Laurels for Dr. Laura

Former FCC chairman Newton Minow once called TV "a vast wasteland." Boy, was he right! But an oasis went on the air last week, even as powerful pressure groups were trying to dry it up. I've often lamented the superficial spirituality -- the Oprahism, I call it -- of daytime TV. But thanks to the courage of Paramount executives in resisting the attacks of homosexuals and other anti-religious groups, Dr. Laura Schlessinger's no-nonsense alternative debuted last Monday with a message based on timeless truths. Who could object to a program that always closes, "Now, go do the right thing"? That's the benediction Dr. Laura pronounces on the 18 to 20 million listeners to her daily radio program, and on those who caught her television premiere. She says she "preaches, teaches, and nags" to "teach morals, values, ethics, and principles." Well, it must be working, because her radio phone lines are jammed with people seeking counsel for solving moral dilemmas the secular world has told them are of no great concern. Instinctively, however, they know better, and Dr. Laura defines "the right thing" for them. As an Orthodox Jew, she says that means (at the very least) living by the Ten Commandments. In fact, her moral stance made her the first non-Christian ever honored by the National Religious Broadcasters, and she's been a guest on Jim Dobson's "Focus on the Family" program. Not surprisingly, her standards offend some people -- most vocally the two or three percent of the population that practice so-called "alternative sexual lifestyles." In response to listeners' questions, she once referred to homosexuals as deviants and biological errors. And that's why they hate her. When Paramount announced plans to produce the show, the opponents established pressure groups and mobilized protests at TV stations planning to air her program. They also bombarded advertisers so that the big names all dropped their sponsorship. What irony! When Christians do the same sort of protest, they are called bigots and censors. So is her telecast as offensive as the critics charge? Hardly! On Monday she discussed drug abuse with a group of parents, teens, and police. And in her closing comment she said, "We are expressly forbidden by God . . . to harm our bodies, which . . . are on loan from God to carry our souls through life." Future topics include marital fidelity, the stresses on working mothers, the dangers of making sexually explicit materials available to kids in public libraries, and the like. From my own experience on BreakPoint the past nine years, I know it can be difficult to speak against a morally decadent culture. And Dr. Laura's challenge will likely not get much easier in the weeks ahead. But she is a woman of conviction, and she has shown that she can stand up to the pressure -- obviously something her regular listeners appreciate. The opposition is loud and strong, but people need to hear her message, and in the end I believe truth and honesty will prevail. Call us here at BreakPoint and we'll offer some suggestions on how you can help keep Dr. Laura on the air. Programs like this survive on ratings, so you can certainly watch and get your friends to do the same. It's one more way you can "do the right thing!"


Chuck Colson


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