Focus on the Family, an antigay Christian ministry with a global media reach and national political clout, has cut $5 million from its budget and laid off 34 employees because of declining donations. The layoffs are the first in the group's 26 years, spokesman Paul Hetrick said. Another 66 vacant positions will be eliminated from the 1,300-member workforce.
The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based ministry airs 14 radio and television programs in more than 100 countries to a potential audience of 200 million and puts out more than a dozen magazines and other publications. Focus on the Family president James Dobson is considered one of the country's most influential voices among conservative Christian leaders and weighs in regularly on such issues as abortion, gay rights, and Republican politics.
Fund-raising pleas by Dobson have allowed Focus on the Family to make up some ground but not recover completely, Hetrick said. "What we are thankful for at Focus on the Family is, so far we have not had to undergo or take drastic measures," Hetrick said.
Focus on the Family's budget, $130 million this year, comes entirely from donations, which have dropped about 3% from 1999 levels as the economy has slowed, the stock market has declined, and unemployment has risen. The ministry, however, will continue several initiatives, including efforts to target young families, spread into new countries, reach a secular audience, improve outreach to African-Americans, and expand on the Internet, Hetrick said.