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Conservative evangelical James Dobson retires from Focus on the Family

February 27, 2009 |  5:15 pm

Chairman and founder of the conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family James Dobson retires

Dr. James Dobson, the conservative evangelical leader who founded Focus on the Family 32 years ago and turned it into a major political and media force with millions of followers across the country, suddenly resigned as chairman today.

The Colorado Springs group framed the resignation as part of an ongoing turnover of ministry leadership to the next generation. The 72-year-old Dobson's wife, Shirley, who is chairman of the National Day of Prayer, also left the Focus board.

A story on the organization's website said Dr. Dobson would continue his regular radio broadcasts from the Focus studios that are carried daily by hundreds of radio stations. He will continue to write for the Focus newsletter, which has 1.6 million monthly subscribers. And the couple said they wanted to spend more time grandparenting.

A statement attributed to the board said:

"One of Dr. Dobson's objectives during the last decade has been to help identify the next generation of leadership for the ministry, and to see it established securely before he stepped away from administrative oversight. That purpose has now been fulfilled, and we applaud Dr. Dobson for this concern for the future of the ministry."

Jim Daly, who's been Focus' chief executive since 2005, will continue in that role. Retired Air Force Gen. Patrick Caruana becomes the new board chairman.

While Dobson routinely sought to keep his conservative political views separate from his nonprofit organization's, he made little secret last year of his disdain for both Republicans Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, primarily over the Arizona's campaign finance work that put added political restrictions on public outreach by nonprofit groups like Focus. At one point he suggested he might not vote at all.

When it became clear that McCain would win the GOP nomination, Dobson endorsed former Baptist preacher and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He later said that, given the candidate put forth by the Democrats and his abortion stance, he had a moral obligation to vote, presumably for McCain.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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