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The Jesus Machine

How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America Are Winning the Culture War

Dan Gilgoff

St. Martin's Press

*The crucial Ohio get-out-the-vote effort that lifted Bush over Kerry.

*The Terri Schiavo controversy.

*The push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

*Attacks on Roe v. Wade. 

*“Intelligent design” in our science curriculum.

 

The evangelical right has pushed all of these initiatives, led by the immense behind-the-scenes influence of Dr. James Dobson, the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family: an organization that has grown from its roots as a local parenting advice center to a powerful ministry that broadcasts Dr. Dobson each day on more than 3,000 radio and 80 television stations in the U.S. alone. Dobson has supplanted Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Ralph Reed as the spokesman for tens of millions of American evangelical Christians--even though Dobson is not a minister, but a family therapist with a doctorate in child development.

 

Dobson maintains that the American political and social spectrums are firmly rooted in a centuries-old Christian tradition--one that has come under siege beginning in the 1960s, spear-headed by court rulings that have undermined the necessity of religion in public life. With the support of evangelical followers, Dobson has garnered more and support than many ever thought possible and has harnessed this power to wage a crusade in support of strengthening abortion restrictions and establishing anti-gay rights litigation.

 

The Jesus Machine is the first book to examine Focus on the Family as the cutting edge of the larger evangelical movement, backing what many view to be goals in common with the current political agenda of the Bush administration, as it works to become the voice of mainstream America.

 

Through exhaustive research, Dan Gilgoff, a Senior Reporter for US News & World Report, exposes the intricacies of the Focus on the Family’s rallying cry and the drastic implications they hold for the future of America’s political system.

 


*The crucial Ohio get-out-the-vote effort that lifted Bush over Kerry.

*The Terri Schiavo controversy.

*The push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

*Attacks on Roe v. Wade. 

*“Intelligent design” in our science curriculum.

 

The evangelical right has pushed all of these initiatives, led by the immense behind-the-scenes influence of Dr. James Dobson, the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family: an organization that has grown from its roots as a local parenting advice center to a powerful ministry that broadcasts Dr. Dobson each day on more than 3,000 radio and 80 television stations in the U.S. alone. Dobson has supplanted Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Ralph Reed as the spokesman for tens of millions of American evangelical Christians--even though Dobson is not a minister, but a family therapist with a doctorate in child development.

 

Dobson maintains that the American political and social spectrums are firmly rooted in a centuries-old Christian tradition--one that has come under siege beginning in the 1960s, spear-headed by court rulings that have undermined the necessity of religion in public life. With the support of evangelical followers, Dobson has garnered more and support than many ever thought possible and has harnessed this power to wage a crusade in support of strengthening abortion restrictions and establishing anti-gay rights litigation.

 

The Jesus Machine is the first book to examine Focus on the Family as the cutting edge of the larger evangelical movement, backing what many view to be goals in common with the current political agenda of the Bush administration, as it works to become the voice of mainstream America.

 

Through exhaustive research, Dan Gilgoff, a Senior Reporter for US News & World Report, exposes the intricacies of the Focus on the Family’s rallying cry and the drastic implications they hold for the future of America’s political system.

 


BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One The Crossroads "He has the benefit of not being a partisan voice. He is the single most credible figure within the evangelical community." When James Dobson arrived in Montgomery in August 2003, the symbolism of the location was not lost on him. He had come to call for the return of a two-and-a-half-ton Ten Commandments monument to the Alabama Supreme Court. It had been wheeled away a day earlier in accordance with a federal judge's ruling that the statue represented an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. More than a thousand Christian demonstrators had
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Jesus Machine

"Dan Gilgoff has written an excellent account of the political activities of Focus on Family and its important role in national elections. Fair and factual, this book can be profitably read by allies and adversaries alike." -John Green, Director, Bliss Institute, University of Akron  
 
"After years of providing valued family counseling to millions o Americans, James Dobson has emerged as one of the most influential voices on the Christian Right and a powerful force in American politics. His story deserves to be better understood. Dan Gilgoff has write a fair, objective, and revealing book--one that offers deep insight into why Dobson seems threatening to some but appeals to so many others."-- David Gergen, Editor at Large, U.S. News & World Report
 
"In a time of overheated discussion about religion and politics, U.S. News reporter Dan Gilgoff went out and got the facts and reports them straightforwardly in The Jesus Machine. Gilgoff provides the definitive account of Dr. James Dobson, his Focus on the Family organization and other Christian activists, one that can be read with profit both by admirers and detractors of their movement." -Michael Barone, Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics
 
"Gilgoff is a writer and journalist of the first rank - dependably honest with the facts and yet able to interpret them in light of the big picture.  This is a book that evangelicals, as well as the critics of our movement, should surely read." -Richard Cizik, Chief Lobbyist, National Association of Evangelicals
"Dan Gilgoff has written an excellent account of the political activities of Focus on Family and its important role in national elections. Fair and factual, this book can be profitably read by allies and adversaries alike." -John Green, Director, Bliss Institute, University of Akron  
 
"After years of providing valued family counseling to millions o Americans, James Dobson has emerged as one of the most influential voices on the Christian Right and a powerful force in American politics. His story deserves to be better understood. Dan Gilgoff has write a fair, objective, and revealing book--one that offers deep insight into why Dobson seems threatening to some but appeals to so many others."-- David Gergen, Editor at Large, U.S. News & World Report
 
"In a time of overheated discussion about religion and politics, U.S. News reporter Dan Gilgoff went out and got the facts and reports them straightforwardly in The Jesus Machine. Gilgoff provides the definitive account of Dr. James Dobson, his Focus on the Family organization and other Christian activists, one that can be read with profit both by admirers and detractors of their movement." -Michael Barone, Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics
 
"Gilgoff is a writer and journalist of the first rank - dependably honest with the facts and yet able to interpret them in light of the big picture.  This is a book that evangelicals, as well as the critics of our movement, should surely read." -Richard Cizik, Chief Lobbyist, National Association of Evangelicals

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Dan Gilgoff

  • DAN GILGOFF is a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report, and has published numerous cover stories for the magazine, including a 2004 profile of Dobson and Focus on the Family. He lives in Washington, D.C.

  • Dan Gilgoff
    Dan Gilgoff
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Jesus Machine

How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America Are Winning the Culture War

Dan Gilgoff

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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