NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Focus on the Family’s James Dobson said on his July 21 radio broadcast he is rethinking his previous views on the presidential election and that he “might” endorse Republican John McCain, who the pro-family leader has criticized in the past.
Dobson and guest R. Albert Mohler Jr. — president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — spent most of the program discussing Democrat Barack Obama’s views on abortion and homosexuality before the two men closed the program by talking about McCain. In the past — particularly during the GOP primary — Dobson had said he couldn’t support McCain.
Dobson, speaking on his broadcast, said he’s “very concerned” about how an Obama presidency would impact the country and that the choice between Obama and McCain has “been the most difficult moral dilemma for me.” But Dobson also said there are several significant issues where he and McCain agree.
Both Dobson and Mohler said there’s a dramatic difference for evangelicals between the views of Obama and McCain.
“As of this moment, I have to take into account that Sen. John McCain has voted pro-life consistently,” Dobson said. “… He says he favors marriage between a man and a woman. He opposes homosexual adoption. He favors smaller government and lower taxes and he seems to understand the Muslim threat, which matters a lot to me. Therefore, I have considered the fact that elections always involve imperfect candidates — there are no perfect human beings — and you always have to choose between two flawed individuals…. I never thought I would hear myself saying this, but it’s where I am: While I am not endorsing Sen. John McCain, the possibility is there that I might.”
McCain supports embryonic stem cell research and has opposed a federal marriage amendment, although he has have left wiggle room on both issues and implied or said he could change. But he has sought to reach out to pro-lifers during campaign speeches; during one recent stop in Missouri he told the crowd that they could count on his “active advocacy for the rights of the unborn.” He also has stated his support for a proposed California marriage amendment, which Obama opposes.
Dobson and Mohler discussed Obama’s opposition in Illinois to a bill which would have required medical attention be given babies who survive abortion. They also talked about Obama’s support of legalized partial-birth abortion and his positions on homosexual issues, particularly his opposition to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy.
“There’s no doubt — at least no doubt in my mind — about whose policies will result in more babies being killed or will do the greatest damage to the institution of marriage and the family,” Dobson said. “I am convinced that Sen. McCain comes closer to what I believe.”
Mohler said he doesn’t endorse candidates but that — although he has been frustrated at times with McCain — believes the election offers “two very starkly different choices.”
“When you look at Barack Obama, you look at someone whose general trajectory I think is at odds with many of things we hold most precious,” Mohler said. “… John McCain is far closer to where I am and where I believe most evangelical Christians are than Barack Obama.”
Dobson and Mohler agreed that Obama is an intelligent and charismatic candidate who, on the surface, is an attractive candidate. But Obama’s beliefs on key issues, the two men said, should alarm conservative Christians.
“We’re looking at the most liberal candidate I think to gain a party nomination probably in the history of this country,” Mohler said, adding that on some issues, Obama is further to the left than former President Clinton. “… That’s what I think most Americans don’t understand; many evangelicals don’t understand — particularly younger evangelicals. This is a man who has staked out his positions for the last 20 years that is markedly beyond where most Americans believe he is.”
Dobson said he thinks Obama is “more liberal and more extreme than most Democrats in the Senate.” The “best example” of that, Dobson said, is the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which passed the Senate 98-0. Obama, then an Illinois state legislator, opposed a version of it on the state level. The bill would have given legal rights to babies who survive abortions.
Obama “was chairman of the committee who dealt with” the bill and “spoke against the bill, arguing for the right to kill those babies,” Dobson said. Obama has a position that “even his liberal colleagues don’t represent. This man is really far, far left.”
Mohler said Obama “has fought every significant and meaningful restriction on abortion.”
Mohler read from a letter Obama wrote this year to the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club in which the presumptive Democratic nominee said, “I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law.” In the letter Obama said he favors repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and don’t ask, don’t tell policy — two policies supported by President Clinton. DOMA was passed in 1996 to prevent states from being forced to recognize “gay marriage.” Obama also said he opposes state marriage amendments, which he called “discriminatory.”
“What he’s saying here goes so far beyond where, so far as I know, any Democratic candidate has ever publicly declared himself,” Mohler said.
“He’s … very thoughtful, so he doesn’t come up with positions recklessly,” Mohler said. ” … I think he thinks that America is headed toward full normalization of homosexuality. I think he sees those of us who believe that that would not be good for the culture as backwards, as oppressive, as intolerant…. I don’t believe that America is quite ready for that. I don’t think America is ready to sign on to the full normalization of homosexuality and to the elimination of marriage as a union of a man and a woman as a distinctive institution.”
Dobson said the point of the program was “not to tell people how to vote” but instead “to ask people to think about the issues.”
Mohler serves on the Focus on the Family board of directors.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. The full Focus on the Family broadcast can be heard online at http://www.citizenlink.org/clspecialalert/A000007835.cfm