End of an Era: James Dobson Departs Focus on the Family
By Peter J. Smith
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, February 24, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After 33 years at Focus on the Family, psychologist Dr. James Dobson bids farewell on Friday to the Christian ministry he founded, and brings his radio presence at the organization to an end. But the famous Christian commentator is not finished with the airwaves, as he has announced plans for a new, independent radio ministry following his departure.
Focus on the Family CEO and President Jim Daly told listeners of Focus on the Family’s radio program Wednesday that "this week marks the completion of a transition period that probably started more than 10 years ago."
Dobson stated that his intention in stepping down was to give responsibility to the younger generation, and ensure FOTF's future success by not inadvertently leaving it leaderless. Focus on the Family’s Citizenlink reports that Dobson, 73, will join Daly on the radio program later in the week “to discuss memories, his future and Focus on the Family's future.”
For decades, friends and foes have known Dobson - a signer of the recent Manhattan Declaration - as an outspoken champion of the right to life for the unborn, and tireless defender of the family and the institution of marriage.
Dobson's Focus on the Family radio program brought in an estimated 1.5 million listeners in the United States and over 220 million followers across the globe. There, Dobson made his voice a clarion call to pro-life and pro-family action through political involvement no less than prayer and ministry.
“If people of faith - the so-called values voters - don’t come out and let their voices be heard, there are going to be some major implications for this country,” Dobson warned his listeners in October 2006.
Dobson had no qualms about calling the recent federal “hate crimes” legislation “utter evil” coming out of Congress, and warned that normalizing same-sex unions was a necessary component of homosexualists’ strategy to make homosexuality acceptable among the youth.
On Terri Schiavo, the Christian psychologist denounced her court-ordered starvation and dehydration as "one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American history."
Dobson took particular aim at the "heady abuse of power that is all too common among independent fiefdoms known as judges," when a federal court struck down obscenity laws as unconstitutional. He quoted as prescient Thomas Jefferson’s warning that entrusting the arbitration of “all constitutional questions” to judges was an idea that “would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy."
Dobson was also keenly aware of the need for a new generation of pro-life Christian leaders, and challenged the youth to rise up and courageously accept the mantle of his own generation of leadership.
“Who will defend the unborn child in the years to come? Who will plead for the Terri Schiavos of the world? Who's going to fight for the institution of marriage, which is on the ropes today?" Dobson questioned to the National Religious Broadcasters conference in March 2008.
Amid Dobson's transition from Focus, speculation remains on the fate of the organization he founded, and what new direction it may take without his influence.
A Wall Street Journal interview with Focus CEO Jim Daly in early February indicated that the Christian ministry may take a softer approach to controversial life and family issues than Dobson.
“I don’t see evil behind everything,” said Daly. The Journal reported the CEO did not care for Dobson’s strident attacks on political leaders such as President Obama. While Dobson called Obama’s ideas “fruitcake,” the Journal said Daly preferred to praise the President for having a White House event on fatherhood.
Additionally, Daly told the Journal that while he and Focus remains dedicated to ending abortion once and for all, they will likely not spend much energy working for a ban, but instead devote more resources to promoting abortion alternatives such as adoption.
However, Tom Minnery, a senior vice president at Focus on the Family, assured on CitizenLink that Focus on the Family will remain true to the guiding lights that Dobson imbued in their ministry.
"The pillars will remain the same," he said. "Our devotion to our cause of the family, our devotion to the notion that life is sacred, to the notion that marriage is one man and one woman, those will never change."
For Dobson, the end brings a new beginning: in December, he announced his plan to host a new 30-minute daily radio program with his son Ryan, called "James Dobson on the Family." The show is expected to tackle issues including “marriage, child-rearing, family finances, medical and psychological concerns, national issues, the sanctity of human life, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Dobson wrote that he did not feel he could simply live a quiet retired life with his wife Shirley while “our nation is facing a crisis that threatens its very existence.”
“We are in a moral decline of shocking dimensions. I have asked myself how I can I sit and watch the world go by without trying to help if I can,” Dobson stated. “That is what motivates me at this time.”
The program is set to debut May 3.
Read Dr. James Dobson’s Facebook page here.
Read previous coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
"Manhattan Declaration" Embodies U.S. Christian Pushback against Abortion, Same-Sex "Marriage"