Indonesian Muslim group objects ban on female circumcision

This article first appeared in the Jewish Press.
One of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organizations is causing a controversy by objecting to a UN plan to ban female circumcision, ABC News reported.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) says female circumcision is part of Islamic teachings and that it is their constitutional

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The Amish way of life

This article originally appeared in Legal Affairs.
Impressed by their piety, courts have permitted the Amish to live outside the law. But in some places, the group’s ethic of forgive and forget has produced a plague of incest—and let many perpetrators go unpunished.
When she wrote the letter that she

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Confronting authoritarian religious communities

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.
Valerie Tarico interviews Janet Heimlich, author of Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment. During eight years working for NPR, Heimlich never shied away from controversial topics. She won nine journalism awards, in part by doggedly exposing injustices in the death penalty

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Do children have any rights in sects?

This article originally appeared in the New York Times.
We all need other people. Belonging to a group is a great way for us to connect with others. Psychology researchers have found that religious groups can be very positive for people’s health. However, not all religious groups are good for

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The Islam Women

The Islam Women

This was first published in the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.
The horrific and heartbreaking news from India is tragic enough on its own: two alleged victims of gang rape have died, one a 23-year-old woman who succumbed to her wounds and a 17-year-old girl who took her own life after being

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The Impact of Our Beliefs

This blog post originally appeared on Religious Child Maltreatment.
As we approach the holidays, we are often reminded of just how much religion permeates our culture. Christmas trees, menorahs, Kwanzaa traditions, Santa at the mall (for children who believe), holiday music on every radio station. December also marks the beginning

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A New Venture to Protect Children

In the fall of 2012, a small group of child advocates began a nonprofit organization called the Child-Friendly Faith Project. It is nonpartisan and has been designated by the IRS as a 501c(3), which allows interested parties to make tax-deductible contributions. What sets the CFFP apart from other child advocacy

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Religious patriarchy does not harm only women

Religious patriarchy does not harm only women

It’s hard to believe that women in a family would not do all they could to come to the aid of a dying infant. But that is what happened in the case of David Hickman. The infant was born two months premature and died nearly nine hours after birth in 2009. The cause of death was respiratory distress, a condition common in preemies whose lungs are usually not fully developed. The baby’s parents, Shannon and Dale Hickman, are currently on trial in Oregon for failing to provide the baby medical care. The couple belongs to the Followers of Christ, a church that believes that only faith healing can cure the sick.

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The Abuse of Forgiveness

The Abuse of Forgiveness

According to mental health experts, forgiving someone who has wronged us can improve our emotional well-being. Acts of forgiveness can have even more far-ranging societal benefits. For example, the Rwandan gacaca genocide trials have relied on a system of forgiveness, allowing defendants who confess to receive lighter sentences. Part of the reason for adopting this system

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A Call to Faith Leaders

A Call to Faith Leaders

Recent news from the Vatican represents a common problem among faith leaders: Simply put, many religious authorities do what they can to appear concerned about protecting children from abuse, but their actions usually fall short of making a real difference.
Case in point: On May 16, the Holy See issued

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