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.
I wanted to headline this post “Child Sexual Abuse: In Defense of the Catholic Church,” but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. I suppose the thought of being seen as the atheist version of Bill F. Donohue (I know that F. isn’t his middle initial, but I like to imagine that it is) didn’t exactly sound appealing. But to my point: Consider this story: Yeshiva University chancellor Norman Lamm resigned Monday amidst growing pressure over allegations of sexual abuse at Yeshiva University High School stretching back decades, a scandal that was first reported by the Forward in December. In a letter announcing his resignation, Lamm apologized for his failure to go to police with reports of sexual abuse against high school students. [Click headline for more…] Read more
When pastor Robert Dekker of Lewes, Delaware decided it would be a neat idea to hold weekly church services on the public beach of nearby Rehoboth, the well-informed city manager rejected the plan. Rehoboth Beach may not issue such a permit, the manager wrote to Dekker, because that would run afoul of the Constitution: “I am so sorry to inform you that I cannot grant your request to have church services on the public beach in Rehoboth. I cannot mix Church and State. I trust you understand. Wishing you the very best.” I listened to a couple of radio interviews that the piqued pastor subsequently did (WXDE-FM, Glenn Beck), and his responses are bursting with fork-tongued passive-aggressiveness. For instance, Dekker keeps stressing that he’s not a “mean” or “nasty” person and that he really likes the folks at city hall — apparently forgetting that he’s been distributing a flyer that accuses them of nothing less than tyranny. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Last summer, Rimsha Masih, a young teenager who is the daughter of a Pakistani Christian couple, was arrested and jailed on charges of blasphemy. Her accuser was a mullah, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti (a.k.a. Khalid Jadoon) who said he’d caught the girl with charred pages from the Koran. Something was fishy about the case from the get-go. For one thing, Rimsha (pictured below, left) was widely reported to be of limited mental capacity (some sources say she has Down Syndrome); even if she had really done what Chishti (right) accused her of, her culpability was in question. Also, Chishti is a known agitator against Christians, … even appearing on a popular national television show to complain that the noise made by Christian worshippers had disturbed Muslim residents. Which is an observation lacking in the self-awareness department if you’ve ever heard the racket a muezzin blares from atop his minaret five times a day. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Sunday’s massive protests in Egypt were unprecedented, of a scale not even seen during 2011’s Arab Spring. The protesters aimed to show by sheer numbers that the country has irrevocably turned against [President Mohamed] Morsi, a year to the day after he was inaugurated as Egypt’s first freely elected president. But throughout the day and even up to midnight at the main rallying sites, fears of rampant violence did not materialize. Instead the mood was largely festive. [Click headline for more…] Read more
So this happened in Sweden on Saturday: At 11 o’clock on Saturday, [they came] into the Stockholm mosque [in] Södermalm, threw [their] clothes [away, and,] with clenched fists in the air, they shouted in English:… “No to Sharia! No to oppression! Free women!” Skip the first twelve seconds of the following video unless you speak Swedish. The rest is in English. (Please do not click play if women’s breasts offend you.) [Click headline for more…] Read more