Producers of the widely popular daily radio program “Focus on the Family” have pulled the show from a Columbia, S.C., Christian station after its general manager refused to air an episode he thought was too political.
After airing on WMHK-FM for 24 years, the radio program hosted by author and psychologist Dr. James Dobson has been pulled effective Jan. 2, reports the Columbia State newspaper.
“‘Focus on the Family’ seems to think the political agenda is intertwined with the spiritual agenda,” Jim Marshall, the station’s general manager told the daily.
According to the report, a letter was circulated to area listeners by the Focus organization that Marshall says read as if the station canceled the program. It was Focus on the Family, however, that decided to pull the show.
Marshall told the State WMHK had concerns about the show’s politically oriented programming “going back about 10 years.”
The issue came to a head when Marshall decided not to air the Nov. 12 program, which discussed the soft-porn catalog put out by clothier Abercrombie & Fitch and also covered the controversy over Bush judicial nominees stalled in the U.S. Senate.
Columbia Christians for Life says other shows thought controversial this fall included one addressing the battle waged by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore over the Ten Commandments and an episode about the legal tug of war over the life of disabled Floridian Terri Schiavo.
Marshall claims shows focusing on public-policy issues make some listeners uncomfortable.
“We want people to feel comfortable listening to the station no matter their political affiliation,” he told the paper. “We want to focus more on spiritual issues than political. All of these issues are important, but they’ll never be more important than the Gospel message.”
Focus’ vice president, John Fuller, explained to the Columbia daily why the organization pulled the program.
“Our agreement with stations is that we’ll provide programming and they’ll air it,” Fuller said. “We’re not comfortable with stations picking and choosing what they want to air from us. It was our desire to remove the tension and take the daily program off the station.”
According to the report, Marshall penned a letter to station listeners addressing the controversy.
“If you’ve listened to WMHK very long at all, you know we are not shy about speaking out when it’s necessary, and we do it in a forum that is much broader than a single syndicated program,” Marshall wrote. “We were very vocal about video poker and the state lottery. … We have been and will continue to be a pro-life ministry. We’re concerned about these moral issues, but we’ve tried to communicate our concerns in a way that does not alienate those who don’t know Jesus yet.”
“Focus on the Family” will be available in Columbia next year on WYFV-FM. The organization describes itself as a “nonprofit evangelical organization dedicated to the preservation of the home.”