Monday, Feb. 07, 2005

James Dobson

The Culture Warrior
James Dobson is tired of being misunderstood. The founder of Focus on the Family wants everyone to know that his sprawling campus in Colorado Springs, Colo., is devoted to his radio program, publishing empire and maintaining his 2.5 million-strong e-mail list of supporters. While it may be true that only a sliver of the activities there are political, Dobson stepped down as president of the organization in May 2003 so that he could become involved in politics. Now he's not only advocating policies calling for a ban on gay marriage and for restraint of the judiciary but also threatening to target Democratic Senators at the polls if they don't vote the way he likes on President Bush's judicial nominations.

It's not certain, however, whether Dobson, 68, can translate his considerable influence into political muscle. White House officials consider his demands too absolutist and impractical. "We respect him greatly," says a Bush aide, "but his political influence is not everything people might think." Indeed, Dobson seems to exercise greater sway outside the political arena, where the trained child psychologist has offered families a Christian alternative to modern mores. Says Dobson: "We're involved in what is known as a culture war that is aimed right straight at the institution of the family."