Next week, Americans will kick off the holiday season, but sadly, several employees at James Dobson's Focus on the Family (FOF) probably have lost that festive spirit.
On Dobson's radio broadcast yesterday, he shared that Colorado-based FOF is "experiencing the same financial shortfall and some of the pressures that have resulted from the economic downturn in this country." With that said, he announced that 149 filled staff positions and 53 open staff positions are to be cut, 20 percent of the total staff.
"It's not something that anyone is relishing; it's been a very difficult week," Dobson said. "I ask our listeners to be in prayer for us. And be in prayer for those who will no longer be employed here. I have been a little teary-eyed about it for the last week."
According to a report from The Colorado Independent, even more layoffs are to be announced next week.
It is a difficult time for many Americans who are without jobs this holiday season, and we sympathize with these employees and their families.
Our only question is, if FOF was on such a tight budget, wouldn't it have behooved Dr. Dobson to remember his employees first -- whom he claims to be shedding tears for-- before pumping $539,000 in cash and $83,000 in non-monetary support into passing California's anti-gay marriage amendment, Proposition 8?
According to The Independent, the half-million-plus FOF spent on passing Proposition 8 is equal to the salaries of 19 Coloradans earning the 2008 per capita income of $29, 133.
Proposition 8 passed 52 to 48 percent Nov. 4, but civil rights groups have now taken the issue into the California courts. The California Supreme Court ruled in May that the state constitution grants same-sex couples the same access to civil marriage as opposite-sex couples. Now the state's high court will have to decide whether this right can be taken away by this referendum process.
Many are questioning FOF's priorities.
"If I were their membership I would be appalled," longtime Colorado Springs activist Mark Lewis told the Colorado Independent. "That [Focus on the Family] would spend any money on anything that's obviously going to get blocked in the courts is just sad. [Prop. 8] is guaranteed to lose, in the long run it doesn't have a chance -- it's just a waste of money."
But FOF views supporting Proposition 8 as a top priority. In September, after FOF announced layoffs for another 46 people (this is the third straight year the organization has made layoffs), FOF Chief Operating Officer Glenn Williams said, "It is certainly heartbreaking that in this case fulfilling that duty means having to say goodbye to some members of our Focus family, but industry realities leave us no alternative. We are accountable to our donors to spend their money in the most cost-effective and productive manner possible."
These are the sad priorities of this organization. And it's even sadder that FOF is still campaigning away against retailers who refuse to refer to Christmas in their advertising even while knowing that so many of its own will be struggling with unemployment during the holidays.
The group's "I Stand for Christmas" campaign created a list of retailers who are "naughty" and "nice" this holiday season. Those on the "nice" list use "Merry Christmas" instead of supposedly secularized (and naughty) "Happy Holidays." FOF has encouraged its members to write to the "naughty" retailers informing them that they will not shop at their stores this holiday season.
At this point, it's probably fair to say the "I Stand for Christmas" campaign is irrelevant to some of FOF's own employees-- considering they probably won't be doing much shopping without a paycheck.