James Clayton "Jim" Dobson, Jr. (born April 21, 1936 in Shreveport, Louisiana) is an American evangelical Christian and founder and former chairman of the board of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1977. He has never drawn a salary from the organization, but has used it to promote his related books and publications, yielding him royalties only for sales through other venues. As part of his role in the organization, he produces the daily radio program Focus on the Family, which is broadcast in more than a dozen languages and on over 7,000 stations worldwide, and heard daily by more than 220 million people in 164 countries, according to the organization's own statements. Focus on the Family is also carried by about 60 U.S. television stations daily. He founded the Family Research Council in 1981. He is an evangelical Christian with conservative views on theology and politics. He advocates spanking children in the home. He has been referred to as "the nation's most influential evangelical leader" by Time magazine, and Slate has termed him the successor to evangelical leaders Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. On January 24, 1989, he interviewed American serial killer Ted Bundy right before Bundy's execution.
James C. Dobson Jr. was born to Myrtle and James Dobson, and from his earliest childhood, Christianity was a central part of his life. He once told a reporter that he learned to pray before he learned to talk. In fact, he says he gave his life to Jesus at the age of three, in response to an altar call by his father. He is the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Nazarene evangelists. To this day, he remains a member of the evangelical Church of the Nazarene, the largest denomination to come out of the 19th century Holiness Movement. His father, James Dobson Sr., (1911-1977) never went to college, choosing instead the life of a traveling evangelist. Pastor Dobson was well-known in the southwest, and he and Mrs. Dobson often took their young son along so that he could watch his father preach. Theirs was a patriarchal home, in which Mrs. Dobson always deferred to her husband in every major decision. Like most Nazarenes, they forbade dancing and going to movies, so young "Jimmie Lee" (as he was called) concentrated on his studies, and also became good at tennis.
Dobson was drawn to the study of psychology, which in the 1950s and 1960s was not looked upon favorably by most evangelical Christians. He came to believe that he was being called to become a Christian counselor or perhaps a Christian psychologist. He decided to pursue a degree in psychology, and ultimately received his doctorate in that field in 1967.