Before this week's Senate vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment, churches all over the country watched Focus on the Family President James Dobson urge congregants to call their Senators. Focus on the Family, however is limited by Internal Revenue Service restrictions from advocating too heavily for the amendment. Focus spends less than 0.2 percent of its total contributions on political activities. That amount has not done the job, and when Dobson spoke last weekend, he did so as the head of Focus on the Family Action, an organization under IRS rules that allows political activities.
"[T]he attack and assault on marriage is so distressing that I just feel like I can't remain silent," Focus president James Dobson toldThe New York Times. In response, Focus is currently going through the difficult process of shifting its political activities, ramping up those efforts, and incorporating them into Focus on the Family Action, a nonprofit that is free to lobby and participate in political campaigns.
Dobson wrote in a July 2004 Action Newsletter, "The primary difference between the two ministries is that FOF can provide a tax deduction for its contributors but is extremely limited in its ability to lobby for its core principles. By contrast, Focus Action can devote every dollar contributed to defend what we believe, but cannot offer a tax-deduction for the money donated."
Peter Brandt, director of issues response, at Focus on the Family Action says that as the culture becomes more hostile to Christian values, "It's going to become increasingly important to make that distinction between what Focus does in the area of redemptive ministry and helpful ministry and what Focus [Action] does in the political realm."1
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