Dobson’s Focus On The Family Lays Off Staff In Wake Of Calif. Marriage Fight

Focus on the Family (FOF) pulled out all the stops to defeat same-sex marriage in California and won – but the move may have come at a high price: The group has announced it is cutting more than 200 staff positions.

FOF Chairman James C. Dobson announced during a radio broadcast in November that the organization is “experiencing the same financial shortfall and some of the pressures that have resulted from the economic downturn in this country.” He said 149 filled staff positions and 53 open slots would be cut, amounting to 20 percent of the total staff.

“It’s not something that anyone is relishing; it’s been a very difficult week,” Dobson said. “I ask our listeners to be in prayer for us. And be in prayer for those who will no longer be employed here. I have been a little teary-eyed about it for the last week.”

Despite the tight budget, Dobson saw no problem with pumping $539,000 in cash and $83,000 in non-monetary support into the California anti-gay marriage amendment, Proposition 8.

The measure passed with 52 percent of the vote in November but is being challenged in the state courts. Opponents contend that any effort to roll back same-sex marriage in California must rest with the legislature.

Some are questioning FOF’s priorities.

“If I were their membership I would be appalled,” Colorado Springs activist Mark Lewis told the Colorado Independent. “That [Focus on the Family] would spend any money on anything that’s obviously going to get blocked in the courts is just sad. [Prop. 8] is guaranteed to lose, in the long run it doesn’t have a chance – it’s just a waste of money.”

FOF, based in Colorado Springs, has an annual budget of about $157 million. The recent layoffs leave the organization with about 950 employees.

In other news about the Religious Right:

A Religious Right group called the Georgia Renewal Project held an event for pastors Nov. 25 in Atlanta – just days before the state held a runoff election for a U.S. Senate seat.

The event, titled “Rediscovering God in America,” was scheduled to feature Georgia Gov. Sonny Purdue and “Christian nation” advocate David Barton. Similar events in the past have featured Republican political candidates and are generally perceived as a vehicle for mobilizing pastors for partisan political activity.

In the runoff election, incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss defeated challenger Jim Martin.