Dobson's Focus on the Southern Baptist Family

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This week the Southern Baptist Convention holds its annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, the world headquarters of the Mormon church. These two growing denominations are divided in doctrine, but they are increasingly close on the religious right and equally concerned about the American family. Personifying the affinity is the star speaker at the Baptist confab, conservative radio guru James Dobson, who will preach his traditional brand of "pro-family" politics, appropriate for a 15.7 million-strong denomination that intends to put family issues at the top of its legislative agenda. The conservatives, who control the convention, will also propose adding a clause to the Baptist statement of faith, last amended 35 years ago, that will define the proper "biblical" family. The prescription bound to provoke the most attention states that a good Christian wife "is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband." Passage of the amendment seems a good bet.

While Dobson is cheered in Utah, there are some hard feelings about him in Colorado. Tim Gill, the wealthy and openly gay co-founder and chairman of Quark Inc., a desktop-publishing firm, has been pumping money into social causes in Colorado Springs. Among the recipients of a $500 bequest is P.M. Wynn, a local talk-radio host who runs a community gospel fair. Wynn quickly came under intense questioning from Dobsonís operatives. They made it clear they were upset that she took money from Gill and withdrew their support. "They did it to punish us," she says.