James Dobson has stepped in it again. Captain's Quarters has the best analysis I've seen. Apparently he's accusing the SpongeBob cartoon of being pro-gay, when he doesn't even have the facts right. SpongeBob was in a video that promotes multiculturalism in the most uncontroversial sense, i.e. that we should welcome people who are different from us and get along with them. Christians normally refer to this as reaching out in love. Because the song "We Are Family" was used in it, and because some not uncontroversial group happens to have a webisite by that name that talks about welcoming gay people as if being gay is normal, Dobson has concluded that this particular video, which is unconnected to that website, is also advocating a gay rights position. So you shouldn't let your kids watch SpongeBob.
Apparently Dobson has even been confronted with these facts, and he won't change his stance. Has he finally gone off the deep end? I've been very glad for the great contributions his organization has made in helping families and parents in the hardest task of all known to humanity, which is the raising of children. When he started identifying political issues with the gospel, he became a Pharisee. They elevated often good moral principles (though some were beyond moral requirements and even conflicted with them) to the level of uncompromising absolutes. He seems to me to have done the same, and he's taking it to the same level of contradicting actual biblical commands, e.g. to love your neighbor as yourself. I've defended him from some of the left who call him bigoted. I'm not going to defend him from the charge of Pharisaism.
When Jerry Falwell went off against the Teletubbies, most evangelical Christians I knew laughed at him and thought he was being ridiculous. There's no way he represented the average evangelical in the 1980s, never mind now. Dobson is another story. His organization has been one of the most influential groups in the area they've been specialists in. When it comes to good childrearing practices, they've done a great service to Christians and have had a big impact. That's why this distresses me so much.
What's worse is that they're in the process of engineering the defeat of all the people they've worked so hard to get elected. This just makes conservatives look dumb. I know there are many other factors why Clinton won in 1992, not the least being that his opponent wasn't willing to campaign or seriously defend himself against Democrats' charges, assuming another landslide win like the previous two elections. Still, one of the factors, I'm sure, was the loss of political capital among conservatives on social issues, largely due to nuts like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who made two fatal mistakes. First, they equated Christianity with a political agenda that reflects part of the biblical perspective, overemphasizes some of the elements to the detriment of others, and actually contradicts biblical teaching in a few important places. Second, they simply made ludicrous claims about the intentions and effects of certain trends, events, and icons of popular culture, most notably their remarks about Barney and the Teletubbies.
Dobson has now officially entered that role of loony religious right freak. It's too bad, because I'm convinced he's not really a bigot. I don't think he hates gays. I'm fairly sure that he truly wants the best for people who are gay. Given his view that the best for gay people is to realize their sin and repent, he wouldn't be supporting groups like Exodus if he didn't want the best for them. Some may question whether that's for their best, but he truly thinks it is. That's why I don't think you can accuse him of not seeking what he believes is best for people who are gay. Yet he doesn't seem to understand how misguided his methods are and how radical and truly ridiculous his comments sound. It's the same trap the Pharisees fell into, though. Zeal for God's Torah could so easily be misplaced when you're not careful to apply the principles of the Torah to situations that you've reflected carefully enough on to see if those principles apply. The same goes for the gospel. I'm convinced that if Dobson had truly absorbed how the gospel applies in this situation, he would encourage reaching out in love to gay people rather than trying to throw up walls that will just continue the interference between evangelicals and the gay community that prevents many gay people from even hearing what the gospel message is. Dobson has done a serious disservice to Christianity in this effort.
Update: See this post at Rebecca Writes for a more brief but probably more clear presentation of this argument.