James Dobson scales back Focus on the Family presence

The end of an era will arrive in February when James Dobson leaves his familiar post as host of the Focus on the Family radio show.

Dobson’s move, announced Friday, is the last in a string of gradual pull-backs from Focus for the 73 year-old. Dobson stepped down as Focus’ president six years ago and resigned as its board chairman last year.

“What will happen in February is the end of a natural transition process that began in 2003 when he stepped down as president,” Focus Vice President of Ministry Communications Gary Schneeberger told Everyday Christian yesterday. “He has said it is a time of transition to pass the torch to a new generation of leadership.”

Being an occasional guest on the radio show and still having a public presence to some degree through speaking and writing will keep Dobson in the spotlight, albeit to a more limited degree. Full-fledged retirement is not an option at this point.

“I would not assent to use the ‘r’ word as far as what is next for him,” Schneeberger said with a chuckle.

New Focus president Jim Daly has been tabbed as being more low-key than Dobson, particularly on the issue of partisan politics, but Schneeberger said the ministry’s core principles remain the same.

“I don’t think it will change the dynamic of the principles Focus on the Family was founded upon and guided us for the past 32 years,” he said. “We will continue to use biblical principles to counsel families and take a stand for families in the arena of public policy.”

He added one of the most enduring legacies is the lack of Dobson’s name being plastered all over the ministry’s campus.

“The thing most encouraging Dr. Dobson first said in 1977 was that this is not about one person,” Schneeberger said. “That is why if you came to Colorado Springs you wouldn’t see one building with his name on it. The guiding principle has been doing the Lord’s work in upholding the values of the sanctity of the family and the challenges it faces.”

Reactions to Dobson’s stepping back have been predictably mixed depending on personal opinion. U.S. News & World Report faith blogger Dan Gilgoff also took a further look at Dobson’s legacy.

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