Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Evangelicals Turning Their Backs on Dobson as He Attacks Obama

Right-wing fundamentalist leader James Dobson again attacked Barack Obama, and indicated he may flip-flop and support McCain. Dobson said,
"Barack Obama contradicts and threatens everything I believe about the institution of the family and what is best for the nation. His radical positions on life, marriage and national security force me to reevaluate the candidacy of our only other choice, John McCain."
Contradicts everything he believes about the family? Hmmm, like families having affordable health care and clean air to breath? Maybe Dobson would prefer McCain because he is a fan of adultery, divorce, and publicly swearing at your wife?

Obama's radical positions on life? I think Obama, like myself, is pro-life. Being pro-life means I am against war, against the death penalty, against discrimination, against destroying Creation through pollution and oil addiction, in favor of welcoming the alien, reducing unwanted pregnancies, and against policies that lead to violence and poverty around the world. (Matthew chapters 5, 25, etc.) Perhaps some, like Dobson, think that life begins at conception and ends at birth?

Obama's radical positions on marriage? Like wanting civil rights for everyone? We've heard that old song and dance before. Dobson's ilk, 1958: "Protect the sanctity of marriage: no interracial marriage." Dobson's ilk 2008: "Protect the sanctity of marriage: no gay marriage." Time and time again, conservative "Christians" have been on the wrong side of civil rights issues. After all, the Southern Baptist Convention was FOUNDED on the principal of the right to own slaves.

Obama's radical position on national security force? Reminds me of the Shane Claiborn quote I just posted yesterday:

"We in the Church are schizophrenic: we want to be good Christians, but deep down we trust that only the power of the state and its militaries and markets can really make a difference in the world."

Maybe Dobson's interpretation of Scripture doesn't include these teachings; blessed are the peacemakers, love your enemy, turn the other cheek, thou shalt not kill, do not return evil for evil, etc. How else can he justify supporting McCain's plan of extending an immoral and unjust war that has cost the lives of over 4,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis? How can we win a mistake?

But... there is hope. Evangelicals have been turning their backs on the misguided rants of Dobson and his ilk. The website www.jamesdobsondoesntspeakforme.com has over 12,000 signatures and growing daily. The side lays out Dobson's distortions of Scripture in his politically (and financially?) motivated attacks on Barack Obama. Also, there is the website Faithful America. Another interesting website is for Matthew 25 Network. A recent email from their mailing list:

Dear Friends,

There’s a little saying I’ve referred to often over the years: The proper response to misuse is not disuse, but wise and proper use. The saying helped me a lot in my twenty-four years as a pastor, and it still helps me in my current work as author, speaker, and activist.

It’s particularly appropriate in this election year. A lot of us feel that we’ve watched large sectors of our Christian community in the U.S. engage in several decades of divisive, ineffective, and downright counterproductive political engagement. At best, many attempts at engagement have been superficial, simplistic, and subject to binary thinking where one or two wedge issues easily distinguish the “good guys” from the bad. At worst, we’ve watched too many of our fellow Christians slip into a “culture war” mindset where neighbors became enemies to be defeated and silenced, not loved as we love ourselves. In addition, we’ve watched too many members of our faith communities be manipulated by cynical politicians who knew what tune to play to get people of faith marching obediently in their parade.

Many of us - sadly, I include myself here - stood on the sidelines and complained about the wrong being done by “the Religious Right.” In private, we might say that the major media figures didn’t speak for us, but we responded to faith-based misuse of the political process with faith-based disuse. We didn’t realize, as we now do, that disuse tends to favor those in power and support the status quo.

As I’ve watched with sadness what has happened in recent years, I’ve promised myself again and again that I wouldn’t just stand on the sidelines complaining this election season. That’s why I’m so thrilled about positive, constructive initiatives like the Matthew 25 Network. Drawing from Jesus’ powerful parable about his solidarity with “the least of these,” this network invites us as people of faith to step beyond individual self-interest, and even beyond the interest-group politics of “what’s best for us” - whether “us” is our denomination, religion, party, or nation. It invites us to consider how to use our vote on behalf of the neediest, the most vulnerable and poverty-stricken … so that their concerns are our own when we vote. For us, this is inherent in what it means to be followers of Jesus.

Based on these values, the Matthew 25 Network has chosen to support Barack Obama. Does that mean that every one of us is in full agreement with every detail of Senator Obama’s campaign? Of course not: we’re electing a president, not a Messiah! Blind, uncritical support is part of the misuse that we’re trying to move beyond.

But it does mean that a wide array of committed Christians - Catholic, Evangelical, Charismatic, and Protestant - are mobilizing pastors, seminarians and theologians, women religious, Sunday school teachers, religious educators, and faithful church-goers to seek to model wise and proper use of the political process this year in hopes that Senator Obama will be our next president.

Learning from past mistakes, we realize it’s not just who we support that matters - it’s how we show that support. So the Matthew 25 Network will be creating honest and positive messages for broadcast on Christian radio, and for publication in Catholic, Evangelical, and other periodicals. We’ll have a vigorous online presence, and we will organize voices on the ground to speak out in appropriate ways and venues. In everything we do, we will seek to model wise and proper engagement in the political process for people who are deeply rooted in Christian faith.

Here are three ways you can help:

1. Go to Matthew25.org right now and SIGN-UP.
2. Please make a DONATION. This is a brand new effort and we can’t do it without support from people like you.
3. TELL your friends about Matthew25.org.

For nearly 2000 years, followers of Christ have sought to live out their faith in the real world - under a variety of political systems: empires, feudal systems, tribal systems, monarchies, totalitarian regimes, anarchy, and democracy. In our American democracy, we have struggled, stumbled, fallen, and gotten up again, and again, learning each time as we moved forward. We have grappled with how our faith related to declaring independence, opposing slavery, confronting child labor and economic depression, embracing the dream of overcoming racism, and so much more.

Now we face unprecedented global crises: caring for our fragile and wounded planet, building a just peace in situations of conflict and fear, and eliminating extreme poverty. Electing the wrong president will set us back even further in these crises - something we cannot afford to do. Electing the better president will not solve everything; it will only be a first step in the next chapter of our history, but it is an important step.

We invite you to step off the sidelines as an observer or critic. We hope you’ll join us … praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven and seeking to be humble makers of peace, joyful workers for the common good, and dedicated servants of “the least of these.”


Brian McLaren
Author and Pastor

PS. Learn more at www.matthew25.org

1 comment:

TheExCon said...

Just found your blog through your link to my Excons.org blog. Anyway, I am impressed with what you are doing here. Keep up the good work. We need more deep thinkers like you in Christianity, and less of the hate-filled message of people like Dobson. I will be watching your blog and I hope to see it survive and thrive.