James Dobson will still be on a radio near you

February 28, 2009

James Dobson may be stepping down as chairman of Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian advocacy group he founded over three decades ago, but that hardly means he’s going into retirement.

Dobson, a leading figure in the U.S. “Religious Right,” will continue his regular radio broadcasts which reach millions and will still write his monthly newsletter which is sent out to 1.6 million people, Focus on the Family said in a statement on Friday.

Dobson, 72, has built Focus into an evangelical empire in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and for decades he has been one of the leading voices in the U.S. conservative Christian movement, which remains a key base (some would say now the only base) for the Republican Party.

Dobson himself has long claimed that politics is a distant interest to his main “focus,” which is defending  the “traditional family” unit and old-fashioned Christian values. But in the past, few endorsements meant more to Republican candidates for high office.

And he has spent much time in the trenches of America’s “culture wars” with his unstinting opposition to abortion and gay rights.

Dobson stepped down as president of Focus six years ago. The affable Jim Daly assumed those reigns two years later in 2005 and has since been seen as the “heir apparent.”

Daly will not be stepping into the board chairmanship but analysts say Dobson’s move signals a desire to allow the younger man more room to build his public image.

“Dobson wants to give Daly a chance to raise his profile ahead of the 2012 election … he needs a public persona and it takes years to develop that,” said Michael Lindsay, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston and a leading expert on the U.S. evangelical movement.

Dobson will still dispense advice on family and other matters to millions of mostly evangelical Americans as well as to a global audience. But it is another sign that the “Old Guard” of the Religious Right is slowly making way for the next generation.

Photo: Provided by Focus on the Family

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