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

Obama says Dobson 'making stuff up'


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.obamadobson.gi.jpg caption="Obama says Dobson is "making stuff up.""](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.”

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. Dexter, Houston TX

    Barack continues to amaze me. No presidential candidate that I can remember has taken on the “real” topics that are on the minds of so many Americans. He approached the issue of race with intelligence and now he is addressing religion as it relates to politics.

    Far too long, the religious leaders have taken an elitist attitude towards non-clergy types. If you are not of the fold then you do not have a voice. Rarely have we seen so much focus on religious people as we see today. Rarely have we seen people, let alone presidential candidates, address any thing religious. The topic of religion puts fear in the hearts of many people because we do not know the Bible as well as we should, so we sit quietly and take what is being fed to us. It’s like listening to a tone deaf person singing Amazing Grace!” No one would dare say the performance was awful because of the religious content; religious leaders count on that mentality.

    Of course, he will be criticized and in some cases the criticisms are valid, but there is no doubt that Senator Barack Obama is opening up the floor for dialogue, intelligent dialogue.
    Dex in Tex

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Alex

    fr the article:

    >...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.

    I agree with Senator Obama, and would like to know just which law school dobson graduated from. Answer: NONE.

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. ls

    Dobson preaches the Bible, but criticized Obama's faith?

    Dobson was wrong to even make a comment or express judgment towards someone's faith.

    Dobson just showed that he is distorted as a person, who doesn't know what he preaches. By criticizing, Dobson, I believe is missing the point of where he stands as a evangelical leader.

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. Seattle Sue

    James Dobson seems to preach a lot of hate. Very un-christian like.

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Windy Jansen

    So does Dobson believe that any interpretation of the bible that is not matching his line for line is "distorted?" What if someone believes that Dobson's view is "distorted" and that he uses a "fruitcake interpretation?" What would his reaction be? Not everyone who follows the Christian belief is a fundamentalist or an evangelical.

    Obama's right when he says we don't use the bible to determine public policy. That view is not distorted. The founding fathers had a say in that a few hundred years ago.

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Vdr Esq., District of Columbia

    Dobson is out of touch with modern society. I am not an Obama supporter but this is just another manufactured drama by the main stream media, Obama was speaking the common sense truth and shouldn't have to waste time addressing partisan, personal attacks. Thanks for giving this so much attention CNN, you guys are doing a great job!

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. The true Obummer


    Tell me what YOU have done... and not always just the perfection that you WILL do- and not always attacking others.

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. Jay Winters

    James Dobson, Pat Roberson, John Hagee, etc. are the biggest purveyors of hate in the U.S.

    Last time I read my Bible...I vaugely remember something about loving your neighbor and not hating others...but I suppose James Dobson would tell me I am interpreting it all wrong.

    June 25, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. Sid Gray

    Obama's comment clearly shows that he has a lack of understanding of what it means to be a Christian. When Christ came into the world – he fulfilled what was considered "old law" established by the Jewish faith. Old testament rule or law was replaced by a new covenant covering sin and salvation.

    You can’t just pick and choose portions of the Bible and draw conclusions. You must study it within the full context of what was written.

    Obama may be a man of faith. My question is what faith does he follow?

    June 25, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. Nancy McKinney

    Dobson knows full well what he is doing. He is distorting what Obama is saying, and quite frankly, for a man who claims to be so religious, he is acting very dubisou, and very unreligous, its a shame!


    June 25, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. JfromNC

    Good for Obama. I am a Christian and Dobson certainly doesn't speak for me.

    June 25, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. turaremia s ferguson

    Ask yourselves this question . Does Dodson's criticism of Obama violate one of the ten commanments: "Thou shalt not bear false witness"?

    June 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    These kind of tactics against Obama don't surprise me at all. When you can't beat someone on issues, all the phonies like Dobson can to is try sleaze tactics.

    June 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. CW4Barak

    Those right wing idiots will do and say anthing to win....they still believe the American people who voted for the C-grade student Bush is still ignorant and uninformed.....they will realize how wrong they are in November!

    Go Obama!

    June 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Tootie

    Perhaps this is why we continue to need the separation of church and state in this country.

    Wright, Hauge, Dobson, the Catholic priest (can't remember his name) are simply showing their own radicalism, whether it is right-leaning or left. I'm not voting for a minister, I'm choosing a president – they are not one in the same.

    We'd be much better off if we stopped giving the religious zealots their 15 minutes of fame.

    June 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Candice - TN

    This is not the full speech! Thanks for taking a convenient excerpt that makes Obama look evil. He clearly was trying to say that you cannot take the Bible literally and that it is up for interpretation hence the piece on slavery and eating shellfish. Come on people the real fruitcake is Dobson and all other religious out there who constantly take the Bible at face value and don't "apply" it to modern life.

    Obama '08

    June 25, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Scott, Wichita

    This debate will never end. Dobson was right about the twisting of the scriptures, but Obama was right about choosing the right ones to govern by.

    Our Founding Fathers discussed this over 200 years ago, and answered it. The only one's who don't think that we should use religious ideals to influence our decisions are the 14% of Americans who complain about the Pledge. The rest of us 86% need to tell them to sit down, shut up, and TAKE IT

    June 25, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. silas

    James Dobson is a good leader but too call Obama's remark as a fruitcake interpretation, to me is ridiculous. There is something we conservatives have got to realize and realize fast, COMPROMISE in certain issues. So in that comment I don't see anything that is distorting of the bible .

    June 25, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Garry

    Sorry, finding it hard to believe a man who stayed with a racist church for over 20 years and didn't leave it till he needed more votes!
    I guess he will "come up" with reasons for his remarks that will pacify you hard-core fans. Not me, still staying at home election day..I refuse to vote for this man!

    June 25, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. James, SC

    Mike in IL

    You are an idiot. Try thinking before you open your mouth.

    June 25, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. Fridith

    We love Obama, but more than that we love the inspiration that he instills in us therefore making these typical attacks from the right...unsuccessful! I can't believe I used to be a registered Republican!

    June 25, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. Alex in MA

    Mike in IL, please take a look at the polls!

    Obama rising!

    June 25, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. Bryan Galloway

    Obama is a politician and not a theologian. The Bible is supposed to be interpreted as a whole, not in bits and pieces. He should probably leave this argument alone.

    June 25, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. Tom

    Obama is just too logical for Dobson. I am always amazed at the lack of tact and civility from paranoid people who profess to know more about God and the bible than everybody else. If you are going to go after Obama you need to bring your "A" game and drop the name calling. This round goes to Obama.

    June 25, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Sarah

    Mike in IL... are you crazy. Sinking?!? Not so much. Have you seen polls lately.

    June 25, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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