Focus on the Family in recent years has made a concerted effort to tone down the fiery rhetoric it became known for through its founder, James Dobson.
Some observers have speculated that Dobson was eased out of the Colorado Springs ministry because his rhetorical flourishes ran counter to the ministry vision of Jim Daly, Focus president and CEO since 2005.
The biggest evidence for this is that Dobson, rather than retire last February from Focus, went on to create Family Talk,a family ministry that ‘s very similar in goals to Focus. The tone of Family Talk is sometimes similar to that of Focus when Dobson was calling the shots. In an October Family Talk newsletter, Dobson went after President Obama, Democrats in general and Muslims with a ferocity not heard from Focus since 2008 in the run-up to national elections.
Today, Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger acknowledged that Daly has led Focus toward a “more civil discourse.”
“This is a conversation we’ve been having for a few years now,” Schneeberger said today. “In fact, Jim Daly has been recognized by more than one national media outlet as being a leader among the ‘evangelical right’ in calling for a more civil discourse in the public square.”
My interview with Schneeberger today was very interesting. The reason for our chat was my research for my weekend Pulpit column for Gazette.com. I am writing about how last Saturday’s Arizona shootings have caused a dialogue among politicians about whether political rhetoric has gone too far. And I’ll broach the notion in the column that politicians might learn something from the trend among evangelicals and Christian political action committees toward tolerance and civility, which is quite a contrast to only a few years ago.
Below are highlights from my interview with Schneeberger: