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Interview With Dr. James Dobson

Aired February 7, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Christian conservative leader Dr. James Dobson.
America went on heightened terror alert today. Evil is on the loose in the world. Can God, faith and family fight it? Dr. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family is here for the hour ask we'll take your phone calls. He's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always good to welcome Dr. James Dobson to our program. He's the founder and president of Focus on the Family. He's one of the major radio voices in America, leading Christian conservative voice on social and political issues. He's a best selling author. The most recent book. "Night Light for Parents," co-written with his wife, Shirley, who's in our studios. And "Bringing up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouraged for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men."

Dr. Dobson was just in from Washington, D.C., where you did what?

DR. JAMES DOBSON, FOUNDER, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: I went there for a variety of purposes, Larry.

I met with freshmen members of the House and then freshmen members of the Senate to get acquainted, to talk about policy and just really to let them know we're here, that we're available, you know, for some of the same issues.

I did a press conference with Chuck Colson and others on cloning and then yesterday my wife and I attended the national prayer breakfast in Washington which was a very inspiring thing.

KING: I went to one of those. Who kind of -- who led the congregation?

DOBSON: Condoleezza Rice was the keynote speaker and I'm telling you, she's good. I was really impressed.

KING: She was on here. She was on our show the other night.

DOBSON: She held that crowd in the palm of her hand and the president, of course, spoke.

KING: You did a press conference on cloning?

DOBSON: I did.

KING: Are you worried about it?

DOBSON: I am very worried about it. I see the human family kind of hanging in the balance here. We could make some mistakes with our generation that would affect the family for many, many -- well, for the rest of our time.

KING: How about the plus side that stem cell research where we're going to save lives. Similar concept.

DOBSON: Well, that's what they keep telling me.

KING: Well, doctors...

DOBSON: Representative Weldon who is a physician in the House of Representatives spoke last week on numerous studies, dozens of studies that show that there is not one single human being anywhere in the world who is being treated with stem cells at this time. And we're talking about embryonic stem cells.

KING: That doesn't mean it won't work.

DOBSON: And in 20 years they've never cured a rat or a mouse. So the hope is in adult stem cells. There no individual dyes (ph) and you use your own cells and that's the hope and that's where the greatest promise is.

KING: Would you agree, though, when you fight research in that sense, you lose because it's always going to go on. The researcher is going to research. There will be a more potent bomb. Someone is going to invent a more potent bomb because that's the nature of the human.

DOBSON: You're right. That's what I meant when I said I'm worried about it because once you let that cat out of the bag you can't get it back in and who knows where that's going. But I think we ought to curtail it.

You know, science has always been controlled by ethics except during the Nazi era and at some other times. There's been a limit to what science could do and cloning crosses that line, I believe.

KING: We're under an orange alert. Does that scare you?

DOBSON: Yes, it does, but I think we have to go on living. I don't think we can live in fear.

KING: What do you do with an alert? What do you tell it is people who listen to your radio show or talk to you? What do you do with an alert?

DOBSON: Well, you follow what the government said this morning. Tom Ridge and others said go on with your lives. Don't change a lot. Do go to the events that you want to go to, just being on heightened alert. Just be aware of what's going on around you. When you see anything that's really suspicious, make note of it. Report it.

But I don't know that there's a lot we can do because they can hit us anywhere. You know? They can hit us absolutely anywhere.

It will happen again. I think everybody agrees with that, but we will -- we will deal with it when it comes.

KING: Are you shocked that the polls still show that Americans basically are opposed to war in Iraq? I mean, basically, it runs about 55-45, I think, opposed to sending boys over there.

DOBSON: War is frightening. People die in wars. It's terrible. It's awful, but there are times when it is necessary and in this case, I support the president and I think he's right in what he's doing because we're dealing with Saddam Hussein, a man who is an absolute tire apartment. He's power hungry. He's already demonstrated a willingness to gas his own people, to attack the little Kuwait, to start a war with Iran that, you know, cost a million lives.

This man knows no limits and the thought of him having weapons of mass destruction, we're either going to face him now or we're going to face him later when he's got these weapons.

KING: Do you think that sometimes we're in an era of saying, Well, it's over there. It don't affect us.

DOBSON: yes, that's what we did in World War II. You know, we had an isolationist....

KING: Isolationist.

DOBSON: Isolationist movement.

KING: Mostly conservative, Dr. Dobson.

DOBSON: Well, I know it was. Mostly Republicans, for that matter.

KING: Yes, it was.

DOBSON: And then Lindbergh, you know, went all over the country talking about how we will stay out of foreign wars and he was dead wrong and the isolationists were wrong.

Appeasement simply does not work with a tyrant. You've got to get in and pay the price to confront him.

KING: Does it have to be U.N. sponsored?

DOBSON: I certainly hope so. And it looks like we're going to have it with the exception of Germany and France and maybe China and Russia and Cuba. I think we're going to have a broad coalition that is going to go with us.

KING: We'll be taking a lot of calls tonight for Dr. Dobson. I'm going to ask him about his books, but let's discuss some other things that were in the news.

Commander Rick Husband asked Focus on the Family, I understand, to provide a memento for him to take into space. The late Rick Husband. What did you give him?

DOBSON: I'm really disappointed that I didn't get a chance to go down and watch that launch because that's what he wrote and invited me to do and I just was too busy to go. But I wish I'd had made the time.

From what I have heard, he was one fantastic human being. I've now talked to his wife and she's a special lady, too. And so, he asked if we would like to send something into space with the shuttle -- on the shuttle and it couldn't be glass and it couldn't be wood and it couldn't be metal.

It had to be something very light and so I selected a Focus on the Family hat -- a cap and I signed the bill and he took it into space ask who knows where that cap is today, but my heart just goes out to those brave people who have paid the price.

KING: Where were you when you heard of it? Were you watching television?

DOBSON: I was on the treadmill where I spend a lot of time these days. I turned on the television in the morning and there it was and I had a big lump in my throat and I do today.

You know, those are the best and the brightest. Those are the wonderful people.

KING: You are not a reverend. We have to point that out. You're a doctor in what?

DOBSON: I have a Phd in child development. Yes.

KING: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do these seven people -- the unanswerable. Why did they die?

DOBSON: Larry, I wrote a book on that called "When God Doesn't Make Sense." And it took me 240 pages to say there are some things, some questions we simply can't answer. We can't answer them.

KING: How do you continue your faith when you don't get the answer?

DOBSON: Because the scripture tells us to lean not on our own understanding.

KING: That's a crutch. Don't let it bother you. Someone else will worry about it.

DOBSON: Well, I have confidence in the Lord. I have confidence in God and in my Lord, Jesus Christ, and I believe that he has the answers even when I don't and he told us to trust him even when we can't track him.

If you have to answer every question in order to follow him, you're going to be one frustrated person because he doesn't give us that. You know, Larry, in the book of Job, do you know the book of Job in the Bible? Job was a man who went to unimaginable difficulty and he asked wonderful questions of God and God never answered one of those questions. He will not be accountable to man.

KING: Don't you want answers?

DOBSON: Oh, I would...

KING: You're a thinking, human, rational being.

DOBSON: Yes, my philosophy and, if you will, my theology is I follow the line of reasoning as far as I can. Eventually, I'm going to run into a brick wall. And when I do I say, I accept.

KING: You trust your faith.


KING: We'll be back with Dr. James Dobson. We're going to take a lot of calls for Dr. Dobson tonight. He is the president and founder of Focus on the Family.

Don't go away.


KING: A lot of people always like to talk to Dr. Dobson. We'll be going to calls shortly. He's the founder and president of Focus on the Family. I want to talk about the new book "Night Life for Parents," co-written with his wife.

But first I do want to ask about this Bush and the faith-based initiative which government money will go to religious groups. Some don't want it. The Mormon Church, I believe, came out against it. They believe that it leads to government control. Your fear it?

DOBSON: Well I have some apprehension about it. It all depends on how the legislation is written. If it begins to, you know, intrude on the practice of the faith, then I would be opposed to it. Certainly, Focus on the Family will not take any government money.

KING: Because?

DOBSON: Will not. Because there is likely to be strings attached, and if not now then at some time in the future. And you start leaning on it and then if it's pulled away then that creates problems.

So we will not accept it. But I still think it's a good idea.

KING: Why?

DOBSON: Because there are organizations like Teen Challenge and others who have a far better record of dealing with social issues and people in difficulty than do the bureaucrats. . KING: What do you make of the president's statements about AIDS in the State of the Union?

DOBSON: I talked to the White House about that, a week before last...

KING: Before the speech?

DOBSON: Yes. And I'm really pleased by the plan. I'm not sure how it will work out, but it's based primarily on what's taken place in Uganda.

You know, people talk about this horrible plague of AIDS, of HIV, throughout Africa and it's one of the greatest tragedies in human history. It's absolutely terrible. These orphaned children and some of them with AIDS.

But Uganda is the only place where the numbers are going down instead of up and the reason is because of a program that involves abstinence. The Macseminies (ph), who are the prime minister and especially the first lady whom I've met with really believes in abstinence.

And in 1991, 21 percent of that country had was infected with HIV. And now it's 6 percent.

KING: Isn't it the hardest thing of all in human nature to go against human nature?


KING: Sexual desire.

DOBSON: Yes. Human behavior is often harmful and we get -- you know, we slide into the pit by following our desires.

This is why in the late '60s, you probably remember there was this phrase, if it feels good, do it. That is disastrous. I wrote another book called "Emotions: Can You Trust Them?" It took me 200 pages in that one to say, no. Emotions can't be trusted. You've got to use your will. You have to use your intellect. You have to override your impulses because that will get you in trouble.

KING: A couple of other things. We'll go to calls shortly.

The blackest chapter, no pun intended, in our history is slavery. And we've tried to rebound from it for 200 years. We're still looking for the level playing field. We have the Trent Lott out episode.

Do you think we'll ever have it? Do you think we're ever going to be colorblind?

DOBSON: I hope so, Larry. I don't see much evidence of it, yet. We're still a nation affected by the sense of the fathers, if you will. The horrible things that were happening back then and it has reverberated to this day. And I think, frankly, spiritually our only hope is found in our spiritual selves in appealing to God...


DOBSON: It was, but not because of the teachings of Jesus Christ, because he, you know, the story of the good samaritan was a story about racism. About a man who was left on the road broken and he'd been robbed and beaten by the robbers that came along and the people passed him by.

The good samaritan came by and regardless of the racial implications, he bound his wounds. He took him to an inn and paid for his care.

Jesus had a lot to say about brotherhood. If we followed his precepts, we'd be in good shape.

KING: What's "Night Light for Parents" about?

DOBSON: This is a book that deals with raising children properly. Shirley and I wrote this book this year to offer some advice to parents about how to teach their kids and essentially how to teach them morally and spiritually...


KING: ... when they go out into the world.

DOBSON: Beg pardon?

KING: It's tough to teach when they go out into the world.

DOBSON: You're right about that. Kids get beaten up out there.

KING: How do you do it without doing it in a fearful thou shall not way?

DOBSON: Well, you combine it with love. On the cover of my first book, I had a little fulcrum, triangle like that with a line going across with love on one side and control on the other.

And the key to good parenting and getting those factors in balance. You tip it either way and you run into trouble. You get a kind of a permissive love that knows no bounds and no control and kids are, you know, they begin to do crazy things.

You tip it the other way and you're oppressive and harsh and mean and there's no love. You also create problems there. It's where you get those things in balance.

KING: Great title. "Bringing up Boys." What about girls? You wrote "Bringing up Boys."

DOBSON: Larry that's my next book.

KING: You brought up a daughter, didn't you?

DOBSON: Beg pardon?

KING: You brought up a girl?

DOBSON: I did. She's here tonight.

KING: Very different?

DOBSON: Very different. Girls are very different than boys and everybody who's raised one of each knows that.

KING: Do you regard one is more difficult than the other?

DOBSON: It depends on the individual, but generally speaking boys are more likely to test the limits than they're more likely to get hurt. They're more likely to get in trouble. They're more likely to be aggressive. They need more discipline. Boys are usually tough tore raise than girls, but it's not always that way.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and go to your phone calls for Dr. James Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family.

By the way this, weekend if you missed our interviews with Elizabeth Taylor and former President Bill Clinton, both will be repeat. Elizabeth Taylor on Saturday night. Bill Clinton Sunday night. We'll be right back with your calls to Dr. Dobson. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dr. James Dobson. Ready to go to your phone calls.

Perry, Oklahoma, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Thank you, Dr. Dobson for taking my phone call.

The question that I have is pertaining to a organization called Southern Poverty Loss Center and could you give me some history and maybe some information about this organization? I know that they are, you know, targeting schools, public schools and maybe other schools as well in regard to their tolerance programs?

DOBSON: You know, I wish I could give you more information. I simply don't have it and don't know. So I'll have to beg off on this one.

KING: Simi Valley, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I was just wondering how many sons Dr. Dobson has raised.

DOBSON: How many funds?

KING: Sons.

CALLER: How many sons?

DOBSON: Oh, sons.

One boy and one girl and they're both with me here tonight in the studio. I'm proud of them both.

KING: Do you have a follow-up question?

CALLER: Do I have what?

KING: A follow-up question or were you just interested in how many children?

CALLER: I -- just because of his books I was wondering how many sons he raised?

KING: Oh, yeah. In other words, the question might lead on to how wide is your experience if there's only one son and one daughter.

DOBSON: Larry, I've spent most of my life working with kids and on behalf of children. I was a school teacher when I was very, very young. I went from there to the USC School of Medicine to the department of pediatrics and child development and worked with them there.

I worked with the mentally retarded and with focus on the family, of course, a good part of what we do is on behalf of children. So...

KING: Hagerstown, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Thank you for your ministry to families, Dr. Dobson, and your book, "Bringing up boys."

My question is this: As a senior pastor in America, I would like you to comment on the National Day of Prayer and prayer every day and why it's important for us to be praying.

DOBSON: Well, I appreciate the question.

You may be aware that my wife, Shirley, is chairman of the National Day of Prayer and that plays a very, very important part in our lives and in praying for the nation.

KING: What is it?

DOBSON: Beg pardon?

KING: What is it?

DOBSON: Prayer?

KING: National Day of Prayer.

DOBSON: National Day of Prayer.

KING: One day a year? DOBSON: It's one day a year, but the implication is to be praying throughout the year and it resulted from an act of Congress in 1952. Harry Truman signed that into law and then in 1988 President Reagan signed another bill related to it that set the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

My wife, Shirley, has organized this across the country. Last year we had 40,000 prayer events across the nation on that day and we do see it as the key.

We don't have all of the answers. We can't -- my goodness. We don't know how to deal with terrorism. We do it as best we can, but ultimately we have to appeal to God.

KING: When you pray, do you pray for something? What is prayer to you?

DOBSON: Prayer to me is an outgrowths of a relationship. It's not ritual. It's not just chants. I'm talking to God. I'm talking to him as a friend and the amazing thing is he listens to me and to others who pray.

I've never understood that, Larry. Never understood that -- why the king of the universe, who created absolutely everything. He has no needs. He has no limitations -- would care about what we think and what we feel.

KING: How do you know he does?

DOBSON: Because he answers prayer. He answers prayer and because, again -- you know, many of the questions that we talk about along this line come down to faith.

KING: Of course.

DOBSON: And you cannot please him, as scripture says, without faith. You simply have to choose.

KING: Of course.

DOBSON: And there's never going to be enough evidence to completely eliminate the need for faith.

KING: Northfield, Illinois, for Dr. James Dobson, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I was wondering if the doctor would comment on Michael Jackson's recent comment about Michael wanting to be Peter Pan. In other words, Michael wanting to remain a child. He won't grow up.

DOBSON: Well, I was on the plane last night coming to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C., and I didn't see the program that was on, the documentary, but I've been hearing about it all day and, of course, I've been interested in him from a distance.

And you know, he's a very sad person to me, but more than that I worry very much about those children. As a psychologist, you know, it's just not healthy to have children who are sleeping with a grown, single man. I mean, anybody can see that that's trouble and then if you hear him talk, you know, the man is strange.

KING: He's childlike, isn't he?

DOBSON: He is. He has not grown up. You know, he just does remain like Peter Pan.

KING: Assuming there was no pedophilia, it's bad why?

DOBSON: It's still not healthy. It's not healthy to be in that kind of environment.

Even if he is not abusing those kids, if he's sleeping with them, the potential for it is there. He's already been accused of that in the past.

I tell you, if he wasn't Michael Jackson and if he didn't have so much money and so much influence I think a child protective services would be in there and they ought to be in there.

KING: Back with more of Dr. James Dobson. More of your phone calls right after these words.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dr. James Dobson. A listener called in and we got cut off or something, but the essence of the question was, before I go back to the next caller, is you're against abortion...


KING: ... yet in favor of a war in which Iraqi children will die.


KING: How do you balance that?

DOBSON: Will, the reason that I'm in favor of the war with Iraq is to save lives...

KING: But children will die and...

DOBSON: I'm sure they probably will, but certainly fewer of them than if we allow this man to have nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction...

KING: But it's still the killing of a child which you regard as a sin. Abortion is a sin. The killing of one child is a sin.

DOBSON: It certainly is and I wish that it were possible to take Saddam out without killing anyone. But it's like surgery for cancer. There are times when you have to undergo something that's very painful and very life-threatening in order to accomplish the better good.

And my goodness, I don't know how we can relate that to abortion...

KING: Well it's death. You think they're both death?

DOBSON: Yes, they are, and you know, we are -- we just passed the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That is such an important anniversary because that represents a generation. We've now passed a generation since Roe v. Wade in 1973 and 28 percent of that generation of Americans is dead. Twenty-eight percent. Forty-two million Americans. That is a tragedy. That's a greater number than the Holocaust...

KING: Unwanted pregnancies is also a tragedy.

DOBSON: Beg pardon?

KING: Unwanted pregnancy is a tragedy.

DOBSON: Well, not nearly on the scale of killing babies.

KING: No, but you're going to kill babies in Iraq, was the point of the call.

See, you are balancing it by saying that's OK because we'll take out Saddam, but you won't let the mother abort her child. For whatever reason she wishes to, but your reason in Iraq is OK, but her reason is not. How do you equate the tow? It's still killing a child.

DOBSON: I actually believe that having the mother, allowing the mother to kill her baby is not even in her best interest...

KING: But you're deciding her interests.

DOBSON: She will decide it later on.

KING: But you're deciding her interest.

DOBSON: There is a moral issue involved here.

KING: Is there a moral issue in that Iraqi child?

DOBSON: There is always a moral issue where war is concerned. But, again, let's make it easier. Let's talk about World War II and Adolf Hitler and what he was doing. People all over Germany died as a result of our having gone to war to take him out. Why did we do it?

KING: But there were...

DOBSON: It was wrong. It was an evil thing.

KING: There were religious pacifists who believe that taking of a life is wrong under any circumstances.

DOBSON: Sure and there are the religious...

KING: You make a strong case for it. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

DOBSON: There are religious pacifists today, I just don't agree with them.

KING: Richard Nixon was raised in that church, the Quakers.

DOBSON: Yes, I know he was.

KING: To Colorado Springs, Colorado, with Dr. James Dobson. Hello.

CALLER: Hello there.


CALLER: My question is for Dr. Dobson. Dr. Dobson, does our economy at the present time have an effect on employees being laid off at Focus on the Family?

DOBSON: There's no question about it...

KING: You've had...

DOBSON: Larry, let me explain. In 25 years we have never had a what's called reduction in force or a layoff until last week and...

KING: How many?

DOBSON: Thirty-four out of 1,500. Or 1,300, rather. And it is a very sad situation. And yet, we are committed not to borrow money for operational purposes and it's true. The economy is affecting almost all ministries. Many of them are struggling today and so we'll take the money that God gives us and we'll live on it and that's why we...

KING: Is it the hardest thing to do, layoffs for money?

DOBSON: It's terrible because all 34 of those people represent hardship cases. Nobody has the money to just go out into an economy like this and try to find a job. You know, it breaks my heart, but we only have so much money and we have to do what we're -- what we're doing.

KING: Washington, D.C., hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello.


DOBSON: Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Dr. Dobson, it's a tremendous privilege and an answer to my prayers to speak to you this evening.

One year ago my husband had an affair with a Senate aide and colleague of 22 years old and left my two boys and me for six months. A friend recommended your book "Tough Love" and your word of advice literally saved my life and possibly my marriage.

My question is how can I forgive him when he refuses still to wear his wedding ring and distances himself emotionally and physically from me? How can I heal in this troubled marriage?

KING: Does he want the marriage to stay together? He does.

DOBSON: Yes. Well, the point of that book, "Love Must be Tough" is that there comes a place where you have to turn loose. You have to let go. And if you try to hang on you actually create problems for yourself and for the other person.

KING: Divorce may be the answer?

DOBSON: In that case, I think so where you have a person who is unfaithful and who is not repentant and is going on his way. My heart goes out to this lady.

KING: New York City, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Dr. Dobson?

DOBSON: Hello.

CALLER: Yes. It's a pleasure to speak with you. My question is, I just wanted to know, how do you prepare your child for perhaps a war or terrorism without frightening them? Especially in the light with everything that's been going on since 9/11.

KING: Good question.

DOBSON: Well, that's a very good question and many parents are asking it at this time and especially today with the heightened alert, the danger that we're under now.

You have to remember that for children, their security is always rooted in the security of the parents. And if they see fear in your eyes and if they see that you're anxious and you communicate that to your children, then they're going to magnify it and it's going to be even worse for them.

So you need to talk it through without revealing that kind of anxiety and you tell them that the police and the government is going to do everything it can to protect us and we're going to trust that. And ultimately, we have to trust God because He cares about us and then you go on from there. And you don't overstate it because if you do, your child's going to be waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares.

KING: Louisville, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Thanks, Larry, for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Dr. Dobson, Larry asked you why bad things happen to good people. Don't you think that the answer is because of God's great gift of free will? We have it as individuals and there's also a societal free will. And individuals, persons do bad things and so do people as a society. So I really think that is the answer...

KING: This will be the end of both of you. What does free will have to do with, say, a death and a flood?

CALLER: What I'm saying, because of the great gift, because He loved us so much we have a free will...

KING: Yes, but if you die in a flood, you had nothing to do with free will.

CALLER: No. Here, again, I say there is a societal or -- in other words, He's going to let the universe operate under a free will. It's under the jurisdiction of us as humans since, you know, we are not perfect and because He loved us so much he will not interfere with that free will.

KING: Is that a question or a comment for Dr. Dobson?

CALLER: I want to know what he feels about that...

KING: Do you agree with that?

DOBSON: In fact, you and I talked about that last time I was here that we do have the freedom to do bad things. We do have the freedom...

KING: Unfortunately.

DOBSON: ... to kill each other and that's evident very early when Cain killed Abel, the first murder on record, which was with the second generation. And God gives us that free will and if He didn't we would be puppets on a string. And so a lot of the evil in this world is the result of that -- free will.

KING: But when people die not of evil, but of a flood, a hurricane, famine?

DOBSON: That is a very difficult concept to explain or understand. But theologically, it goes back to the fall and back to the introduction of sin into the world. And the bad chips that happen in the world can be traced back to that.

KING: We'll be back...

DOBSON: I'm not a theologian. You're going to have to get Billy Graham to explain that one to you.

KING: You have to remind me that Dr. Dobson is not a theologian. We'll be back with more calls after this. Don't go away.


KING: Dr. Dobson's daughter had a good idea during the break. In times when you're under an orange alert, just keep the gas tank full, stock up on water and provisions in the house.

DOBSON: Yes. To have a plan, because you never know when social disruption's going to occur, and you have should talked that through at least with your older children.

KING: Princeton, Kentucky. Hello.


KING: Hi. Go ahead.

CALLER: Do you feel that when public figures in the U.S. government use the word "God" in conjunction with the war on terrorism, such as in speeches by the president and others, do you feel that it will incite people in the Middle East who already think that they're at holy war to cause more terrorist attacks?

DOBSON: No, I really don't. I think if they feel that way, they're going to feel that way because of their own theology and their own culture and their own beliefs. I don't think that the president is going to exacerbate that. As a matter of fact, I appreciate the fact that he is a man of prayer. At the national prayer breakfast yesterday, he said again, I believe in prayer, I pray personally. He said on other occasions he prays every morning, reads the Bible every morning, and I'm thankful that he's seeking that source.

KING: How do you balance the answer when you know the enemy also prays?

DOBSON: There are some beliefs that I think are wrong. You know, there are some things that I think -- I mean, you look at what Saddam believes -- apparently he prays. I've seen him.

KING: Yes, he sits and prays.

DOBSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and after or before killing the Kurds. I just don't believe that that comes from God.

KING: Tampa, Florida. Hello?

CALLER: How are you doing, Dr. Dobson. I have a 6-year-old boy, and, how are you doing, Dr. Dobson. Mr. King, I thank you for giving me the opportunity...

KING: What's your question? Sure.

CALLER: The reason I was calling, I have a 6-year-old boy, Dr. Dobson, and he is really, really hyper. His teacher has recommended that we put him probably on Ritalin, and I just wanted to get your input on that. What do you recommend? I really don't want to have him drugged up, but at the same time he just cannot focus at all.

DOBSON: Yes. Well, I have very strong feelings about that. I was on the staff of a hospital for many years and I've seen these kids that were wired differently, and they can't hold still. And they can't rein it in. And where that happens, medication, whether it's Ritalin or something else, can be very helpful.

And I think it's unfortunate that we're hearing today that every such medication is wrong. On the other hand, there is, I think, an overdiagnosis of ADHD today, of this hyperactive disorder, and some people just don't know how to handle kids and so they want them drugged. That's wrong too. So I think you ought to get your youngster to a physician or a child developmentalist whom you trust and somebody who really seems to understand this issue.

KING: So you're saying Ritalin is a drug.

DOBSON: Ritalin is an excellent drug when it is needed. It is overused and overprescribed, and that's bad.

KING: San Diego, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hello, Dr. Dobson?

DOBSON: Hello.

CALLER: My question is, is I'm flying to Atlanta. And how do I get over my fear of flying? I'm flying on Monday. And is it OK for me to take a Valium before the flight, or what?

DOBSON: Well, I think it is if that helps, because it's a short trip and if that gets you where you're going. How serious is it and how long have you had it?

CALLER: I've had depression all my life, and ...

KING: Have you flown?

CALLER: I have flown since 9/11, but since we were put on heightened security, it just scares me more.

KING: If you're afraid of flying, and then you see double security at the airport, you're doubly afraid.

DOBSON: Of course. Of course. And there are some cases like what you're describing that requires some therapy to help you learn to deal with this. You can get over that. It's a pretty long process and an expensive one, but you can get over it. In the meantime, a little bit of Valium might help.

KING: It can't hurt. Apple Valley, Minnesota. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi. CALLER: Dr. Dobson, thanks for taking my call. I am a Christian father who is divorced, and I have two boys that are ages 7 and 9. I'm very involved in their lives and they are with me about half the time, but I am very, very concerned about my youngest son, who is 7. My ex-wife has on numerous occasions painted his fingernails and encouraged him to wear necklaces and rings, and I believe it's an attempt to make him what I am not, and he has told me that he wants to be a girl. And I want to know if it's too late. I love him unconditionally, and, you know, I'm deeply hurt, and I've been praying every day.

KING: Ever heard of a thing like this?

DOBSON: I have. And in fact, there is a new book, it just came out, called "Preventing Homosexuality," and it's written by Joe Nicolosi. Dr. Nicolosi knows more about this subject that anybody I know...

KING: Why would a mother do that to a boy, though?

DOBSON: Well, sometimes -- sometimes women think boys need to be fixed. They see characteristics in them that they don't like, and they want to make them more like girls.

KING: What should he do, get the book?

DOBSON: He should get the book and get some help, because it sounds to me like your boy has a gender identity crisis. If that's the case, right now is the time to deal with it.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Dr. James Dobson. Some more of your phone calls right after this.


KING: Back with Dr. James Dobson, get some more phone calls in.

Rockland, California. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, Dr. Dobson, as Christians we are often told to ask ourselves "What would Jesus do?" And I'm just kind of curious to know what you think in the case of the war in Iraq, what do you think Jesus would do if he were elected president in case of Bush?

DOBSON: Well, as I understand it and it's amazing how on this show I wind up with the heavy theological questions, not being a theologian, but I think in this regard there is a difference between what Jesus told us as individuals and what his principles tell us about government.

Government has the responsibility to maintain order and to protect the people and to do a lot of things that He didn't ask individuals to do. For us as individuals, we are to go the second mile, turn the other cheek, care for others, express love, and to not lash out and try to hurt other people. That is very different than the responsibility that's laid on the president of the United States, to not only protect us in this country, but to protect all of those people out there in other countries that will be affected by this man if he's not stopped.

KING: Houston, Missouri, hello.

CALLER: Yes, thanks, Dr. Dobson, for taking my call. I want to know about how do you overcome depression in the world like it is today?

DOBSON: How would I overcome what?

CALLER: Depression.

DOBSON: Oh, depression.

KING: It is the No. 1 illness in the United States.

DOBSON: It is. It is and we've heard already twice from people who are suffering from depression today. And you need to know why you are depressed, there's usually a reason for it. It's usually related to anger and it can be treated and it can be dealt with. It can be treated through medication.

It can also be treated through therapy and so rather than remain in that slough of depression, despondency, if you will, we really need to get some help if it's been going on a while. It can affect you physically, obviously if you don't.

KING: West Palm Beach, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Yes, thank you, Dr. Dobson for being such a wonderful witness for our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. You've always shown such great love for Shirley. I want to know how have you perpetuated your relationship.

DOBSON: Well, I happen to...

KING: By agreeing with everything she said.

DOBSON: I happen to be married to a great lady and we've been married for 42 years and I think it's going to work. And we're just very, very, you know, we are very much in love today. We have been. We were college sweethearts and she has a great impact on me. I listen to her. I'm not a perfect husband. She's not a perfect wife, but we're working at it.

KING: Omaha, hello.


KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Dobson, I want to thank you for all of your work over the years. You have been just such a light in times when things are rough for me. You helped me raise my three boys. My question to you is how is your health now since your heart attack?

DOBSON: Well, I had a heart attack nearly 13 years ago and could have lost it right there. And I had a stroke four and a half years ago and could have lost it on that occasion.

It is amazing given those two physical problems that I'm in as good a shape I am today. I have 12-hour energy. I am not limited in any way. I just love life. I don't hurt anywhere.

My wife gets mad at me because I don't hurt. She does. I don't want and so I appreciate the question. I think, Larry, believe it or not, I think some prayer has gone into the fact that the Lord has allowed me to have some more time.

KING: Last call. Krause (ph), North Carolina. Hello?

CALLER: Hello, thanks, Larry.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Dr. Dobson, thank you so much for your ministry.

DOBSON: Thank you.

CALLER: This is definitely also an answered prayer and it's like the widow's mind, I'm so glad to give to your ministry. I feel like I have a little tiny part. I underline little. But anyway, I have a question about the strong willed child. I did read that book, and thank you so much for it...

KING: We only have a minute, ma'am.

CALLER: How do I keep the situation from becoming escalated with my child becomes very defiant?

DOBSON: Well, defiance is part of the nature. How much time we got, Larry. I can talk about that one for a week or two. Defiance is...

KING: We've got a minute.

DOBSON: ... part of the nature of some kids. Some are comply apartment, some are strong willed.

The beautiful thing is if you stay on top of that strong-willed kid and you set up the rules in advance and you defend them with love, that youngster may grow into the most responsible contributor to society.

KING: She called your Focus the Family a ministry. Is it?

DOBSON: It is a ministry in the sense that we try to minister to people or give to people.

KING: Not ministry in the conventional logical sense.

DOBSON: Not in the usual sense because it's not led by a minister.


KING: Always good seeing you, stay well.

DOBSON: Feels like home.

KING: Thank you. A high compliment.

Our guest has been Dr. James Dobson, the founder and president of Focus on the Family. His newest book written with his wife "Night Light for parents." Co-written with Shirley.

I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow right after this.


KING: Tomorrow night on "LARRY KING WEEKEND," Elizabeth Taylor, we'll repeat that interview.

Sunday night Bill Clinton.

By the way, Tuesday night Priscilla Presley will be with us on the life and times of Elvis Presley.


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