Wednesday, October 11, 2006

James Dobson: Pure Evil

The Boston Globe has a four-part series on the influence that Religious Right groups are remaking America's international aid programs to their liking and everyone else's detriment. Here is the second of the series:

Religious right wields clout

The article contains a lot of worrisome info about how the Bush administration has turned much of our international aid money into slush funds for Religious Right groups, stripping funding away from established secular groups with a proven track record and giving it to religious groups with no experience and an overt religious and ideological mission. And the ring-leader of it all? James Dobson.

As if I needed any more reasons to despise that man, the article shows Dobson at his worst. He's quite consistent in his stategy of smearing anyone who gets in his way, and the article is full of such examples. Below I'll share a few:

The dispute erupted in public after a remark in 2002 by then-secretary of state Colin Powell, who had visited Africa and been appalled at the AIDS rate. In a television interview, Powell said that while he respected churches that are opposed to condoms, "In my own judgment, condoms are a way to prevent infection and, therefore, I support their use."

Dobson blasted back, declaring "Colin Powell is the secretary of state, not the secretary of health. He is talking about a subject he doesn't understand."

But James Dobson, who has no medical degree and hates science, should be taken as an authority on health care issues?
The administration had hoped to avoid fights with religious conservatives by putting people in charge of USAID with strong faith-based ties: administrator Andrew Natsios and global health director Dr. Anne Peterson .

Natsios is a former Massachusetts legislator who once supervised the Big Dig and has served as vice president of World Vision, the largest evangelical recipient of USAID grants. Peterson, a physician, is an evangelical Christian and former Virginia state health commissioner who has also worked with Christian groups in Africa.

Peterson said in an interview that she assumed she would be embraced by religious conservatives.

She was wrong: Dobson's group singled her out for a series of attacks, since her global health division oversaw AIDS policy. [...]

Within months, Peterson had resigned for personal reasons, deeply bruised by the attacks.

"I had not expected to have that from the Christian community," she said. "I had expected to find more resonance with a broader group of people to find a common ground.

Now why would she even think that these people would treat her with civility? That would require decency, empathy, common sense and good morals on their part. Surely she didn't think they met that standard?

They complained in the letter to Natsios that government funding for faith-based groups was being "delivered by anti-American, anti-abstinence, pro-prostitution, and pro-drug use groups."
Oh, and let's not forget honesty. Part of being civil is being honest about the people with whom you disagree. If you're a lying scumbag however, you call them things like anti-American and pro-drug use, even when you know for a fact that they're not.

In its printed materials for the briefing, Focus on the Family targeted a USAID official who it claimed was gay and committed to a pro-homosexual agenda. Natsios, who left his post as USAID administrator earlier this year, said of the attack: "It was over the top, it was outrageous."

Dobson declined to comment. The briefing was overseen by the group's chief public policy officer, Peter Brandt . In an interview, Brandt acknowledged that "that individual should not have been targeted." But he stood by the attacks on USAID and what he called the "condom cartel."

Whoops, I guess Natsios was just collateral damage. They were trying to ruin someone else's career, and he just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Anyway, the entire article is worth the read. The nasty tactics of Dobson are only part of it; the cynical way in which international aid funds are being misused is the meat and potatoes.

And if that's not enough to piss you off, here is the rest of the series:

Bush brings faith to foreign aid (part 1)

Together, but worlds apart (part 3)

Healing the body to reach the soul (part 4)