Dr. James Dobson
's US-based Focus on the Family
) is a name which garners precious little recognition here in the Republic, but it really ought to. Founded by Dobson in 1977 (and of which he was president until recently, handing over to an ex-Christian Coalition
activist) and closely GOP-aligned
in the Age of Bush
, Focus on the Family serves as a lobbying organisation and pressure group for hardcore Bible-bashers on predictable topics such as Creationism
, the separation of Church and State
(the side of the fence they fall on can be readily guessed). Dobson himself gives new definition to the phrase "fundamentalist loon":
In response to 9/11: "Question: Has God withdrawn His protective hand from the US?"
James Dobson responds: "Christians have made arguments on both sides of this question. I certainly believe that God is displeased with America for its pride and arrogance, for killing 40 million unborn babies, for the universality of profanity and for other forms of immorality. However, rather than trying to forge a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the terrorist attacks and America's abandonment of biblical principles, which I think is wrong, we need to accept the truth that this nation will suffer in many ways for departing from the principles of righteousness. "The wages of sin is death," as it says in Romans 6, both for individuals and for entire cultures. " (FOF website, http://www.family.org/docstudy/excerpts/A0018615.html)
Those with a masochistic streak can also Google for the good Dr. Dobson's beef with a children's TV cartoon character named SpongeBob SquarePants
. But don't say that we didn't warn ye.
Where does Ireland fit into all this? Your humble blogger will sheepishly admit to having tagged along to an evangelical service in Cork about a decade ago (long story). This soul was long ago promised to the Divil, we're afraid, so there was no chance of even the lovely-looking girl sent over to 'introduce' herself to a stranger in the congregation being a sufficient enough temptation to lure a non-practicising Catholic boy to the Dark Side. But the obvious professionalism of the act by the two American pastors was duly noted for future reference - and just because they don't get attention from the Dublin media doesn't mean they're not out there in numbers and growing, folks.
Fast-forward a few years, and a character named Mervyn Nutley
shows up in 2003 as the Director of an outfit called "Christian Initiatives
", making a submission
to the Department of Communications in favour of allowing religious advertising on the airwaves. Apparently already in existence for eight years, Christian Initiatives
later that year got the franchise
(so to speak) and became
"Focus on the Family Ireland
", thereby entering our little tale. Posturing as a Christian 'family support' organisation
appears to be the modus operandi of FotF Ireland
; they also popped up
at the Joint Committee on the Constitution
in 2005. But you can be sure that like the US parent organisation, that's just the thin end of the wedge for the rest of their agenda - anti-feminism, homophobia, creationism, sexual ignorance for adolescents and all the rest of it - to get in the door too.
And here's where we assign some homework to the Free Stater
the never-disappointing PZ Myers
, comes word of a way to exact some karmic retribution on FotF's attempts to do an end-run around their dues to Caesar - namely, selling wingnut literature for tax-deductible supposed "donations". There is, however, a weakness in this scheme... and you can find full instructions here
Needless to say, we've already taken this opportunity to get a headstart on the Christmas shopping, ordering some Narnia
Be warned, though, that doing this puts you on the US fundie spam and junk-mail lists. We've already had invitations for Christian Dating(!) amongst other God-related offers in the Hotmail inbox (though good luck to them sending us junkmail through An Post
) so caveat emptor
, as they say.
p.s. Where would your neighbourhood evangelicals host their website on the Godless Internets? Why, with Godsweb
, of course.