness college. So I was comfortable addressing it in the book. The doctrine is, after an instantaneous experience with Christ that we call salvation, you need a second instantaneous, dramatic spiritual experience with Christ, that we call sanctification, where your capacity to sin is removed. Jim believes himself to be sanctified in that sense.
"My impression of James Dobson
is that he's never seen a civil rights
issue that he didn't hate. Jim thinks
that civil rights are secondary, that
they're unimportant. The important
thing is that he knows all, sees all,
that he's perfect, perfected in love.
So whatever he thinks, can be."
Jim instructed the engineer to stop the tape machine and slightly glared at me and said, "We're not gonna use that phrase on this broadcast. Because we are most certainly not all sinners. I am not going to include myself in that and we're not going to promote a perspective that says that everybody has to be a sinner or has to be viewed as a sinner. That's not true. It's possible to rise above that."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I was raised in that group - Armenian Holiness - eternally insecure and convinced that I was born again and born all over again every time I fell. Another phrase, along with sanctification, that the Holiness movement uses is that "you've had the experience of perfect love." If there's anything Dobson does not exude, it's love.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: It was such a wonderful, relieving experience for me, years and years ago, to break with that Holiness thing and to be able to say, "My God, I'm a sinner." The easiest way for me to understand how much a sinner I am is to recognize the sins of omission. For me to ever take the position that I am without sin requires me to say, "I omit nothing, nor do I commit anything."
Jim later wrote me a letter - which I still have in my files - where he writes: "I have done you no wrong," and it's underscored. In the terms of the Holiness issue, that is the root of a lot of the problem. That's the connection.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I don't think you can do relationships on the basis that you have done no wrong. I don't think you can do politics in a pluralistic society on the basis that you are the one that has done no wrong and that everybody else has got it coming. Those are all tied together.
DOOR: Your book talks about the danger that somebody like Dobson represents to our political system. Turn that around: what's the danger Dobson represents to the Church?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: All I can offer you guys are the responses of a 10-year veteran inside that organization. First, Jim represents the falsehood that the moral and spiritual renewal of our society can be achieved through political power. He is promoting a belief that people are buying that if we can get to Washington in sufficient numbers, we can turn the country around morally and spiritually. But his followers are going to wake up someday to the realization that that was a total waste of their time and their money. That's a gigantic disservice to the body of Christ because where else could that time and money have gone in terms of that which is of the Spirit rather than of power?
Lastly, that we can do the work of Christ in a society while using enormous amounts of disrespect and combativeness. If there is anything that characterizes the Dobson style, it is disrespect and combativeness for people different than himself.
I love a line that Bob Dole said when Clinton brought him to the White House last fall after the elections. Dole said, "I hope I made it clear that Bill Clinton was my opponent and not my enemy." Now that is statesmanship.
I say with all sincerity, without wanting to bash Dobson, that I know of no Dobson opponents that he views in any way other than his enemy. And that is a tremendous disservice for someone who bears the name of Christ.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: In the world of James Dobson, everything is an impersonal evil. If you don't break out of that and get to know people one on one, as individuals, and try to get into a respectful, loving, relationship, then you've failed.
DOOR: Enough with the nice stuff. In your book, we identified at least three "smoking guns" - three specific events that bolster your claims that Dobson is waging war on America. The first would be the assertion that your former employer violated civil law.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: There is a disdain for fundamental American civil rights here. Dobson jokes about liberals, that they've never seen a tax that they don't love. My impression of James Dobson is that he's never seen a civil rights issue that he didn't hate. Jim thinks that civil rights are secondary, that they're unimportant.
You may remember Joyce Landorf, a well-received Christian author and speaker in Jim's religious world. But Jim got it in his head that there were characteristics of her divorce and her remarriage that didn't pass his personal test. At the time, Word's five hottest authors were Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Dobson, Landorf and Charles Swindoll. So Jim somehow convinced Chuck Swindoll to join him in this and said to Word, "If you don't cease doing business with Joyce Landorf, we will cease doing business with you." So Word dropped all of its contractual arrangements with Joyce Landorf.
As a society, that's a no-brainer. As a society, in terms of civil rights and civil liberties and the rule of law and the fair playing field and fair business practices, I think every American would say, "That's a bunch of crap. Put that man away."
I simply don't see respect or sensitivity in him for the standards of civil behavior.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: The commission was working hard to establish a scientific linkage between pornography and violence against women. That's what they really wanted to be able to establish in order to create some censorship laws or some restrictions for Playboy, Penthouse and, of course, the hard core stuff. We tried forever to find it and Dobson was getting really frustrated no one could find the link, the missing link. It was critical to Jim's perception of the success of that commission to make the point he wanted it to make.
DOOR: Was that before the Ted Bundy thing, where Dobson went and hung out with the convicted serial killer and even made a video about it? Boy, was that a snoozer.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: It was concurrent with it, but it's such a fascinating part of it because, as you'll recall, the media beat up on Jim for his position - which was basically indefensible. Jim's position with Bundy was that Ted Bundy made the case. Ted Bundy was Exhibit A that there's a link between soft core pornography and violence against women.
DOOR: Of course, the itsy-bitsy problem with that particular argument is that everybody - including Bundy - agreed that he was a pathological liar.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Right - and that's your case study. Anyway, Dobson's doing the work of this commission and he's getting more and more frustrated. Jim thinks conspiratorially. He also thinks in huge quantities of paranoia. In other words, all of Jim's opponents are united. And they're all united against him.
Finally he says something like, "Ahh guys, if the university establishment was not so humanistic and liberal, if a grant could be given to do some serious study, we could see that link. We could document it. We could get some new legislation to outlaw Playboy," and he's going on and on.
And right in the middle of that speech his mind flipped to a second illustration. He says, "You know, that's the very same thing about the fact that blacks are genetically intellectually inferior to whites and we could document that if anybody would do that research. But you can't get that research done because that is politically incorrect."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Then he rolled into what was probably 10 minutes of that classic line, "What could be more obvious? Only the strongest blacks in Africa were bought. Only the strongest ones on the boats survived the trip. Only the strongest ones at the dock were sold to the plantations. Only the strongest ones in the plantations survived and married and propagated. And that's why blacks are genetically physically superior to whites."
I think we have to say he's a classic racist.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Right. We were a lily-white organization. Looking back on it now, there was never one conversation of any type in 10 years, in his home, in his car, over lunch, or in a formal setting, where Jim said the words, "You know what, diversity is one of the most wonderful things, one of the most valuable things in life. People have different experiences, different perspectives. One of the things we've gotta do, we just have to make sure that we're pulling from diverse sources in order to put out a product consumed by a diverse market place." That thinking was totally absent!
DOOR: In our experience, every time we've found an organization structure that is anti-something, the leader is usually subconsciously struggling with those very problems.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Stan Mooneyham makes the statement, and I quoted in the book that precise statement. Does that name mean anything to you?
DOOR: Oh, sure, we know him personally, but some of our ... uh ... newer readers might not.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: He's past president of World Vision and I had a chance to visit with him in his home shortly before he died. The reason I went to him was that I had in my files a note from Dobson to Word Books again saying, "I can't believe you're about to publish the new Stan Mooneyham book in terms of his private life. Sometimes I feel like we're brothers and on the same page, but at moments like this I question that."
Mooneyham said, "Dobson scares the hell out of me. He's exactly like Swaggart. Anybody who rants and raves that much about issues like pornography is trying to throw away a part of himself that he finds unattractive. Either he's involved in it secretly or he wishes he was."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Well, to add horrors to horrors, when Dobson finished his speech about blacks, Rolf Zettersten, our VP of publishing, who's gone on to be VP with Thomas Nelson, took that occasion to tell a racist joke. He told this incredibly crass joke about a public school classroom of blacks. The whole room fell out. And, I'm sorry to say, I laughed.
The fact that I laughed makes me sick. It has to do with the power of group think. I can't imagine being part of a group ever again, ever in my life, because I know the degree to which I was suckered. I sat there and I laughed rather than standing in outrage at what I had just heard. I was dumbfounded. But that's not adequate, that's not a good enough excuse. No, no, I laughed, I didn't say a thing. When I walked across the street, it was my dear wife who had the good sense to say, "Do you realize the horror of what you have just heard?" Then I sort of woke up at that instant and said, "By God, you're right. That is horrible."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Well, he certainly moved the organization from a community that was 75% non-white to a community that is 75% white.
DOOR: At least 75% white.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: He even verbalized it. It'll sound preposterous, but he verbalized it. He said to those of us close around him, "I am not comfortable in L.A. anymore. There are so many Asians, so many people from India. I meet them at the cleaners; I meet them in the grocery store."
Of course there's truth to that, but if you think about it as a follower of Christ, you have to say, "Great! We've got all these wonderful people coming from these diverse backgrounds and we can tell them about Christ. I don't have to go to India, I can go to downtown L.A. I don't have to go to Asia, I can go across the street in Arcadia where all these people are."
But Jim saw it as the opposite and he specifically said, "I want to go someplace where they're more like us."
He had three choices for Focus on the Family - Raleigh-Durham, Colorado Springs, or Seattle. By golly, there's some racism in there some place!
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: If you want a great insight into James Dobson's contribution to the church, here it is. I don't have the name to go with the quote, I wish I did, but a pastor in Colorado Springs is quoted as saying, "Before Dobson arrived here, the religious community, the various Christian communities and denominations in town, had succeeded in having a fairly harmonious relationship with each another. Now that Dobson's in town, we're all at each other's throats."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I think so. I try to say he has a disrespect for civil rights. He rejects the typical accountability that our public policy leaders have to have. Above it all, here I am. And there are several other reasons to suggest that, whatever good he's done in the area of child-raising and marriage, in this one area of politics I think he's unqualified.
But there is a difference between us praying and wishing that our fellow Americans would come to follow Christ and going to Washington and working to make this a Christian state. Those are two fundamentally different things. One of them is what we're about. One of them violates the separation of church and state. I'm trying to describe Dobson as a danger in that regard. That's un-American. You can't do that.
I believe that that philosophy, pushed to its extreme, will lead to sectarian bloodshed in the streets like Northern Ireland or the Middle East or parts of the former Soviet Union.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Look at two of those bombings in Atlanta where they appear to come from the Army of God: "We're followers of God and by God we'll bomb abortion clinics." Or, "By God we'll bomb that lesbian and gay night club in Atlanta."
DOOR: Speaking of godless liberals, you have a pretty nifty quote from Mark Hatfield on that very subject in your book.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Hatfield said, "Beware the man who seizes the levers of Caesar to usher in the kingdom of God." I think we're seeing that. I think that's a fair and accurate description of the extreme ends of the religious right.
DOOR: The tax code is Greek to us, but if he's endorsing specific candidates or doing that kind of thing, wouldn't that be in violation of his 501C3 status? And couldn't they take away his Power Rangers decorder ring for that?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: In the book, I asked Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, "Does Dobson violate separation of church and state?" Lynn's answer was, "No. I don't like the way he does politics, but he is not in violation."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Lynn says, "Dobson has turned a pastoral hotline into a political machine."
Then, a month later, he gets on the air to the same people and says, "Remember when I helped you? Now I want you to help me. We're gonna change Washington." And the public says, "Gee, I couldn't really say no to that, could I?"
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Why does it work so well? It works because of that indebtedness. I think Lynn nailed it.
What would make this a better society is if 501(c)(3) religious organizations were required to choose either accountability to the church or the state - but never do what I saw Dobson do. Like I say in the book, "But our society will never do that because we have such a profound respect for anything religious, we'll never impose something on it."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I feel pretentious in saying it this way, but I have a dream. I dream that, coming out of what I saw and what I experienced, I will find a way over the next 10 years to get a new law on the books in America. And the law will say this, "If you run a 501(c)(3) religious organization, you have an obligation to inform potential employees that their rights are not handled the same way inside that organization as elsewhere."
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I was standing there one day when Chuck Colson said to Jim, "Jim, I'm concerned about your political agenda." Those were almost his exact words. It was one of those moments that just froze in time for me. He said, "Jim, I'm concerned that if all of your listeners stormed Washington and raised the Christian flag above the capital, they would wake up the next day to discover that nothing had changed. The power is not there for what we're trying to accomplish." This is Charles Colson saying these words, remember.
And it causes me to wonder if when we meet Christ on that great day, if one of the legacies that Jim will have left for us is that he wasted an enormous amount of our time.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I've been talking about that with Colorado reporters and I have some absolutely fascinating stories. One reporter told me that after six years, she finally reached Paul Hetrick, who's Dobson's hatchet man for the media. Hetrick, who's obviously possessed of all the grace in the universe, says "Before even asking Dr. Dobson if he will see you, I'm going to need to know your personal position on abortion, homosexuals, and the feminist movement." Of course, the reporter says, "Thank you, no!"
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Finally, the reporter tells Hetrick, "We're gonna run the story on the book with or without you." So Hetrick calls back and says, "Dr. Dobson will receive your questions in writing. Those that he figures are appropriate, he will answer in writing."
DOOR: (Note to typesetter: Insert remaining exclamation marks here.) If you were dreaming, what are you dreaming that the outcome of this book is going to be? What would you would like to accomplish?
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: I would like to accomplish two things. One is with regard to followers of Christ who are in the religious right or sympathetic to it who may get the book. I would like to think that they might become one or two degrees more sophisticated and mature in their thinking about how to do politics as people of faith. By that I mean not being one-issue people.
ALEXANDER-MOEGERLE: Brighter than all time? Brighter than 20th century American leaders? Brighter than Mark Hatfield, to choose one of my personal heroes? I don't think so. A group of men who foresaw all of the social struggles of our day and had the answers and put them all in the Constitution? I don't think so.
Secondly, in terms of the people who are not in the right but are more moderates or liberals, I hope that they'll get a glimpse of how we in society avoid a society that becomes like Northern Ireland, a society where people like Dobson lead people into the streets and there is bloodshed. And the only answer to that is to remain vigilant. I say in the book that I don't think we're immune in this country to becoming like Northern Ireland.
It's not written someplace that we can never be that disrupted by people like Dobson. The only answer is that we remain on our toes.
Shalt NOT Bare False Witness Against Thy Neighbor
The DOOR: Fracas In The Family - Part One
The DOOR: Who You Gonna Call? PeaceMakers - Part Two
Interview: James Dobson's War On America
More Witnesses Dobson refuses Biblical reconciliaton