Last year, I suggested some doubts about the new direction of Focus on the Family.
At the beginning of this month, Christianity Today published this somewhat nauseating piece on how Focus is moving to the left and how neat that is. Okay, they didn't put it that way, but that's what it amounted to. See, in the past, Focus had these nasty, divisive "Christmas Wars" videos suggesting that Christians consider favoring businesses that use the phrase "Merry Christmas." (Actually, the videos are charming. I've enjoyed them very much. Here's my favorite.) But this year, oh, joy, the new Rising Voice division of Focus (it is aimed at young people and "focuses" on this unlikely trio of issues: sex trafficking, poverty, and the environment) encouraged constituents to "consider organic or eco-friendly clothing and fair-trade products." Ain't that sweet?
One section of the CT article is called "Not your mother's focus." Ick. Well, thanks, in that case. I think I won't donate.
But that's not actually the story I have to tell. Among the other evidences of Focus's new and (from CT's fairly evident perspective) improved priorities, the article instanced the fact that Focus is trying to "highlight" the work of Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, "a company that donates shoes to an impoverished child for every pair sold." The article also stated that Focus "is working to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa." The young head of Rising Voice (she reports directly to new president Daly) calls this "slow strides."
It turns out that the "highlighting" of Mycoskie's work took the form of bringing him to speak at a Focus event on the topic of "faith in action." Trouble is, Mycoskie (whether he claims to be a Christian or not) is evidently such a flaming liberal on subjects such as abortion and homosexuality that he was embarrassed when his left-wing buddies criticized him for speaking at Focus. Ms. Magazine was particularly displeased and started a petition. Accordingly, Mycoskie has apologized for having spoken at Focus's event, reaffirmed his liberal credentials, and insisted that Focus is not a TOMS "giving partner," and if one may make a prediction, never will be, because TOMS will have nothing to do with them.
So, my question is this: Since Ms. and her friends got their apology from Mycoskie, where's my apology from Focus? Let's look at this clearly: In its pathetic eagerness to add left-approved issues to its slate, Focus invited a person to speak whose beliefs are clearly at odds with what it allegedly stands for on moral matters, a person so committed to the contrary view that he claims he wouldn't even have spoken at the event had he known Focus's official positions, a person, in other words, who scorns not only Focus but me and all that I stand for, many of Focus's supporters and what they stand for, all that James Dobson stood for, and all that Focus fought to defend for decades.
But Focus didn't care. They thought, like Rick Warren with Barack Obama, that it was praise-worthy, perhaps even imperative, to make common ground with self-avowed enemies in the culture wars, to "come together" on matters like helping the poor, etc., etc.
As far as I can tell, Focus still doesn't get it. The left is displeased with Mycoskie. The left has such contempt for Focus and for its still-official moral views that it regards Mycoskie as having lowered himself by associating with them. Focus's desire to ally itself with Mycoskie thus put it in the position of humble petitioner, seeking to make "slow strides" and garner the approval of the "socially conscious" left. But Focus will very likely continue to make such attempts. As a matter of fact, the blog article on the subject seems to imply that the important thing to be bothered about here is the hyper-ness of the left in twisting Mycosckie's arm for an apology. How unreasonable! Why, Focus should be able to join in an apolitical campaign with TOMS and Mycoskie. How divisive of the left!
Well, no: How stupid of the New Right not to know that the left will brook no dissent, that it despises them and all their works until and unless they bow to the beast, and that they are merely shouting to the world, "We don't really think all that culture war stuff is that important anymore!" which gets them brownie points only with Christianity Today and its ilk. And who wants brownie points with them?
The decline of Focus is truly sad. Sure wish they'd go back to being "your mother's Focus."
HT: Letitia Wong