James Dobson Seeks Church-Based Political Machine

Religious Right leader James Dobson is planning a drive to build a church-based political machine to intervene in the November elections.

In an Aug. 11 e-mail alert to supporters, Dobson’s Focus on the Family (FOF) sought volunteers to work with eight of its state affiliates to mobilize evangelical Christian voters. States targeted include Penn­sylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Minnesota, Montana and Tennessee.

The Dobson campaign has all the trappings of a traditional political machine. FOF’s state affiliates plan to name coordinators for each county who will supervise church coordinators in each evangelical congregation. The church coordinators will prod pastors to speak about political issues, conduct voter-registration drives and disseminate “voter guides and get-out-the-vote efforts.”

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, says houses of worship should reject Dobson’s scheme.

This is a blatant effort by Dobson to build a partisan political machine based in churches,” said Lynn. “He has made it abundantly clear that electing Republicans is an integral part of his agenda, and he doesn’t mind risking the tax exemption of churches in the process. Dobson wants to be a major political boss, and this is his way to get there.

The Internal Revenue Service has promised swift and sure enforcement of federal tax law this year,” Lynn continued, “and pastors should be aware of the danger to their churches’ tax exemption.”