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Focus on the Family (FOTF, or FotF) is an Americanmarker evangelical tax-exempt non-profit organization founded in 1977 by James Dobson, and is based in Colorado Springsmarker, Coloradomarker. Focus on the Family is one of a number of evangelical parachurch organizations that rose to prominence in the 1980s. A component of the American Christian right, it is active in promoting interdenominational work toward its views on social conservative public policy.

Focus on the Family is "dedicated to nurturing and defending families worldwide" and protecting family values. Some of the core promotional activities of the organization include a daily radio broadcast by Dobson and his colleagues, providing free resources and family counseling according to Focus on the Family views, and publishing a variety of magazines, videos, and audio recordings. The organization also produces specialized programs for targeted audiences, such as Adventures in Odyssey for children, dramas, and Family Minute with James Dobson.

History and organization

Focus on the Family's former logo.
From 1977 to 2003 James Dobson served as the sole leader of the organization. In 2003, Donald P. Hodel became president and chief executive officer, tasked with the day-to-day operations. This left Dobson as chairman of the Board of Directors, with chiefly creative and speaking duties.

In March 2005, Hodel retired and Jim Daly, formerly the Vice President in charge of Focus on the Family's International Division, assumed the role of president and chief executive officer.

In November 2008, the organization announced that it was eliminating 202 jobs, representing 18 percent of its workforce. The organization also cut its budget from $160 million in fiscal 2008 to $138 million for fiscal 2009.

On February 27, 2009, Dobson officially announced he was stepping down as chairman of the Board of Directors, but would continue to serve as host of the Focus on the Family broadcasts and write a monthly column.


Marriage & family

The primary ministry of Focus on the Family is to strengthen traditional marriages and families. Much of the underlying theory comes from the published works of Dr. James Dobson, who has written a number of books on subjects ranging from raising children to taking steps to prevent divorce by helping couples with conflict management. One key theme of this ministry is helping couples understand the negative consequences of divorce on their children. The organization maintains a toll-free telephone counseling service available to anyone in a family crisis.

Radio theater

Focus on The Family Radio Theatre is a series of audio dramas adapting classic literature, mystery mini-series and biographical productions, extending its reach to the mainstream as well as the Christian audience. The endeavor began through the efforts of former Adventures in Odyssey producers Dave Arnold and Paul McCusker, along with casting director Philip Glassborow based in England.

Radio Theater began with historical biographies of Squanto ("The Legend of Squanto"), Jesus ("The Luke Reports") and Dietrich Bonhoeffer ("Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom"), and in 1996, a 90-minute radio drama based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was produced and aired as a broadcast special.

In 2003, Focus on the Family Radio Theater released an audio dramatization of C. S. Lewis' epic novel series The Chronicles of Narnia, with David Suchet providing the voice of Aslan, and over 100 Englishmarker actors rounding out the cast. Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham, serves as host—sharing his personal stories at the beginning of each audio drama.

Radio Theatre also also released an original miniseries, the Father Gilbert Mysteries, which tells of the spiritual mysteries encountered by Louis Gilbert, a cop-turned-Anglican-priest, who lives in Stonebridge, Sussex, and ministers to the people of the town from St. Mark's Church. Nine episodes have been produced in four volumes available on cassette and CD.

FOTF also produces a children's radio drama entitled Adventures in Odyssey. It began in 1987 as Family Portraits, starring an elderly Christian gentleman named John Avery Whittaker (aka "Whit"), who runs an ice cream shop/"discovery emporium" called Whit's End; and he imparts Christian wisdom to the children of the town of Odyssey. It was renamed "Odyssey USA" in November 1987 and took on its present name, "Adventures in Odyssey" in April 1988.

FOTF also produced a radio miniseries based on their videos, The Last Chance Detectives.

In 2009, FOTF's Radio Theatre produced an audio drama of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, starring Andy Serkis (Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies) as the voice of Screwtape. The audio drama was also accompanied by the release of, the only site authorized by the C.S. Lewis estate to represent The Screwtape Letters.

Love Won Out

The purpose of Focus on the Family's Love Won Out ministry is to exhort and equip the church to respond to homosexuality according to Christian principles. Love Won Out was launched by Focus on the Family in part because, according to Focus on the Family vice president Dr. Bill Maier, "the church has often fallen short when it comes to the homosexual community". Along with Exodus International and NARTH, Love Won Out works with people who struggle with unwanted homosexual desires. Love Won Out teaches that "[t]he foundation of society for the family is marriage of a man and a woman for life" and that "Scripture is very clear in its condemnation of homosexual conduct, for such sin is a deviation from God's creation and design."

Other ministries

Focus on the Family has a number of additional ministries. Many are aimed at specific demographics including teenage boys and girls, children, college students, families, young adults, parents, while others are aimed at specific concerns, such as sexual problems, entertainment, and politics. Many have their own regular publications. The ministry for college students and young adults is Boundless Webzine.

Political positions and activities

As a 501 corporation, Focus on the Family is not permitted to advocate any individual political candidate. However, in its radio broadcast, it often discusses political issues and current events, usually through a Christian conservative point of view. Dobson is among the Christian conservative leaders who met with and advised former President George W. Bush. Focus on the Family's magazine Citizen is exclusively devoted to politics. The FOTF also has an affiliated group, Focus on the Family Actionmarker (a.k.a. Focus Action), though the two groups are legally separate. As a 501 social welfare group, Focus Action has fewer political lobbying restrictions. FoTF's revenue in 2005 was USD $142M, and that of FoTF Action was $14.7M.
The Administration Building is one of four on the campus.
The group supports the teaching of "traditional family values". It advocates school sponsored prayer and supports corporal punishment. It strongly opposes abortion, so-called militant feminism, homosexuality, pornography, and pre-marital and extramarital sexual activity. Focus on the Family also embraces and reflects the wider political agenda of its audience, for instance promoting a religiously-centered conception of American identity and the support of Israelmarker.

Focus on the Family maintains a strong pro-life stand against abortion, and provides grant funding and medical training to assist crisis pregnancy centers (also known as pregnancy resource centers) in obtaining ultrasound machines. According to the organization, this funding, which has allowed CPCs to provide pregnant women with live sonogram images of the developing fetus, has led directly to the birth of over 1500 babies who would have otherwise been aborted.

FOTF's bookstore at their headquarters contains a variety of material on Christian living, Bibles, etc.
Focus on the Family also opposes all forms of legalized gambling, a position which has created some controversy within the Christian community as gambling is not explicitly prohibited in the Bible, and many churches hold minor gambling contests, especially bingo, to raise funds. Focus’ insistence on this position, as a result, has been interpreted as “extra-Biblical doctrine” that was created by some within the Christian Right who are personally opposed to gambling.

Focus on the Family broadcasts a national talk radio program of the same name hosted by Dobson or his aides. The program has a range of themes, such as Christian-oriented assistance for victims of rape or child abuse; parenting difficulties; child adoption; husband/wife roles; family history and traditions; struggles with gambling, pornography, alcohol, and drugs; and many other themes. When programs deal with civic issues, listeners often respond to these programs by contacting political leaders.

Focus on the Family has been a prominent supporter of intelligent design, publishing pro-intelligent design articles in its Citizen magazine and selling intelligent design videos on its website. Focus on the Family co-published the intelligent design videotape Unlocking the Mystery of Life with the Discovery Institute, hub of the intelligent design movement. Focus on the Family employee Mark Hartwig is also a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, a connection which has helped to publicize intelligent design extensively; James Dobson often features intelligent design proponents on his Focus on the Family radio program. Focus on the Family's is a significant online resource for intelligent design articles.

2008 Presidential campaign

In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, it shifted from support of Mike Huckabee to not supporting any candidate, to finally accepting the Republican ticket once Sarah Palin was added to the ticket. Prior to the election, a television and letter campaign was launched predicting terrorist attacks in four U.S. cities and equating the U.S. with Nazi Germany. This publicity was condemned by the Anti Defamation League. Within a month before the general election, Focus on the Family began distributing a 16 page fictitious letter titled Letter from 2012 in Obama's America, which describes an imagined American future in which "many of our freedoms have been taken away by a liberal Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker and a majority of Democrats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate." According to USA Today, the letter "is part of an escalation in rhetoric from Christian right activists" trying to paint Democratic Party presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama in a negative light. Other Evangelicals like Jim Wallis and various progressive Christians denounced the letter as fearmongering.Focus on the Family was also instrumental in the successful December 2, 2008, runoff election win by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The organization, according to the Colorado Independent, donated $35,310 in radio ads to the Chambliss runoff campaign effort. As the Independent reports, the Focus-sponsored ads were aired in about 12 Georgia markets. The commercials were produced in the weeks after Focus laid off 202 employees — some 20 percent of its workforce — because of the national economic crisis."

Position on Same-Sex Marriage

The group's message has been controversial. In particular, groups who support homosexual rights, including some educational, medical, and mental health organizations, have criticized the organization for its stance on homosexuality and related legislation and for its Love Won Out ministry, an ex-gay movement in cooperation with Exodus International and NARTH.Additionally, Focus on the Family has been charged with manipulating research to support their stance on homosexuality.

Focus on the Family works to preserve traditional marriage and parenthood, and therefore the organization takes a strong stance against homosexuality and the Same-Sex Marriage Movement. Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. /> . Founder James Dobson expressed great concern for the institution of marriage in a 2003 letter to the Christian community. In reference to the Same-Sex Marriage Movement, Dobson explains that the institution of marriage “…is about to descend into a state of turmoil unlike any other in human history.” Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. /> . Focus on the Family believes that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman. Dobson supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It also would have prevented courts and state legislatures from redefining marriage. Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. /> .

In the same letter Dobson explains that traditional marriage is the cornerstone of society, and he states that the goal of the gay and lesbian movement is not to redefine marriage but to destroy the institution itself. “Most gays and lesbians do not want to marry each other…the intention here is to destroy marriage altogether.” Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. /> . Dobson makes the argument that without the institution of marriage everyone would enjoy the benefits of marriage without limiting the number of partners or their gender. Focus on the Family sees allowing same-sex marriage as “…a stepping-stone on the road to eliminating all societal restrictions and on marriage and sexuality.” Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. />

Focus on the Family asserts that the Bible lays out the correct plan for marriage and family. Dobson explains that God created Eve to complement Adam physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Dobson also uses the Biblical figure, Paul, to affirm his views on marriage. He states that Paul maintained that men and women mutually complete each other, and to exchange a natural relationship for an unnatural one is sinful. Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. /> .

In reference to same-sex marriage and same-sex couples with children, Dobson states, “Same-sex relationships undermine the future generation’s understanding of the fundamental principles of marriage, parenthood, and gender.” Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. /> . The destruction of the traditional family will lead to instable homes for children. Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. /> .

Focus on the Family became more active in the same-sex marriage opposition movement after the Canadian Supreme Court declared the exclusivity of marriage between one man and one woman to be unconstitutional in 2003. Dobson, James. "Focus on the Family." Human Life International. 2003. Focus on the Family, Web. 9 Nov 2009. /> . Dobson spoke at the 2004 rally against gay marriage called Mayday for Marriage. It was here for the first time that he endorsed a presidential candidate, George W. Bush. Here he denounced the Supreme Court rulings in favor of gay rights, and he urged rally participants to get out and vote so that the battle against gay rights could be won in the Senate.

In an interview with Christian Today magazine, Dobson also explained that he was not in favor of civil unions.He agreed that civil unions are just same-sex marriage under a different name. The main priority of the opposing same-sex marriage movement is to preserve the traditional definition of marriage at the federal level and combat the passage of civil unions later.

Recognitions and awards

In 2008, Dobson's "Focus on the Family" program was nominated for induction into the Radio Hall of Fame. Nominations were made by the 157 members of the Hall of Fame and voting on inductees was handed over to the public using online voting. The nomination drew the ire of gay rights activists, who launched efforts to have the program removed from the nominee list and to vote for other nominees to prevent "Focus on the Family" from winning. However, on July 18, 2008, it was announced that the program had won and would be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in a ceremony on November 8, 2008., a gay rights group protested the ceremony with over 300 protesters.

International associates and regional offices

New Zealand

Focus on the Family New Zealand logo
Focus on the Family New Zealand is an organisation promoting a conservative Christian ideology. It has a similar agenda to the Focus on the Family organisation in the United States. Focus on the Family supported a Citizens Initiated Referendum on the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961.

Other countries

See also


External links

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