by Katie Fretland
An influential conservative figure criticizes Sen. Barack Obama on religion today in a radio segment saying the candidate for president has distorted the Bible and pushed a "fruitcake interpretation" of the Constitution.
James Dobson, founder of the Christian group Focus on the Family, attacks Obama's previous comments on specific Bible passages. Obama has said chapters like Leviticus suggest slavery is OK, but eating shellfish is wrong. Obama also said Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."
Dobson says he thinks Obama is ""deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology,"according to an advance copy of his segment given The Associated Press.
"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."
Robert Gibbs, communications director for Obama, responded this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
"It's an odd and curious statement, to say the least,'' Gibbs said.
"I think it's a truly odd statement,'' he said of Dobson's comments. "Barack will continue to reach out in bringing people together.''
Dobson also attacks Obama on his support for abortion rights,
He says Obama, who supports abortion rights, is trying to govern by the "lowest common denominator of morality," which is "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution," Dobson says.
"Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the lives of tiny babies?" Dobson says. "What he's trying to say here is unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe."
During a June 2006 speech at the liberal Christian group, Call to Renewal, Obama referred directly to Dobson.
"Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?" Obama said. "Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?"
The Obama campaign's director of religious affairs said in a statement that Obama's complete speech showed that he is committed to reaching out to people of faith, AP reports.
"Obama is proud to have the support of millions of Americans of faith and looks forward to working across religious lines to bring our country together," Joshua DuBois said.
Dobson has also said that he could not vote for John McCain and has suggested that he might not vote for president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.