Pass the Fruitcake

Listen to this:

“I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology."

Is this a rational observer commenting upon Rev. James Dobson? No, it is Rev. Dr. Dobson commenting upon Barack Obama.

Just days after Senator Barack Obama met quietly with religious leaders, including the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, another of the evangelical movement’s most prominent names, James C. Dobson, has sharply attacked Mr. Obama, accusing him of having “a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution” and twisting the meaning of both the Old and New Testaments.

This is surely not the first time that Rev. Dobson and "fruitcake" have appeared in the same sentence. [more ...]

Rev. Dobson's vile commentary is bipartisan:

Mr. Dobson also had hard words for Senator John McCain, whom he criticized early in the presidential campaign, saying at one point that he would stay at home rather than cast a vote for him. On Tuesday, Mr. Dobson complained that Mr. McCain, the presumed Republican nominee, had not spoken out energetically enough against same-sex marriage, referring specifically to a proposal in the Arizona Legislature that would ban such marriages.

Back to Obama:

Mr. Dobson’s remarks focused on a June 28, 2006, speech in which Mr. Obama, in Washington, mentioned passages from the Bible that he suggested were in conflict with present-day practices. Mr. Dobson made his criticisms shortly after Joshua Dubois, the Obama campaign’s religious affairs director, offered to meet with Focus on the Family leaders and suggested to some people that Mr. Dobson was nervous about Mr. Obama’s willingness to compete with Republicans for the evangelical vote.

“Young conservative evangelicals seem more open to Obama’s ‘Christian’ message of caring for the poor, fighting genocide, health care for all and climate change,” David Brody, senior national correspondent of the Christian Broadcasting Network, noted on Tuesday on the Web site after the radio program.

Poverty, health care, genocide. None of these issues are on Dobson's radar. Nothing could be more important than protecting the nation from the tyranny of gay marriage.

Pass the fruitcake.

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    Poor Prose (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by CoralGables on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:36:40 PM EST
    "This is surely not the first time that Rev. Dobson and "fruitcake" have appeared in the same sentence"

    There is no reason for Rev. Dobson and Fruitcake to appear together in the same sentence. Rev. Dobson and Fruitcake in the same sentence is redundant. They are synonymous.

    No silly, The fruitcake reference is one that (none / 0) (#23)
    by Newt on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:15:03 AM EST
    Dobson would abhor, given it's a slur for a gay men.  

    Touche (none / 0) (#47)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 09:31:08 AM EST
    I stand corrected. lol

    Obama certainly has a flair for (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by FemB4dem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:03:22 AM EST
    interesting comparisons.  First it was Sen. Coburn and Bill Ayers, now Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Dobson.  Indeed, if the NYT article is correct, that's what Dobson is the most perturbed about, Obama compared him to Sharpton.  One wonders how the Reverend Al will react?

    On another note re: the linked NYT article, there is this nugget:

    "Mr. Obama on Tuesday accused Mr. Dobson of reducing a complex subject to sound bites. 'I do make the argument that it's important for those like me who think that faith is important, that we try to translate that into a universal language,' he said."

    A universal language of faith, from a guy running for President of the United States -- Huh?  Any W.O.R.M. help appreciated.

    BTW, I personally think we have a universal language already on the importance (and unimportance, and anything in between) of faith vis a vis persons running for, and holding, offices in these United States -- it's called the U.S. Constitution (See Article VI, last clause, with a big assist from Amendment I).

    Yes. BO places Dobson and Sharpton ... (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by RonK Seattle on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 09:34:09 AM EST
    ... in equipoise as landmarks in eccentric theology, later to find Sharpton an indispensable supporter and discover his own top two spiritual advisers (Wright, Pfleger) inhabiting ground even more distant.

    Yeah, isn't that what Obama is saying too? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Newt on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:11:47 AM EST
    You can't go around trying to make laws to match your religious convictions.  If moral imperatives that are taught in your religion overlap with convictions from other faiths and outside of religious teachings, like "don't kill people," then it's appropriate to structure law around them.  And if people of faith want to effect change in this country to reflect their religious beliefs, they need to find reasons outside of their faith, like "It's not OK to kill people in a civilized society,"  rather than "The Bible tells me so."

    Hence, with the subject of abortion, we all need to be able to discuss the issue irrespective of religion.  Our side would do well to acknowledge that some women use publicly funded abortions as birth control.  Obviously, preventing pregnancies helps with that problem.  Their side needs to couch their argument in non-religious terms.  Otherwise we get nowhere when we try to talk.  And when we refuse to talk, we end up with us vs. them politics and the right wing taking over our government as Bush has done.  


    Hyde Amendment (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by wasabi on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 08:39:51 AM EST
    3 years after Roe V. Wade, the Hyde Amendment was passed restricting what abortion services are covered under Medicaid.  Currently Medicade funded abortions are only allowed for cases of incest, rape and life-endangerment.  A few states add provisions such as physical health or fetal abnormality.  17 states provide some state-funding for abortions under other programs.

    I don't think there are very many women who use publically funded abortions as birth control.  "Some women" may, but the percentage is very, very small.  Most who do get an assist with an abortion fall under the dire circumstances categories like rape, incest and life-endangerment.


    I don't think he compared them (none / 0) (#35)
    by MissBrainerd on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 07:58:14 AM EST
    rather he was trying to point out that even in Christianity, there are different points of view, so  even if Christianity were the only belief in America, whose version of Christianity are we talking about?

    Dobson needed to mis-interpret that remark because he has no other leg to stand on.

    Religion and politics have mixed forever and I am not religious so I would prefer we never had to discuss it at all. BUT, if the GOP is going to claim they are God's Own Party and keep getting all the evangelical votes, I think it is fine to go after them ourselves with the core message of Jesus: forgivness, compassion and help for those less fortunate. They HATE when the Bibles real message is mentioned.


    But Wright is not forcing me to pray (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by MissBrainerd on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 08:11:34 AM EST
    in schools or pushing any of his religious agenda as  laws that all of us have to live under.

    THAT is the difference. In NYC the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities never try to force their religious laws on me, and I respect that.

    Perhaps not, (none / 0) (#54)
    by oldpro on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 11:43:37 AM EST
    MissBrainerd...but in both Wright's and the ultra-ortho Jews in NYC's case, perhaps that is simply because they are not in the majority...or at a minimum, not in a position to enforece their beliefs.  In Israel, the ultr-orthodox DO attempt to force their religious laws on the population and in some cases, succeed.

    Wright may not be trying to force you to pray but what he IS doing is every bit as bad for you...and for me.  He is spreading racial division and doing it in a church setting.  How is that acceptable in any way?  Ever?


    Heh (none / 0) (#1)
    by Steve M on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:30:56 PM EST
    Dobson is handing Obama a major, major gift here.

    He's (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 05:39:47 AM EST
    also handing one to McCain. The fact that Dobson doesn't like him surely makes McCain more palpable to swing voters.

    Shrug (none / 0) (#33)
    by Steve M on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 07:06:08 AM EST
    The headline on this is all Obama.  No swing voter is going to get fired up to support McCain because James Dobson says he hasn't opposed gay marriage strongly enough.

    With all due respect... (none / 0) (#3)
    by OrangeFur on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:51:36 PM EST
    ... criticizing Dobson is like shooting fish in a barrel. And not a very big barrel, either.

    Big fish ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Tortmaster on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:56:08 PM EST
    ... in a small barrell?

    Small minded... (none / 0) (#42)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 08:33:51 AM EST
    ...self-important fish in a glass bowl is more like it.  

    I only hope that as Colorado Springs succeeds in "drowning government in the bathtub" (not enough tax revenue to fund essensial services) due to the wingnuts that run the place, Dobbie will have to find somewhere else to ply his hate.  

    Colorado would be much better off without him.


    that is funny (none / 0) (#5)
    by DandyTIger on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:59:44 PM EST
    but I agree with above, fish in a barrel. Jeez, the right has such nutters. Oh, can I say that here.

    Does Dobson even sell, these days? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Alec82 on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:06:52 AM EST
    I see fewer and fewer FOF bumper stickers.  He's rarely in the news (I hear about him when liberal advocacy groups want more money, but that's about it).  He clearly has little to no clout in the GOP these days, between the early attempt to derail Specter's charimanship of judiciary, the 2006 midterm sweep, etc.  He got a marriage amendment passed in his own backyard...and they alone had to spend half a mil for that.

     If I didn't know better I would think he wanted Obama to win.  As it stands he is hurting his own causes the more he opens his mouth, these days.

    I was just wondering the (none / 0) (#8)
    by standingup on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:12:30 AM EST
    same thing myself. Does anyone really listen to Dobson anymore? I think his influence has peaked and he is on the downhill side now.

    Well (none / 0) (#31)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 05:40:48 AM EST
    he's really popular with the fundamentalists in my family. Apparently he has a radio show that they listen to regularly.

    My BIL has his childraising books, ugh. (none / 0) (#37)
    by MissBrainerd on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 07:59:38 AM EST
    Dobson still gets to be on TV as some kind of officially representative of Christianity, so he is still needing to be attacked!!!

    Child-raising! (none / 0) (#57)
    by Molly Pitcher on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:00:58 PM EST
    When one of my kids hit the low-point of adolescence back in the early 70's (standing on the corner next to someone who had marijuana was a felony here), I thought parenthood was going to kill me (or me, the kid).  So a religious friend said to read Dobson's book about "The Strong-Willed Child."  When I got to the part where he compared a strong willed child to his cocker spaniel, I tossed the book.  Dobson's lived a sheltered life.

    My comment correcting the record (none / 0) (#10)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:23:04 AM EST
    has disappeared.  I assume this was some software problem, but if not, I'd appreciate an explanation.

    James Dobson is NOT a reverend.  He's not a minister.  He has a doctorate in psychology, specializing in child development.  This is why the NYTimes article refers to him throughout as "Mr. Dobson," not Rev. Dobson.

    Correction made (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by TChris on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:39:35 AM EST
    Thank you for catching the mistake.

    Can't help meself, TChris (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:45:51 AM EST
    I'm a copy editor. :-)  I try to keep it under control on the Intertubes, but...

    TChris - (none / 0) (#29)
    by Josey on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 05:38:05 AM EST
    I'm disappointed you omitted Obama's 2006 inappropriate remarks (WHILE he was plotting his presidential run) that offended Dobson and Evangelicals. It's one thing to disagree about Bible interpretation, but THE ONE cast judgment on Evangelicals claiming they "don't read their Bibles."
    Of course, I thought the same thing about Trinity members when I first saw Wright's racist rants and hatemongering. But I'm not running for president or claiming to be a "uniter."

    Well, it is a legitimate thing to say! (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by MissBrainerd on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 08:05:56 AM EST
    I always wonder if the fundies have actually read their Bible's since they seem to totally miss the real message of Jesus.

    I was in a fundie end-times church in my youth and the message I remember is not the one they preach. Jesus never said 'go forth and legislate my laws and  punish sinners."

    So one does have to wonder if they read the New Testament at all.


    Dems (none / 0) (#58)
    by Josey on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 06:18:44 PM EST
    stress separation of church and state. Then Obama crosses the line and emulates Rev. Wright - pointing his finger at the "heathens" who don't interpret the Bible as he does.
    Dangerous territory for a presidential candidate, especially since Dems have railed against Bush fusing politics and religion.

    depends on the religion (none / 0) (#59)
    by MissBrainerd on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 08:19:51 PM EST
    Bush religion is abstinence and gay bashing. Obama is talking about the Christianity of compassion, so if we can't get rid of religion, we can harness it for good!

    TChris has the company of a company (none / 0) (#13)
    by CMike on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:37:48 AM EST
    The New York Times hasn't always referred to Dobson as a Mr..

    Obama's speech (none / 0) (#11)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:26:13 AM EST
    Worth noting that the Obama speech in question included this gem:

    "Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

    Slogging through the whole speech on religion, which is reprinted in Obama's Web site, is beyond me, so maybe I'm misunderstanding this graph out of context.  If so, I'd appreciate correction.  But I find it a little worrisome.

    It's just an example (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Steve M on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:28:59 AM EST
    It's actually an encouraging quote, rather than a discouraging one.

    He's saying that "abortion should be illegal because God says so" or "gay marriage should be illegal because the Bible calls it a sin" are illegitimate arguments to make in the political sphere.


    It sounds, though (none / 0) (#16)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:48:25 AM EST
    like he's making a case that you can argue effectively to ban abortion on non-religious grounds.

    Mebbe it's clumsy word choice on his part, but aren't we veering into WORM territory here?

    I don't trust the guy, honestly, especially when he's talking to groups who don't necessarily share liberal values on these kinds of issues.


    Steve M's right. (1.00 / 0) (#18)
    by Tortmaster on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 01:11:07 AM EST

    Obama is saying that there would have to be a non-religious principle in order to pass such a law.  

    I like that Obama doesn't talk down to people in his speeches.  


    I agree with Steve M (none / 0) (#19)
    by mbuchel on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 01:15:35 AM EST
    His point is that religious views are not enough of a justification for making public policy - which is wha the right is all about.  Where's the clumsy word choice?

    Clumsy word choice -- (none / 0) (#20)
    by FemB4dem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 01:21:20 AM EST
    check out what the NYT says in the linked article.  I had the same W.O.R.M. quetions above about "universal language" and faith, but this could just be NYT parsing, which can be awful.  Can those of you who are confident about what Obama was saying provide a link to the entire speech?  I looked on the Obama website (pretty quickly, I admit) and couldn't find it. Thanks.

    CTR speech... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Alec82 on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 01:27:30 AM EST
    ...is here.

    Thank you for the link. (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by FemB4dem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:34:44 AM EST
    Is it just me?  I find this a deeply troubling passage in, for me, a very troublesome speech:

    "You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away - because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.

    It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street in the Southside of Chicago one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn't fall out in church. The questions I had didn't magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth."

    The very last thing I want, after Dubya, is another candidate who thinks he's been called by god to be president.  Am I reading too much into this?  It's late, and I admit I am not an Obama fan.  

    And this:

    "Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers."

    Um, we were never "a Christian nation."  We are no kind of nation of any religious or non-religious sort at all.  We are persons (Amendment XIV) of a Constitutional Republic to whom is promised "a republican form of government," not a theocracy (Article IV), from whom "no religious Test shall ever be required," (Article VI), and to whom have been promised no "establishment of religion," Christian or otherwise. (Amendment I).  How can this language have come out of the mouth of a so-called Progressive, not to mention a purported Constituional scholar?

    Please, everyone, read the entire speech linked above.  This needs to be discussed.


    The evangelical (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 05:45:42 AM EST
    bent of Obama's worries me too. It reminds me of w also. I think this whole fusion of religion and politics has been bad for both politics and religion.

    The speech... (none / 0) (#27)
    by Alec82 on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:48:35 AM EST
    ...is actually quite good.  Read it very carefully.  It is not a speech for a secular audience, it is a speech for religious liberals and moderates, with careful appeals to traditionalists.

     He is decidedly not saying he was called by God to be president, or that our government has ever been a theocracy.  Quite the opposite.  

     The man can give a speech.


    I did read it carefully, and I disagree (none / 0) (#28)
    by FemB4dem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:56:11 AM EST
    with your reading.  Frankly, the speech scares me, as does the concept that he can say something troubling that is not meant "for a secular audience" and that makes it ok.

    Anyone else?  I agree with Alec82 that this is a speech to be read with care.  I doubt the media will do so.  


    Yes, Fem...I agree (none / 0) (#52)
    by oldpro on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 11:34:38 AM EST
    Obama's religious bent is worrisome and his willingness to dive into that water bears watching.

    I note his choice of words carefully:  "a choice...not an epiphany."  Aha...a political choice, then?  A joiner, not a believer?  It wouldn't surprise me in the least to learn that Obama is faithless but politically savvy about using religion to further his career...just as he might have joined Rotary if he had been caucasian instead of African American for the connections it supplied.

    Trust?  Not I.

    Flim flam, most likely.


    He is saying that religion is not (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by MissBrainerd on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 08:09:07 AM EST
    to be used to make law. The Bible says that murder is wrong, but the reason we have laws against murder is not because we made Bible law our law, but because it is a universal principal that a society cannot function if people go around murdering each other, so it is outlawed.

    What he is saying is that the fundies need to check their Bible's on the way into Congress. He is embracing the faithful respectfully, but also telling them they can't make law according to ONLY their holy book.

    I think this is GOOD because I am sick of the religious telling me I need to live by their rules.


    well that was a tease (none / 0) (#17)
    by boredmpa on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 01:08:41 AM EST
    Clearly I wasn't informed that the committee approved an alternate usage of the term fruitcake.  
    I thought this was gonna have something to do with a right wing whacko commenting on how Obama was supporting gay rights (Yeah, right...oooo feel that lukewarm support, it just radiates).  What a let down.

    Silly me.  

    But what is Obama's position on (none / 0) (#24)
    by MarkL on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:29:20 AM EST
    SpongeBob Squarepants?

    he subscribes to the (none / 0) (#34)
    by cpinva on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 07:57:15 AM EST
    "don't ask, don't tell" policy, with regards to 'toons. as well, he believes that speculating about one's sexual orientation, in the absence of actual evidence, is bad form.

    um.........................no! (none / 0) (#26)
    by cpinva on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:35:10 AM EST
    This is surely not the first time that Rev. Dobson and "fruitcake" have appeared in the same sentence.

    and surely not the last, since he's nutty as the proverbial one.

    dobson accusing anyone of poorly interpreting the constitution is like hitler accusing vlad dracul of being cruel.

    Does Mc3rdTerm... (none / 0) (#44)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 08:42:10 AM EST
    ...have a church, attend services anywhere, speak about his beliefs?  I sure haven't seen anything of the sort.  

    That doesn't exactly play well with the fundies.  He's not very well liked by them to begin with and I don't think "Obana quoting scrpture" is going to make them rush out to vote for him.  

    Episcopalians (none / 0) (#50)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 09:48:29 AM EST
    are WAY less radical than TUCC. Some Baptist churches share the fundamentalist bent of TUCC but not all.

    How is TUCC (none / 0) (#56)
    by Molly Pitcher on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 01:46:11 PM EST
    fundamentalist?  Church of Christ/Congregationalists are not considered either fundamentalist nor evangelical.  Some Baptists are fundamentalists; some consider themselves evangelical; and some are outliers.  TUCC's best definition is Black Liberation Theology--something you will never ever find in a Southern Baptist church (wonder why?)  Then there are Northern Baptists, and American Baptists (one is black, one is not), Footwashing Baptists, Primitive Baptists, etc.

    Episcopal churches, at least in the south, are a bit more upscale.  Veddy, veddy mainstream.


    Actually (none / 0) (#51)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 09:49:43 AM EST
    McCain is an episcopalian who attends a baptist church. He has never been baptized into the baptist faith.

    Thank you, Mr. Dobson (none / 0) (#45)
    by Lil on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 09:03:32 AM EST
    for reminding me why I am a Democrat, and thank you for nudging me a little closer to being on Obama's bandwagon. I hope you keep talking and do our nominee a favor.

    I have no doubt that his term fruitcake was a homophobic choice of words and done very intentionally.  When I listened to him yesterday I thought "this guy is a latent homosexual". Of course I have no way of knowing that; it was just the thought that came into my head; he sounded "gay" to me (whatever that means). I think a lot of the ultra righties who are obsessed with gays are repressed gays or repressed sexually in some way.  Then they project that onto other folks. If Obama was gay that might make him a more attractive candidate for me, btw.

    Um...fruitcake (none / 0) (#55)
    by oldpro on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 11:52:56 AM EST
    was a term of derision in my long-ago childhood 60+ years ago...long before I ever heard of a connection to the gay community.  It applied to those whose thought processes were evidence of loonyness...you know, nutcases...asylum-bound.

    My first related memory, wordwise, with a gay connection was the word 'fruit,' not fruitcake.

    Perhaps that was regional and not universal...what do I know about it?  Not much!  I'm straight, not gay.  But that's what I remember.


    I agree (none / 0) (#46)
    by americanincanada on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 09:21:23 AM EST
    Obama leaning towards this evangelical bent is a bad idea and one that can clearly hurt him. I don't know why people can't see it.

    Just because we know Dobson is a fruitcake or nutty or whatever, doesn't mean repubs at large do. Dobson is popular and influential.

    Not to mention Obama has questionable ties with his own religious influence that he needs not to be brought up again. Nothng will get right wingers to the polls faster than questioning or in their view otherwise distorting their faith.

    Religious fruitcakes (none / 0) (#53)
    by oldpro on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 11:37:58 AM EST
    in redundant IMHO.