February 2000

    Dr. Laura Links Religious Declaration with Pedophilia Debate
    By Heather Elizabeth Peterson

    Laura Schlessinger, an Orthodox Jew whose radio talk show is popular among conservative Christians, has stated in a New York Times editorial that an interfaith "Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing" promotes the sexualization of children.

    Linking the January 18 declaration to what she states are scientific researchers' "push to legitimize adult-child sex," Dr. Laura (as she is popularly known) says that the statement "effectively eliminates any consideration of morality from human sexuality."

    She points in particular to a passage in the statement that says, "Our culture needs a sexual ethic focused on personal relationships and social justice rather than particular sexual acts. All persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure. Grounded in respect for the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily condition, marital status, or sexual orientation."

    "No matter what sex you are, no matter what age you are, no matter what marital status you are, no matter what sexual orientation you are, you have a right to sex," Dr. Laura summarizes this passage as saying. She adds ironically, "No matter what age you are?"

    The declaration, which was organized by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, has been signed by over one thousand religious leaders in the Anglican, Jewish, Protestant, and Unitarian Universalist communities. The declaration states, "Our faith traditions celebrate the goodness of creation, including our bodies and our sexuality. We sin when this sacred gift is abused or exploited. However, the great promise of our traditions is love, healing, and restored relationships."

    Dr. Laura received wide publicity in the spring of 1999 after she publicized a report that was published in the July 1998 issue of the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin. "A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples," compiled by researchers Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman, analyzed 59 previous studies of child sexual abuse and concluded that the average impact of sexual contact between adults and children was less negative than previous researchers had believed. 

    After Dr. Laura told the audience of her nationally syndicated talk show that she believed that the report promoted sex between adults and children, conservative Christians and others successfully lobbied the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bill condemning the report. The report was originally brought to the attention of conservative faith communities by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a scientific organization supported by the Christian ex-gay movement. In a December 1998 article, NARTH said that the report represented an attempt by the mental health community to "normalize" pedophilia in the same way that it had "normalized" homosexuality.

    Related Links

    Declaration Cloaks Positions in Religion. By Dr. Laura. [The New York Times]

    Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

    Dr. Laura's Show Monologue

    The Problem of Pedophilia [NARTH]

    A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples [IPCE]

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    © 2000 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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