"Illogical" and "fundamentalist" are so closely associated, it isn't big news when a closed-minded evangelist says stuff that makes me go Huh?
But James Dobson has broken new ground in crazy ass theological reasoning, as described in a CNN story: "Evangelist accuses Obama of 'distorting' Bible."
Dobson is righteously pissed at Obama for making terrific religious sense.
In comments aired on his radio show Tuesday, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson criticized the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee for comments he made in a June 2006 speech to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal.
In the speech, Obama suggested that it would be impractical to govern based solely on the word of the Bible, noting that some passages suggest slavery is permissible and eating shellfish is disgraceful.
Recently I wrote about Obama's speech, noting that he should get the churchless vote based on his well-reasoned sentiments.
Which, it turns out, also reflect the attitudes of most religious believers. Yesterday the Pew Research Center released more results from a major survey of Americans. Here's an excerpt from a summary, "Religion in America: Non-Dogmatic, Diverse and Politically Relevant."
A major survey by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that most Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith. A majority of those who are affiliated with a religion, for instance, do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation. And almost the same number believes that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion. This openness to a range of religious viewpoints is in line with the great diversity of religious affiliation, belief and practice that exists in the United States, as documented in a survey of more than 35,000 Americans that comprehensively examines the country's religious landscape.
That's good news. Because it puts fundamentalists like Dobson in a decided minority, where, the great Tao willing, they'll remain.
Somehow Dobson isn't able to see the absurdity of his theological position. He faulted Obama for referring to Old Testament injunctions, saying they are no longer relevant to New Testament teachings.
OK. So Dobson is fine with picking and choosing what to believe in the Bible. Yet the CNN story goes on to quote Dobson as saying, ""I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology."
Well, Mr. Dobson, the traditional understanding of the Bible is that it is God's inerrant word, through and through – both the Old and New Testaments.
You just said that much of the Old Testament can be ignored. The stuff that's antiquated or irrelevant. Who decides what parts to ignore, Mr. Dobson? You've got your opinion. Other Christians and Jews would differ with you.
Where's the "fundamental" in your fundamentalism now? Gone. Except you won't recognize it. You should. Particularly if you want to appeal to the clear majority of religious believers.
Most Americans also have a non-dogmatic approach when it comes to interpreting the tenets of their own religion. For instance, more than two-thirds of adults affiliated with a religious tradition agree that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their faith, a pattern that occurs in nearly all traditions. The exceptions are Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, 54% and 77% of whom, respectively, say there is only one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion.
Well, what would you expect? Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are way out there, even when compared to normal unfounded religious speculation.
Here's more evidence of Dobson's illogical way of looking at the world: he completely misunderstood Obama's call to frame religious beliefs in a universal fashion when debating public policy. Obama has said:
I do make the argument that it's important for folks like myself, who think faith is important, that we try to translate some of our concerns into universal language so we can have open and vigorous debate rather than having religion divide us.
And Dobson mistakenly takes this to mean:
Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the lives of tiny babies? What he's trying to say here is, unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe.
No, Mr. Dobson, that isn't what Obama is saying. Like most zealots, you only hear what fits with your rigid preconceptions. Open your mind – just a crack. Let some reality in.
The Pew Survey shows that most Americans realize that ours is a pluralistic society, religiously and in many other ways. People believe all kinds of things. There's no unanimity of belief even among Christians.
So if we're going to talk and debate with each other, about abortion or any other sensitive social subject, we've got to go beyond narrow theological confines. As soon as you start citing Scripture, I'm going to tune you out. And so are countless other citizens who don't have the same view of the Bible as you do.
How would you like it if I demanded that you agree with the teachings of the Tao Te Ching, because they're obviously the way society should be governed. No debate possible. I'm a Taoist fundamentalist.
That would irk you no end, wouldn't it? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Sound familiar, Mr. Dobson? Check out Matthew 7:12. Some parts of the Bible are worth taking seriously.