Category Archives: Religion

Palm Oil – The High Cost of Beauty

Female palm oil workers, Author benkataro, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil on earth, widely touted for its health and beauty benefits.

Palm oil is used in such everyday products as lipstick, shampoo, ice cream, chocolate, margarine, instant noodles, and pizza dough [1][2]. Claims are made that palm oil can prevent cancer, stem heart disease, treat dementia, slow aging, and aid weight loss [3].

The uncontrolled clearing of rain forests for palm oil plantations has led to a significant loss in these bio-diverse habitats.  Now, an investigation by the Associated Press has confirmed that the mistreatment of female palm oil workers in Malaysia and Indonesia is commonplace [4A]:

  • Many women work without pay to help their husbands or fathers meet unrealistic daily quotas.
  • Women routinely perform some of the industry’s most physically taxing jobs, sometimes carrying loads so heavy they can cause uterine collapse. Infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirths are the result.
  • Women, also, spray dangerous pesticides without protective gear. Activists say some have lost their sight, as a consequence.
  • Added to this, women frequently face sexual harassment. This can range from suggestive comments to outright rape.  In fear for their jobs, victims rarely report such abusive interactions.  Families may actually force victims to marry their rapists, if a pregnancy occurs.

Continue reading

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Purity and Virginity Testing

“The Virgin in Prayer” by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (c. 1645), National Gallery (Accession No. NG200), London, Author/Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Clinics in Britain offer controversial but ineffective tests for virginity which can place lives at risk [1].  Young women who “fail” such tests may be subjected to violence or sexual assault, starvation, banishment from their communities, and – in extreme cases – honor killings.

Shame and Dishonor

In a few cultures, the loss of virginity prior to marriage is still viewed as bringing shame and dishonor on the family and community as a whole.  For that reason, virginity testing is often required for marriage.

Of course, it is always the woman’s virginity called into question.

Forced Testing

Women may be forced by parents, potential partners, or future in-laws to submit to virginity testing.

Virginity tests are, also, at times carried out on sexual assault victims to verify that rape has taken place.  Needless to say, the testing is equally ineffective for that purpose, though it is traumatic. Continue reading

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Gender-Based Violence

Sukuma women and children of Tanzania, Author paulshaffner, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The following is excerpted from an article by Lynn Monahan titled “Fighting Gender-Based Violence” in the June 2020 edition of Maryknoll Magazine:

“When she was only 8 years old, Ghati was sold by her older brother to a 55-year-old man, who put the orphan girl on a motorcycle and rode to his house… There the man raped her.

After two weeks of daily assaults, Ghati escaped while the man was working in his fields…The man was later arrested and eventually sentenced to prison.

Ghati, a pseudonym to protect her identity, was…placed in a shelter [in Tanzania] under the care of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.

‘What the center does is support vulnerable children,’ says Sister Annunciata Chacha, the director of the shelter called Jipe Moyo, a Swahili term meaning To Give Heart.

Jipe Moyo, a program of the Musoma Diocese, cares for children who have been living on the street, children who run away from domestic violence, children who flee from female genital mutilation (FGM)…sometimes called female circumcision, and girls escaping from child marriages…At the center, the children receive care, counseling and education…”

Continue reading

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A Side Order of Rescue

Image © Acabashi; Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0; Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Florida waitress, Flavaine Carvalho, took action to rescue an abused boy whose family was dining out at the Mrs. Potato Restaurant where she worked [1].

Carvalho noticed that the family had ordered nothing for the boy.  When she asked whether there was any problem with the food, the waitress was told the boy would be eating at home.  This explanation did not seem satisfactory, in light of injuries on the boy’s face and arms.

Taking the initiative, Carvalho fashioned a sign reading, “Do you need help?”  Then positioned where the parents could not see, she surreptitiously held it up for the boy.  When he nodded, Carvalho called police.

On questioning, the boy described having been abused by his stepfather.  The 11 y.o. asserted he had been tied up, handcuffed, struck with a broom, and hung from a door.  Bruised and markedly underweight, the boy had been denied food as a punishment.

The boy’s stepfather was charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.  The boy’s mother — who had not sought medical attention for him — was charged with neglect.

Both the boy and a 4 y.o. sibling were removed to the custody of Florida Dept. of Children and Families.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3: 21 NASB).

The Bible encourages reasonable discipline, appropriate to a child’s age and level of understanding.  It does not condone starvation or torture.

[1]  People Magazine, ” ‘Do You Need Help?’  Florida Waitress Used Secret Sign to Rescue Boy after Noticing Abuse:  Police” by Steve Helling, 1/15/21, https://people.com/crime/florida-waitress-used-secret-sign-rescue-abused-boy/.

The National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453).
The hotline is available 24/7 in over 170 languages.
Calls are confidential and toll free.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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The Little Ones

Taurus 669 handgun, Author Philippe Kurlapski (CC BY-SA 1.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Sadly, it is not difficult to find stories of violence and abuse in the news.

  • Messiah Taplin, a 4 y.o. Texas boy, was allegedly shot to death by Zantyler Foster-Hooks, a partygoer celebrating the New Year with a firearm inside an apartment [1].
  • A Michigan man, Latravion McMillon, is being sought in the murder of his 6 y.o. stepson, Jaylen Worthington [2].  The boy sustained head trauma, broken ribs, and a punctured lung before being pronounced brain dead.
  • A 7 y.o. Illinois girl, Natalie Wallace, was fatally shot in a drive-by, while visiting her grandmother [3A]. A 20 month old boy and a 10 y.o. girl were among those shot to death during a single Chicago weekend [3B].
  • An Arizona woman, Michelle Boone, has been charged with assaulting her children for not wearing masks, after the children tested positive for COVID-19 [4].  The children range in age from 5 y.o. to 14 y.o.  Boone struck one child in the face, picked another up by the throat, and kicked a third.  Police believe she may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.

The little ones are always the ones at risk.  But the scars of such abuse – assuming the children survive it – can last a lifetime.

But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matt. 19: 14).


[1]  ABC News, “New Year’s reveler dancing with gun allegedly shoots, kills 4-year-old Texas boy: Police” by by Bill Hutchinson, 1/1/21, https://abcnews.go.com/US/year-texas-boy-messiah-taplin-fatally-shot-years/story?id=75004512.

[2]  Law & Crime Network, “Michigan Police Looking for Man Who Allegedly Killed His 6-Year-Old Stepson” by Alberto Luperon, 1/1/21, https://lawandcrime.com/crazy/michigan-police-looking-for-man-who-allegedly-killed-his-6-year-old-stepson/.

[3A and 3B]  ABC News, “Children ages 7, 8, and 14 killed as gun violence mars holiday /weekend in Chicago andAtlanta” by Bill Hutchinson, 7/5/20, https://abcnews.go.com/US/children-ages-14-killed-gun-violence-mars-holiday/story?id=71621109.

[4]  People Magazine, “Woman Accused of Assaulting Her Kids for Not Wearing Masks After They Test Positive for COVID-19” by Chris Harris, 1/1/21, https://people.com/crime/woman-accused-assault-kids-not-wearing-masks/.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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The Sins of the Fathers

“Shipwreck: the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm” by William Joy (1859), Photographer/Source Christie’s Auctions, (PD-Art, PD-Age)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We close 2020 on a tragic note:  the sexual assault and battery of a newborn by a 14 y.o. boy living in the same Florida foster home [1A].

Assailant Sexualized as a Toddler

The teenage assailant is thought to have been sexualized as a toddler, when his biological mother exposed him to pornography and engaged in sexual activity in his presence.

History of Prior Assaults

“If someone is predatory, they are going to focus in on someone that is vulnerable.  Putting a young child in a situation like that is beyond shocking.”

-Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Thomas Dikel [1B]

The couple who fostered then adopted this boy (the Kleins); the non-profit responsible for overseeing child welfare locally (Kids Central); and the entity providing case management services (The Center) were all aware of the boy’s dangerous proclivities, since he had sexually assaulted other children.

Nonetheless, Kids Central and The Center continued to send foster children to the Kleins’ home. Continue reading

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A Child Is Born

Yawning newborn, Author Martin Falbisoner (PD)

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9: 6).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8.28% of American infants (some 240,000) are born with low birthweight [1].  Over 194,000 are born to teen mothers as young as 15 [2].

More than 5 in every 1000 will die in infancy – a rate 71% higher than that of other developed nations [3][4].  Another 862,000 will be aborted before birth [5].

Approximately 40% of American children are born out of wedlock [6].  19.7 million (1 in 4) live without a father in the home [7]. Continue reading

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“People Pleasing” Behavior, Part 2

Foto Removing the mask. Fotografia tirada por Luciano Moreira inserida na categoria arte-digital
Saved from junior.fineart-portugal.com

Those of us who are “people pleasers” as the result of childhood abuse and/or domestic violence have our reasons.  Deprived of affection, we long for acceptance.  Often cruelly punished when we did not conform to the expectations of others, we fear rejection.

Saying “no” to a request is difficult for us.  Putting boundaries in place, since it was never allowed, feels foreign and selfish.  We may even have been taught that it was “unchristian”.

Unfortunately, “people pleasing” behavior is not productive in the long run.  It is likely to leave us overworked and overwhelmed – often angry with ourselves for having failed to speak out.  Over time, we can lose sight of who we really are.

Inauthenticity drains the joy from living.  How then do we change this behavior?

Continue reading

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Time and the Value of Women

Models walk the runway during Miami Fashion Week 2019, Author Fashion photographer James Santiago (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ ” (Eccl. 1: 2).

Clearly, women in Western culture are valued for their youth.  We see this all around us.

Ads for every conceivable product from liquor to cable television feature young women (with two ton steel vehicles actually termed “sexy” to increase sales).

Then there are the countless products marketed to women for the ever present “problem” of aging (creams which claim rejuvenating power, hair dyes, Botox injections, and breast implants, to name just a few).  As if living were insufficient.

Starlets in flimsy clothing populate our magazines.  Girls as young as 14 model for us, in the place of adult women.  Meanwhile, women in their 60s seek plastic surgery – even in vitro fertilization – to prolong their saleability.

Each moment lived, a woman’s value decreases or so it can seem.

A Flight from Death

Perhaps the urge to remain young, or at least appear young, is a flight from death.  If anything, however, it highlights the inexorability of time.  The race is rigged.  Everyone loses in the end.

Christians know that this jaded view is incorrect, incomplete since it fails to take God into account.  Some 3000 years ago, when King Solomon composed the Book of Ecclesiastes (from which the quote above is taken), he deliberately wrote from that skewed perspective to drive home his point about the need for God in our lives.

Human nature has not improved much, in the intervening centuries.  We remain susceptible to the adversary’s lies.

True Value

But if youth is valuable, maturity is no less so.  Our value in God’s eyes does not diminish with age.  It was never linked to time, in the first place.  Our true value derives from the fact that we have all, male and female, been created by God and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our Salvation. Continue reading

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Sex and Teenage Boys

Teenage boys, Author Bmdehan (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Bridget Sipera, a teacher at Camden Catholic High School in New Jersey, has been charged with sexually assaulting a male student less than half her age [1].  The two repeatedly had sex over an 18 month period.

Western society tends to view sexual activity among teens as part of the natural process of development.  We bombard teens with sexual images.  Discouraging sex seems repressive to us.

While we may be protective toward our daughters, some of us actually cheer our sons on.  Sex with a teacher is seen as the ultimate fantasy.

But there are serious dangers associated with early sexual activity.  And sex between an adult and child is as damaging to boys as it is to girls.

Risky Behaviors

Teens who engage in sex are likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors in adulthood [2].

They are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, and less likely to use condoms. This increases their chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or HIV, and having an unwanted pregnancy.

Ten million of the sexually transmitted diseases newly reported each year are acquired by young people between the ages of 15 and 24 [3].  It bears mention that the brain is not fully developed till age 25.

Sexual Addiction

Early exposure to sexual content can, also, give rise to sexual addiction [4A].

Best estimates are that 3% – 6% of American men suffer from sexual addiction [5][6].  However, women can fall prey to sexual addiction, too.

Sexual addiction can destroy relationships, compromise finances, and contribute to criminality.

Typically, sexual addiction is characterized by one or more of the following [4B]:

  • compulsive masturbation;
  • reliance on pornography and/or prostitutes;
  • an endless succession of meaningless sexual encounters;
  • use of fetishes in place of human interaction;
  • voyeurism/exhibitionism; and
  • sexual sadism or masochism.

Addicts persist in these behaviors despite the negative consequences. Continue reading

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