"When contemplating the motive for a crime
the rule of thumb is 'follow the money.'"

If you're interested in a history of the Focus on the Family hate cult, you came to the wrong place. Enough literature has been written about the cult's formation and history that I need not delve further into it. (If you're looking for specific information about the sex and money scandles of the mid 1980's, query the Los Angeles Times archives for copies of their multi-part exposure of Dr. James Dobson and his one-time partner.)

What you'll find here are:

Greetings, Freedom Writer Editor.

I just read the December issue of Freedom Writer -- specifically the "Letters" forum -- and was surprised to read a comment by R. McCabe about "Killer Prayers" and Focus on the Family. His complaint was the lumping of FoF in with the Religious Reich and the Christian lunatic fringe which dominates American society as opposed to grouping FoF in with what he calls "other legitimate Christian organizations."

His complaint is rubbish! From Feb 1988 to Feb 1989 I worked for a company called Telcom Technologies in Pomona, California, designing, developing, and installing Automatic Call Distributors (ACDs.) One of the sites Telcom went into with an ECD-6000 was the Focus on the Family facility right next door.

It was my great displeasure to be exposed to FoF at its most intimate levels utterly berift of religious blinders to save me from what was the single most disgusting display of Christianity I have yet to experience. To describe my exposure to the truth about what goes on inside of FoF I must cover just a bit of the technology involved in their telephone operations. That way I hope to convince readers that I was there and that what I say is true.

At the time, the FoF business brought into their facility T1 spans which came into channel banks for their 1-800 numbers. Most of these were routed by an ECD-6000 onto PCM highways while other analog loop- start lines from the Central Office were put onto line cards which were then put onto PCM highways. On the back of the 14-inch card slot chassis there were flat ribbon cables which routed the PCM data (digitized voice) to a digitial switch chip then back onto the PCM bus.

It so happened that testing of the ACD prior to installation failed to locate a minor cabeling problem on the PCM highway backplane. Because of this the ECD-6000 was installed and running, routing the telephonic faithfull to the first available agent from a pool of around 70 agents, with a bizarre functional problem. When two calls were up on PCM channels which exist side-by-side on the backplane, all four parties of the two calls would suddenly be conferenced. Because of this problem I spent a long time inside of the FoF facilities gathering log information and examining the raw data describing the actions of the ACD. Among the fault isolation methodologies employed was bringing sepected PCM highways onto a conferencing chip one-by-one and listening to each, trying to determine what the problem was.

Let me tell you, my lack of belief in Christianity and religion was firmly vindicated and underscored after a week of listening to callers and listening to the sales pitch. I came to the realization that Focus on the Family is a charasmatic cult; a business; that it represented everything that is wrong about Christianity and American socity which allows these high-tech boiler-room operations to continue to operate -- with tax exemptions to boot!

What FoF does is sell non-existant diseases to the gullible through radio, audio and video tapes, and books. Then they turn around and sell the faithfully fearful fictional cures. I got to listen to several callers, one day, exclaim how frightened they are that their teenage sons and daughters are listening to Rock and Roll and how they (the caller) had just listened to the radio program describing how Satan influences children through Rock and Roll.

Agents taking these people's calls follow scrips which are posted on their cubicle walls (many of these cubicles were made into shrines, covered with pictures of white men nailed to crosses.) Step 1 was to verify the callers credit card number and billing address if the caller was already in the FoF database or to establish new credit card information if they were not. Then the agent would identify a list of tapes and books which offered "cures" for what the caller is frightened of, giving "suggested donation" amounts for each.

If the caller wasn't interested in buying anything but just wanted to talk over her fears, the agents gave non-toll-free numbers to call and hung up.

The degree of hypocricy and catering to all that's negative in humanity was truely repulsive. During testing and modification phases at night I would examine the libraries inside of FoF and was disgusted at the hatred and bigotry expressed within so many books. The fear and hatred of homosexuals occupied one manager's mind so much that his library was dedicated almost exclusively to homosexuality and the belief that there is some large cabal of evil demons dedicated to "tearing asunder the family unit." Several of the books were horribly graphic in their depiction of activities stereotypeing homosexuals.

Most of these books claimed that homosexuals actively "recruit" children and are responsible for nearly all rape, ponography, and all other crimes. One book claimed that women could not be gay; that it was a "disease" that only "affects" males.

R. McCabe wants to pretend that Focus on the Family isn't like all the others. Nonsense! He probably doesn't know (or would like to pretend to forget) that FoF leadership was wracked by sexual and financial scandals in the late 1980's and that FoF lost its tax exemption status on many of their publications, eventually fleeing California for Colorado (where someone had donated to FoF a great deal of property.)

Everyone wants to believe that their pet religious organizations are some how different than all the rest, ignoreing the public exposures and justifying-away all the negatives. (I constantly hear Christians try to justify their hatred of homosexuals as the "will of God." Or even better, with "hateing the sin of homosexuality, not the sinner -- which is exactly equal to hateing the sin of black skin but not the Negro.)

Though they point toward the Jesse Helms and the David Dukes of America and demand they're not "Trve Christians," so many seem incapable of (or unwilling to) take a good look at their own pet organizations and see the hurtful truth looking back at them.

There is a large majority of "legitimate Christian organizations" in America and I, a devout atheist, routinely donate to their causes (my favorate is the Salvation Army.) But Focus on the Family just aint no such critter.

Tim Pauly
You claim to have worked at FOF for several months...

Fredric Rice
That's a bit ambiguous and not quite what I said. I stated that I worked inside of their Pomona facility for several months, not that I worked "at" it.

Tim Pauly
Just what did you do there,

Fredric Rice
I designed, built, installed, and [debuged] their ECD6000 Automated Call Distributor for a company called Telcom Technologies which still exists on the same street as the FoF cult used to: Campus Center Drive.

Tim Pauly
and what is it about them that you saw that causes you to label them as evil?

Fredric Rice
The FoF cult sells fear and hatred to ignorant people and then sells them "cures." While conferenced into the ACD with agents and sheep, I got to learn first hand what the cult was all about.

As an exmple, the FoF cult sells fear by labeling "heavy metal" rock and roll music as "Satanic" and "leading to drugs, sex, and a life of crime." They enumerate a list of "warning signs" to look for which are vague and all-encompassing afterwhich frightened parents call up and buy "cures" in the form of audio tapes, video tapes, books, magazines, pampletts, religious tracts et al.

The FoF cult also sells homophobe hatred and fictional "cure" for homosexuality, offering listeners a list of "warning signs" to tell if your son (they don't seem to think that woman can be homosexual) is "contemplating the homosexual 'lifestyle.'"

Each agent has before them in their cubicle a video screen, a Telcom DDS digital display set) and a keyboard. Some of them wear headsets. Before them taped or pined to their wall is a script that each agent must follow.

When the ECD6000 presents a call, the video display indicates the telephone number of the calling person (these are incoming WATS lines -- 1-800 lines coming in off of a T1 span through a T1 channel bank.) The FoF cult's computer looks up the phone number and brings up the past buying history of the sheep, offering credit card numbers, address, and a list of products which the sheep has purchased in the past.

The agent's script first has the agent verify the credit card number. The actual words that the agent is supposed to use is printed on the script and beinning agents must follow it exactly until they gain the experience they need to start to deviate from the script's words (but not the sequence.)

The agent then asks how they can help the sheep and in nearly every single case, the sheep states that they just heard such-and-such and need to "learn more" about such-and-such to save their son or daughter from such-and-such.

Those calls which are not related to sales cause the agent to branch in the script to a sequence which directs the caller to another bank of agents which are not on the 1-800 line whereafter the agent hangs up. Those calls from which there is revenue expected (nearly 100% of all calls) results in a list of recommended materials which address the fears and the sheep is given the cost -- excuse me -- "recommended donation value" for each one.

The script then walks the sheep through buying as much of the materials as possible in as short a time as possible so that the caller hangs up (the agent isn't allowed to hang up first) so that she may take another call.

Agents sign into the DDS by hitting the "SIGN-IN" softkey, then their agent code. They are placed into the "UNAVAILABLE" state and, when they're ready to recieve calls, they hit the "AVAILABLE" softkey which puts their station into the "AVAILABLE" state. A timer starts to count for that agent and after a configurable amount of time the agent recieves a call.

Between each call the agent may hit the "WRAP-UP" softkey which puts the agent into the "WRAP-UP" state. The agent can't recieve calls during this period and the time spent in wrap-up is attributed to the time spent with the previous call. This priod of time is intended for the paperwork to be finished. Paperwork isn't done when the caller is on the line because the phone line is charged to the FoF cult.

All calls are pesented to the agent who's been available the longest yet weighted with a percentage value which indicates the experience of the agent, allowing the most experienced agents to recieve the most calls or, if all agents have the same priority, a flat longest-available.

Tim Pauly
And what is your definition of cult?

Fredric Rice
The same as any dictionary's description.

Letter from Dave Knapp to Dr. James Dobson:

Dr. James Dobson, Ph.D., President Focus on the Family Colorado Springs, CO 80995

Dear Dr. Dobson:

I was introduced to your film series in the early 1980's, and I have followed your radio program since then. My wife and I have written you once before to give you information on a ministry with which we are affiliated, Engaged Encounter. I have admired you and seen you as an honest spokesman for the Christian faith, and, though we disagree on some topics, we have enjoyed reading your monthly letters.

But your most recent letter, that of April 1994, has made me wonder if my perceptions have been correct.

In it, you recount some details of your interview with Dr. Phillip Johnson, who has written the book Darwin on Trial. I have read Dr. Johnson's book and am familiar with his arguments, and I have corresponded with Dr. Johnson myself; we disagree, but are able to do so in a mutually respectful and civil manner. The debate over the validity of evolution is not, I believe, a "salvation issue." However, your treatment of this issue concerns me greatly. You printed the following:

"Now, after 135 years of exhaustive research, the transitional forms still have not turned up. They don't exist in the geological record. This and other convincing criticisms of classical evolution make it difficult to understand why so many intelligent and highly educated men and women still hold a position that is not supported by verifiable scientific data.

Darwin tried to tell us that the various life forms evolved on earth from a single-celled organism swimming in a primordial 'soup.' ... From that spontaneous beginning in an African swamp came a dazzling array of evermore complicated species...

Evolution is the only belief system which holds that events in the natural world move from disorder to order on their own initiative."

Scientists sometimes exaggerate a position for the sake of argument; it can be a useful tool. However, there is a point at which exaggeration becomes misrepresentation; your passage above is well over that line.

Several statements in the above passage from your letter are utterly incorrect.

I'm not talking about a difference of opinion about how to interpret data; I mean you made erroneous statements that might be interpreted as falsehoods. I don't have space here to explain in detail, but:

  • Transitional fossils have been found, though not as many as Darwin originally predicted.

  • Evolution, most especially common ancestry, is indeed supported by verifiable scientific data. One might legitimately disagree about the quality or quantity of the data, but they exist, and they lend support to the evolutionary theory.

  • Evolution theory does not predict a one-way rise from less complicated creatures to more complicated creatures.

  • Evolution theory does not predict that events will necessarily move from disorder to order on their own.

  • Other scientific theories do predict transitions from what we would perceive as disorder to what we would perceive as order.

I do not seek to debate evolutionary theory; rather, I am concerned that as Christians it is our duty to speak truth, not falsehood, and to act in an honest and ethical manner. I honestly hope that your above statements were made from ignorance, not purposeful mendacity.

We will never promote God's kingdom through the use of inaccuracies or false statements.

Without integrity and truth, our witness to the world is a hollow one. I strongly urge you to consult someone who is conversant with science, evolution, the scientific method, and the evidence for evolution. In my opinion, Dr. Johnson does not meet these criteria. Please feel free to contact me; my address and phone number are given below. I am a scientist: I obtained a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1986, and I now do research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I am also a Christian who believes that the Bible is the inspired word of God. I have thought long and hard about these issues, and studied them a great deal. It does not matter to me so much that we do or do not agree about evolution; it does matter to me that you, a high-profile Christian, not make public statements that would appear to be dishonest.

Thank you very much for your consideration. Since you asked me to write about the issues you raised, I hope that I will not receive a form letter in response. I pray that God will move your heart to hear my concern and love.

In Christ's love,

(s) Dave Knapp


The views and opinions stated within this web page are those of the author or authors which wrote them and may not reflect the views and opinions of the ISP or account user which hosts the web page.

Return to The Skeptic Tank's main Index page.

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank