In Defense of Dr. Dobson

A number of conservatives, especially those in the blogosphere, have heaped scorn on Dr. James Dobson for the comments he made that appeared in today`s edition of US News and World Report.  While I personally disagree with Dr. Dobson`s assessment that former Sen. Fred Thompson is not a “Christian”, many are getting far too carried away with this.  Since the end of President Reagan`s second term, one would be hard-pressed to find someone who has done more for social conservatism in America than Dr. James Dobson.

Dr. Dobson speaks on behalf of a group of people who speak openly about their faith.  Many of them are suspicious about those who either do not share their faith or those who do not speak openly about their own.  Faith is a central part of their lives, something about which they are entirely open.  Just as one may think that someone is not a family man if he never speaks about his family, they think that someone who does not speak openly about their faith is not a person of faith.  That is their prerogative.

As a Roman Catholic who grew up in New York, I believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church, but I don`t speak about them frequently.  Instead, I speak about values, natural law, and the like.  My Church is an important part of my life and, yes, all things being equal, I would rather have someone who shares my faith in a position of power than not have them there.  Of course, as in the last Presidential election, things are not always equal.  This is my prerogative.

Those who seek to ostracize Dobson for his statements are engaging in exactly the same type of bigotry of which they accuse him.  If someone holds a position different than their own, they expect him to shut up because, after all, ever person in his right mind must agree with them.  This is the same type of thought-policing in which liberals seek to silence voices of dissent on the life issue, on religious freedom, on global warming, on government regulation, on Constitutional interpretation, etc.

Dr. Dobson spoke from a religious perspective on a secular issue.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with him doing so.  The First Amendment was written to protect religion from the state, not the other way around.  It is fair enough for conservatives to disagree with Dobson.  It is quite another, however, for them to tell him to shut up.  It is time for his conservative critics to take a good, hard look in the mirror and see the unflatering picture of them engaging in the same type of behavior in which their opponents so frequently do.

Dr. Dobson has mobilized religious conservatives in a way that no one else can.  Outside of politics, he has brought people who otherwise would not have found Christ to him.  Before launching personal attacks, conservatives would do well to consider all of this, where the country would be without him, and just how carefully they ought to voice their disagreement.

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