Dr. James Dobson should apologize for referring to President Barack Obama as "the abortion president" at last week's National Day of Prayer, says Rep. Janice Hahn, who walked out of the event in protest.
The California congresswoman sent a letter to Dobson, a talk show host and author, taking issue with the May 1 remarks at the event. Hahn, who served as a co-chairwoman of the National Prayer Breakfast in February and oversees, with Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, a congressional prayer breakfast for colleagues each week, took issue with Dobson’s political commentary and walked out in the middle of his speech.
"Last week, when I attended the National Day of Prayer, I expected a day to bring people in our nation and Congress together," Hahn wrote in her letter, obtained by CQ Roll Call. "Instead, your remarks were divisive, and I thought inappropriate for this non-partisan event.
"I think you owe the Members of Congress who took time out of their busy day to attend an apology," she wrote. "This would be the first step in healing a wound that you inflicted with your disrespectful and inappropriate speech."
The National Day of Prayer is typically held on the first Thursday of May; since its inception, every president, regardless of faith or party affiliation, has issued a proclamation in support of the occasion. Its official website describes the event as one that "belongs to all Americans" and "is not sponsored or owned by any one group."
Dobson does, however, happen to be the husband of Shirley Dobson, the head of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
Hahn told CQ Roll Call that she was considering bringing up the issue with fellow attendees of the weekly prayer breakfast to explore taking additional action, but that might not sit well with her co-chairman, staunch conservative Gohmert.
"I can understand Janice's position," Gohmert said last week. "I can also well understand Dr. Dobson's frustration because it is their belief that assisting in any way, including providing funding, for abortion, is a sin."
In the meantime, a spokeswoman for Hahn said that she has received countless letters of support since her protest of Dobson's remarks.
Here is the full letter:
Dear Dr. Dobson,
I am writing to you concerning last week’s National Day of Prayer. Although I publicly stated why I strongly believe the event should not be politicized, I never directly discussed it with you.
I am a person of strong faith, which comes from my family – including my grandparents who were missionaries in Japan. My parents ensured that I had a Christian education, and as a result, my faith is a strong guide for me professionally and personally. As a young mother in the 1980s, I listened to your radio show Focus on the Family regularly and read Dare to Discipline faithfully.
When I won my Congressional seat in a special election, I immediately joined the Congressional Prayer Breakfast. In this weekly breakfast, Democrats and Republicans put aside their political beliefs for an hour each week. We sing hymns, pray for each other, and hear the testimonies of Members of Congress. For over the last year, I have been the co-chair of the breakfast with Rep. Louie Gohmert. Together, we chaired the National Prayer Breakfast this past February—where 5000 people attend from over 120 countries. Louie and I are on different sides of the political spectrum and never agree on policy matters. But, we came together for this event and attendees could tell that we are true friends—we projected the spirit of unity even though we differ on politics.
Last week, when I attended the National Day of Prayer, I expected a day to bring people in our nation and Congress together. Instead, your remarks were divisive, and I thought inappropriate for this non-partisan event.
You also missed what the American public wants – the end of partisan bickering and coming together for our great nation. We can always find things that divide us. It is harder -- but more rewarding -- to find common ground.
I hope in the future you can put aside your agenda and work to bring the American people together to pray for our country at events such as the National Day of Prayer.
I think you owe the Members of Congress who took time out of their busy day to attend an apology. That would be the first step in healing a wound that you inflicted with your disrespectful and inappropriate speech.
Member of Congress