JAMES C. DOBSON IS telling anyone who'll listen that the
agenda for the United Nations women's meeting in Beijing this month
is hostile to the family.
"It's one of the most radical, atheistic crusades in the
history of the world," the Colorado psychologist said at a news
conference here recently.
When Dobson speaks, millions listen.
As founder and president of Focus on the Family, the
18-year-old lay Evangelical Christian communications empire, Dobson
is an agenda-setter for the 1996 presidential campaign.
"He should be taken seriously," said Randall Balmer, an expert
on the Evangelical movement and religion professor at Barnard
College in New York. "He is becoming increasingly political."
Numerous St. Louisans listen to Dobson daily. His organization
pays six local stations to run his radio shows. KSIV-AM (1320) airs
his half-hour show four times daily and it is one of it most
popular shows, said Dave Powell, station production director.
Across the country another 1,500 radio stations including a
Spanish language station in Kansas City air his programs. One of
his two monthly newsletters reaches 2.5 million supporters, he
said. His ministry publishes nine Evangelical Christian magazines.
Children are entertained by "McGee and Me", the ministry's 12
video series aimed at developing virtue.
His 14 books on Christian family advice line shelves here and
across the nation. One, "Dare to Discipline," sold over 2 million.
Last month, his ministry spun into cyberspace. Through a
contract with America Online, Focus on the Family has its own "home
page" where users can call up the Focus library, radio listings,
and excerpts of radio stories and magazines.
No Problem Is Too Small
On radio Dobson, 59, chats front-porch-style. Speaking in a
gentle western twang, he tells how families became stronger using
ideas from the Gospel.
No problem is too small. He suggests solutions for thumb
sucking and children stalling about going to church. He talks about
caring for aging parents and squabbles between couples on how to
squeeze the budget to contribute to Christians causes. He takes on
addictions and spouse battering. His chatty scripts avoid
psychological jargon, which he mastered in the 1960s while studying
for his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Southern
He weaves in his family life - his wife Shirley and their two
adult children, his late father, grandfather and great-grandfather
- all of them ordained ministers. Tuesday, he talked about how his
wife never spends much money because she grew up poor and feels
guilty about luxuries.
Some 200,000 people a year visit his Focus headquarters near
Pike's Peak in Colorado Springs, Colo. The lucky ones meet the
blue-eyed, gray-haired slightly built man by chance. His 1,300
employees fill three limestone-trimmed brick office buildings on a
47-acre campus. The ministry runs on a $101 million annual budget,
raised through sales, donations, and grants from private
foundations. Dobson takes no salary, he said. Book royalties
support his family, he said.
The heart of the evangelical outreach is a 100,000 square-foot
white, high-ceilinged room where scores of employees sit at in
roomy cubicles facing video display terminals. They answer his
mail; he puts the volume at 250,000 letters and phone calls a month. …