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The religion fight: Obama versus Dobson

I wrote yesterday about what I called Dobson’s big swerve, wherein he is working on finding a way to paint Barack Obama as so religiously radical that he will have no choice but to support, reluctantly, John McCain. (Yeah, there’s some sarcasm in that sentence.) It started a little more quickly than I expected, probably fueled by Obama’s recent 12 and 15 point leads nationally in the Newsweek and LA Times polls. Yes, it’s early, but if Dobson can come out and McCain happens to narrow the gap (which is almost inevitable), then he can declare victory and get some of his strut back.This “controversy” started when some video appeared in which Obama says some pretty uncontroversial things about religion and the makeup of the United States:

Wacky stuff there. All that “we’re not just a Christian nation anymore” and “laws can’t be based just on someone’s religious beliefs because not everyone believes the same thing” stuff is so radical, so inflammatory. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria.

Well, Dobson’s people have replied. I can’t imbed the video, which is probably for the best–I’d feel dirty having that stuff on the site, I think. But it is worth watching.

Here are their counter-arguments, such as they are. On Obama’s statement that the US is not a Christian nation, Tom Minnery replies

“76% of the people last year according to the Pew Center on Religion national survey have people identify themselves as Christian. Now all of them are not practicing, yet 40% of them still go to church once a week, and by and large it’s Christian denominations they’re going to.”

Any error in the transcription is mine. But Obama didn’t say that Christians weren’t in the majority–he simply said that we are not “just” a Christian nation, and that’s certainly true. It has always been true.

Obama followed that point up by noting that there are great divisions inside Christianity when he asked “if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would be teach in the schools? Would it be James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s?” Oooh, that raised Minnery’s hackles. His reaction begins at about 2:45 into the video, and it can be basically summed up like this–how dare he compare our beloved leader James Dobson with that black racist Al Sharpton? And yes–he uses the term “black racist,” and brings up Tawana Brawley and the Central Park jogger cases. The comparison, he says, is “a fierce misunderstanding of Christianity.” I don’t quite follow his logic, but one thing is pretty clear–for Minnery, there is no common cause between his version of Christianity and Sharpton’s, which means that Obama’s point is validated. Christianity in the US is not a monolithic group, so even if we had a Christian nation, whose Christianity reigns supreme? Minnery seems to have some ideas along those lines, but didn’t put them out there.

Dobson’s people say this is the first of a three-part series, which means I’ll have a little something to blog about for the next couple of days, I guess.

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