An apology by Focus on the Family Co-Founder
A Public Apology and Appeal by Gil Alexander-Moegerle Co-Founder of Focus on the Family
[The following is a statement made at a press conference August 15, 1997 in Colorado Springs]
Hello, ladies and gentlemen. I have a statement and then I am happy to take questions.
My name is Gil Alexander-Moegerle. I live in Los Angeles with my wife Carolyn and I'm the proud parent of three great young people and the grandfather of a fine little boy. Please ask to see pictures of my grandson when we're done.
I'm the author of the new book "James Dobson's War on America", the first book to critique James Dobson's character, style and political agenda from an insider's perspective.
I was one of the co-founders of Focus on the Family.
In 1977 seven people signed their names to the legal documents that started Focus on the Family. We were its first Board of Directors. You will find my signature among the seven, along with my former friends Jim and Shirley Dobson, Mike Roberts, Mac McQuiston, Peb Jackson and Bobb Biehl.
One of those seven founders was a ten year veteran in the fields of broadcasting and fund raising and therefore accepted responsibility for managing the day-to-day start-up activities of Focus on the Family. That person was me.
I personally set up the three core operating divisions of Focus on the Family:
* The Broadcast Division: I was the founding Executive Producer of Focus radio its on-air co-host, and the person responsible for the program's initial syndication and distribution.
* The Publications Division: I was the founding editor of the Focus magazine and oversaw its initial production and circulation.
* The Mail Processing Division: I established the organization's first post office box and bank account, oversaw the answering of its first listener letters and the receipting of its first donations, and set up its first computer-based mailing list.
I also started:
* The Film and Video Division: I was responsible for producing the very first Focus on the Family film, "Twice Pardoned," which was awarded best film of its type in 1987.
Speaking, then, as a co-founder of Focus on the Family, I have come to Colorado Springs to make two statements.
First: I recently heard the Jewish philosopher Dennis Prager say, "Civility requires that responsible members of the various groups that make up a culture have the courage to apologize to the rest of society for bad people within their group."
I have come to issue just such an apology for certain actions and attitudes on the part of the Christian Right in general and James Dobson and Focus on the Family in particular: First, I apologize to the women of America for the sexist attitudes all-too-often displayed by James Dobson and the organization I helped found. I apologize to African Americans and other ethnic minorities who are concerned by the continuing vestiges of intolerance in the land and by the dangerous role James Dobson, a wealthy, powerful, white, heterosexual male, plays in promoting intolerance.
I apologize to lesbian and gay Americans who are demeaned and dehumanized on a regular basis by the false, irresponsible, and inflammatory rhetoric of James Dobson's anti-gay radio and print materials.
I apologize to Jewish Americans as well as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and atheist Americans who are also victims of the dangerous words and divisive political actions of James Dobson, who claims quite falsely that this is a "Christian nation" that should be "ruled" by fundamentalist Christians and their doctrines.
I apologize to the American media, specifically to radio, television and print reporters, who have been ridiculed and demonized by Dobson and his staff and guests.
I am ashamed of my former colleagues for their attacks on you and for their pattern of slamming the doors of reasonable access in your face. And I encourage you to bang those doors down, to investigate, and to report the truth about the threat James Dobson and other religious extremists pose to the American tradition of tolerance, inclusivity and the separation of church and state.
And I apologize to my fellow Christian Americans, many of whom have been misled by a man I once loved and trusted. I hope you will not make the same mistake I made in letting my personal loyalty to an old friend blind me to the unchristian and un-American words and actions of James Dobson and so many of his Focus on the Family guests.
I apologize to any American who has felt the sting of James Dobson and the Christian Right wagging their holier-than-thou fingers in your face, shrieking that because your views differ from theirs, you are ungodly, evil and unworthy of the rights of full citizenship.
Please don't let these extremists confuse you about the life and teachings of Jesus. He spoke in love. I regret that Jim and Focus have not.
Second: I have come to Colorado Springs to call on James Dobson to step down as a political activist and return Focus on the Family to its original mission.
When we began Focus, in 1977, the seven founders had only two objectives: (1) To help Americans raise their children and (2) to help us maintain our marriages. Millions of Americans would say that James Dobson has made a tremendous contribution in those two areas. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said regarding his harmful foray into big-time politics. I believe Dobson-style politics have been inept, simplistic, exclusionary, divisive and alarmingly sectarian. Mr. Dobson has shown little respect for our pluralistic system, for differing views or for the core skill of statecraftocompromise [sic] and consensus building. That is un-American.
James Dobson's political style has been one of relentlessly demonizing his adversaries. And he has created the impression that the pathway to national moral reform leads through the legislative machinery of Washington. That is unchristian.
I ask Mr. Dobson to cancel his political radio series "Family News in Focus" and his political magazine "Citizen"
* to get out of the business of organizing and training grassroots political organizations around the country
* to break off his powerful alliance with lobbyist Gary Bauer and the Family Research Council
* to discontinue meeting with politicians in an effort to leverage his influence to shape public policy:and to pledge never again to devote a Focus on the Family radio broadcast to politics.
I call on James Dobson to return to the kinder gentler Focus on the Family we seven founded in 1977; to support America in those noble human endeavors of building strong marriages and raising strong children.