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Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family
Focus on the Family is an Evangelical Christian organization founded in 1977 by James Dobson, dedicated to anti-LGBT+ activism, alongside other ‘pro-family’ targets.

Focus on the Family regularly advocates conversion therapy and has long supported the ‘ex-gay’ movement. In 1998, Focus on the Family established the Love Won Out ministry, dedicated to conversion; Love Won Out was later sold to Exodus International, shutting down when Exodus International disbanded. 

Unlike other ministries in the 1980s, Focus combined family support initiatives with anti-LGBT+ political activism. In Colorado, Focus campaigned for the anti-gay rights measure Amendment 2, approved by voters in 1992 and overturned by the Supreme Court in 1996. Under Dobson, Focus became one of the first evangelical organizations to be actively involved in Washington DC, with Dobson a regular visitor to successive Republican White Houses. 

The Family Research Council was founded by Dobson in 1981 and temporarily absorbed into Focus on the Family; the two ultimately separated due to the concern that FRC’s activism would endanger the tax-exempt status of Focus on the Family. Their activist arm, Family Policy Alliance, was established by Dobson in 2004; it brings together various state-level Family Policy Councils. 

Focus on the Family became purposefully less partisan with the exit of Dobson in 2010 but continues to enjoy Republican support. Ben Carson is a repeat guest on Focus radio and Betsy DeVos’ family has repeatedly donated to Focus affiliates. Vice President Mike Pence spoke at Focus’ 40th anniversary celebration, encouraging the organization to get re-involved in politics. 

Internationally, Focus is most involved in Latin America and Africa. In Africa, Focus on the Family’s South Africa-based division, Focus on the Family Africa, runs an HIV/AIDs prevention programme for children and advocates abstinence-only prevention methods. In Latin American countries like Costa Rica, Focus on the Family affiliates promote conversion therapy.