An ad hoc public school committee has supported removal of books by James Dobson, a Christian psychologist, from the library of the Early Childhood Family Education Program of the Mankato, Minn., school system.
Abby Draper, director of the program, told Religious News Service that the recommendation, which was disclosed by the Twin Cities Christian newspaper, was supposed to have been kept confidential until it is acted on by the Mankato District school board. The board meets in early this month.
If the school board endorses the committee's recommendation, Dobson's books will continue to be excluded from the library, which serves parents in the school's adult and family education program.
The Dobson books were removed from the library in 1989. Parents who inquired about them early this year were told they had been removed because the staff disagreed with Dobson's views on child discipline, which includes an endorsement of spanking, and because of the religious nature of his philosophy. Dobson is the founder and head of a national ministry, Focus on the Family, which includes daily radio broadcasts, books, magazines, videos and political activity.
Much of the controversy over Dobson's books involves his support of corporal punishment in the book, "Dare to Discipline." Written 20 years ago, it is still a bestseller in commercial and religious bookstores.
The Rev. David Thompson, a professor of Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, defended Dobson at a school board hearing in June. "Corporal punishment in the hands of a loving parent can be a very effective discipline tool," he said. "That's on the condition that it's used correctly. There's precedent in scripture for corporal punishment."
When a small group of evangelical Christian parents in the community pushed to have the books reinstated, a review committee was formed to examine them. But supporters of Dobson, including some parents, say most of the committee members are unfriendly to his views.