The Wizard of Colorado Springs | Sojourners

The Wizard of Colorado Springs

In spring 1998, James Dobson, founder and head of Focus on the Family, was mad, and he traveled to Washington, D.C., to vent his fury. Since its formation in the late 1970s, the Religious Right had helped elect every president, with the notable exception of Bill Clinton, and had boosted the Republicans into control of Congress. Yet by Dobson's reckoning, the Religious Right had precious little to show for its efforts. He complained about continued funding for Planned Parenthood and for safe-sex education and the distribution of condoms. He worried that the civil rights of gays and lesbians would win legal protection, and he lamented the failure to outlaw abortion.

Meeting with congressional leaders in the basement of the U.S. Capitol, Dobson repeated some version of the refrain he had used at a Religious Right rally in Phoenix. "Does the Republican Party want our votes—no strings attached—to court us every two years, and then to say, 'Don't call me. I'll call you,' and not to care for the moral law of the universe?" he asked. "If it is, I'm gone, and if I go—I'm not going to threaten anybody because I don't influence the world—but if I go, I will do everything I can to take as many people with me as possible."

Dobson's tirade left Republican members of Congress quaking in their boots. As Dan Gilgoff argues in The Jesus Machine, Dobson may not "influence the world," but he carries a lot of weight, especially among those associated with the Religious Right.

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Sojourners Magazine August 2007
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