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Dr. Dobson, Tear Down that Dishonest Article on Your Website

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There is a new article on the Focus on the Family website called, "Tempting Bitterness" by Gary Schneeburger, editor of something called Citizenlink. In a way it is nothing new - just an attack on me and a distortion of my book, Tempting Faith. It is significant, however, because of the source. Focus on the Family, founded and chaired by Dr. Dobson is arguably the largest and most significant Christian political/cultural organization (even if it denies being political). More importantly, it speaks to millions of Christians who trust it to be true. Dr. Dobson rightly focuses a lot on integrity. This article is anything but. For purposes of this blog I am going to deal only with the substance and leave out the snide asides in the article.

"But the "nuts" and "kooks" stuff [the page or two in my book where I discuss how Christian conservatives were viewed by White House staff] is really just a small part of Kuo's book.... The balance of Tempting Faith is a memoir of his experiences in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the outreach to religious charities President Bush established soon after taking office in 2001."

Mr. Schneeburger is representing to Focus on the Family readers that he has read my book and yet nothing reveals that distortion more than these sentences. The book does not address my time in the White House until page 151. In fact, less than 100 pages of the book deal with my time in the White House.

The bulk of the book deals with my own spiritual and political journey from growing up in an interracial family to accepting Jesus to getting involved in politics to working in the conservative political world to confronting a brain tumor and to removing myself from politics once and for all focusing instead on the spiritual - on the eternal.

"Kuo, a Christian, comes to the office driven by his desire to help the homeless and the hungry -- and leaves it embittered by what he sees as the administration's failure to put any monetary muscle behind the lip service it's paid to 'compassionate conservatism.""

My dismay with the White House was with how the Christian voters were used and manipulated, with how President Bush's own personal faith in Jesus was used to recruit pastors and Christian voters, with how the White House manipulated the news cycle thereby giving it political cover to not follow-through on promises (particularly domestic policy promises), with how the poor were being used for political purposes (despite presidential promises to the contrary), and, yes, with the administration's failure to put "any monetary muscle behind the lip service it paid to 'compassionate conservatism.'" These can all be found in chapters ten through fifteen.

"...Kuo lets his bitterness take him down a pair of unfortunate roads. The first leads him to attack fellow believers whose policy-advocacy priorities differ from his. The chip on his shoulder seems to stem from the belief that anyone who works within the system to end the evil of abortion is somehow not interested in easing homelessness and hunger. That is ludicrous on its face, of course; if you care about protecting unborn babies, how can you not care about starving babies? Both are sanctity of human life issues -- the difference is some groups and individuals advocate for one more strongly than the other as a matter of calling or vocation. That is not a crime, or a sin -- or something that justifies a fellow believers' derision."

This is factually incorrect and is found nowhere in the book.

"Yet Kuo has derision in abundance, even dismissing the National Day of Prayer as 'another one of the eye-rolling Christian events on the president's calendar' -- calling it a meaningless exercise except for its ability to 'placate Christian leadership.' What he doesn't seem to understand is that the National Day of Prayer is not about White House recognition -- it's about mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Christians nationwide to pray for our country not just one day of the year, but every day of the year. How can anyone who calls himself a follower of Christ think such an undertaking is meaningless?"

This is factually incorrect and distorted. On page 230 I wrote of the National Day of Prayer, "At this White House, it was another one of the eye-rolling Christian events fixed on the president's calendar. But it served a powerful purpose - it placated Christian leadership. Those involved in the breakfast got to go on the radio with their listeners and describe their encounter with the president and their time in the White House. The event, however, held absolutely no significance."

What I describe aren't my opinions. What I describe are things that I witnessed. "Eye-rollers" were kinds of events joked about by White House staff - events like this one chaired by Shirley Dobson. I never rolled my eyes and I never mocked it - nor would I. Anytime anyone gathers for prayer is, in my eyes, a good thing.

"The second bad place Kuo allows his bitterness to take him is concluding that Christians should take a two-year "fast" from political intervention -- it's OK to vote, but writing Congress, working for campaigns, lobbying for policy goals, etc., should be abandoned so we can focus more on intimacy with Jesus. The implicit notion here is Christians can't seek Jesus and seek righteousness in the public square at the same time. Again, ludicrous on its face."

Again, incorrect. Please see my Open letter to James Dobson and Chuck Colson.

I do not think that Focus on the Family readers support the kind of deceit and mischaracterization evident in this article. Dr. Dobson, I would appreciate it if you would pull the article, issue a full correction and an appropriate apology to your readers.

(A version of this article first appeared on Beliefnet.com at my regular blog: J-Walking)