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Southern Baptists commend ‘Dr. Laura’ as ‘courageous’ on homosexual issue

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention has the “deepest appreciation” for radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger’s stances opposing the homosexual lifestyle, SBC President James Merritt told “Dr. Laura” in a letter in behalf of the nation’s largest evangelical body.

Messengers from local SBC churches overwhelmingly approved a motion to commend Schlessinger during the convention’s June 13-14 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., instructing the convention’s president to write a letter to the radio personality — the foremost target of the nation’s homosexual activists.

Schlessinger, who is Jewish, is heard on 450 stations across the United States and Canada for three hours each weekday in a call-in marriage and family advice show, with an estimated audience of 18 million.

Merritt’s letter to Schlessinger, dated Aug. 17, states:

“The Southern Baptist Convention recently voted to extend to you their commendation for your courageous stand and opposition to homosexuality. I am writing to you to express our deepest appreciation for your courage in taking a stand against that which is wrong though not politically correct.

“Though we indeed do love the sinner and do wish and pray for God’s grace to fall on every homosexual (as well as every heterosexual) who needs the Lord, without question the Word of God condemns homosexuality in the strongest of terms.

“The Southern Baptist Convention joins you in standing for what is right and against what is wrong. I send this letter with a prayer that God would protect you and your family during these days and that he would continue to use all of us to speak out for the truth of the Word of God.”

The homosexual activists’ virulent campaign against Dr. Laura is being waged by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and a “Stop Dr. Laura” group demanding cancellation of a new syndicated Schlessinger TV show to debut Sept. 11.

The campaign has not derailed the show, to be produced by Paramount Television Group, but it has taken a toll on companies advertising on Schlessinger’s radio program.

Nevertheless, said a spokeswoman for Dr. Laura, “Every time an advertiser leaves, another is right there to take its place.”

The list of companies that have discontinued their ads on Schlessinger’s radio program includes Procter & Gamble, Sears, Priceline.com, Geico insurance, Xerox, American Express, Kraft, General Foods, Toys “R” Us, Motel 6, RadioShack, Red Lobster, United Airlines and the Ohio State Lottery.

Geico and Priceline had been sticking with Dr. Laura until they were noted in a New York Times story and subsequently came under heavy pressure from homosexual activists, the spokeswoman for Schlessinger said.

Individuals can register support for Schlessinger at her Internet site, www.drlaura.com, and by taking note of the sponsors during her broadcasts; obtaining their addresses, telephone/fax numbers or e-mail addresses by calling their local libraries; and writing letters of support.

The campaign against her, Schlessinger told The Times, has escalated to “personal threats to me and letters sent to neighbors with no return address telling them to accost me verbally. I think it’s a pretty disgusting, relentless attack on my life, on my career, on my work.”

In a letter to listeners on her website, Schlessinger, referencing her opponents without naming them, writes, “This small group of people is targeting the national sponsors of the radio show — the companies that pay the bills for the telephones, satellite broadcast time and more — demanding that they stop advertising on our show.

“I have come to understand how difficult it is for sponsors to be accosted by a few people with an agenda. They don’t want to hurt so much as one relationship with a customer and thus are vulnerable to this kind of pressure.

“So, you can imagine how very pleased I am with those sponsors who remain committed to supporting me and therefore my on-going relationship with you, my listeners. I am committed to being here every day for a very long time. And I have a commitment from a number of sponsors that they will be here with us.

“Therefore, for the first time in this program’s six-year history, I am making a point of directing your attention to who these sponsors are. I am encouraging — no, insisting — if you value our relationship as much as I do — that you support these loyal sponsors by using their products and services whenever you have the opportunity.”

Schlessinger also wrote that, also for the first time, she is going to “read some commercial copy on the air for goods and services that I have personal knowledge of and can truly get behind. Don’t be surprised when you hear me doing so. Understand it’s my way of expressing my profound appreciation to them for hanging in there with me through tough times. (And you all know how I feel about people who hang in through tough times!!)”

Meanwhile, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Debra Saunders, wrote on Aug. 11:

“What terrible things has Schlessinger done to deserve such persecution? A doctor in physiology, she has said that homosexuality is a ‘biological error’ and ‘deviant.’ I strongly disagree and wish Schlessinger were more gay-friendly, as she used to be. Still, the radio talk-show host doesn’t advocate violence against gays. She urges parents to accept their gay children. She’s not the hate-monger in this story.”

Schlessinger is “a target for saying things that many Americans think,” Saunders wrote.

An anti-Schlessinger Internet site, the columnist noted, “encourages people to threaten sponsors with a boycott of their products and lists corporate executives’ phone numbers, but it doesn’t include its own phone number. Figure the anti-Lauraites don’t want to be on the receiving end of their own tactics.”

The tactics against Dr. Laura are “no different than the Hollywood blacklist,” Saunders noted. “She holds unpopular positions” and “censorious zealots keep her from speaking even on medical ethics.”

“Yet people who are horrified at the blacklist yawn as anonymous foes muzzle her,” Saunders wrote, citing the irony that, “This time, they tell themselves, it’s different.”