The gay-rights group headed by the Rev. Mel White is accusing Focus on the Family’s James Dobson of spreading “misinformation” about homosexuals through his radio broadcasts and political involvement.
Soulforce on Wednesday announced a May Day rally at Dobson’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., to challenge statements by the popular religious broadcaster the group says harm gays.
Focus on the Family claims Dobson’s radio broadcasts reach more than 200 million people a day on 4,000 radio stations in North America and in 20 languages overseas. He has amassed political clout in pushing for a Federal Marriage Amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Dobson recently made headlines for accusing the producers of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Squarepants of using the popular children’s cartoon character to promote a video that he said masks a pro-gay agenda.
Before the last election, White said in a press release, many people thought of people like Dobson and Jerry Falwell as “buffoons” and “laughed at their attacks on Tinky Winky and SpongeBob.”
“Then, suddenly, we realized that while we were laughing these same fundamentalist Christians managed to gain power over church and state alike,” he said.
For a long time, White said, “We had said they have a right to believe what they want.” But now, he said “their beliefs must be confronted,” because they demonize and dehumanize gays, lead to the denial of their civil rights, enable gay bashers and cause gays to consider suicide.
“Every person in America, whether they are people of faith or not, should be concerned about the untruths and the political power wielded by James Dobson,” stated Jeff Lutes, a family counselor and psychotherapist who chairs the Soulforce Action in Colorado Springs.
Lutes said Dobson is “not my enemy, but his spiritually violent, misleading, and untrue rhetoric is.” He said Dobson’s “false accusations and claims” against gays “not only hurt my family, but hurt society as a whole.”
Lutes authored a booklet, A False Focus On My Family, which compiles “violent claims” in Dobson quotes and counters arguments that homosexuality is a mental disorder, that gay people want to destroy marriage and the family, that same-sex couples are unfit parents, that homosexuality can be cured and that gays and lesbians are “sick, ungodly” people who want “special rights.”
The book asks Dobson to publicly acknowledge that his views on Scripture and theology about homosexuality are “not universally shared” by Christian scholars, and that his psychological view on the subject “is not shared by the vast majority of psychiatrists, psychologists and other health and mental health professionals.”
“His personal view of homosexuality should not be used to create fear of gay people among his radio listeners and book readers,” says the declaration. “We call on Dr. Dobson to stop his frequent suggestions that gays seek to harm children, destroy the family and demolish our country’s moral values.”
Soulforce has named Sunday, May 1 event, “MAYDAY MAYDAY.” That is an internationally recognized distress signal used to indicate a life-threatening situation, by the stranded to summon help and by the victim to raise alarm.
Events include a rally, press conference, picnic, nonviolence training and concert. An action alert on the Soulforce Web site said civil disobedience is possible but is not the focus of the presence. Organizers are hoping that Dobson will meet with them to discuss their concerns, as Falwell did in 1999.
A non-profit educational organization that targets anti-gay language and teachings by religious leaders, Soulforce has demonstrated at several national religious gatherings, including the last several years at the Southern Baptist Convention.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.