The Dobson/Obama debate spurred a lot of “discussion” last week. (Scot McKnight had a hearty discussion going on over at Jesus Creed.) I was personally disappointed in Dobson’s remarks. Not that I thought Obama’s speech was above reproach. I thought some of the language he chose to use was inciting, even though I thought he made a good point about the way Christians should consider engaging a pluralistic society. But, Dobson disappointed me greatly. I thought he went out of his way to misrepresent what Obama said (obviously Obama was not “equating” Dobson with Sharpton – he was contrasting the two) and I can only think of two reasons Dobson might do this: 1) He is just playing politics and/or 2) He is so wrapped up in his opposition of Obama that he cannot hear what Obama is saying. Neither one of those reasons are attractive. I think Dobson would have done better not to comment on the speech at all. However, if he must, then he would do better to present his point of view in a way that allowed him to state what the obvious intent of Obama’s speech was and to talk about his own perspective on the issue. I don’t say any of this in defense of Obama. I probably will not vote for him. I bring this up because I am grieved over the way someone who has built their public identity around the fact that they are a Christian speaks about others, the way he twists what others say to promote his own agenda, the way he trys to influence others by misrepresenting his opposition. I expect this kind of thing from a person who builds their public identity around being a politician, but I don’t want someone like Dobson “playing politics” with me. I want Dobson to demonstrate more respect for others even if he disagrees with them. I want him to give others the benefit of the doubt rather than thinking the worse about them. I want him to engage not attack, connect not polarize, incite discussion not hate. I don’t mean to indicate that Dobson is the only public Christian personality who does this, but he is the one who did it last week.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. SPEAK KINDLY.