During the course of the conversation, Jacques Berlinerblau, the organizer of the conference and the interviewer, asked me about the religious and political views of young evangelicals. I turned to the usual talking points about the next generation of evangelicals. They were not interested in the culture wars of their parents, they were pro-life but their social vision was broader than just one or two issues, and they despised hypocrisy and wanted a Christianity that was authentic.
Berlinerblau, an astute observer of American religion, seemed to agree. He mentioned that he was shocked when he heard Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family, do an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
Berlinerblau was right to be surprised. Focus’s former president James Dobson began the organization with the goal of strengthening American families, but it eventually evolved into a political organization that became a major player in the culture wars. (Of course, Dobson would not have it seen this way. The politicization of Focus, he believed, was a fundamental part of its original mission). As far as I know, Dobson never did an interview with NPR, but I could be wrong.
I thought again about my public conversation with Berlinerblau after I read this profile of Daly in The New York Times. Daly is clearly moving Focus on the Family in a new direction, at least in terms of its approach to the larger culture.
Here is a taste:
Mr. Daly has succeeded in differentiating himself from an earlier generation of Christian leaders, like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer and Donald E .Wildmon, who made their fame and notoriety alike in the battles around abortion and homosexuality.