No Refuge

In Breaking Their Will, I write about the polygamous, religious sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or FLDS. Around 2003, the group’s leader, Warren Jeffs, moved hundreds of followers from Utah and Arizona to West Texas, hoping to set up what he called a “place of refuge.” Five years later, […]

The Politics of Big Religion

I recently read that the attorney for Bishop Robert Finn is trying to get his client’s case thrown out, by convincing a judge that Finn was not responsible for reporting cases of child sexual abuse. Finn, who heads the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, is the highest ranking member of the Catholic Church […]

Imam: Shafia murders were “unbelievable.” Really?

Last week in Montreal, three Muslims from Afghanistan were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for killing four family members, including three teenage girls. According to prosecutors, Hamed Shafia killed his three sisters—Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13—upon orders by his father, Mohammad. Hamed’s mother, Tooba Yahya, was also convicted […]

Is Bishop Finn above the law? Some Catholics say yes.

Why is it when religious leaders are accused, or even convicted, of abusing or neglecting children, the devout rush to defend them? Take the case of Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese in Missouri. On October 14, Finn and the diocese were indicted for failing to report a priest who allegedly […]

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 […]

You know a tragedy has reached epidemic proportions when we start joking about it

A friend and child advocate recently emailed me a 2002 article that appeared in the satirical newspaper The Onion. The headline reads: “Pope Forgives Molested Children.” I get it. And, yet, I wish there wasn’t something to get. After all, the reason why it’s sickeningly funny is due to the fact that untold numbers of […]

A Child Is Killed and Jewish Community Leaders Fail Abuse Victims Yet Again

The world was shocked upon learning that eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky had been kidnapped, murdered, and dismembered, and that the suspect was a man who lived in the child’s Orthodox Jewish community of Brooklyn. Members of that community were devastated beyond words. One of their own had brutally killed a helpless child—a child who had also been […]

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 a letter establishing new guidelines […]

What Price Religious “Freedom”?

The state of Oregon stands poised to end a dangerous practice. If a bill that has passed both the House and Senate becomes law, parents who allow their sick children to die after refusing them medical care on religious grounds would no longer be granted prosecutorial immunity. Passing this bill sends an important message: Parents […]

How “End Times” Beliefs Harm Children

I am one of the many people who chuckled at news stories about Harold Camping’s prediction that the world was going to end on May 21st. I heard about the tongue-in-cheek rapture parties and the celebratory post-rapture looting. And I, like so many others, found myself often shaking my head, wondering how could so many […]