Is Jim Daly Emasculating Focus on the Family?

Jim Daly, President and CEO, Focus on the Family

“When you look back from a pro-life perspective, what were the gains there?” he asked, noting President Ronald Reagan’s judicial choices. A generation later, “we see a bit of fatigue. We don’t see the results for the energy, the money, everything else that’s been poured into the political sphere,” said [Focus on the Family CEO Jim] Daly … “We as a Christian community need to refocus a bit on what’s important in the culture. For us, it’s family. That’s our mission.”

Yet it’s clear Daly, who has met with gay activists, sees diminishing returns in continuing the culture wars.

“I’m not fearful that change will happen in America. It will happen. … I don’t know what will happen with same-sex marriage, but I’m not going to be discouraged if we lose some of those battles,” he said, noting that for “98 percent” of people, traditional marriage will remain relevant.

“It’s going to be difficult in this culture and the way the demographics are going right now,” he went on. “You look at the under-35 age group. I think it’s splitting 60-40 support for same-sex marriage. There’s a lot of people in the U.S. [who] basically come to the conclusion that this is something between two adults. I will continue to defend traditional marriage, but I’m not going to demean human beings for the process.” — Excerpted from AOL News online article about Jim Daly, Focus on the Family’s new CEO; “Dobson’s Successor Gives Mega-Ministry New Focus.”

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Dear AFTAH Readers,

It seems that Focus on the Family (FOTF) is becoming a schizophrenic organization. Recently we applauded Focus for reaffirming a principled position against homosexual judicial nominees. Now, oddly, Jim Daly, FOTF’s new president and CEO, is talking down the pro-family “culture war.”

Daly’s softness on public policy must be understood in the context of the ongoing evangelical retreat in the Culture War (typified by the book UnChristian). Many Christians are more concerned with the Church’s “image” than they are with confronting lies in the culture and standing against secular threats like “Gay” and Abortion Lobbies. They claim that Culture War activism hinders the Gospel. But I have found that there are certain questions that “Soft” Evangelicals are hard-pressed to answer:

In this free republic, how should those who agree with God on homosexuality respond to the hugely-funded and highly specialized GLBT Lobby that seeks to put the government on the side of immoral homosexual behavior? How do we answer a politically savvy sin movement that demonizes religious people as “hateful” and “bigoted” — and even aims to “criminalize Christianity” by making it illegal to act on one’s belief that homosexual practice is wrong?

Are we as Christians to throw up the white flag and leave the public policy field to the Human Wrongs Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force — the former with its sophisticated lobby presence on Capitol Hill, the latter with its annual grassroots training conference (“Creating Change”) that draws two to three thousand “gay,” lesbian, bisexual, and “transgender” activists every year? Does the average evangelical have a clue as to how massively outgunned pro-family warriors are against a veritable army of homosexual activists in this political/cultural “war” over values?

If Daly wants to shift Focus’ emphasis to ministry and away from public-policy, that’s Focus’ business. (FOTF has a lobbying arm, Focus Action.) Personally I don’t think Focus’ strength has even been in the public policy arena, although I greatly admire Dr. James Dobson for standing boldly against the Cultural Left. But Daly must avoid these twin temptations:

  1. Watering down the truth about homosexual sin and the devastating implications of the triumph of state-sanctioned homosexuality in our culture — including a direct threat to religious freedom; and
  2. Suggesting that his soft approach defines what an American Christian should be — i.e., diminishing by inference those who are attempting to counter the GLBT juggernaut.

God needs Christians to minister to homosexuals in love and truth, and God needs Christians to step up and fight fearlessly for righteousness in the Culture — no matter what names we are called or which evil laws are passed by secularists who reject His standard of sexual purity and marriage. (See the inspiring biblical example of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego below.)

And where does it say in Scripture that Christians cannot do both ministry and public policy?

If American Christians are jailed or burdened with government “discrimination” lawsuits merely for opposing homosexuality — as in Canada and Great Britain — how will Focus respond? Will they rise to their defense or will they be looking over their shoulder in constant fear of being perceived as “anti-gay”? Standing against sin — all sin — is part of the Gospel mission, pointing to every sinner’s need for salvation through the free gift of Jesus Christ. People practicing or advocating immoral sex or gender confusion don’t get a special pass.

Lastly, I, like Laurie Higgins, am deeply troubled by Daly’s apparent naivete. He is worried about the “Christian label” with regard to Christian militias groups. OK, but what about the far more serious threat to the Christian brand posed by so-called “gay Christians,” such as the two openly homosexual Episcopal bishops? If Daly “doesn’t know much about” the Tea Party movement, I wonder if he is even aware that hardened homosexual activist groups like HRC and the Task Force are now working overtime to subvert and redefine Christianity by promoting the idea that “homophobia” — not homosexuality — is a sin. And these “queer” activists receive aid and comfort from gullible, Bible-bending evangelicals like Jim Wallis who have acquiesced to the misguided idea that one can be “gay” (proudly practice or embrace homosexuality) and faithfully Christian, and who support “gay rights” as a “justice issue.” Substitute any other sexual sin and it doesn’t make sense.

Scolding bands of unshaven, gun-toting Christian fundamentalists roaming the woods surely will earn Jim Daly plaudits in the liberal media. Reminding the world that homosexuality and Christianity are incompatible; that repentant homosexuals can leave the lifestyle through Christ; and educating on how sin-embracing “Christianity” corrupts and confuses the Church, will earn him derision in the same media.

Being “gay” or “bi” is cool and tolerated in today’s youth culture, even among Christians. But it is far from cool to a holy God. Let us hope and pray that Jim Daly uses his many talents and resources at Focus to help raise up new generations of Shadrachs, Meshachs and Abednegos in our idol-worshiping American society. — Peter LaBarbera, www.AmericansForTruth.org

Note: like IFI, Americans For Truth sought comment from Focus on the Family about AOL’s online article on Jim Daly, but we have not heard back from Focus. Laurie Higgins’ column follows this wonderful passage from the Book of Daniel:

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Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.”He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.Book of Daniel, Chapter 3:13-30

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Higgins writes [some web links were added or changed from the published IFI article]:

An Emasculated Focus on the Family — Say It Ain’t So

By Laurie Higgins, Illinois Family Institute, April 27, 2010

Editor’s Note: IFI requested comments or clarifications on the AOL article from Focus on the Family. They did not respond.

There has been much speculation about why James Dobson left Focus on the Family (FOTF). The speculation is that he was, in effect, forced out because some in leadership hope to create a kindler, gentler face for FOTF, which seems strange in that it’s hard to imagine someone kindler or gentler than James Dobson.

Pastor Ken Hutcherson writes that “Focus does have a new focus; an image change designed to make them accepted and well-liked rather than standing for righteousness in an unrighteous society.”

A recent AOL article about the shift in leadership at FOTF, although not providing proof for those rumors, does suggest they may be true.

James Dobson’s replacement Jim Daly said:

“When you look back from a pro-life perspective, what were the gains there?…We don’t see the results for the energy, the money, everything else that’s been poured into the political sphere.”

Daly is simply wrong in his assertion that the pro-life position has seen little or no gains. Because of the perseverance of pro-life warriors, polls show that there has been significant decline in support for the anti-life position, particularly among the younger generation.

Daly also said:

“We as a Christian community need to refocus a bit on what’s important in the culture. For us, it’s family. That’s our mission….I don’t know what will happen with same-sex marriage, but I’m not going to be discouraged if we lose some of those battles, [for] 98 percent of people, traditional marriage will remain relevant.”

This statement reveals a rather surprising naivete. Perhaps Mr. Daly hasn’t read any of the research done by Stanley Kurtz who found that when same-sex “marriage” was legalized in Scandinavia, heterosexual investment in traditional marriage declined. This makes sense. Legalized same-sex “marriage” embodies and promotes the radical and subversive ideas that marriage has no intrinsic connection to heterosexuality and no intrinsic connection to procreation, so why should 98 percent of the population find an institution that is unrelated to heterosexuality and unrelated to procreation relevant? Why should those who do not hold orthodox Jewish, Muslim, or Christian views find traditional marriage relevant?

If the family is FOTF’s mission, then they better figure out how to stop the pro-homosexual juggernaut–nicely, of course–because soon every child from kindergarten through high school will be taught about “diverse family structures” and Heather’s two nice mommies.

What FOTF needs to bear in mind is that while it’s easy for the pro-life position to be advanced through emotional appeals to the heart like the Tim Tebow ad that aired during the Super Bowl, it’s very difficult for the pro-traditional marriage and anti-homosexuality position to do that. The other side has the clear narrative advantage. It’s much easier to create a touching film about a little boy with two mommies or a picture book about cute furry homosexual animals than it is to create heartstring-tugging picture books and films that show the immorality and societal devastation of homosexual practice and same-sex marriage.

We live, and move, and have our being in a culture that Neil Postman described as a place where “imagery, narrative, presentness, simultaneity, intimacy, immediate gratification, and quick emotional response” reign supreme and where “logic, sequence, history, exposition, objectivity, detachment, and discipline” resonate little. This means that those who can create compelling stories that pack an emotional punch will win the hearts and minds of Americans. Those who must rely on logic, exposition and objectivity are at a distinct polemical disadvantage.

As evidence for his claim that a kindler, gentler approach to cultural issues is more effective, Daly claimed that the soft Tebow ad was a “game changer.” What a Barna poll showed was that of those who believe abortion should be legal, four percent said the commercial was cause for them to reconsider their opinion about abortion. Oddly, the poll also showed that the ad caused eight percent of those who believe abortion should not be legal to reconsider their opinion on abortion.

Methinks Mr. Daly overstates the case, but perhaps the ad will be a “game changer.” If so, then FOTF should make a slick and soft game-changing ad about homosexuality.

For the most part the church has long adopted the soft, “We heart homosexuality” approach, dribbling virtually no energy or money into the political sphere, and we see the effects: even as the younger generation of Christians moves to an anti-abortion position, they have moved to a love the sinner and the sin position on homosexuality.

Mr. Daly also said “I will continue to defend traditional marriage, but I’m not going to demean human beings for [sic] the process.” To whom exactly is Jim Daly alluding? James Dobson? Or is he referring to those relatively few stalwart culture warriors who are willing to endure the malignant lies and obscene epithets that a courageous stand for truth in the public square on this issue elicits? The language employed by Mr. Daly here is the kind of language commonly employed by either homosexualists (i.e. homosexuals and those who support their ontological, moral, and political views) or by those Christians who are unwilling to publicly condemn volitional homosexual practice as immoral, even as our public schools affirm homosexuality to children with public money.

Who defines “demeaning” for FOTF? That’s a critical question because those who affirm a homosexual identity believe that public statements about the immorality of volitional homosexual acts are demeaning. And those who support legalized same-sex “marriage” believe that moral opposition to it is demeaning. If FOTF allows the culture to define what is demeaning, then silence is their only option.

Moving forward, how will FOTF oppose homosexual “marriage”?

How will FOTF oppose the widespread cultural embrace of specious ideas about the nature and morality of homosexuality, even among Christians?

How will FOTF work to stop the exposure of elementary, middle, and high school students in public schools to homosexuality-affirming resources disguised as “anti-bullying” resources?

Mr. Daly rejects being “highly confrontational,” a commitment with which I would wholeheartedly agree –depending on how “confrontational” is defined. If Daly means that he seeks to confront the culture, but without hostility, his goal is admirable. If, on the other hand, he is rejecting not just hostility but also cultural confrontations, then there’s a problem. To confront means to defy or come up against, which is what will be required if we hope to protect the unborn, children, the family, speech rights, religious liberty, and truth.

Shouldn’t we boldly confront the efforts of homosexualists who are working feverishly to expose our littlest ones to homosexuality and “transgenderism” in our public schools? How perverse does the behavior that our public schools affirm have to become and how young the children to whom and in whom it’s affirmed before the church as well as para-church organizations will become willing to confront the unproven, corrupt ideas promoted in public schools?

It certainly has not been any mythical confrontational tactics of serious orthodox Christians that have rendered our Christian youth vulnerable to the specious secular arguments used to normalize homosexuality. Here’s what has led the body of Christ, including our youth, to tolerating or even affirming heresy:

  • The cowardice and ignorance of the church which results in a retreat from the public square
  • The successful infiltration of homosexual activism in public education through critical pedagogy, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)and its satellite Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, the National Education Association, the American Library Association, schools or departments of education that are dominated by “progressives” who train teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “educational” project ironically named “Teaching Tolerance,” and numerous “anti-bullying” curricula and resources
  • Hollywood that uses the powerful media of television and film to transform cultural views by idealizing homosexuality and ridiculing traditional views of sexuality without ever having to make a well-supported argument. Hollywood knows that if there’s one thing Americans hate, it’s being uncool.
  • Judicial activism
  • The biased mainstream news media that celebrates homosexuality through sound bites and imagery
  • Advertising that uses imagery to glamorize homosexuality

Far too many churches and para-church organizations are adopting emasculated approaches to the pro-homosexual movement. Not only are we not pro-active in preparing our youth intellectually to understand the specious secular arguments used to normalize homosexuality, but we’re not even sufficiently re-active.

Just when the cultural threat is greatest; when Obama has appointed lesbian law professor Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; when he has appointed Kevin Jennings, homosexual founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to be the Safe Schools “czar”; when the “Hate Crimes” bill has passed Congress; when the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is soon up for a vote; when the Student Non-Discrimination Act has been proposed; when the Safe Schools Improvement Act has been proposed; and when efforts to eradicate marriage continue unabated, we need warriors who are willing to confront lies and protect children.

Let’s hope and pray that Focus on the Family continues to lead courageously, perseveringly, and unambiguously on the critical cultural issues pertaining to life, family, and marriage.


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