June 24th, 2008
12:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Dobson accuses Obama of 'distorting' Bible

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/24/art.dobson.gi.jpg caption="Dobson takes aim at Obama on his radio show."](CNN) - One of the country's leading evangelical leaders is accusing Barack Obama of deliberately distorting the Bible and taking a "fruitcake interpretation" of the U.S. Constitution.

In comments aired on his radio show Tuesday, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson criticizes the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee for comments he made in a June 2006 speech to the liberal Christian group renewal.

Watch: Dobson's comments on Obama

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

"Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?" Obama asks in the speech. "Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is okay 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."

"So before we get carried away, let's read our Bible now," Obama also said to cheers. "Folks haven't been reading their Bible."

Watch: Can Obama court the Christian Right?

On the radio show Tuesday, Dobson said Obama should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.

Full story

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (527 Responses)
  1. Michael Lorton, Virginia

    Church and State Separation......the Bible, whatever verison, doesn't resolve the dilemina that faces this nation. It only provides one the opportunity.

    June 24, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Obama/Hillary 08

    I wonder where did that man Dobson get what he say about Obama distorting the bible. What does he mean? What verse in the bible talk against many different faith which is what Barack said that America is a land of many faith. If Dobson has nothing to say, he need to seat somewhere and watch.

    June 24, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. Tashibelle

    I'm becoming so annoyed with this new rule that seems to be taking hold in America – apparently you can say anything you want about Obama as long as it is positive.

    June 24, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Joy

    I hope all the ugliness of the Obama's is able to come to light before the elections in Nov. KEEP DIGGING

    June 24, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. Ken Hailey

    "I think he's deliberately distorting the tradition understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," ..."dragging biblical understanding through the gutter." Er...isn't that what Dodson and many "Evangelicals" do daily? Or is the pick-and-choose aspect of religion (as opposed to a faithful, rational mind) reserved for those who add the reverend title to their name?

    June 24, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. An American

    Only fools listen to Dobson

    June 24, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Lee

    Whether or not there should be, there is absolutely nothing in the constitution about the separation of church and state.

    June 24, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. dres

    I am a Catholic like the late JFk and like the late JFK I agree that a woman has a right to choose. In addition, I would never impose my religion on anyone.

    Lets go America!
    Lets Barack the Vote!

    Obama/Bloomberg 08
    Obama/Hagel 08
    Obama/Webb 08

    June 24, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. SO Sick of This

    So, why doesn't every radical liberal who makes a nasty comment about McCain's ideas warrant a CNN article? This is a lousy excuse for journalism. More of the same "some people say" bull crap, and it's always pointed at the dems. You're rewarding conservative bullies and trash talkers by writing articles about them. Do you think people can't tell that? Thanks for contributing to the dialog, CNN.

    Why don't you focus on the tangible differences between the POLICIES of the candidates, rather than all this sensationalized, worthless trash talk? I don't give a crap what this guy thinks and neither do 99% of the rest of your readers (as evidenced by the previous comments). If I wanted a brainless soap opera, I'd be watching daytime TV.

    June 24, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    The ones that distort the Bible are those that who pick and chose from what they call the "Old Testiment."
    And that encludes James Dobson.

    June 24, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. Janice

    Who in the media appointed Dobson as a representative of what's true in the Christian faith? I know that Dobson is upset only because the media covered it. Hasn't the media learned that Dobson and his cronies pick and choose what they want out of the Bible for political reasons and then use their pulpit as a fear platform to beat anyone over the head who stands in their way of their political objectives. Otherwise they wouldn't pay any attention to Obama no matter what he said.

    Maybe the media should pay more attention to what denominations and leaders are not speaking out vs. the one who is.

    I'm not all that happy with Obama going into this territory himself, because he's not any sort of exclusive purveyor even his own faith, but he doesn't claim to be either. He is entitled to speak out about how he sees the Christian faith in the context of governing if he wishes and many would agree with his views. Most Christian members and many other Christian leaders (besides Dobson) are far more careful in claiming being Christian means one knows how to govern in a better and more just way. If the last 7 years have proved anything, it's that those that claim to be in touch with God's will often are not. And worse – they know they are not – they are just using religious faith like they use fear of terrorism – for political reasons.

    June 24, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    And who is this Dobson? There's only ONE interpretation of "the bible"? Then why are there so many versions of it?

    All the crackpots come out of the woodwork during elections, don't they?

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. tim

    This guy is what's wrong with America. He should listen to George Carlin. You don't like what you're hearding, turn your radio or television off. Don't push your BS views down our throat...

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. Rob from Abilene, TX

    I'm a Christian. An evangelical one from the Churches of Christ. And I would say, in spite of all of Dr. Dobson's books and shows, that Obama understands the Bible better than he does. If anything Dr. Dobson needs to look at how he reads the Bible and ask whether his interpretations of the Bible are a result of his own conservative roots.

    We are all biased, come on Dr. Dobson you should know that as a psychologist.

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Linda of Atlanta

    The clip that is being played evidences Obama discussing what the Constitution requires. What is McCain's Closet Preacher talking about?

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. Jeff

    Dobson is the "fruitcake". First of all, Obama has a degree in Constitutional law, I think he knows what he's talking about. Secondly, there ARE Christian sects who claim that the Old Testament laws are still in effect, indeed the controversy stems from the New Testament because some Gospels and Paul say that the "old laws" have been abolished by a new covenant, yet Matthew says that you have to follow every single one of the old laws. So, Obama's point is quite valid, that there is no clear definition of what is correct and not correct even among Christians, which was his whole point, there are theological differences, which is why its best for government to just stay out of it all, and that was also the point of the Founding Fathers as well and why we have Separation of Church and State.

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. Nader

    Why didn't the reporter ask Dobson why he felt is was appropriate for him to comment on matters government when the Constitution call for the separation of Church & State?

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. Brenda

    Not one person here had any defense to what Obama said. You just want to sweep it under the carpet like everything else. Some of us ARE NOT looking the other way.

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Franky

    And he's not voting for McCain??? What a loser!!!!

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. Jeff D, South Bend, IN

    Obama spoke the truth. The bible is a guide for spirituality, not a rule of law. Dobson and friends are nut jobs.

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. Rose

    As a HRC supporter I need to say this regarding Senator Obama. What is it with people who focus on the past? Can we please deal with the present and really important issues like, the war, $5.00 a gal. gas, 1000's of people loosing their homes, jobs being sent to anywhere that isn't the U.S. Dobson needs to get a grip, and a clue. Obviously, Senator Obama isn't a far right Christian, rather he's a thinking man. Dobson might want to try that...thinking.

    June 24, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. Concerned American 08

    And this is news because paying 4.50 for a gallon of gas isn't news anymore?

    June 24, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Sharon in Florida

    What is so wrong about showing Obama giving his speeches showing how he really feels before people decide who they will vote for? Is there a reason to withhold this from the public unless you are taking sides?

    June 24, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. Barack for President

    okay, someone answer me this. WHY is he commenting on something that happened two years ago? does anyone notice that they are really trying to dig up stuff? I mean REALLY trying. If you are going to criticize the man of something, can it be from something he did this year? Maybe this month even? If no one said anything about his comments TWO YEARS ago, why are they bringing it up now?

    June 24, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Dennis Hart

    It is clear that the politicians who distance themselves from biblical principles do so because of one reason: they refuse to acknowledge their true standing as sinful men and women before the Lord and Creator of the Universe.

    Here is a fact that can be verified through the AMA and other accepted sources: fewer than 3% of all abortions are performed to save the life of the mother. The rest are for the sake of avoiding responsibility. The bottom line: it is more convenient to destroy a human life than care for one. All things considered, any individual who adopts the idea that it's acceptable to tear a human fetus to shreds for the sake of convenience is terribly decieved and unfit for the office of the presidency of the United States.

    In biblical days, there were pagan societies that sacrificed infants by casting them into the rocky cliffs to appease their contrived gods. Obama, Clinton and McCain do nothing less.

    Dennis John Hart
    Corona, CA

    June 24, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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