The Very Right Reverend Father Dobson returns

20050623 123335 Dobson1I know it’s not the biggest deal in the world, but today’s correction in the Washington Post caught my eye:

A May 14 article about Sen. John McCain’s speech at Liberty University incorrectly referred to the chairman of Focus on the Family as the Rev. James Dobson. Dobson is not an ordained minister.

So he’s not an ordained minister . . . thank you very much. The correction might have also mentioned what his honorific and vocation are (he has a Ph.D. in child psychology from the University of Southern California). In any case, this simple error appears with alarming frequency in American publications. Interestingly, it was Newsweek, which is a Post-owned publication, that struggled with this sin repeatedly in the past year.

Maybe the Post needs to hold an all-company retreat in which Donald Graham addresses the troops with this opening: “For the love of God, you idiots, how difficult is it to remember the courtesy title for this man? Must we hand him more ammo for his fundraising letters?”

Print Friendly

  • Mollie

    I should note that I don’t much care for the use of the title “Dr.” for folks that are not medical doctors. But I do think that proper vocations should be included to help the reader.

  • paddyo’

    Glad you added that, Mollie, since most newspapers and other mainstream media have long since jettisoned such titles. Yeah, The Post and legions of others need to be more careful about “The Rev.” when it comes to Dobson, but where I work we don’t even use “Dr.” for MDs and other medical types, let alone the academic/honorific titles.

  • Steve

    While the Post was technically wrong in calling Dr. Dobson Rev. Dobson, to many American Christians, he is like their pastor. So maybe the title is appropriate.

  • M. Everest, Ph.D.

    Well I don’t much care for the use of “Dr.” for folks that do not have academic degrees (including physicians and psychologists).

    So there.

  • prof B

    I suspect he has all the ammo he’ll ever need . . . and I doubt there’s anything they could do to keep him from using it.

    I’m sure he still loves them (those heathen secular journalists), though!

  • ShadowCat

    James Dobson has a doctorate in child psychology, yes; however, he has not been a practicing psychologist for many years. This, however, is an issue of semantics…a retired neurosurgeon, for example, is still referred to as “Dr.” so-and-so. Yet even when Dobson practiced, his methods were questionable at best. He felt that a father must be strong and not emotional with his boys (interestingly enough, he rarely mentioned anything to do with a daughter), feeling that showing emotion was showing a softer side which could lead to something that he is so vehemently against…homosexuality.

    His message against homosexuality is nothing short of hatred disguised as Christian love, feeling that they can be “cured” through reversion therapy and other means, and that the lack of a father figure may well have been what brought on homosexual tendencies. In fact, the co-founder of Focus on the Family had this to say:

    I apologize to lesbian and gay Americans who are demeaned on a regular basis by the false, irresponsible, and inflammatory rhetoric of James Dobson’s anti-gay radio and print materials. — Gil Alexander-Moegerle, Co-Founder, Focus on the Family

    To put it bluntly, “Dr.” James Dobson was a poor child psychologist, is little more than a cultist who is abusing his position and further degrading the sanctity of true Christian behavior and people like him are serving nothing more than giving the name “Christian” a rather unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth after the word is uttered and for what? Greed, corruption, scandal…it is all part and parcel to “Focus on the Family” and “Dr.” James Dobson becomes the figurehead for what NOT to be as a Christian.

    It is because of people like him that many people are leaving the Christian church. I am not a Christian, but I have nothing against the true believers of Christianity. “Dr.” James Dobson’s view of Christianity is a great distance from that truth.

  • Milo

    I’ve had a great deal of exposure to Dobson’s program, and I have never heard him say that a father’s “showing a softer side” was a setup for homosexuality. He does believe that a negative or non-existent father-son relationship can be a setup for homosexuality, a theory which is held by a substantial minority of psychologists and which is borne out by my own anecdotal observation of gay men I have known. I see nothing “hateful” there.

    As far as “greed, corruption and scandal” concerning Focus on the Family, maybe ShadowCat can enlighten us. I haven’t heard any evidence to that effect.

    Dobson’s ethical positions on sexual behavior are those that all branches of the church have taught for two thousand years across all races and cultures. If asserting these boundaries causes people to leave the Church, that seems to indicate that those people consider sexuality a higher priority than spirituality.

  • Steve


    If I show someone that homosexaulity is sinful, is that a loving act? Only if I then share the gospel of Christ. If I condemn homosexaulity, alike all sin, without the gospel, then I am not showing love.

    The greatest from of hate is wanting a person to die in their sins and spend eternity seperated from God.

  • tmatt


    I have no doubt that many people do leave the church over the issue of sex outside of marriage. However, you need to check your statistics. The churches that are in statistical decline are the churches that have embraced a redefinition of the sacrament of marriage. It is the world of liberal Christianity that is in decline, at least INSIDE SANCTUARIES. The religious left does much better in public life, in mall bookstores and in Hollywood.

  • Bruce Wilson

    James Dobson has been dispensing advice with abundance for decades now.

    Millions – or tens of millions worldwide – take him very seriously.

    Oddly though – given his campaign against and dire warnings on the perils of gay marriage – Mr. Dobson has just written a public advice column on divorce risk factor and doesn’t mention gay marriage at all !

    It’s all very confusing.

    Perhaps Mr. Dobson has changed his mind ?

  • David Green

    Dr. Dobson is a wacked-out religious bigot.

  • Richard Poore

    I listen to Dr Dobson when I’m in the car and he is on, usually every day and I’ve never heard him say anything even condoning hatred of any homosexual. Homosexuality is damaging to the culture and the father is important to the development of a child. He has written many books that have greatly helped people with thier families and child rearing.

    It’s sad when you can say anything you wish and it must be tolerated unless you believe and state it to be the truth. The truth is the only intolerable speech.

  • lski

    Another correction: Dr. Dobson has a Ph.D. in Child Development, not psychology.

    And while I’m here, I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Poore.

    There is no proof that homosexuality is damaging to the culture. If you believe the Bible thinks homosexuality a sin, then you can reconcile that between yourself and God. If you choose to impose your beliefs on others, review Matthew 23:15.

    Dr. Dobson, Exodus International, and others who promote an anti-gay agenda get their main data from NARTH, who got some of his data from Paul Cameron (a psychologist whose studies have been discredited), and some from Dr. Spitzer, who was instrumental in removing homosexuality from the list of APA mental disorders in 1973 (and admits his study was not representative).

    The rest of the data is non-conclusive or distorted, for example: “Children to best with a mother and a father” came from actual studies from reputable organizations comparing two-parent families with one-parent families. This had nothing to do with homosexuality.

    Yet, Dr. Dobson and his ilk will go on to say these reputable organizations (Amer. Psychological Assoc., Amer. Psychiatric Assoc., and 11 others) are liberal-leaning or afraid to face facts because none of their studies denounce homosexuality as damaging.

    Hatred would be easy. Saying “Sorry, I love you, but you are an abomination or a biological error,” that is something else.

    Can a father prevent his son from being gay by roughhousing with him before 3 years old? Maybe. But read the story of Ronnie Paris before you go too far with that thought. Also, most gay men I have spoken to said they had good to great relationships with their fathers. The ones that did have problems say the problems developed after they revealed that they were gay.

    James Dobson has helped a great many people. He used to think the strength of the family unit was the most important thing. He encouraged fathers not to miss the amazing gift they are given of watching their children grow because you can only do it once. What happened to that man? Now he attacks a minority group and ignores poverty, health care and corruption (he supports Tom DeLay, who turns a blind eye to forced abortion in the Mariana Islands).

    Heterosexual white men have inflicted more damage to our culture that all homosexuals could ever do. Read “The People’s History of the United States”.

    Truth… hmmm. How about this: When Dr. Dobson tells you “Don’t believe what you hear, don’t believe what you see, don’t believe what you read, only listen to what I say,” and you do… (you can finish the sentence yourself).