By guest blogger & Interfaith Alliance intern, Alex Campbell.
An Associated Press article yesterday about James Dobson reports that while he’s “…not endorsing Senator John McCain, the possibility is there…” Until now, he’s said he could not imagine himself voting for McCain in good conscience.
Sounds like Dobson‘s decided to reconsider, despite disagreements on his deepest issues like the “candidate’s support for embryonic stem cell research and opposition to a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.” Dobson even cites his “concerns about McCain’s temper and foul language.”
If these sound like pretty fundamental disagreements, apparently Dobson is willing to put the differences aside to vote for his “only choice.” How does Dobson explain his bait and switch? “If that is a flip flop, then so be it,” he told the AP. For Dobson, a “constantly changing political context” is the best excuse he can offer.
The biggest issue here is the problem of private political endorsements being publicized. Dobson may have the right to endorse a candidate in this upcoming election as a private citizen, but the 501(c)3 tax laws that cover Dobson’s organization, Focus on the Family (and its nationally-syndicated radio show), explicitly prohibit him from endorsing political candidates.
Lawyers may argue about whether an endorsement made on the Focus on the Family radio show is legal or not. And others may argue whether Dobson is a religious leader (he’s not) or simply heads an organization that claims to be religious (he does), one thing’s for certain: mixing religion into political endorsements has a tendency to damage both religion and politics. Dobson should have a higher moral obligation, beyond the relevant tax law, not to use his power as head of Focus on the Family to publicize what should be a private endorsement.
Our take: James Dobson should stick to psychology and stay out of partisan politics.