Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry was the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a now-dormant site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He was the Editor-in-Chief of two Manhattan-based magazines until he decided to give up commercial publishing for professional photography... with a lot of blogging on the side. These days, he lives in an old seaside farmhouse in Maine with his wife, three kids, and two big dogs.
Maybe you recall this perfectly maddening case (if you do, skip ahead for a good-news update): [A]n 11-year-old girl named Madeline Kara Neumann [photo], known as Kara to family and friends… died of undiagnosed diabetes on Easter Sunday in March 2008 at her home in Weston, a central Wisconsin village about 140 miles north of Madison. Kara, who had been growing weak for several weeks leading up to her death, eventually became too sick to speak, eat, drink or walk. Her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, don’t belong to any organized religion or church but identify themselves as Pentecostal Christians and believe visiting a doctor is akin to worshipping an idol. … Dale Neumann testified that the possibility of death never entered their minds. After the girl died, Leilani Neumann told police God would raise Kara from the dead. For some reason, that didn’t happen. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Most people probably think of witch burnings as a terrible fever (or fervor) that died out sometime soon after the glory days of Salem’s infamous witch hunter Cotton Mather. But an Agence France-Presse story today, commemorating the almost one hundred 17th-century executions of accused witches at Norway’s arctic “Gates of Hell,” points out that witch killings never ceased. In fact: Some 50,000 people are believed to have paid with their lives in Europe during the medieval witch trials. But by comparison, the number of people killed for the same reason worldwide since World War II is estimated at between 70,000 and 80,000. [Click headline for more…] Read more
In the 19th century, Adelaide was nicknamed “the City of Churches,” not so much for its many houses of worship, but for its variety of beliefs and denominations. Adelaide was established by Protestants who wanted to be free from the clutches of the Church of England, and they understood that others might like the same freedom of conscience. It’s fertile ground for atheists, who find both a climate of relative tolerance and a population still largely in the throes of superstition. Enter Atheists SA (South Australia), an organization of rationalists founded by Brian Morris. He’s already made enough waves that Britain’s the Guardian newspaper gave the group some lovin’ a couple of weeks ago. [Click headline for more…] Read more
The Koran warns followers of Allah that: Islamic law prohibits sexual relations under the broad heading of zina (fornication). … [M]ale and female fornicators are to be flogged 100 times. Those are the parts that the late terrorist (cheer)leader Anwar al-Awlaki didn’t bother reading, I guess. The FBI, in its investigation of al-Awlaki, tracked down a bevy of prostitutes who spent a little quality time with the man. The New York Post has the story, with a picture of al-Awlaki handling a big weapon, under a textbook tabloid headline: Qaeda Ho-ly roller: Terror cleric shot his load with DC prostitutes. When he wasn’t preaching against America, terror-linked imam Anwar al-Awlaki was frequently hiring $400-an-hour hookers at posh DC hotels, newly released FBI documents reveal. Awlaki, who delivered radical sermons at a mosque near Washington and ultimately met his end in a 2011 US drone strike in Yemen, paid thousands of dollars for at least seven hooker romps, according to interviews the prostitutes gave FBI agents. He was apparently a little on the cheap side, too: [Click headline for more…] Read more
Are you an Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic, or an Activist Atheist/Agnostic? Do you identify as a Seeker Agnostic, or are you more of a Ritual Atheist/Agnostic? Are you an Anti-theist or a Non-theist? Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have identified those typologies in an effort to create “a modest crack in the monolithic ‘religious none’ category,” as they put it. What bothered Christopher Silver (who is active in the Chattanooga Freethought Association) and his research partner Thomas Coleman III, was that …[p]revious research and studies focusing on the diverse landscape of belief in America have continually placed those who profess no belief in a God or gods into one unified category infamously known as the “religious nones”. This catch-all category presented anyone who identified as having “no religion” as a homogenous group in America today, lumping people who may believe in God with the many who don’t. Hence, the six typologies. You can read here about how the researchers describe each group; based on the definitions, you should be able to figure out which typology fits you. [Click headline for more…] Read more