Does Dobson Really Want Christians to Disengage From Politics?

The Focus on the Family founder seems to be urging evangelicals back to an era of marginalization.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

Yesterday, I wrote about Focus on the Family founder James Dobson telling his radio listeners that they're politically powerless to influence Washington at the moment. That it was no use calling or writing the White House or their elected representatives.

Instead, he said, they should pray.

Judging from the comments on the post, many secular readers put no stock in prayer. But it's important to note that Dobson is entirely serious about prayer as a real strategy to effect change, as are tens of millions of other American Christians. That's why I wrote that Dobson has surrendered politically for the moment, not that he's surrendered entirely.

But to encourage Christian disengagement from politics, at least until Republicans return to power in some branch of the federal government, is no small thing. That's especially true because evangelicals had been politically disengaged for much of the 20th century. Their return to the political arena in the late 1970s was a hard-won victory for culture warriors like Paul Weyrich and Jerry Falwell.

To encourage evangelical Christians to sit on the political sidelines until a better day arrives sounds like a call to return to that previous era, when the public humiliation of 1925's Scopes "monkey trial" scared evangelicals out of politics for the next half century.

Indeed, some conservative readers chide Dobson for discouraging political engagement:

Bob Goetz of North Carolina writes:

Isn't this kind of "silent consent" exactly what the Republicans are now criticising Nancy Pelosi for? This is not the time to acquiesce and allow bad policies to take root in our country.

I'm just very thankful the Founding Fathers were made of sterner stuff than Dr. Dobson seems to be. Perhaps a few Tea Party visits on July 4 would perk him up a bit. That's assuming, of course, our federal and state nannies don't use swine flu as a pretext to ban the rallies outright.

Kapyee of Florida writes:

Dobson speaks of conservative Christians as entering "their most discouraging" period, but he needs to return to the bible to see the political environment that birthed his religion, Jesus; entire ministry, indeed hes life, was spent under Roman occupation, but this didn't make an iota of difference in his mission. In fact, the church began awash with the blood and suffering of its martyrs. And this brand of Christianity becomes "discouraged" in the face of a Liberal Congress and Democrats in power? Tsk, tsk, Mr. Dobson...

I'm especially interested in hearing from conservative readers about Dobson's latest political advice. Is he just facing the facts about the Democrats' monopoly in Washington? Or has he given up too easily?