an open letter to Dr. Laura

I got the following letter off the Net, but without an attribution. After a few false starts, I eventually discovered the author .

I have annotated the letter with the actual verses quoted , towards the end.

For those of you that are not following the recent controversy that has to do with Laura Schlessinger: she is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Paramount Television Group is currently producing a "Dr. Laura" television show. Recently she has become a convert to Judaism, and now she is Ba'al T'shuvah. Recently, she has made some statements about homosexuals that has caused the Canadian anti-hate laws to censure her... The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura which was posted on the internet...

J. Kent Ashcraft

May 2000

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord ( Lev 1:9 ). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7 . In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness ( Lev 15:19-24 ). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination ( Lev 11:10 ), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27 . How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? ( Lev 24:10-16 ) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? ( Lev. 20:14 )

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

These are the Biblical verses refered to above, in two different translations: the King James Version [KJV], and New International Version [NIV]

Lev 18:22 [KJV] Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. [NIV] Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

Lev 1:9 [KJV] But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the L ORD . [NIV] He is to wash the inner parts and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the L ORD .

Exodus 21:7 [KJV] And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. [NIV] If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do.

Lev 15:19-24 [KJV] And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. 20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. 21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even. 24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.
[NIV] When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. 20 Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 22 Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening. 24 If a man lies with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.

Lev 25:44 [KJV] Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. [NIV] Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.

Exodus 35:2 [KJV] Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the L ORD : whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. [NIV] For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the L ORD . Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.

Lev 11:10 [KJV] And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you [NIV] But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales --- whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water --- you are to detest.

Lev 21:20 [KJV] Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken [NIV] or who is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.

Lev 19:27 [KJV] Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. [NIV] Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

Lev 11:6-8 [KJV] And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. 8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
[NIV] The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 7 And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divied, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcases; they are unclean for you.

Lev 19:19 [KJV] Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee. [NIV] Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

Lev 24:10-16 [KJV] And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; 11 And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) 12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the L ORD might be shewed them. 13 And the L ORD spake unto Moses, saying, 14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. 16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the L ORD , he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.
[NIV] Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. 11 The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the name of the L ORD with a curse; so they brough him to Moses. (His mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) 12 They put him in custody until the will of the L ORD should be made clear to them. 13 Then the L ORD said to Moses: 14 Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. 15 Say to the Israelites: If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; 16 anyone who blasphemes the name of the L ORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.

Lev 20:14 [KJV] And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you. [NIV] If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

Establishing the author

I got the letter off the Net, but without an attribution. Some Web versions have the sig "Carole M. Cusack, Lecturer, School of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney" attached, but do not make it clear if this refers to the original author, or to the poster. So I requested clarification in an earlier version of this page.

Someone emailed me in September 2000, saying that the UK Guardian newspaper of 16 Sept 2000 had an article claiming the author was Steve Turner.

Someone else emailed me on 1 April 2001 [really!] saying "In the May 2001 edition of Playboy, they have a letter from a reader on page 62 in which a 'Kent Ashcraft' states that he originally wrote the letter."

Then in July 2001 Kent Ashcraft emailed me, saying he is indeed the author (except of the last three questions, which are additions to his original).