For Focus on the Family, a Tricky Invitation From President-Elect Obama

The Obama team is planning a National Day of Service and invited many organizations to participate.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

The New York Times Caucus blog is reporting that the Obama team is planning a National Day of Service for Martin Luther King Day, the day before the inauguration, and inviting organizations of all stripes to participate: 

The Presidential Inaugural Committee is putting the wheels for the project in motion with calls and e-mails to national service organizations. The committee is reaching out to organizations of all sizes and ideologies, including faith-based groups, unions and businesses as well as political groups—from on the left to Focus on the Family on the right—to motivate their members to participate.

Come again? Focus on the Family, the evangelical powerhouse whose founder, James Dobson, repeatedly knocked Obama during the election with such zingers as:

"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology."

"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

"Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the lives of tiny babies? What he's trying to say here is unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe."

God & Country has requests in to the Obama campaign and to Focus on the Family about whether Focus has responded to the Presidential Inaugural Committee's invitation yet and will let you know what it hears back. But Focus has got to be worried that its participation would suggest to its supporters that it is cooperating with the enemy, maybe even lending its imprimatur to a liberal Democrat.

On the other hand, Focus risks losing credibility with evangelicals, especially younger ones, who are increasingly disillusioned with the Christian right's culture war tactics and could be turned off if they see Dobson & Co. rebuffing what they consider a goodwill gesture from the Obama team.

G&C is eager to see how this plays out.

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