Monday, October 29, 2007

Why Is Gay Hating James Dobson Still Licensed As a Therapist in Colorado?

The Reverend James Dobson, full to overflowing with the ego-tripping insouciance of a man of the cloth who is doing God's bidding, is used to getting his way. And being downright un-Christian when it comes to gays.

The 71-year-old evangelical minister, radio host and author is founder of the hydra-headed Focus on the Family organization. With Jerry Falwell dead and Pat Robertson acting more the fool with every passing month, Dobson is the only evangelical of the three who came on the scene during the Reagan administration with the avowed purpose of imposing their dogma on the Republican Party who remains truly influential.

This "emperor of morality," as New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich calls Dobson, probably has done more than anyone to tear down the wall between church and political party, which is to say church and state in an era when the White House and Republican Party have embraced Dobson and his fellow faith-based right wingers with a fake piety.

In this context, Dobson is a serial malcontent who former Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner says has been "crying wolf ever since Moby Dick was a minnow," but believes himself to be enormously influential because he wields great power over his far-flung flock from his home base in Colorado Springs and can deliver votes and money for his favorite GOP candidates and causes.

And still has time left over to try to save lost souls like fellow preacher, colleague and Colorado neighbor Ted Haggard from the evils of homosexuality. Until he suddenly finds that he can't help "cure" Haggard of his gayness because it would take years. Meanwhile, we know where Dobson stands on SpongeBob SquarePants, but no word on his view of Republican Senator Larry Craig's toe tapping.

Dobson has been much in the news because of his declaration from the pulpit of the Times op-ed page that he will take his votes elsewhere – possibly to a third party -- if the GOP does not nominate a presidential candidate to his liking. Which is to say a true believer with impeccable pro-life and anti-gay credentials.

* * * * *

There may be no aspect of Dobson's career where he has wanted and gotten it both ways more than in blurring the lines between his roles as a minister and licensed marriage and family therapist.

Dobson believes that the gay rights movement has "sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family." He depicts gays as amoral, polygamous, disease prone and emotionally troubled. Despite his equivocating when it came to Haggard, he claims that he can "cure" gayness through "reparative therapy."

Such declarations put him at odds with national marriage and family therapy organizations, as well as the American Psychological Association, which states unequivocally in its Diagnostic Statistical Manual that homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder or emotional problem. The APA has not viewed being gay to be an abnormality since 1973.

Despite being totally out of step with his own profession regarding homosexuality, Dobson remains a licensed marriage and family therapist in Colorado.

Two former members of that state's Board of Marriage and Family Therapists, speaking anonymously, said that Dobson’s dual role is improper and demeans the profession, but the board's hands are tied because of a waiver in state law.

"He can't have it both ways," said one of the former board members of Dobson's dual role as a gay-bashing preacher who claims he can cure homosexuality and a licensed therapist. "Is he dealing with someone as a therapist or as a minister? There has to be a distinction."

Patients treated by therapists "with beliefs rather than nationally accepted principles and standards of diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment can be harmed by the very person they trust to help them," said the other board member.

"We professionals in psychology and psychotherapy are often the ones who have to fix the breakage done by other psychotherapists. A therapist who tells patients that homosexuality is merely an act of will and as such can be subverted or reverted to something else works in the world of beliefs and not the world of professional standards and accepted practices."

The former board members said that the board has received several grievances against Dobson over the years.

Some grievances, they said, were from licensed therapists who objected to Dobson’s dual role and others from former patients who felt that they had been harmed and not helped by his therapies. The former board members said the board could not investigate complaints against Dobson because of the waiver, which states that "religious counseling" does not come under the legal definition of psychotherapy. Dobson himself has used tortured logic in claiming that he is only a religious counselor and therefore beyond the reach of the board.

Gayle Fidler, director of the Colorado board, said that it is not uncommon for therapists to also be ministers. Fidler would not address Dobson’s gay bashing or comment on complaints received by the board regarding him.

David Bergman, a spokesman for the American Association For Marriage and Family Therapy, said many association members also are ministers.

"Obviously it is not where our organization is on those issues," he said of Dobson's fire-and-brimstone views about homosexuality. "Those views aren't necessarily consistent with our members. We have lots of (clergy) members who are good, helping people and there is not a conflict based on their dual roles."

Bergman said Dobson dropped his association membership sometime in the last several years, but did not know why.

Calls to Dobson's spokesmen for comment were not returned.

"
A therapist who turns a critical diagnostic issue into one of his or her own beliefs in ways that their professional group does not agree with has to make a hard choice," one of the former board members said. "Are you true to your beliefs or to professional standards? A therapist cannot have it both ways and be faithful to both."

Unless they are the Reverend James Dobson.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, to those of us who have actually read one or two of Dr. Dobson's books on raising happy children, this comes across as a bit mean-spirited and unfair.

Dr. Dobson's decency and love for children and their parents comes across in each of his books. Read a couple of them cover to cover and you'll probably realize that what you think you know about Dr. Dobson has been filtered through tbe lens of partisan politics so badly that the man has been dealt a great injustice.

Homosexual behavior is not the primary the focus of his speeches or writings. His focus is on supporting and nurturing happy, healthy families.

He understands the child's point of view on things. He is impatient with adults who put their own needs ahead of those of children.

It would definitely be wrong to state the Dr. Dobson hates people who think of themselves as gay. He has had men who used to think of themselves as homosexuals as members of his staff. He has proven by his actions that he does not believe homosexuality is right but he also does not hate men or women who think of themselves as gay.

Yes, he believes that homosexuality is a mistake and a sin. That belief on his part is not a sin in itself. Gay tolerance does not require endorsement of homosexuality, does it?

Dr. Dobson obviously believes in the truth of the Bible, which states about three or four different places that homosexuality is wrong. So what? About 80% of America is Christian. If you want to call anyone who sincerely believes in the Bible a hateful bigot, go ahead, but you're on your own with that.

The fact that many therapists believe gay behavior cannot be changed is not evidence that Dr. Dobson is wrong. There hasn't been adequate human experimentation to prove that such changes in gay behavior can or cannot happen. It's taken on faith by many therapists that it cannot happen, but that's all it is -- faith -- a guess.

It is difficult to conduct scientific experiments in such matters (with the normal rigors of a double blind study). Thus, most beliefs about whether homosexuality is unchangeable or not are just that -- beliefs and opinions, not facts.

Even if consistently reliable ways to change homosexual behavior permanently havent' been widely demonstrated yet, that doesn't mean such a discovery can't come next week.

But there are some who don't want a "cure" for gay behavior, which they believe is on equal par with heterosexual marriage even though, frankly, male/female genitalia seem to be designed for heterosexual behavior.

Again, reasonable minds can differ, can't they? Or are you entitled to attack personally anyone who disagrees with you?

The argument that most therapists believe differently from Dr. Dobson is not very persuasive. Most medical doctors also used to believe that ulcers were caused by stress (we now know that most ulcers are caused by h. pylori bacteria -- a finding that was ridiculed by medical doctors for at least 10 years before it was finally accepted as scientific fact).

I'd like to see a little more tolerance from your side of the aisle. Too many in the gay community seem to think that tolerance is a one-way street.

Anonymous said...

the position set forth in the DSM is the result of votes by the membership of the APA and is certainly not uncontrovercial or incontravertible 'doctrine' of practicing psychologists in the US. the DSM is not intended to serve as a definitive statement of what is 'scientific' in psychology, not to serve as a standard for exclusion from licensure or practice for those who might disagree with the prevailing consensus. in fact, the position on homosexuality you reference is far from a unanimous position in the profession, and recent voting has actually moved in the direction of associating homosexuality with malady.

Anonymous said...

Shaun, your post repeatedly calls James Dobson a "minister" or "reverend." As you probably know, this is an ecclesiastical title granted either by a congregation of believers or by a denominational grouping. To bolster your claims, can your provide documentation of the date when James Dobson was ordained, and by what group? Unless his ordination has somehow flown below the radar and was done recently, I believe you will find that he is NOT a Reverend, and has never made a claim to that title. His late father was an evangelist (ordained minister) in the Church of the Nazarene, and his cousin (H.B. London) was a long-time pastor of the same denomination. However, this "Reverend Dobson" title is often trotted out erroneously. Yes, your picture shows him behind a pulpit, but political candidates like Barack Obama also speak from behind a pulpit, and no one calls him Reverend Obama.

I will not defend James Dobson on his political views, which I find increasingly rigid. He has thrown his weight around politically, and from what I can see, got a bit drunk on his own influence in the 2004 election. That being said, it's just not fair to say there's a conflict between his roles as "minister" and psychotherapist when one of those titles he has never had and (as far as I know) never sought.

- an interested member of the Church of the Nazarene, and not pretending to speak on behalf of he entire denomination

Shaun Mullen said...

Anonymous is correct that Dobson is not an ordained minister. Still, I am not going to begrudge him the titles "minister" or "reverend" just because of that.

Joshes electronics blog. said...

You are a bible believer basher, filled with hatred. he teaches the bible as it was written. It is not him you war against but the bible!!!!!

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