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. Obama Supporter

    How does one "make stuff up" if you are just repeating exactly what is said in the Bible? The Old Testament says a lot of things we don't currently follow or believe – I think Obama's point was valid. Everyone takes different things from their faith.

    June 25, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. jon

    I don't particularly like Dr. Dobson, but I have to say that he brings up something that might be legitimate. I would have to see Obama's speech for my own judgement, but it is true that bringing out sections of the old testament that don't apply to christianity (which is based on the New Testament) and using that as a way of dismissing the sections of the bible that DO apply to here and now, is an old and over-used trick that is common among politicians. For example, they say "hey, we eat shellfish, so clearly what Paul said about homosexuality is not relevant." It simply doesn't follow.

    At the very least this indicates an ignorance of the bible.

    June 25, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. Steph

    You make me sick, Obama.

    June 25, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. Joey L. Washington

    The bible....is translated by man, The consitution is writen by man.

    These two are used widely by man and are often mis-understood

    June 25, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. Denise Groves

    I heard Obama's speech and find nothing wrong with it. I have a problem with Dobson. He calls himself a Christian? I know that Obama reached out to Dobson and other evangelicals. Obama had a discussion with a group of them. Dobson declined.
    The scriptures tell us that if a man has grieved you in some way, that while at the alter (or in this case, at your home looking for an excuse to attack somebody), you are to go to that person in private and tell them why you feel the way you do.

    Dobson went out of his way to search for a 2 year old speech. hy did Dobson not want to met with Obama? The others did? I think Dobson feels he is loosing his control an power and wanted to stop Obama in his tracks. It won't work.

    June 25, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. Citizen

    Dobson is a made up character, so making things up comes so naturally to him.

    June 25, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  7. Wal

    I am Christian and I completely agree with Obama on this one.
    As Jesus stated ...Give to Cesar (Government) what is for Cesar and to God what it is for God”. The religion is for believers and the politics is for all Citizens independently of their religion.

    The respect of the constitution is the absolute requirement in politics and helps to solidify the nation. In religion the Faith is the absolute requirement and helps to solidify our relationship with the Lord. The confusion of both is very dangerous and doesn’t have anything to do with the so claim of “protecting our values”. Our Bible and our constitution are essential maybe in different way to strength our values and protect the unity of the nation. The lack of this fundamental belief creates religious wars in Europe between Catholics and Protestants.

    As matter of fact, a politician who understands how to bring those two elements to the political sphere and at the same time keep us as whole and as nation can realize something very big.
    I think a smart, religious and intelligent person like Barrack O. can be very effective of understanding how to bring his Christian values to the politics without alienating others faith such Jews, Muslim, others faiths and atheists.

    June 25, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  8. for truth

    Obama is the biggest liar of them all:

    Starting with... The Clintons are racists... right.

    June 25, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  9. Brian Jordan

    Barack was right on target with his analysis of the perils of literal biblical interpretation. For Dobson to attempt to rally the red meat evangelical wing of Christianity against such a protagonist for change, is a clear indication of the desperate straights the conservative movement is in. Those of us who are proud liberal mainstream Protestants, from a wide range of denominations, will not cower in the face of the flawed theology that the Dobsons, Hagees, Parsleys, and Robertsons perpetuate.

    Kudos to Barack for speaking truth to a declining political power, whose time has come to have the light shined on it.

    June 25, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. Milton, Harrisburg, PA

    Anyone who claims we should take our moral lessons from the Bible hasn't read it. I think Jimmy needs to go back and it read it before calling Obama's claim a "distortion". One can find plenty of morally offensive and repugnant dictates in the Bible. Luckily most of them are illegal, and the ones that aren't (e.g. letting angels rape your daughters) should be.

    At one time we did live our lives by the dictates of the Bible. It was called the "Dark Ages" and I'm glad I missed out.

    Bring on the Age of Reason and Science. Ol' James would have loved the good ol' days of witch drownings, inquisitions, and subjugating women I'm sure.

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. Kathy

    The only fruitcake doing the talking is Dobson. As a Democrat however, I say, let people like Dobson go ahead and talk – talk all he wants. Because the more these types of people open their mouths, the more the American people see right through them. They are so not "in" right now! Thank God!

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Diane

    I am happily surprised at the comments thus far on this thread as I have been in Christian groups where Dobson is revered almost more than Jesus.

    Yet Dobson has a history of this kind of distortion. I have heard and read Focus on the Family in several instances strongly imply (but never state explicitly) that Roe vs. Wade legalizes abortion at any point in a pregnancy, up to the moment of birth, when that simply is not true. One does not have to believe in abortion to condemn twisting the facts about it. This kind of distorting, I believe, fundamentally holds his audience in contempt, treating them not as people to be informed but as objects to be manipulated. This strategy has worked very successfully for him in the past, and I am grateful he is finally being called on it.

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  13. mjc

    dobson is an outdated CRACKPOT. ignore him!

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. John McCain-McFlip-Flop-McBush is no "maverick"

    James Dobson redefines the word "fruitcake" with his holier-than-thou interpretation of the Gospel. Typical right-wing blowhard tactic: Discredit anyone with a differing opinion especially when it comes to the B-I-B-L-E.

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. Joseph

    Obama, listen to James Dobson please. If you rise up against God's servant definitely you will be fighting against God. I don´t want to sound upbit about this issue. The Black Christian Leaders should speak up on this issue NOW. Let not the desire to have a "BROTHER" in the White house blind us on the issue of reckless abuse of biblical truths. I am shamefully suprised that the Black Christians are "cool" with Barack's Christianity.

    For God's sake. James Dobson is right!! Obama and the crowd around him is scary to every true Jesus follower. I am not saying that God can't use him in some way. But his radical liberal affirmations are really scary.

    Wake up dear "Brothers" and speak out on what is going on.

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. McCrazy

    This is rich. A conservative mocking someone for "distorting" the constitution. I didn't realize we still had one.

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Nikki, Florida

    Exactly. It's ok for the religious right to use the old testament to argue against gay marriage but when Obama quotes it, he's a fruitcake?

    How about some accountability and accuracy?

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. We R 1

    I HOPE CNN POST THIS-

    BECAUSE I HAVE NEVER BEEN A SHAME TO BE A DEMOCRAT- LIKE I AM NOW–

    PLEASE VOTE YOUR PARTY-

    PLEASE DO NOT VOTE IN 4 MORE YEARS OF BUSH- WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE NOW-

    DO NOT LET HATE CONTROL YOUR FUTURE!!!

    IF MCSAME WIN- THOSE SAME PEOPLE WILL BE BLOGGING AND COMPLAINING ABOUT THE WAR, GAS, THEIR HOMES AND THEIR JOBS... WHEN THEY HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE A CHANGE...

    WE OWN OTHER COUNTRIES TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS....

    THIS WORLD IS SO FULL OF HATE AND IT SADDEN ME...USA THE NEW 3rd WORLD, THE POOREST COUNTRY– IF MCBUSH GET IN THERE- SO BE PREPARED BECAUSE YOU DID IT!

    VOTE UNDER YOUR PARTY- IF YOU REALLY CARE – IF NOT YOU ARE IN OUR PRAYERS....AND THE US

    June 25, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. John

    Dr. Dobson is the one with a fruitcake interpretation of the Bible – declaring himself the arbiter of which parts of the Bible are applicable and which parts aren't. There are versus which allow slavery, ban shellfish, call for the stoning of women and children. Dobson accuses Obama of doing what he himself does – deciding what verses should be the basis of our lives and which ones shouldn't. Yet Dobson claims that public policy should be based on the Bible – only his narrow view of it. Please do not run anymore stories about Dr. Dobson, he is not worth our breath.

    June 25, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Matt

    The thing with Barack Obama's speech is that he is mentioning things that are in the Old Testament that have no relation to how Christianity operates or functions. The book he brought up, Leviticus, is a book written to the JEWISH people on how they were to be distinct and set apart from the rest of the world and cultures of their day. Christ fullfilled those laws and put to death the sins of breaking the laws. Christians don't have to worry about shellfish or stoning their child or slavery for that matter.

    Bringing up slavery (the type in the Bible by the way is NOT in any way like the type practiced before the Civil War here in America) is a FAMOUS liberal attack on evangelical Christians. Bringing up also the question of which Christianity should be followed Dobson's or Sharpton's is also another way of twisting the arguement. Christianity has teachings that are quite easy to read and understand.

    There doesn't need to be an interpretation on "feeding the poor" clothing the naked" visiting those in prison" etc.. A correct biblical reading of the text is essential to understanding where, what and why Christianity believes what it does. Barack Obama clearly hasn't the time to do some reading as to what Christ did for him and the world to see that his speech was purely rediculous and should have not be read to the crowd. It showed a shallow, ignorant understanding of what Jesus Christ did.

    June 25, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Wal

    I am Christian and I completely agree with Obama on this one.
    As Jesus stated ...Give to Cesar (Government) what is for Cesar and to God what it is for God”. The religion is for believers and the politics is for all Citizens independently of their religion.

    The respect of the constitution is the absolute requirement in politics and helps to solidify the nation. In religion the Faith is the absolute requirement and helps to solidify our relationship with the Lord. The confusion of both is very dangerous and doesn’t have anything to do with the so claim of “protecting our values”. Our Bible and our constitution are essential maybe in different way to strength our values and protect the unity of the nation. The lack of this fundamental belief created religious wars in Europe between Catholics and Protestants.

    As matter of fact, a politician who understands how to bring those two elements to the political sphere and at the same time keep us as whole and as nation can realize something very big.
    I think a smart, religious and intelligent person like Barrack O. can be very effective of understanding how to bring his Christian values to the politics without alienating others faith such Jews, Muslim, others faiths and atheists.

    June 25, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Honest Abe

    My grandma used to make me listen to this guy on the radio when I was little. Without biased opinion: Dobson and others like him are starting to expose themselves for what they really are! Dobson is scared to have dialogue with Obama b/c he fears his congregation will like what they are hearing. That is a threat to him (control-power-influence) and others like him (Conservative Leaders). Obama's speech was dead on about the bible.

    June 25, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. JohnBoy

    TAX THE RICH PAY OFF HILLARYS DEBT.

    June 25, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Obama's comment on Bible shows his opinion on the Bible. If he is confused, he could have better kept quiet. Irresponsible comments will bring criticism. Also, it is irresponsible to tell his followers that Bible is old fashioned and irrelevant. So it is the duty of someone who believe in tha Bible to point out its relevance even today and tell Obama not to distort it. I dare Obama to challenge Koran's relevance!
    People may become irrelevant and not the Bible.

    June 25, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. really, Obama?

    Obama made stuff up about HRC:

    PAINTED HER AS:
    a racist
    warmonger
    waffling on NAFTA
    and wh would obliterate IRAN.

    So Obama should know all about making stuff up- and outright lying to trash his opponent out of the race.

    If he had qualifications and merits, Obama would not need to denigrate his opponents in order to "win"

    June 25, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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