June 25th, 2008
11:49 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama says Dobson 'making stuff up'

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(CNN)— Sen. Barack Obama said Tuesday night evangelical leader James Dobson was “making stuff up,” when he accused the Illinois senator of distorting the Bible and taking a "fruitcake interpretation" of the U.S. Constitution.

“Any notion that I was distorting the Bible in that speech, I think anyone would be hard pressed to make that argument,” Obama told reporters on board his press plane Tuesday night.

Obama's past comments came front and center Tuesday when Dobson criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee’s June 2006 speech on his Focus on the Family radio show.

Watch: Schneider reports on Obama v. Dobson

In the speech, Obama suggested that it would be impractical to govern based solely on the word of the Bible, noting that some passages suggest slavery is permissible and eating shellfish is disgraceful.

Earlier: Evangelist accuses Obama of 'distorting' Bible

"Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?" Obama asked in the speech. "Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?"

Obama responded Tuesday saying the speech underscored the notion he is a man of faith and highlighted the importance that people like him who find faith important “try to translate our concerns in a universal language so that we can have open and vigorous debate.”

UPDATE:
Responding to the comments, Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Focus Action, said "There is no need to 'make stuff up' as it relates to Sen. Obama's interpretation of Scripture and the role of religion in the public square."

"His statements and record make clear his questionable perception of both. To argue that the Sermon on the Mount invalidates the Defense Department - as if Jesus Himself didn't have anything to say about the existence of good and evil and the need to combat evil - is about as deep as anyone needs to go to understand where the senator is coming from," Minnery also said. "He is editing God's word to fit his liberal worldview, and the more exposure his views on these matters get, the more obvious this will become to American Christians."

soundoff (276 Responses)
  1. And He's Rollin'

    Barack is on the latest Rolling Stones Mag. Can't wait to buy my copy.

    June 25, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Veteran in Kansas

    If I were to think that anyone would be guilty of twisting the Bible for ones own purpose, it would be Dobson.

    June 25, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Nusouth

    Contrary to Dobson's Christian beliefs, there are many Christians that still follow words of the old testament like Seventh Day Adventist. In that respect Obama is correct in that even among Christians there is a vast divide as to what the believe. Just think, if we didn't differ so much we wouldn't have so many flavors "Protestants".

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  4. Texan

    Obama supporters, don't beat yourself up once you stop believing Obama's empty rhetoric. It only means you're getting smarter.

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. McSameMcCain on myspace

    Of course Dobson was making stuff up. That is his job as a religious leader in this country. Dobson won't vote for McCain but he will go out of his way to bash Obama proving he is in the pocket of the Republican camp. Dobson will be critical of a speech by Barack, but won't even mention that McCain sinned then then abandoned his wife in a move that made it easy for him to jump into politics in Arizona. Dobson is a phony and his focus on the family group has received my cancel notice effective yesterday.

    If Jesus were alive today, he would sweep the temple of jerks like Dobson and his lying breed of vipers.

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. stan

    no matter what you say about this empty suit, he will say just the opposite, let us see 57 states, he said in his church for 20 years listening to wright, and then he booted him when he started running for president, he said he would take public money but flips on that, give me a boat full of flipping and flopping fish, and he will out do them also, go ahead and vote for this man, and you will pay dearly in taxes, lost freedoms, etc. Mccain is the only answer now.

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. Hector

    I have decided to make donations to Mr. Dobson organization after these attacks by Senator Obama.
    My advise to Obama, stay away from these type of problems because it will cost him the election.

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. fred

    James Dobson has already said he could not vote for John McCain because McCain does not measure up to what Mr.Dobson considers a conservative. He even faulted McCain for conceding that Hillary Clinton would make a good president. Now Dobson has derided Barack Obama because Obama does not measure up to what Mr.Dobson considers a bible-believing Christian.
    Give us a break. We are not electing a Theologian-in-Chief; we are electing a president. Perfection is reserved for the Almighty, not withstanding Mr. Dobson’s seeming claim to inerrancy.

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. Scott C

    Before I even read Dobson's remarks I read Obama's. I agreed with Obama right away, he said that if you have an argument to make, frame it in something other than religion so you can argue it universally rather than just in the context of your faith, which isn't necessarily universal.

    If I am going to argue a case against homosexuality I am not going to say it is because God said it is wrong, I may look for a sociological or legal reason.

    He also said that we can't run the country by Christianity even if the country had nothing but Christians in it, because there are MANY different types of Christianity.

    Dobson is full of it, and is making an argument where there is none.

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. jr

    Obama's an expert at making stuff up, so I guess he should know now shouldn't he?

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    People like Dobson are self-righteous busy-bodies who, unable to make a rational argument for everyone else to live their lives according to their prejudices, fall back on the absurd "authority" of their bibles to try to compel compliance.

    For two thousand years, cherry-picking from the Christian bible has provided endless excuses and rationalisations for every imaginable evil. The document contains everything and nothing. It supports and opposes both sides of every argument. It has been used to justify and defend every conceivable act by legions of scoundrels.

    The only people for whom I have more contempt than those who abuse the "authority" of the Christian bible are those who allow themselves to be abused. Wake up, people! A two thousand year old compendium of mythology, superstition, propaganda, and absurd cosmology makes a truly lousy basis for the conduct of your lives.

    June 25, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. jpv

    Before reading about Dr. Dobson's comment, quotes from the speech were heard on another radio station and I thought the same thing as Dr. Dobson that the quotes were out of context and the scriptures and examples Mr. Obama tried to use from the Bible were out of context and that he was using them only to try to show that he has read the Bible. Mr. Obama has read the Bible, however proving he knows it is something different. Hearing that another person heard and concluded to the same thought as I did must also show that others also feel the same way.

    June 25, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. Mike in IL

    Obama's ship is all ready sinking… his support is weak and now he is breaking promises… all of you are about to see what Chicago Politics is all about!!!

    June 25, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. Ken in NM

    The republicans should worry about idiots like Dobson talking in the news with this kind of bs because all it does is make independants and level headed americans run to the democrats as fast as they can. It feels so good that it finally feels like guys like Dobson have FINALLY lost the power they once had in this country.

    June 25, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. Abby

    What obama said was the ‘sermon on the mount’, i.e the golden rule and blessed are the peacemakers, is more words-to-live-by than the Leviticus laws. He was right and anyone who is being honest knows it. Great .Now lets move onto the issues. We don’t need these zealots bringing up the non existent boogie man to distract us from the 5 dollar gas and the war and poverty.

    June 25, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. Alice

    I resent Dobson's criticism Obama's for citing the Old Testament, instead of the New Testament.

    Sorry, Dobson. Lots of us still rely on the Old Testament. And lots of us do not eat shellfish. Perhaps the word "kosher" comes to mind.

    Unlike Dobson, however, we do not seek to impose our own predilictions on the rest of the nation.

    June 25, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Barbara - New York

    Dobson represents the radical religous right that supported Bush
    and are basically bible toting hate mongers.... They will say and do
    anything to seize control of this country......This time friends, the
    truth will prevail and hopefully set us all free !

    June 25, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. Son of a Preacher Man

    There is the Kingdom of God which knows no bounds and then ther is human civilization which is bounded and in which people, who are imperfect creatures, must work out disagreements collaboratively.

    God allows man to determine how to administer earthly matters including political structures and systems in accordance with his true word.

    James Dobson, God does not immediately smite every offender one of the 10 commandments. If and when he does, the literal, dogmatic interpretation of his true word will be very clear to you and everyone else.

    Neither I nor most of America believe in that the "Old Testament" God trumps the "New Testament" God

    June 25, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Although Dobson is a respected man of faith, he misunderstood the content of what Obama said. Obama is a constitutional lawyer and knows the justice system will not stand up on the Bible alone. Which brings to thought that so many Court Buildings have removed the Bible from their doorstep.

    June 25, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. gee

    Obama should not fall into this debate with this man. What he should to is point out roman Chapter 14. We are not to judge each other on the basis of our faith and how we practice sich faith. it is a lesson that Dobson has forgotten. then he should end it neatly that we whould all pray for each other to have a better understand of gods teachings.

    June 25, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  21. Lynn

    As an evangelical Christian myself for over 30 years and one who has often appreciated the teachings of James Dobson, I am also a supporter of Barack's perspective of trying to find the consensus on the true underpinnings of life for Americans, the way to bring the essence of American values back to the common person of our great nation, more closely to the American dream fro all people. Many issues today get back to the need to make real some pretty basic principles of faith, such as honoring marriage (e.g. fathers present in the home as Barack spoke of on Father's day) and educating our children ( "turn off tv", as Barack has so often said). I have read Barack's Christian testimony in his books and I believe he is grounded in his faith, that it is quite obviously evident in his values and choices. I believe he is a leader in the arena of family values. I hope many Christians see this.

    June 25, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. Marv...

    So James Dobson is the voice of the evangelical church? Dobson is also at the forefront of orthodox Christianity and Constitutional law? I think not!

    I'm a Christian, and for your information I believe what Jesus says in John 14:6. James Dobson gives me a feeling of uneasy, and I've attempted so many times to listen to his show.

    Why won't James Dobson and all his glory meet with Obama and engage him in dialogue, rather than hiding behind his microphone, on his show, with his listeners. He appears to be a coward who talks trash as long as the authorities are present to put distance between him and the peroson(s) he’s attacking, but he is afraid to go toe to toe with the people whom he so strongly criticize.

    Man up Dobson!! Meet with Obama and McCain in an in dept discussion on faith in our society. Unless you scared?

    I think you scared. Yeah, I've been waiting on this.... bring it on Dobson! Let the world see how you have distorted the word of God to fulfill your personal agenda.

    June 25, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. some guy in New Hampshire

    Anyone who actually listened to what Dobson actually said is aware that Dobson's argument was illogical, used selected facts, and used selected interpretations of scripture and of the Constitution. Dobson is a right-wing politician who will say whatever he has to say to defeat his ideological demons. The man is not worth paying attention to, he's irrelevant to serious political and civic conversation, and this is my request that we all ignore him for the balance of his time on Earth.

    June 25, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. Xavier, Saint Louis, MO

    I agree with Obama. It sounds to me that Rev. Dobson just wants to have something to say, because if you listen to what Obama said, he made very good sense. It’s very hard to mix religion and politics together, where do you draw the line; that was Obama's point. I guess that’s why the issue of separation of church and state is still relevant.

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  25. michael

    Good for Barack Obama! It is about time that public officials running for public office "take on" the Dobson's of the world, as they are not mainstream and continue to spread their hateful messages and distort any Christian message!

    Hopefully Barack Obama will be elected and in doing so, will bring a large majority of American's together after eight year's of division!

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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