Obama clashes with James Dobson over scripture

A little bit of a back-and-forth erupted between Barack Obama and evangelical Christian leader James Dobson today. The basic story involves an argument over interpretation of the Bible and what Dobson calls “deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible.”

Story from MyWay:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – As Barack Obama broadens his outreach to evangelical voters, one of the movement’s biggest names, James Dobson, accuses the likely Democratic presidential nominee of distorting the Bible and pushing a “fruitcake interpretation” of the Constitution.

The criticism, to be aired Tuesday on Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program, comes shortly after an Obama aide suggested a meeting at the organization’s headquarters here, said Tom Minnery, senior vice president for government and public policy at Focus on the Family.

The conservative Christian group provided The Associated Press with an advance copy of the pre-taped radio segment, which runs 18 minutes and highlights excerpts of a speech Obama gave in June 2006 to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal. Obama mentions Dobson in the speech.

“Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?” Obama said. “Would we go with James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s?” referring to the civil rights leader.

Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy – chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, “a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application.”

“Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles,” Obama said.

Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament.

“I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology,” Dobson said.

“… He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.”

Joshua DuBois, director of religious affairs for Obama’s campaign, said in a statement that a full reading of Obama’s speech shows he is committed to reaching out to people of faith and standing up for families. “Obama is proud to have the support of millions of Americans of faith and looks forward to working across religious lines to bring our country together,” DuBois said.

I’m not even going down this road other than to report the story. It all depends on your interpretation of scripture, however, I don’t think Obama is going to win over many traditional evangelicals with his interpretation.