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I’ve been reading Sex God by Rob Bell, my good buddy Karl gave it to me. As usual, Bell has the capability to analyze our complicated existence as humans and communicate the beauty of life. In the latest chapter I’ve been reading about the existence of tension in life that is crucial to us being whole. I hope to embrace this difficult place in my life, whatever the circumstances may be.

So, the other day my friend Bob Carlton pointed me to this Focus on the Family letter. It is a “fictional” account of what life in 2012 would be like with Obama as President. Go ahead, take the time and read it…I’ll wait to tell you the rest of the story.

I read this and just had to reply, and here is what I said:

My heart aches that we’ve become a country of hate and fear, and that your organization that proclaims to love God and His creation and His people have become a joke, and an organization of derision. You do not speak for me as a follower of Christ! I pray for your soul…

Regrets,

Carl McLendon

Much to my surprise, this afternoon I received a response from Focus. Below is their response:

Thanks for your e-mail. It was good of you to offer your candid reaction to Focus on the Family Action’s “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.”

We’ve heard from many people who found this resource helpful; some, like you, have disagreed with our approach. While critics of this document accuse us of engaging in “sensationalist fiction,” it’s vital to underscore that we are not claiming to make definitive predictions on what a Barack Obama presidency would produce.

However, as the “Letter from 2012” makes evident, every scenario outlined in this piece is plausible based on recent documented events, court rulings, the Democratic Party’s stated agenda, and Senator Obama’s voting record and campaign promises. We invite you to re-read the introduction of the letter [http://focusfamaction.edgeboss.net/download/focusfamaction/pdfs/10-22-08_2012letter.pdf] which clearly states that we are neither employing unfounded “fear tactics” nor speaking out with mean-spirited intent. On the contrary, we’ve posted a reasonable projection of what *could* occur with a Senator Obama presidency and a Democratic-controlled Congress. Of course, we hope and pray that none of the possible outcomes described in “Letter from 2012” come to pass.

It might be beneficial to provide some additional background on our mission to help you better understand our reasons for engaging in the public policy realm. We have no interest in partisan politics; rather, we care deeply about the sanctity of human life, the value of marriage, and the preservation of religious freedom. Dr. Dobson has espoused these crucial issues since he launched Focus on the Family in 1977 and has always encouraged people to consider them at the ballot box. Despite what the Matthew 25 Network and other pro-Obama action groups may say, we contend that Senator Obama’s record *significantly* differs from the pro-life and pro-family policies that many Christians hold dear. Some may label this “fearmongering” — we call it a sobering, rational assessment based on actual events documented in the letter.

It might be helpful for you to read a concise summary of four key points that motivate us in our actions:

1) Senator Barack Obama’s record is well outside the mainstream. For example, he was rated the most liberal United States senator by the _National Journal_ in 2007 [http://nj.nationaljournal.com/voteratings/].

2) A Democratic president, House and Senate has significant implications for pro-family policies. _The Wall Street Journal_ has stated that this election will usher in “one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history” if the Democrats control the White House and possess congressional majorities, including a filibuster-proof Senate [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122420205889842989.html]. This type of unchecked power, not seen since 1965, demands that voters critically examine the policies advocated by the Democratic Party.

3) Senator Obama’s commitment to causes championed by extreme liberal groups such as Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), both of which have endorsed him, are a source of great concern. Earlier this year, Senator Obama pledged that if elected president, he would advocate for and sign the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which would repeal virtually every federal and state law regulating or limiting abortion — including parental involvement laws for teenagers, late-term abortion bans, and limits on public funding of abortion. He has also indicated that he will make it a priority to repeal the “Defense of Marriage Act,” which allows states to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. In addition, he backs other HRC-supported initiatives including the passage of “hate crimes” legislation and the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act” [http://washingtonblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=20935]. Similar legislation has penalized Christians who hold a biblical view of sexuality.

4) Senator Obama’s stated appreciation of United States Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and David Souter — along with his votes against the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito — indicate he would appoint judges with a judicial philosophy detrimental to pro-family causes.

On a final note, organizational endorsements of political candidates wed groups to their candidate in a way that may not lend itself to an honest critique of that individual’s weaknesses. As you’re likely aware, the group behind the Matthew 25 Web site endorsed Senator Obama for president.

Again, thanks for writing. We hope this response has helped clarify our perspective and explained why we feel the Matthew 25 Network’s version of “choosing hope” without a sober look at the troubling elements of Senator Obama’s candidacy is misguided. Grace and peace to you.

Jonathan Bartha
Focus on the Family Action

I know that the Matthew 25 network and Focus on the Family both believe their actions are honest and sincere. But, once again I’m trying to find the truth that usually exists in the midst of the struggle that rages on the extremes of anything we humans find ourselves involved. I’m hoping to resist ideologies that force themselves upon us, and instead embrace the tensions we must negotiate. This is what makes us human, this ability when we find ourselves in difficult situations, to be capable of thinking, praying, and asking each other what would God have us do?

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3 Comments

  1. Your frustration with AFA reminds me of something I read this spring in Red Letter Christian.

    “It is important to stress that for Christians, authority comes from sacrificing to meet the needs of others. As the ultimate case in point, Jesus speaks as ‘one having authority’ (Matt 7:29) He does not coerce us into yielding to His will. Instead, we come to an awareness that He has a legitimate claim to our allegiance through His sacrifices for us–especially His sacrifice on the cross. . . ”

    He then gives several examples of authority earned through sacrifice, “I once heard Mother Teresa speak at a National Prayer Breakfast, which was attended by the US president, the vice president, and a host of other world leaders. She said things that many of those present did not want to hear, but everyone listened to her with great respect. She spoke strongly against abortion, even though those at the head table with her were overtly pro-choice. She spoke with authority, authority that had been earned through her sacrifices for the dying poor on the streets of Calcutta. . . I surmise that if push came to shove, more Catholics would likely have listened to Mother Teresa, who gained authority through her sacrifices, than to the Pope–regardless of all the power he wields as the head of the Vatican State (Tony Compolo, The Red Letter Christians).”

    He continues later, “I contend that Christians will only have authority if they first serve the needs of others in sacrificial ways, especially the poor and oppressed. When those who hold power witness how Christians live our love–meeting the needs of others and binding up the wounds of those who have been left hurting on society’s waysides–Christians will earn the authority to speak. When Christians specifically give of their time and resources to run soup kitchens for the hungry and provide shelters for the homeless, they gain the right to be heard. When they tutor poor children and care for those with AIDS, they expand their mandate to call for change. But before they speak, Christians must demonstrate God’s love through sacrificial ministries. Sacrifice gives them the ability to be taken seriously by those who seem to be in control (Tony Campolo, The Red Letter Christian).”

    To be fair, I do think AFA makes some valid points in its letter, though I struggle with the format and I tend to struggle with AFA in general. I think they’ve become so Republican that they’ve moved away from their original mission of representing families. I understand how this could happen, but it’s dissappointing all the same. Particularly disapointing, as I see such a need for a non-partisan group to provide information to Christians about the political and social dangers occuring in our nation.

  2. I remember reading a quote from Tony at an address to youth pastors. I don’t remember the exact quote, but he said that 20,000 kids died last night from starvation, etc. and you don’t give a damn. And, you’re more worried that I just said damn, than you are about the circumstances these kids are in.

    And, that basically sums up where I’m headed in my journey. I’m tired of playing church, being nice, talking nice, and not standing up for what I know Jesus wants us to do.

    I don’t want to live in a country that writes laws that legislate morality without caring enough to help those most in need. God gives us the opportunity to do what we want, to learn to trust him. I think that’s what love is all about. Freedom! Now, when I make bad choices and screw up, it’s painful for me, for others, for God, but he’s willing to take that chance…maybe we should trust him enough to take him up on that offer. And, like you said maybe we should learn to walk alongside the people who have made that awful choice (abortion, addiction, etc) and to say, “Me too.” And, maybe together we can begin to heal.

  3. I’m not much of one to comment on blogs or write anything political…but I’ll write just a tiny bit here.

    The 2012 letter just made me sad. I saw such little love in the letter and little faith in the power of God to overcome this world.

    I love what Jana quoted from Tony Campolo about how we need to be sacrificially giving and changing the world – who wants to listen to us when we are so concerned for ourselves and so unconcerned for those in need?

    Carl, I completely agree with your last paragraph here on your comment – you sum up some of the frustration that I have been feeling at the pressure I have to vote a certain way.


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