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Fill in the blank: A friend in need is a __________.
If you guessed “friend indeed,” give yourself a point. If you guessed “pain in the ass,” you’re probably Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson.
After telling his good old friend Ted Haggard he’d join the prayer team to help “counsel” him after Haggard was snared in a scandal involving three years of meth-fueled sex with a male prostitute, Dobson has changed his mind.
“It is with great regret – and after much prayer and discussion with friends and family – that I have had to reconsider my involvement in the panel overseeing Ted’s restoration,” Dobson relayed in a written statement Nov. 7. “Emotionally and spiritually, I wanted to be of help – but the reality is I don’t have the time to devote to such a critical responsibility.”
How long did it take him to figure out that he couldn’t squeeze Haggard into his schedule? Oh, about 24 hours.
During Dobson’s Nov. 6 Focus on the Family radio address he said, “And I do reach through these microphones and put an arm around Ted. He is my brother, he’s my friend. I said in the press release that he will always be my friend. But because homosexual indiscretions have occurred, they must be dealt with, and they will be.”
Just not by Dobson. But hey, Haggard is still his “friend.” Just not one he wants to be associated with.
You can’t really blame him. Haggard’s fall from grace hardly makes the anti-gay religious right look good. Folks like Dobson have “hypocrisy” written backwards on their foreheads and right now Haggard is a big ol’ mirror to be avoided at all costs.
I’m not saying Dobson is gay. But Haggard can’t be the only fly swarming around the fruit bowl. So if Dobson wants to continue to denigrate gay people for a living, it helps if he isn’t reaching through his microphone to give folks like Haggard a hug.
Of course, Dobson’s change of heart could also have to do with the fact that the kind of “counseling” Haggard is going to undergo is bunk. Focus on the Family, after all, is behind Love Won Out, an ex-gay “ministry” that helps transform unhappy homos into (still unhappy) heteros. Every reputable mental health association has denounced ex-gay therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, “For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”
So of course Dobson washed his hands of Haggard. Why waste time on a lost cause, prolonging the public relations disaster Haggard has become? The dude is a liability.
Of course, Haggard is probably better off without Dobson’s phony “help” anyway. Sadly, he probably will not get the help he actually needs. He’s a damaged man, and his so-called “friends” aren’t likely to do much except exacerbate the shame that got him in this mess to begin with.