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James Dobson

James DobsonAKA James Clayton Dobson, Jr.

Born: 21-Apr-1936
Birthplace: Shreveport, LA

Gender: Male
Religion: See Note [1]
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Radio Personality, Author, Activist
Party Affiliation: See Note [2]

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Focus on the Family

Military service: National Guard

A conservative author and activist, James Dobson has written numerous books on child rearing and personal relationships, and broadcasts a daily radio show carried by some 2,000 U.S. stations. He is the founder of Focus on the Family (FOTF), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the American family from the creeping anti-Christianity that threatens us all. His teachings about child rearing have been described as the polar opposite of Benjamin Spock's philosophy Dobson advocates strict tactics and ample discipline, which he believes gives children a strong respect for authority.

"This [saving the family] is the most important social issue that we will ever face. The family is the ground floor, it's the foundation underneath all of society, all of civilization. Western civilization itself seems to hang on this issue. If you undermine it, if you weaken it, if you tamper with it, you necessarily threaten the whole superstructure. That's what I believe. Check the evidence and see what happens when families start to fall apart."
Dobson's own family was a bit out of the ordinary. His father was a preacher who often told the story that he had tried to pray before he could even talk, and his mother, Dobson says, routinely beat their son with her shoes, her belt, and once, a 16-pound girdle. His parents somehow instilled so much guilt in young Dobson that he answered his father's fervent altar-call, weeping at the front of a crowded church service and crying out for God's forgiveness for all his sins, when he was three years old. "It makes no sense, but I know it happened," Dobson still says of being born again as a toddler.

Families will fall apart, Dobson argues, if homosexuals have the right to marry, adopt, or raise children. For this reason, Dobson and FOTF support a Constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one women. Dobson and FOTF are also against abortion, against feminism, against pornography, against the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, against Oregon's law allowing euthanasia, against Take Our Daughters to Work Day, etc.

FOTF has an active mailing list of about 2.5 million names, and works closely with the offices of Congressional leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Countless times, at Dobson's urging, his followers have flooded Congress or the White House with letters, emails, phone calls, and faxes for his causes.

Dobson has become more politically active in recent years. In 2004, he started Focus on the Family Action, a political action group free from the spending limits imposed on non-profits like FOTF. In its first campaign cycle, Focus On The Family Action was widely credited with helping to defeat former Sen. Tom Daschle in South Dakota. Since the 2004 election, his group's driving issue has been stopping "judicial tyranny". Their argument, in essence, is that America's founding fathers were wrong to establish an independent judiciary, free from political or electoral pressure. Dobson wants judges to feel and be answerable to political pressure.

He has proposed an innovative end run around "liberal" judges. The Republican-controlled Congress should, Dobson suggests, simply stop funding courts where judges make too many "liberal" rulings -- stop paying salaries, stop sending security guards, stop paying the electric bills. "Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson says. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."

In 2005, he threatened to use his national platform to put Democratic senators "in the bull's-eye", promising "a battle of enormous proportions from sea to shining sea" if they blocked President Bush's appointments to the Supreme Court.

He was a professor at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, leaving in 1977 to launch his California-based radio program. According to both men, it was Dobson who led Tom DeLay to become a born-again Christian, but unlike most of America's evangelical leaders, Dobson has no theological credentials, and he bristles when he is called a preacher. His arguments, however, frequently cite Biblical authority, and he is often photographed waving a Bible while speaking -- he looks like a preacher, sounds like a preacher, and preaches like a preacher.

Dobson stepped down as President of FOTF in 2004, and retired as Chairman in 2009. He left the Focus on the Family radio program in 2010, and with $1M in financial backing from FOTF launched a new radio show called Family Talk, co-hosted by Dobson and his son Ryan Dobson.

[1] Although some sources list him as Methodist, most reports say Nazarene.

[2] "I'm not a Republican, and I don't propose to represent the Republican Party." Hannity & Colmes (15-Jul-2004)

Father: James C. Dobson, Sr. (preacher, d.)
Mother: Myrtle Georgia Dillingham (d.)
Wife: Shirley Deere (m. 1960)
Daughter: Danae
Son: Ryan (adopted)

    High School: San Benito High School, San Bonito, TX (1954)
    University: BA Psychology, Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University, 1958)
MS, University of Southern California (1962)
    University: PhD Child Development, University of Southern California (1967)
    Professor: Pediatrics, University of Southern California (1977)

    Focus on the Family Chairman (1977-2009)
    Meese Commission Commissioner
    Alliance Defense Fund
    Arlington Group
    Bauer for President 2000
    Council for National Policy
    Family Research Council
    Keyes 2004
    National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters
    Promise Keepers
    Time Magazine 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America

Official Website:

Author of books:
Dare to Discipline (1970)
The Strong-Willed Child (1978)
Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives (1980)
Children at Risk (1990)
The New Dare to Discipline (1992)

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