Religious Right honcho James C. Dobson says the idea that U.S. law must be secular is a “fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.”
Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, launched into a tirade against secular government June 24, in the middle of an attack on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Dobson criticized a two-year-old speech by Obama on the role of religion in public life. During the speech, the Illinois senator talked about his personal faith but also stressed the idea that laws should have a secular rationale.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State called Dobson’s attack deplorable.
“Dobson is an extremist who wants the government to impose his fundamentalist viewpoint,” said Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn. “He simply cannot accept the fact that America is a diverse nation that welcomes people of all faiths and none. His tirade today is deplorable and probably the most insensitive of his career.
“It is ironic that Dobson is holding himself out as some sort of authority on constitutional law and theology,” Lynn continued. “He is not a theologian or an attorney, and his lack of knowledge about those fields really shows.
“Our Constitution mandates the separation of religion and government,” Lynn concluded. “That means each of us is free to follow our own consciences. Dobson has no right to set himself up as some sort of spiritual dictator who gets to make personal decisions for the rest of us.”
Dobson’s criticism of Obama was seen as an effort to rally the Religious Right. Dobson had earlier said he would not vote for Republican hopeful John McCain but now says he might offer the Republican candidate a personal endorsement.
Other Religious Right leaders are rallying around McCain, albeit somewhat reluctantly. During a meeting July 1 in Denver, more than 100 Religious Right activists signed a statement indicating support for the Arizona senator.
The meeting was convened by Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University’s School of Law. The Baptist Press reported that a complete list of attendees was not released but noted that Phyllis Schlafly, David Barton, Tim and Beverly LaHaye and representatives from Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family and the American Family Association attended.
“I felt that it was absolutely critical in order to preserve our shared core Christian and moral values that we have unity among the leadership and that we look at the landscape and focus not on candidates, not on personalities and not on parties, but on our values and then assess who can best advance those values,” Staver told Baptist Press. “Once we did that, it was pretty obvious that that would be Sen. John McCain, because Sen. Barack Obama would decimate them.”