A prominent evangelical minister has criticized the religious pressure group Focus on the Family, saying founder and prominent radio talker James Dobson was pushed out of the group for his adherence to conservative religious values.
The Rev. Kenneth Hutcherson, a former NFL player who now heads the Antioch Bible Church in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, WA., said the board of Focus on the Family (FOF) "made a serious mistake" when they saw to completion a multi-year program to transition the group to new leadership. In an essay published on the far-right website World Net Daily, Hutcherson said FOF had become more "progressive," having undergone "an image change designed to make them accepted and well-liked rather than standing for righteousness in an unrighteous society."
Dobson's final broadcast on FOF's flagship radio program, also called Focus on the Family, was February 26. In that broadcast, he graciously handed the reins of the program and the organization to new CEO Jim Daly.
But even before Dobson signed off, he announced he would start a new radio program with his son. The new program, to be called Family Talk, is scheduled to begin airing on May 3. "Who will you listen to?" asked the Colorado Springs Gazette, "James Dobson or Jim Daly?"
The FOF organization, headed by Dobson for over thirty years, was a pillar of the evangelical Christian Right, serving to organize conservatives to support candidates and ballot initiatives which it deemed acceptable.
In his essay, Hutcherson calls for FOF to restore Dobson to his "ministry" (Dobson is a psychologist, not an ordained minister), but adds, "To be perfectly honest, what Focus should have done is give someone like me the leadership over the ministry. Someone with guts is needed to lead Focus into the next generation, someone who has the intestinal fortitude not to care what the world thinks but only wants to infuse the culture with God's righteousness."
A February Wall Street Journal article said FOF was "seeking a broader agenda and a softer tone" than before, renouncing personal attacks on politicians it saw as embracing the wrong positions. It quoted Daly as saying "I don't see evil behind everything."
Oct. 1, 2008: Influence fading, FOF announces layoffs
Nov. 8, 2008: Dobson 'jubilant' over passage of anti-gay measures
Feb. 27, 2009: Dobson resigns as FOF head