Focus Co-Founder Apologizes

By NewsPlanet Staff

SUMMARY: Like Saul of Tarsus with the scales falling from his eyes, a Dobson defector recants homophobia -- and other "un-American" sins. Is it the road to Damascus...or the road to book sales?

"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," said Gil Alexander-Moegerle, a co-founder with Dobson of Focus on the Family (FOF), at a press conference this morning at the Gay and Lesbian Pridecenter in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That city is home to the headquarters of FOF, which according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is now the largest right-wing group in the U.S., with 1,300 staff, affiliates in 30 other states, and an annual budget of more than $110-million. [Not coincidentally, Colorado Springs, where several other right-wing Christian organizations have followed FOF, is also familiar as "Ground Zero," the birthplace of Colorado's anti-gay ballot initiative Amendme! nt 2, passed by voters in 1992 and struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.]

Alexander-Moegerle extended more specific apologies -- for Dobson's behavior, not his own -- to women; to African Americans and other ethnic minorities; to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists; to news reporters; and "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."

He further apologized "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."

Alexander-Moegerle indicated that his statement had been prompted by conservative radio talkshow host and popular Jewish philosophical writer Dennis Praeger that, "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." Not surprisingly, Alexander-Moegerle also has a book to push, "James Dobson's War on America" (Prometheus Books, 1997), which he calls "the first book to critique James Dobson's character, style and political agenda from an insider's perspective." That critique describes the Dobson approach as the "'I've fallen morally and I can't get up without new legislation' theory."

Alexander-Moegerle identifies himself as one of the seven members of FOF's original Board of Directors, a signer to its founding documents twenty years ago along with Dobson and Dobson's wife Shirley. He takes credit for setting up the group's Broadcast, Publication and Mail Processing Divisions, including serving as founding editor of "Focus" magazine (current circulation in combination with other FOF publications reportedly 3 million) and as an on-air co-host of the daily "Focus on the Family" radio show (heard daily on over 3,000 stations worldwide with listenership reportedly 5 million).

His own separation from the organization is not discussed in Alexander-Moegerle's planned press statement. According to a review of his book in "The Political Investigator," the author is not without a personal axe to grind when it comes to his long-time associate. "Dobson is a ruthless and invasive manager," says the article, "and ended up firing Alexander-Moegerle because of a divorce and later remarriage (the new relationship was not the cause of the earlier breakup, he had met her after his separation from his wife). He did so in a way which clearly violated Alexander-Moegerle's privacy." In spite of that, that reviewer concluded that, "it does not seem that this profile of Dobson is merely an attempt at revenge."

Alexander-Moegerle told the Colorado Springs gathering that FOF was founded with only two objectives: to help Americans raise their children and maintain their marriages. He attributes the politicization of the group strictly to Dobson, and he calls Dobson's politics both un-American and unchristian for being "exclusionary" and "demonizing" of other points of view. Alexander-Moegerle called on Dobson to stand aside from politics, to separate from Gary Bauer and his Family Research Council in particular (which was formally part of FOF from 1988-1992), to cancel his political radio series and magazine "Family News in Focus" and "Citizen," to cease his lobbying and grassroots political organizing efforts, and to return to the original goals of the organization.

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