About Terry Firma

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 is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

Dirty Little Secret: Plenty of Jehovah’s Witnesses Hate Their Door-to-Door Proselytizing As Much As You Do

The City of Melbourne enjoyed suffered experienced an invasion of some 70,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses this past weekend, all there for their international convention. Graeme Hammond used to be one of them – door-to-door haranguing and all – and explains what drives the Witnesses to keep going in the face of understandable exasperation, even hostility.

[The] leaders require that all Witnesses, from children to the frail-aged, devote their lives to proselytizing in the hope of gathering millions more into their fold before the divine hammer blow of Armageddon. But the command is not only to “preach” (usually a forlorn offer of a magazine or leaflet); they must also hand in monthly reports detailing the hours they spent “in the field” and how many calls they made. The message at their meetings is relentless and laden with guilt and fear: keep on preaching or you, too, will die at Armageddon.

Back then when my heart was in it, my Saturday mornings were often all about perfecting the soft knock, half-hoping no one would hear me. And I was not alone. For most of those I paired up with on Saturdays, an unopened door was a good door. When it did swing open, revealing a clearly irritated resident, I felt like saying, “Hey, I hate this as much as you do!



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The “World’s Most Dangerous Church”? If You Go There, You’re Guaranteed to Get High

For most people in the West, going to church is preceded by getting into their car and rolling up to their preferred house of God.

It’s a little different at this church in Ethiopia. Going to it means defying death.

The church, which is dug into the side of a cliff, sits roughly 2,500 feet above the ground. To access it, you must scale a portion of the cliff, walk on numerous narrow bridges and finally hop skip and jump your way into the entrance.

Like so:



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Pedi-Cure? Virus-Eating Onions On Your Feet Fight Illness, Cleanse Your Blood! (Also, I Have a Bridge To Sell You)

Look at that picture. No, that’s not a nasty foot infection. It’s kind of the opposite: a slice of healing red onion. Behold the lowly onion’s amazing natural powers, says Andreea Zoia, a popular fashion model and actress from Dubai. Almost as soon as Ms. Zoia placed the onion on her sole and held it in place with her sock, I started feeling [Read More...]

Christian News Suggests That Teaching Bible Classes in Public Schools Might Be OK… Because It’s a Tradition

Earlier this month, Friendly Atheist featured a story about several public elementary schools in North Carolina that are teaching Bible classes – and about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s insistence that the school district puts a stop to that.

I just read the remarkable take on that situation over at Christian News. The publication first lays out the facts fairly. But then, three-fourths of the way into the article, author Heather Clark veers into this:

The first textbook used in the American colonies even before the nation’s founding, “The New England Primer,” was largely focused on the Scriptures, and was stated to be popular in colonial schools for at least one hundred years. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.



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Police In Bangladesh Say They Thwarted an Islamist Murder Plot Against an Atheist School Teacher

Via Agence France-Presse comes the bad news that the fundies of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) – whose crowning achievement came a decade ago when they set off roughly 400 bombs in one day – are staging a comeback.

But there’s also good news: Bangladesh police prevented JMB members from murdering an atheist school teacher.

Bangladesh police said Thursday they had foiled an attempt by suspected Islamic militants to murder an “atheist” school teacher in the capital, amid concerns a banned hardline outfit is reforming. Police fired on the militants from banned group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh whom officers had stopped by chance on Wednesday near the teacher’s home in north Dhaka, a local police chief said.

By chance? Not reassuring. Still, thank heavens Allah the Most Gracious and Merciful had the intended victim’s back. A bit ironic, that.



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