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About Wicca and other Neopagan traditions

Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Wicca

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Sponsored link.


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Overview of Dr. Laura:

Laura Catherine Schlessinger (1947 -; Dr. Laura) broadcasts a 3 hour long, radio program each weekday on a network of over 500 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in physiology -- not psychology as many have assumed. "Dr. Laura" has an estimated audience of 20 million people.

She was raised in a secular home but became interested in Judaism as a young adult. She and her son Deryk converted to Conservative Judaism in 1996, and switched to Orthodox Judaism two years later. According to NNDB:

"In 2003, Schlessinger announced on the air that she was no longer an Orthodox Jew, that she felt frustrated by the effort she had put into the religion, and complained that she felt little or no connection with God." 10

In 2000, Schlessinger became the first non-Christian to receive the Chairmanís Award from the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB).

She signed a contract with Paramount TV to develop a syndicated daytime talk show which was tentatively called "My Kid's Mom." It was later renamed to "Dr. Laura."  By early 2000-FEB, it was already scheduled to be in 85% of U.S. television markets; this rose to 91% by mid-March. 1 The program premiered on 2000-SEP-11. It received very poor ratings. Paramount had difficulty attracting national sponsors to the show because of a campaign led by gay-rights groups. They "objected to Schlessinger being given a TV forum because of her comments regarding homosexuality, which she has termed 'deviant' and 'a biological error.' " 7

On 2001-MAR-30, Dr. Schlessinger released a statement confirming that the last episode of her TV show had been taped on the previous day. The movement to have Dr. Laura taken off TV was spearheaded by StopDrLaura.com. Their co-founder, Joel Lawson, said: "We generated a lot of press about her worst statements, and advertisers didn't want to read about themselves in the same sentence. The web site fueled protests, the protests fueled media coverage, and the coverage fueled more interest in the web site. We hit PR nirvana." 8

The show was last aired on 2001-SEP-07. On SEP-21. a panel of network executives was asked if there were programs on television they didn't feel they could defend. Garth Ancier, president of NBC's entertainment unit, said:  "I'm not embarrassed about anything on television, with the exception of 'Dr. Laura,' "

"Dr. Laura":

bulletIs religiously conservative, a recent convert to Orthodox Judaism.
bulletFavors content restrictions of the Internet.
bulletOpposes feminism.
bulletIs pro-life and opposes free access to abortion.
bulletOpposes hate crimes legislation.

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Sponsored link:

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Dr. Laura and homosexuality:

According to Wikipedia:

"Prior to 1997, Schlessinger was very supportive to gay callers during her radio show. In those years, she took issue with Christian religious leaders who were opposed to gay relationships, and said that it was cruel to deny love and happiness to gay couples. She renounced this view in 1997, however, and said she had been misinformed in her earlier views. Soon, her monologues approvingly mentioned ex-gay groups who claimed they could help homosexuals become heterosexual, and she attacked the American Psychological Association for condemning the position of ex-gay groups. Schlessinger cited Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a Harvard-, MIT- and UT-educated psychiatrist, as support for her revised views on homosexuality." 9

She holds very conservative views on the nature of homosexual orientation:

bulletShe has described homosexuality as "deviant." She has also described homosexuality as "a biological error." According to Eonline, she has said that society "should discriminate against certain behaviors" -- homosexual behavior being one of them. 2 According to StopDrLaura.com, "she has suggested that gays are likely to be involved in pedophilia." 3
On 2000-MAR-10, Dr. Laura released a statement which said that she never intended to "hurt anyone or contribute in any way to an atmosphere of hate or intolerance," when she commented about homosexuality on her radio program. She continued: "Regrettably, some of the words I've used have hurt some people, and I am sorry for that. Words that I have used in a clinical context have been perceived as judgement [sic]. They were not meant to characterize homosexual individuals or encourage others to disparage homosexuals." 4

Stephen Spurgeon, Communications Director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), listed matters of concern "It's really three points: One is her vocabulary and the terminology that she uses; secondly, she only cites conservative sources, like the 'Family Research Council;' and third, she just has a lack of respect for any view unlike her own." 5

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Dr. Laura and Wicca:

The Magickal Cauldron issued a Press release on 1999-MAY-1. They monitored a series of episodes of her radio program in which she offered negative comments about Neopaganism. 

bullet1999-APR-8: A fourteen year-old caller had expressed an interest in Wicca. Dr. Laura responded: "That's not a religion." Later on the same program, she commented: "I'm often horrified at how people call themselves religious and are really excruciatingly ignorant; so I'm very big on studies.  But there are a lot of kids who think cults are religions.  There are some people who think witchcraft is a religion. I put them close to the same category."
bullet1999-APR-20: Dr. Laura said: "I don't call Paganism a religion...if I did I'd be idol worshipping and I'd be "zapped."..And I know that's going to be a whole spate of more faxes [sent to me]...and I don't care."
bullet1999-APR-30: Dr. Laura said: "I don't think you're going get a Witch into a Catholic church, I don't think she'd get past the holy water."

It is difficult to assess exactly from where Dr. Laura obtained her thoughts of Wicca and Neopaganism. However, from the short comments on her radio program, it may well be that:

bulletShe confuses modern-day Neopaganism (a.k.a. Paganism) with the Paganism mentioned in the Bible. The latter worshiped what the Jews considered to be idols, and allegedly engaged in child sacrifice. These practices are totally unrelated to modern-day Neopaganism.
bulletShe confuses Wicca with the imaginary Satan-worshiping religion which was created by the Christian church in the late Middle Ages in order to justify the burning times -- the era from about 1450 CE to 1792 CE when secular courts and the church condemned witches, other heretics, midwives, etc. to be burned at the stake. Holy water was alleged to have magical powers that would detect Witches.
bulletShe has a fear of retribution from God. She appears to believe that if she demonstrated religious tolerance by recognizing Neopagan traditions as actual religions, that she would somehow become a Neopagan and would be attacked by God.

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Related essay on this site:

bulletDr. Laura Schlessinger and homosexuality.

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References:

  1. Dr. Laura has a web page at http://www.drlaura.com You can join about 50,000 other North Americans in trying to phone her call-in radio program at: 1-800-DRLAURA, between 12 Noon and 3 PM Pacific time (3 to 6 PM Eastern time) weekdays. Her fax is at (818) 461-5140. She does not have Email. You can address a letter at: Dr. Laura Schlessinger, c/o Premiere Radio Networks, 15260 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 500, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
  2. Emily Farache, "GLAAD not happy with Dr. Laura," at: http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,5850,00.html 
  3. "Protests announced against Paramount over 'Dr. Laura'," StopDrLaura.com press release, 2000-MAR-10. Available at: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/000310/dc_stopdrl_1.html 
  4. "Statement by Dr. Laura Schlessinger," is available online on her web site at:  http://www.drlaura.com/monologue/index.html?mode=view
  5. Bill Berkowitz, "Dr. Laura's agenda: A missionary for the Christian Right," CultureWatch, at: http://www.tompaine.com/features/2000/03/07/index.html 
  6. Press release, The Magickal Cauldron, 1999-MAY-1
  7. Brian Lowry, "'Dr. Laura' halts TV production for one week," LA Times, at: http://www.calendarlive.com/tvent/20000921/ 
  8. "Dr. Laura TV Show Cancelled by Paramount: 'Victory!' Says StopDrLaura.com," GayWired.com at: http://www.gaywired.com/
  9. "Laura Schlessinger," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  10. "Laura Schlessinger," Soylent Communications, http://www.nndb.com/

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Copyright © 2000 yo 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-APR-6-
Latest update: 2007-AUG-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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