Category Archives: Religious Persecution

Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That?

Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That? .

Wow. Right on the money.

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In the pale-turquoise ladies’ room, they congregate in front of the mirror, re-applying mascara and lip gloss, brushing their hair, straightening panty hose and gossiping: This one is “skanky,” that one is “really cute,” and so forth. Dressed in minidresses, perilously high heels, and glittery, dangling earrings, their eyes heavily shadowed in black-pearl and jade, they look like a flock of tropical birds. A few minutes later, they return to the dance floor, where they shake everything they’ve got under the party lights.

But for the most part, there isn’t all that much to shake. This particular group of party-goers consists of 12- and 13-year-old girls. Along with their male counterparts, they are celebrating the bat mitzvah of a classmate in a cushy East Coast suburb.

  

Today’s teen and preteen girls are bombarded with images and products that tout the benefits of sexual attraction. But must we as parents, give in to their desire to “dress like everyone else?” asks author Jennifer Moses. She talks with WSJ’s Kelsey Hubbard.

In a few years, their attention will turn to the annual ritual of shopping for a prom dress, and by then their fashion tastes will have advanced still more. Having done this now for two years with my own daughter, I continue to be amazed by the plunging necklines, built-in push-up bras, spangles, feathers, slits and peek-a-boos. And try finding a pair of sufficiently “prommish” shoes designed with less than a 2-inch heel.

All of which brings me to a question: Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?

I posed this question to a friend whose teenage daughter goes to an all-girls private school in New York. “It isn’t that different from when we were kids,” she said. “The girls in the sexy clothes are the fast girls. They’ll have Facebook pictures of themselves opening a bottle of Champagne, like Paris Hilton. And sometimes the moms and dads are out there contributing to it, shopping with them, throwing them parties at clubs. It’s almost like they’re saying, ‘Look how hot my daughter is.'” But why? “I think it’s a bonding thing,” she said. “It starts with the mommy-daughter manicure and goes on from there.”

I have a different theory. It has to do with how conflicted my own generation of women is about our own past, when many of us behaved in ways that we now regret. A woman I know, with two mature daughters, said, “If I could do it again, I wouldn’t even have slept with my own husband before marriage. Sex is the most powerful thing there is, and our generation, what did we know?”

We are the first moms in history to have grown up with widely available birth control, the first who didn’t have to worry about getting knocked up. We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom. Not all of us are former good-time girls now drowning in regret—I know women of my generation who waited until marriage—but that’s certainly the norm among my peers.

So here we are, the feminist and postfeminist and postpill generation. We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn’t), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily. We’re embarrassed, and we don’t want to be, God forbid, hypocrites.

Still, in my own circle of girlfriends, the desire to push back is strong. I don’t know one of them who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I’ve ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she’d “experimented” more.

As for the girls themselves, if you ask them why they dress the way they do, they’ll say (roughly) the same things I said to my mother: “What’s the big deal?” “But it’s the style.” “Could you be any more out of it?” What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular?

And what mom doesn’t want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.

In recent years, of course, promiscuity has hit new heights (it always does!), with “sexting” among preteens, “hooking up” among teens and college students, and a constant stream of semi-pornography from just about every media outlet. Varied sexual experiences—the more the better—are the current social norm.

I wouldn’t want us to return to the age of the corset or even of the double standard, because a double standard that lets the promiscuous male off the hook while condemning his female counterpart is both stupid and destructive. If you’re the campus mattress, chances are that you need therapy more than you need condemnation.

But it’s easy for parents to slip into denial. We wouldn’t dream of dropping our daughters off at college and saying: “Study hard and floss every night, honey—and for heaven’s sake, get laid!” But that’s essentially what we’re saying by allowing them to dress the way they do while they’re still living under our own roofs.

—Jennifer Moses is the author of “Bagels and Grits: A Jew on the Bayou” and “Food and Whine: Confessions of a New Millennium Mom.”

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Blasphemy Sentence Sparks Riot

Blasphemy Sentence Sparks Riot – WSJ.com.

I don’t hear any voices in the [liberal] West condemning the violence…

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JAKARTA—Hundreds of protesters burned churches and attacked a courthouse in central Indonesia Tuesday after a Christian convicted of blasphemy against Islam was given what they considered a lenient sentence. The rioting was the latest in a string of incidents that’s raising fears about the influence of radical Islamic groups in a country aggressively trying to position itself as one of the world’s fastest-growing—and most stable—emerging markets.

Antonius Richmond Bawengan, 58, was sentenced to five years in prison for handing out leaflets and books that “spread hatred about Islam.” Many of the Islamic hardliners who had gathered near the Temanggung District Court in central Java for the verdict wanted the death penalty, though five years is the maximum sentence.

Blasphemy Case Sets Off Riot

After angry protesters tried to grab Mr. Bawengan as he was taken from court, the police fired warning shots into the air. The crowd then spread through the neighborhood, setting fire to two churches and a police vehicle and throwing rocks at a third church.

“That’s not the voice of most Indonesian Muslims,” said Komaruddin Hidayat, an Islamic scholar and rector of State Islamic University in Jakarta. “That’s just a minor voice from an emerging radical group.”

Even so, worries have spread in recent months that an Islamic fringe in the world’s fourth-most populous nation is becoming increasingly vocal and violent. While the Southeast Asian nation of 240 million has long been considered moderate and secular, a small but influential hard-line minority often seeks to impose its will.

Radical Turn

Feb. 8, 2011 Protestors attack churches and a courthouse after a Christian is given a sentence for blasphemy against Islam they consider lenient.
Feb. 6, 2011
A mob kills three members of the Ahmadiyah sect, a small Muslim group considered heretical by some other Muslims.
Jan. 31, 2011
Rock star Nazril “Ariel” Irham is sentenced to 3½ years in prison for not doing enough to keep his homemade sex video off the Internet.
Sept. 12, 2010
A Christian leader is stabbed on the vacant lot in West Java where he planned to build a church opposed by radical groups.

Citizens, politicians and human-rights activists were already calling for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to do more to rein in radical groups after a mob in central Indonesia attacked the home of a leader of an unpopular Muslim sect over the weekend, killing three people. A fourth person from the Ahmadiyah Muslim sect, which some Indonesian Muslims consider heretical because it believes its founder was a prophet, died from his injuries from the attack on Tuesday, according to Antara News, an Indonesian state news agency.

There were 286 attacks against Christians, members of the Ahmadiyah sect and other religious minorities last year, according to Setara Institute, a Jakarta-based human rights organization, an increase of more than 50% from three years earlier.

Also, a pop star was sentenced last week to 3½ years in jail for making sex tapes that triggered a national outcry and a public debate about morals in Indonesia. The stiff sentence for the 29-year-old Nazril “Ariel” Irham, lead singer in a popular rock band, was decried by many human-rights groups, analysts and some residents as an example of hard-liners’ bullying the country.

Some analysts warn that the increasingly heavy-handed tactics by conservative groups show that President Yudhoyono—who has touted the country’s emergence as a rising economic power in Asia—could be losing his grip, or at least has grown unwilling to speak out against hard-liners for fear of upsetting any more-moderate Muslims who quietly sympathize with the conservative groups’ aims. Although Indonesia remains a favorite among emerging-market investors, further outbreaks of violence could dent confidence.

“The incidents show President Yudhoyono’s ineffective and weak governance,” said Mr. Hidayat. “People don’t believe in the supremacy of law, so they take justice into their own hands.”

Teuku Faiza, a spokesman for the president, said that differing views and protests are part of any democracy. “This is not proof that the government is weak or inefficient,” he said of Tuesday’s rioting. “It is not the responsibility of just the government, it is also the job of religious and social leaders to promote harmony.”

—Yayu Yuniar contributed to this article.

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Where Have All the Presbyterians Gone?

Russell D. Moore: Where Have All the Presbyterians Gone? – WSJ.com.

But there are some signs of a growing church-focused evangelicalism. Many young evangelicals may be poised to reconsider denominational doctrine, if for no other reason than they are showing signs of fatigue with typical evangelical consumerism.

For example, artists such as Keith and Kristen Getty and Sojourn Music are reaching a new generation with music written for and performed by local congregations. Yes, prosperity preacher Joyce Meyer sells her book “Eat the Cookie, Buy the Shoes,” which encourages Christians to “lighten up” by eating cookies and buying shoes (seriously). But, at the same time, Alabama preacher David Platt is igniting thousands of young people with his book “Radical,” which calls Christians to rescue their faith by lowering their standard of living and giving their time and money to Church-based charities.

And though nondenominational churches are growing, the Southern Baptist Convention—the nation’s largest Protestant group—has over 10,000 students studying for ministry in six seminaries right now.

If denominationalism simply denotes a “brand” vying for market share, then let denominationalism fall. But many of us believe denominations can represent fidelity to living traditions of local congregations that care about what Jesus cared about—personal conversion, discipleship, mission and community. Perhaps the denominational era has just begun.

Mr. Moore is dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.

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