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 »
Friday, February 1 wasn’t just two days before the Super Bowl — it was also World Hijab Day, when non-Muslim women and Muslim women who don’t ordinarily cover themselves are encouraged to wear a head-covering hijab veil.
With slogans like “Before you judge, cover up … for a day” and “better awareness, greater understanding, peaceful world,” the event implores women to learn more about what it is like to be hijabi by experience. Keep reading »
The Obama administration released new details this morning about which religious employers will be exempt from covering the cost of birth control under health care reform — which the Associated Press describes as a “broader opt-out.”
The Health and Human Services Department announced this morning that businesses which object must “self-certify that they are non-profits with religion as a core part of their mission,” according to The Huffington Post. For example, you can’t just object to covering women’s preventative care if you are, for example, a religious Catholic who objects to birth control and also happens to employ people working at a nonprofit animal shelter. Additionally, if a religious nonprofit refuses to provide coverage of contraception, a third-party health insurer must handle the coverage for women who want it. 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 »
A priest in a northern village in Italy posted some helpful tips for ladies on how to avoid getting beaten by their husbands. “Healthy self-criticism” is necessary for women to make sure there’s nothing they could be doing differently to stop getting beat, such as cooking more dinners, doing the laundry, and dressing more modestly. 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 »
Thirty-one-year-old Savita Halappanavar died in Ireland’s University Hospital Galway in October after she was repeatedly denied medical care while suffering a miscarriage.
Halappanavar, an Indian who lived and worked in Ireland with her husband, began miscarrying around October 24, 17 weeks into her her pregnancy. Her cervix had dilated, she was leaking amniotic fluid, and a doctor said the fetus would not survive outside her body. She had the “shakes,” was “shivering” and “vomiting” for several days. Halappanavar and her husband repeatedly asked to terminate the pregnancy, but the hospital refused, telling her “This is a Catholic country” and they could not perform an abortion so long as a fetal heartbeat was detectable. On October 28, Savita Halappanavar died of septicemia (blood poisoning) and E.coli ESBL.
Women in Ireland have had a right to an abortion if their life is at risk since 1992, after an Irish Supreme Court ruling. But today, Ireland’s Minister of Health announced the Irish government will introduce a new law to clarify specifically that abortions are legal when the life of the mother is at risk. However, the health of the mother will still not be reason enough for an Irish doctor to terminate a pregnancy. That is still unacceptable. 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 »
What happens to actors on “Two And A Half Men”? Seriously, people!
Angus T. Jones, 19, the child actor who plays Jake on “Two And Half Men,” was interviewed about his evangelical Christian beliefs for something called the Forerunner Chronicles, and goes on to bash the show as “filth” that’s brainwashing its viewers into evildoing. Keep reading »