A documented case of false prophecy: Four years later, ‘Letter from 2012’ makes Focus on the Family look ridiculous

Before the 2008 election, the religious right was predicting doom, gloom and the end of the world if Barack Obama were to win.

One of the most colorful and intense denunciations of Obama came from Focus on the Family, which produced a 16-page “Letter From 2012 in Obama’s America.” I had forgotten all about that dire “letter from the future.”

In 2008, Focus on the Family listed 34 predictions of what would happen if Barack Obama became president. They were wrong about all 34 of them.

Unfortunately for Focus, Libby Anne did not forget about it. Since this fictional “letter” was dated October 2012 — which is now — she dug out a copy to see how it’s many predictions have held up. The result is a devastating post titled “This is the most important election of all time! (again)

Focus on the Family made 34 specific, detailed predictions about what would happen in “Obama’s America.” They came up 0-for-34.

Well, let’s be generous — we’ll give them half credit for prediction No. 10. That one correctly foresaw the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — but then also incorrectly predicted a host of disastrous consequences of that repeal. Obama did repeal DADT, but Christians have not been expelled from the military and the Pentagon isn’t paying “special bonuses” to LGBT recruits. But still, that one comes closer than the other 33 predictions, which are all utterly wrong, so let’s cut Focus some slack and say they’re 0.5-for-34.

The Boy Scouts and private Christian schools were not forced to disband by the Supreme Court; adoption agencies remain in business; religious broadcasters still broadcast; churches are not being compelled to host gay weddings or to hire lesbian clergy; Christian tribal gatherings are still permitted “at the pole” in public high schools; the Pledge of Allegiance and private gun ownership have not been outlawed.

Libby Anne’s post is long because it is impressively thorough and methodical. Here is what Focus on the Family said would happen. Here is what actually did happen instead. Over and over and over. Focus on the Family was wrong. Focus on the Family was wrong. Focus on the Family was wrong. … Thirty-four times over. Treat yourself to reading the whole thing.

Re-reading the Focus letter four years later, what strikes me most — besides how utterly wrong they are about everything — is how parochial their imagination is when attempting to envision a political dystopia. The horrors they predict are almost all narrowly targeted at and tailored toward them. I’ve read a ton of dystopian stories, good and bad, and this is the most cluelessly self-absorbed vision of its kind that I’ve ever seen.

Maybe my favorite part of the letter (here’s a .pdf version) is prediction No. 18: “Pornographic magazines are openly displayed in gas stations, grocery stores and on newsstands.” I can’t figure out which is more laughably wrong — that this is what they imagine is the real secret agenda of President Obama and his party, or that anyone in 2008 was looking ahead to 2012 and predicting boom times for print media.


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  • Tricksterson

    Who to the what now?

  • Tricksterson

    Considering their definition of what constitutes a proper family, maybe not.

  • Tricksterson

    Aren’t yu a Muslim yourself?  If I’m not confusing you with someone else that must be a nasty bone of contention itself.


    I have always held to the model that one ought to model behavior for children that one wants them to emulate.

    Yes, yes, yes. Actually, I hold to this model for adults, as well.

    Admittedly, my thoughts about corporal punishment in particular are always informed by my personal experience… my parents rarely hit, but I remember every time they did, because it always left me feeling powerful and superior to have reduced them to that level. I am not proud of this feeling, but it’s there.

  • reynard61

    “Sounds like Mister Dobson needs someone to tie him down, pull down his pants, and deliver a sound round of smacks with a leather beater to the exposed area. When finished, we gently tell him it was for his own good, and he did something bad by trying to pass hateful legislation, and he needed to understand it was bad. Then we give him a hug.”

    How do we know that he doesn’t occasionally make surreptitious trips to the local S&M dungeon and get *exactly* this “therapy”? It would certainly explain a few things…

  • Tricksterson

    I notice it’s called “the Ginsburg court”.  Now in a liberal dominated court she would be a fairly logical candidate for the job (although one has to wonder what happened to Roberts.  I know!  Obama had him assassinated!) but I have to wonder if she was selected because she’s Gasp!  a woman!  and not only tht but Doublegasp!  a Jew!

  • Because you support equal rights. They do not. In fact, they do not believe that anyone genuinely supports equal rights – they think it is only a ruse, used to do to them what they try to do to others.

    So much of the RTC mindset is founded on projection.  As is, for that matter, D’Souza’s movie, assuming as it does that family history must (must!) account for all one’s political and social views.

  • Tricksterson

    Just the phrase “tyranny of hippes” is enough to make me giggle..  I can’t begin to imagine what a hippie tyranny would be like although come to ink of it Niven and Pournelle took a shot at it in “Fallen Angels”, not one of their better collaborations.

  • EllieMurasaki

    An adult engaging in risk-aware consensual kink with another consenting adult, no problem whatsoever, though if that person has a significant other who is not the kinkytimes playmate then everybody needs to be aware and accepting of everybody else. The exact same behavior in a context where it is nonconsensual and punitive, and taking advantage of a power imbalance that has not been created for the purpose of kinkytimes, and one participant is a child? No, no, no, no.

    I can accept that sometimes it is necessary to spank a sufficiently young child because there isn’t any other way to get the kid’s attention or to get the kid to understand that what the kid did is unacceptable. But once the kid’s old enough to words? No. Never. And before then, more smacks or harder smacks than are absolutely necessary? No. Never.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’d probably take it. Where I grew up, being excessively thin was just as bad as being overweight. If the two are equal, I’d rather have the one that lets me keep warm without needing two layers of clothing in the spring and autumn.

  • Matri

    Obviously we can’t do the simple “take a drink every time he’s wrong”
    because we’d all be dead of alcohol poisoning before it was half over,
    so we’ll have to be a bit more creative.

    We’d be dead before the end of the first paragraph.

  • Tricksterson

    The Boy Scout prediction is particularly ironic considering the Catholic bishops recent attempts at harrassing and pressuring the Girl Scouts.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s entirely different. The Girl Scouts are in trouble for being too nondiscriminating. The Boy Scouts were supposed to be in trouble for not being nondiscriminating enough.

    (I feel sorry for gay and trans boys who want Scouting and aren’t old enough to join a Venture crew. Boy Scouts will take cis boys and closeted trans girls provided they’re all gynophiles or asexual. Girl Scouts will take cis girls and out trans girls and not give a damn about orientation. I don’t know what the Girl Scouts would do about a trans boy who wanted to be a Scout, but I’m certain the Boy Scouts wouldn’t let him anywhere near, and a cis gay boy is out of luck.)

    (Come to that, I don’t know what Venturing would do with a gay or trans anybody either. Crews are mixed-sex, but that just means they don’t discriminate boy-girl, doesn’t say anything about whether they discriminate cis-trans or straight-queer.)

  • Jenora Feuer

     I believe that’s the official handling of this in Canada, at least in the Canadian military.  I heard an interview a few years back with one of the first members of the Canadian military to get sexual reassignment surgery paid for by the military.  The fact that dismorphism was a recognized disorder, and that reassignment surgery was the recommended treatment, made pushing it through the red tape a lot easier.

    As a note, Canada has allowed LGBT members to serve openly in the military since 1992, and reassignment surgery has been officially covered since 1998; just like with same-sex marriage, the sky hasn’t fallen in here yet.  (I’ve heard reports that there have been attempts to make reassignment surgery no longer covered, though I don’t believe that has gone through yet.  Largely because some people view trying to cut that as a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I heard an interview a few years back with one of the first members of the Canadian military to get sexual reassignment surgery paid for by the military. The fact that dismorphism was a recognized disorder, and that reassignment surgery was the recommended treatment, made pushing it through the red tape a lot easier.

    What do they do with someone who isn’t cis and who doesn’t want the surgery? I know there are places where getting the surgery is a prerequisite for correcting the driver’s license and so forth, which is hard on the people who are fine with their preoperative body but who don’t identify with their birth-assigned gender.

  • Tricksterson

    So what are D’Souza’s predictions?

  • Tricksterson

    I suspect that this would only turn him on.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Can we please stop speculating on Dobson’s sexual preferences? It’s creeping me out.

  • Tricksterson

    Thou hast a point.

  • Jenora Feuer

    I don’t know for sure.

    I do know that as of a couple of years ago (probably around the time I heard this interview), the Canadian Armed Forces changed its rules to allow transitioning soldiers to wear the uniform of their target gender, even pre-op.  Though a comment I saw on one article about that (from one of the people interviewed) suggested that ruling only applies to people actually transitioning, and not necessarily for people who present as the opposite gender but have no plans to go through the surgery.

    So the answer, unfortunately, is probably that the sorts of people you talk about are still not officially recognized.

  • That’s a good point about “stupid” being a moral judgment. One of the things you’ll note about Idiocracy – a movie I can’t stand, precisely because it encourages people to think this way – is that many of the “stupid society” bits are actually matters of personal taste. That’s what you usually get from people who complain about how stupid other people are (i.e. “Reality TV is popular because people are stupid!”). It’s narcissistic and more than a little immature for one to assume that he’s better than everyone because of the films he watches or the music he listens to, but that’s what people do.

    I’d also add that, in my experience, the people who spend the most time ranting about “stupid people” are usually lacking in any real achievements. It’s an inverted ego boost – you lift yourself up by cutting everyone else down.

  • That Obama is going to give all our money to poor countries.

    Seriously, that’s it. An indistinct smear, just like everything else he’s ever written.

  • Robert Anton Wilson posited a hippy tyranny under President Furbish Lousewort IV in his Schrodinger’s Cat Trilogy, but that book is more of a literary hallucinogen trip than a serious dystopia.

  • Did anyone else see this story which seems to have had the right wing
    all excited in August, about Obama’s brother George asking Di Souza for
    $1000 to pay his medical bills?

    Is that story even real? D’Souza sounds like the kind of guy who would gladly make shit up if it let him score rhetorical points.

  • Iriemamaof3

    EllieMurasaki for President! That’s about the best thing I’ve read in the past couple of days. Thank you.

  • hagsrus

     It sounded to me as if he might have been scammed!

  • EllieMurasaki


    I’d suck at being a politician. Politicians are expected to speak in public. Or at least put together three consecutive coherent intelligible spoken sentences, which I have trouble doing unless I’m reading a prepared statement. But thank you for the compliment!

  • P J Evans

     I need to go back to eating that way. (Carbs do nasty things to my serum lipid levels.)

  • P J Evans

     Fallen Angels is much more fun when you actually know the people in the story. I used to go out with the guy they hanged from the Chicago Water Tower.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That sounds ominous.

  • That reminds me of one of the comments I heard about “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”: The basic thing about the show that is problematic is that the family isn’t especially dysfunctional. There’s a teen pregnancy, but that’s hardly some kind of benchmark for dysfunction. Basically, other than the pagent thing, they’re not  really any more of a train wreck than any other family. And yet, there’s this whole show whose entire raison d’etre is for audiences to look at them, and point and laugh at the freaks who have the audacity to be poor, to be overweight, to not adhere to the cultural standards of beauty, to have tastes and interests associated with the lower classes, and to do all that without being ashamed of themselves for it: The whole point of the show is for us to sit in judgment of these people and say “How dare they be proud of themselves when they’re *poor* and *unphotogenic*!”

  • Are you sure you don’t mean from the St. Louis Arch?  I don’t remember the hanging on Michigan Avenue.

    And yeah, it even helps if you’re just from some of the places that play a part.

  • Lori


      I believe that’s the official handling of this in Canada, at least in
    the Canadian military.  I heard an interview a few years back with one
    of the first members of the Canadian military to get sexual reassignment
    surgery paid for by the military.   

    This works in Canada because you have “gasp” socialized medicine. In the US the military has socialized medicine, but the rest of us do not, which is part of the reason they won’t take anyone who is trans and will discharge anyone found to be trans after they’re in.

    There are quite a number of other health conditions that require expensive treatment and/or ongoing medication to manage that also disqualify people from service, diabetes for example. The need for daily medication places some practical limits on the jobs that someone can do (you can’t send someone who needs daily insulin or hormones to a FOB in Afghanistan for a year because resupply just isn’t reliable enough and at least for insulin long term safe storage wouldn’t generally be possible). It also makes the solider really expensive when compared to other soldiers. Not going to happen.


    I’ve heard reports that there have been attempts to make reassignment
    surgery no longer covered, though I don’t believe that has gone through
    yet.  Largely because some people view trying to cut that as a
    discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen. 

    This is the other reason this will never happen in the US military until we have single payer.

    Although in the US there is no legally recognized right to serve so I’m not sure it would play out the same way here.

  • Carstonio

    The whole genre exists for viewers to feel superior to the people on the screen. What you describe is the flip side of the Real Housewives of Wherever and the Kardashians, where rich and attractive women are depicted as conniving and shallow. 

    I hadn’t heard the Honey Boo Boo family mocked for being poor or overweight, and I’m not sure what you mean by tastes associated with lower classes, although I don’t doubt that such mockery is out there. All the mockery I’ve heard is about the family allegedly being ignorant, which seems to also describe the Kardashians, and about the twisted nature of toddler pageants. As the father of daughters, I have no sympathy for any family that teaches their young girls that they’re deserving of love and approval based on their looks, no matter how wealthy or poor the family.

  • Carstonio

    Also, the first time I heard of the Kardashians show, I thought for a second that it was a Deep Space Nine spinoff.

  • reynard61

    “An adult engaging in risk-aware consensual kink with another consenting adult, no problem whatsoever, though if that person has a significant other who is not the kinkytimes playmate then everybody needs to be aware and accepting of everybody else.”

    I guess that I need to start putting irony tags on my posts from now on. (I’m not opposed to safe, consensual kink. Luna *knows* I have a few proclivities of my own…)

    That said, however, I think that Dobson and his ilk are afraid of and opposed to Teh Kink the same way that they are afraid of and opposed to Teh Ghey — they *have* to be afraid of (and opposed to) it because their chosen ideology/religion *DEMANDS* that they be against (and afraid of) it. But I strongly suspect that somewhere, very deep in his psyche, there’s a meta-James Dobson who wouldn’t hesitate to get into the kind of S&M relationship scenario that FearlessSon described. After all, look at how *supposedly* anti-gay preacher Ted Haggard fell prey to his meta-Ted’s gay desires. Dobson’s simply been more successful at sublimating/supressing his desires…thus far…

  • JustoneK

    I hate disqus lack of threading.  I have no idea what this is responding to.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Back when this “letter from the future” came out (just before the 2008 General Election), I remember the buzz it caused.  From what I found out about it:

    Standard Christianese Near-Future Persecution Dystopia.  (Only thing missing was the End Time Prophecy tie-in.)

    Pretty lame even by the standards of “But I Send This Back In Time To Warn You” didactic dystopias.

    “Teh Fags Teh Fags Teh Fags Teh Fags Teh Fags…”  Internet Monk’s comment on it was “James Dobson?  Remember him?  Did a lot of good things before fear of homosexuals drove him over a cliff with his constituency still in the car.”

    P.S.  0-for-34?  That sounds like National Enquirer’s “Top Psychic Predictions for the New Year”.

  • Lori

    At the bottom of Tricksterson’s post, where it says “in reply to JustoneK” click on it and it will show you which of your comments Tricksterson was replying to.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “This is the most important election of all time! (again)”

    All Bronies out there:
    Cue Rarity and her fainting couch —

  • “Yo, Focus on the Family, I’m really happy for ya.  I’mma’ let ya finish, but this is the most important election of all time!”

  • Unity_walker

    Not so, JustoneK. As a writer and word-crafter, I can tell you that gluttony can apply to any over the top appetite for anything, including sex or electronic gadgets…though most people think it can apply only to overeating. And furthermore, “visibly obese folks” are not “gluttony”–and are not necessarily gluttons, either. JUDGE NOT.

  • Unity_walker

    It can also be “gluttony” in the wide sense of the word.

  • Unity_walker

    Just as “avarice” can apply also to food….

  • It would seem that the FoF Christofascist hate cult’s “prophets” are direct lines to their Christian gods are broken. Frothing insane cult savages!

  • JustoneK

    that was…kinda my original point.  that those labeled obese are not generally gluttons.

  • JustoneK

    I’ve been doing that!  It doesn’t always seem to take.

  • Olbronc

    I think Libby Anne should give it another four years before totaling the scores (assuming BHO wins the WH again).

  • Fusina

     Yeah, we both know _that_.    ;-)   I was referring to my Mom’s collections of dolls and quilting fabric. Course, I can’t really point a finger at her, seeing as I have some gluttonous collections of my own. My point, initially, was that gluttony is mentioned in at least one of the verses that also discusses homosexuality, and that if one was not condemned, neither should the other be. My Mom does not take this concept well, and yes, she does watch Fox News. She really liked Glenn Beck–and it was in pointing out his “errors” in logic (aka lies) that I ended up kicking my brother out of my life–he didn’t take that well.

    I would like to take this time to thank all the people here who have not been mean to me as I worked out some of the stress I’ve been under this week. I posted some stuff I needed to get out of my head, and you all made me feel like I was okay. So Thanks.

  • Tricksterson

    Not a problem.