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And by the way, who asked him?

As the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, the nonprofit conservative ministry that wields considerable influence among Republican Christians from its luxurious ridge-top headquarters in Colorado Springs, James Dobson receives numerous GOP politicians making their required Focus pilgrimage.

Over coffee they sit by a glass table with an expansive view of the Rocky Mountains out the window. Dobson quizzes his visitors about their record on abortion and family issues and doesn't hesitate to offer his own blunt opinions about their opinions and record. Dobson's group cannot officially endorse any political candidate. Not in his newsletters or publications. Not from his own radio studio just down the hall where he regularly talks to millions on some 2,000 radio stations.

However, that did not stop Dobson himself from endorsing George W. Bush in 2004. He's holding his counsel now. But he has spent considerable time in recent months as a private citizen announcing whom he will not be voting for.

At the top of Dobson's unendorsement list is Rudy Giuliani. In a commentary on WorldNet, the Focus leader said he had made an irrevocable decision not to vote for the former New York mayor on the basis of moral issues such as abortion and domestic partnerships for homosexuals.

In fact, given the choice between Giuliani and Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, Dobson said he might for the first time in his adult life not vote. Those kind of words send chills down the spines of Republican campaign managers because Dobson's opinion is thought to sway millions of evangelical Christians.

Back in March, Dobson told U.S. News & World Report he wasn't all that keen on former Sen. Fred Thompson, who isn't a candidate officially yet but is getting very close. Dobson acknowledged the Tennessean held strong views about the pro-family movement, which was good, but added, "I don't think he's a Christian."

As we noted here the other day, Dobson and Thompson are believed to have talked since and, as Thompson's announcement day approaches, his former family pastor has come forward to recall the former senator's baptism. Stay tuned.

In January on a radio program Dobson told the host he could not support Sen. John McCain either because of the restrictions of the McCain-Feingold bill and new proposals, supported by and named for McCain, to limit the ability of groups such as Focus to reach constituents with action messages on pending legislation.

Dobson has said some good things about Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who repented to Dobson on-air about his own extra-marital affair even while criticizing Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Gingrich, he said, is the "brightest guy out there." Gingrich, however, is technically not in the GOP race, though he keeps shouting an awful lot of advice from the sidelines for a dis-interested non-candidate. He also keeps popping up on prominent TV programs and plans a major "solutions" seminar in late September.

Given the remaining Republican field of eight announced nominee wannabes and at least two ponderers, there remains an ample supply of other candidates available for Dobson to not endorse in coming months.

--Andrew Malcolm

 
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Dobson is a partisan Republican hack, not a Christian. Who he votes for or not is only important to other Republicans pretending to be Christians. If this is not true, then why doesn't Dobson appologize to America for his support for Bush, who has plundered the country like no other.

Chuck, what, in your view, determines who a christian is? Is the Bible involved in this determination?

Who is James Dobson to determine who is and who isn't a Christian? I don't know Fred Thompson's particular religious beliefs, but I'm quite sure he would take offense to that. Barack Obama is a Christian who talks about his faith--a little too much--but I'm sure he wouldn't make in Dobson's book either because of the (D) behind his name or the fact that he is pro-choice. Pro-choice doesn't mean pro-abortion, it is a policy position consistent with the right to privacy and keeping government out of people's lives. It is time for so-called Christians to stop focusing on one or two issues and look at the broader scheme of morality. Launching unilateral wars based on fabricated "intelligence" that results in hundreds of thousands dead, many more injured, civil war, and a mass exodus of refugees to neighboring countries is absolutely immoral. Anybody who stands by that kind of action has no sense of right and wrong, in my opinion.

Richard, what, in your view, determines who a christian is? Is the Bible involved in this determination?

Sulking in his tent is not becoming to Dobson. He should understand there are a thousand charismatic young whelps out there who will steal his lunch right off his plate. He lives in a world characterized by aggression.

I would say that a Christian is anybody whose religious belief is based on the story of Christ, period. That includes Catholics and Protestants, fundamentalists and theological liberals, mainline believers and heretical offshoots. Lots of Christians get off saying who or who isn't Christian, based on their own narrow interpretation. It should be anybody who believes in the teachings of Christ. Just like you would characterize anybody who believes in Vedic scriptures as a Hindu, or the teachings of Mohamed a Muslim. They don't all believe and practice exactly the same, but there is a general core that defines the umbrella that branches of the faith fall under.

Personally, I've been through it all and studied it all and come out a pretty much avowed agnostic. I really don't care what others choose to believe---as long as they respect others who believe differently or don't believe at all. It's all based on faith anyway--placing your trust and destiny in the unknowable. Ethics and morality are based on a person's conscience and sense of empathy, not some book or affiliation with some church. You will find believers who are the most reprehensible human beings on the planet, and non-believers who do the right thing and reach out to help others.

Acknowledging partial disagreement with the evangelical concept of Christ does not mean Romney accepts efforts of evangelical fanatics to function as religious bouncers and kick everyone they want out of the Christianity club.

Romney understands these points of difference don’t make Mormons less Christian, but more Christian.

He won’t say this, of course, because in our democratic system leaders are supposed to serve the interests and protect the religious freedom of all citizens, and challenging the religious beliefs of any particular group is not a good way to do that.

He’s running for commander-in-chief, not pastor-in-chief. It’s a concept Romney lives by that Huckabee gives lip service to when he’s not practicing religious identity politics.

In these days and times the term Christian is only a word.

As a Messianic Gentile -- the values of the old testament aka torah are directly linked to the new testament. Jesus practiced old testament laws and traditions up to and including the passover -- aka the last supper before spilling his blood at calvary. Christ did not come to change one iota of the law, but to fulfil it.

Thus, in all due respect, I repeat Our L-rd's statement to Dr. Dobson: Render unto Caesar's what is Caesars and render unto G-d what is G-d's. OR -- what does politics really have to do with Christianity?

If one choses to vote for Obama or McCain, it will not be because of the abortion issue. If the holocaust of the unborn is just as important as the holocaust of the Jews -- then there lies the answer on who to vote for, if of course one can separate their politics from religion. I don't know if I am able to do this, even though if I chose to vote in this upcoming election, I would be inclined to vote for Obama.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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