[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.vert.jamesdobson.jpg caption="Dr. James Dobson, talks in in Louisville, Ky. April 2005." width=292 height=320]
Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst
Focus on the Family founder, Dr. James Dobson, is in the news as of late for ripping Sen. Barack Obama over a 2006 speech dealing with faith and public policy.
My issue isn't the speech or Dobson's criticism. I want to know why in the world we in the media keep holding Dobson up as an influential Christian leader or evangelical leader when the guy says with his own mouth that is nothing of the sort?
In a radio interview discussing the speech, Dobson was critical of Obama who said, "And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's?"
Dobson took offense to that and made this interesting comment.
"I'm not a reverend. I'm not a minister. I'm not a theologian. I’m not an evangelist. I'm a psychologist. I have a Ph.D. in child development from the University of Southern California. There is no equivalence to us," he said.
Yea. I had the same reaction you likely did. Here is a guy who is often declared a religious leader who now says, "Nope. Not me."
Now, if the guy who is held up as an evangelical leader says he's not, then why do we even care what he has to say about religion? Why even play up his reaction to an Obama speech or even his criticism of McCain in a religious discussion, when that’s where it shouldn't be?
This is part of the problem when religious conservatives and non-religious conservatives try as mighty as they can to roll moral issues, family values and religious values all into one ball.
They are not.
For instance, the Rev. Jerry Falwell was the leader of the Moral Majority, which advocated a host of "moral" issues that didn't have a particular religious bent. This has been seen as a Christian movement, but you can be a moral person and not be a Christian.
Later, the Rev. Pat Robertson launched the Christian Coalition, which was much more religious focused than anything before.
In the last few years, we've seen Dobson, by virtue of his radio show on Christian radio stations, columns and website, be seen as a major figure in the religious movement.
But he¹s not, and it's about time that we stop associating him that way.
There are a number of people in this country who are religious and who choose not to self-identify with either political party. And this is one of the reasons why. The co-mingling of "family values" with religion seems to provide certain groups with a sort of authoritarian voice on such issues when they don't deserve the platform.
It's fine to call Dobson a family values leader, if you will. But don¹t insult those individuals in the faith community who are truly ministers, reverends, theologians and evangelists. They've earned it.
Dobson's just a psychologist with a Ph.D. in child development. So his views on religion are just his, and not as a faith leader of millions.
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