Janet Jackson, who is known for keeping her private life private, recently admitted that she had married her third husband, Qatari billionaire Wissam Al-Mana. Though she hasn’t confirmed or denied it, there are lots of rumors that Janet converted to Islam before the wedding. Considering that religious conversions for marriage happen all the time – and that Janet’s brother Jermaine publicly converted to Islam some years ago – this story should be a non-issue.
Alas, there are a lot of people out there who think it’s their right to see Janet Jackson’s hot body in skimpy clothes and think that a conversion to Islam will foil their plans. Keep reading »
Spoiler alert! This post contains spoilers about the movie “Spring Breakers.”
When I heard that Selena Gomez had been cast in a Harmony Korine movie, my brain kind of exploded. Korine is known for his dark, sexualized films (like “Kids,” which made Chloe Sevigny a star), while Gomez is a Disneyfied, baby-faced princess who until recently was dating Justin Bieber. The trailer and promo pics for “Spring Breakers” showed Gomez and her castmates – “High School Musical” alum Vanessa Hudgens, “Pretty Little Liars” star Ashley Benson, and the director’s wife Rachel Korine – wearing bikinis and little else as they drank, smoked, got arrested, and did drugs. Was this movie going to be Gomez’s “Can’t Be Tamed“/”I’m a Slave 4 U” moment?
Not quite. Keep reading »
If you go to to the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, you might see men singing loudly and dancing in circles. What you might not notice right away are the women, who are quietly murmuring and praying. The men’s side looks way more fun – plenty of my male friends have stories about that time they hung out at the wall with a Jewish celebrity. My boyfriend danced the hora there with Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. The total disparity in the fun department isn’t a personal preference – it’s actually Israeli law.
But a group of brave female activists, The Women of the Wall, are working to change that. Keep reading »
Call me a humorless feminist, but I’ve always thought certain subjects were beyond the realm of comedy: Helen Keller, rape, the Holocaust. But then last week I caught a clip of Joan Rivers’ E! show “Fashion Police.” While critiquing a photo of Heidi Klum wearing this dress, Rivers quipped, “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.” And then something odd happened. I laughed.
I’m Jewish. So is Joan Rivers. Does being in “the club” mean that it’s okay to laugh at jokes about our own people? One of the reasons I don’t think Holocaust jokes are funny is that they poke fun at people who are victims, and it’s much funnier to laugh at the bullies. Did I laugh because Rivers was making fun of a German person in relation to the Holocaust, instead of a Jewish one? Keep reading »
This week, two women who escaped from extreme religious sects told their stories. One escaped from Scientology, the other from the Westboro Baptist Church. Although a small number of people grow up inside groups like these in America, it’s as important as it is startling to hear from these women and hear how, even in this modern world, there are still people who want to oppress women, control their bodies, and prevent them from getting educated. Keep reading »
These days, Scientology is everywhere – three books are out this month alone, including Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, which has been featured everywhere from CNN to the New York Times Book Review. Yesterday, several ex-members filed a lawsuit against the Church, saying that Scientology kept asking them for more and more money for shadowy projects which were never completed, then had them blacklisted for asking questions about where the money went.
I believe in freedom of religion. But as a longtime religion reporter, I know enough about Scientology to think that the Church is dangerous and harmful. In particular, it’s terrible for the women who join it. It may be funny to watch the Xenu clip from South Park, but many of the labor violations and harsh punishments against women in the Church should give you a sense of why this religion isn’t amusing – it’s scary. Keep reading »
Megan Fox covers this month’s issue of Esquire, and she’d like you to know that she’s actually been religious this entire time.
“I’ve read the Book of Revelation a million times,” she told interviewer Stephen Marche. “It does not make sense, obviously. It needs to be decoded. What is the dragon? What is the prostitute? What are these things? What is this imagery? What was John seeing? And I was just thinking, What is the Antichrist? When war breaks out in the Holy Land, like it is right now, if that is a sign of the immediate end times, then where are the other signs? Is it possible that it’s the Internet or fame itself or celebrity?” Keep reading »
Telling people that you write about religion for a living always raises a couple of eyebrows. In the past, I’ve covered everything from fashion to pop culture, but no one ever questioned why someone might be interested in lipstick or TV.
However, religion is one of those things that can scare people just by being mentioned. I’ve been accused of promoting an agenda, of lecturing people, and of being boring – and that’s without putting a single word on a page. As a kid, I learned that you should never talk about religion, sex, or politics in polite company, but it’s only when I write about the first one that people start to clam up or get upset. So, why do I write about religion?
Keep reading »
In Brooklyn, a 17-year-old girl just testified against the man accused of sexually assaulting her. On the surface, this case is sadly too familiar: she and her accused rapist are both members of a strict right wing sect of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, known as the Satmar Hasidim.
Extreme groups exist in every religion, and Judaism is no exception. However, the Satmar Hasidim are a fringe group within a fringe group. Though they are ultra-Orthodox Jews (meaning that they keep kosher, observe the Sabbath, and follow all the other rules), they differ from other super-religious Jews in that they don’t support the nation of Israel. Like other ultra-Orthodox Jews (this isn’t really a thing in the more liberal branches of Judaism), they keep strict gender segregation, sending boys and girls to different schools that teach different subjects and keeping men and women separated in synagogue. But the rape case currently happening in Brooklyn could blow the roof of the place. Keep reading »
Pray Tell is The Frisky’s new biweekly column about the intersection of religion and women’s lives.
The third season of the TLC series “Sister Wives” premiered this week. The show is about the Brown family — Kody, and his wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn. They have 17 kids, including three from Robyn’s previous marriage. The Browns are members of the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), an offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, aka the Mormons). Since the mainstream LDS church agreed to outlaw polygamy in exchange for Utah being granted U.S. statehood, the members who wanted to keep on practicing plural marriage joined groups like AUB. While plural marriage has been around for thousands of years (Jacob marrying both Rachel and Leah, anybody?), the appeal of “Sister Wives” is seeing how the practice works in modern times. Think of it as a real-life version of “Big Love.” Keep reading »