WaPo/Newsweek 'On Faith' Editor Smears Dobson, Focus on the Family

Is Christian psychologist Dr. James Dobson suffering from “irrational fears,” or is the Washington Post's David Waters burying his own head in the sand?

Waters, the editor of the Newsweek/Washington Post On Faith blog, today attacked Dobson personally while misrepresenting a pre-election warning issued by a branch of Dobson's ministry, Focus on the Family Action.

Waters accuses Dobson and Focus on the Family of “fanciful fear-mongering,” by distributing “a 16-page horror story in the form of a fictitious 'Letter from 2012 in Obama's America.'” The letter describes threats to religious freedom and civil liberties that could emerge if the far-left Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is elected, the Democrats gain a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate, and Obama subsequently establishes a liberal majority on the Supreme Court.

Waters writes about Dobson, “The smooth-talking radio evangelist has a media 'ministry' that reaches more than 220 million people in 155 nations. He's a child psychologist who claims to know the mind of God and the true meaning of scripture and who purports to speak for all Christians. That is scary stuff.  Maybe when Halloween and the election are over, he will go back to focusing on real issues that concern the family instead of his own irrational fears.”

Waters ridicules the letter by quoting five incendiary-sounding warnings out of context, following the first three quotations with “I am not making this up,” “Honestly, I wish I were making this up,” and “Could anyone make this up?” 

Waters creates the impression that Focus is fabricating a series of fallacious threats to scare people into voting against Obama.  The letter's warnings, however, are carefully reasoned and extensively footnoted, a salient point Waters omits.  The document states:  

This letter is not “predicting” that all of the imaginative future “events” named in this letter will happen. But it is saying that each one of these changes could happen and also that each change would be the natural outcome of (a) published legal opinions by liberal judges, (b) trends seen in states with liberal-dominated courts such as California and Massachusetts, (c) recent promises, practices and legislative initiatives of the current liberal leadership of the Democratic Party and (d) Senator Obama's actions, voting record and public promises to the far-Left groups that won the nomination for him.

For example, the first warning Waters quotes is a demonstrably sound prediction of a change in public policy likely to occur under a liberal Supreme Court majority:

The Boy Scouts no longer exist as an organization. They chose to disband rather than be forced to obey the Supreme Court decision that they would have to hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys.

The letter explains that the 2000 decision permitting the Scouts to ban homosexual scoutmasters, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, was decided 5-4.  Four current Supreme Court justices are already on record opposing the right of the Scouts to protect boys from homosexuals.

By targeting Dobson, Waters is ignoring the advice he delivered personally to homosexual journalists at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association convention in August, reported at the time by CMI.  Speaking at a session titled “Oh God! (or Allah…Or Buddha): Reporting on Issues of Faith & Religion,” Waters encouraged reporters “not to go” to established religious conservative leaders like Dobson.

Brian Fitzpatrick is senior editor at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.