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 of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.

God-Bothering War Protester Dodges Taxes For Religious Reasons; Judge Will Have None Of It

An Australian woman says paying taxes doesn’t fit with her religion, so she refused to file a return for 10 years. 

The court caught up with her yesterday and fined her $8,500 (US$6,000), which is a mild sentence considering the alternative; Clemencia Barnes, 68, could have been put in jail for eight years.

She failed to lodge a tax return between 2000 and 2010, and early last year was ordered by the Launceston Magistrates Court to do so. However, she failed to lodge the returns and was subsequently charged with failing to comply with [a] court order.

She told Mr. Marron [the judge] … that she had a right to live by her religious ideology. “She said that to comply would be a denial of her own beliefs,” he said. “She said she could not support a system that waged war on Iraq.”

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Saudi Top Cleric Claims That Chess Is the Devil’s Game

We all know that for mere mortals, seeing more than four or five moves ahead in chess is devilishly difficult. Now we find that in Saudi Arabia, chess is actually the work of the devil.

Is it because the queens aren’t dressed in burqas? No, but the real reason is just as kooky. Worried sick by the sneaking suspicion that somewhere in the kingdom, smart people might be enjoying themselves,

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has declared the playing of chess “forbidden,” calling it a waste of time and money that creates hatred between players.

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Hindu Posse Attacks Train Passengers For Possibly Carrying Beef

In an almost-replay of a shocking story out of India last year, a group of Hindu activists went berserk on a train in Khirkiya station in Madhya Pradesh state a few days ago.

The reason for the group assault? A Muslim couple on the train was suspected of carrying beef.

The 80-percent-Hindu majority in India believes that cows are sacred animals and that eating beef is tantamount to blasphemy. So a gang of especially devout nannies attacked the Muslims to teach them a lesson.

The police said the couple was in a train when members of the Gauraksha Samiti seized a bag from them. The couple told the BBC that they were not carrying any bag containing beef.

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Scientists Pat and Peter Shaw, Rejecting “Religious Do-Gooders,” Ended Their Lives on Their Own Terms

At the end of their time on earth, Pat and Peter Shaw, a biochemist and an explorer/meteorologist, respectively, could look back on lives well lived. The suicide pact between the two, in which they knowingly took lethal drugs, was no act of desperation.

Their cultural and intellectual pursuits were many – classical music, opera, literature, wine, arguments over dinner with their many friends. They donated 10 percent of their annual income to political and environmental movements. Family events were spent thoroughly debating the topics of the day [with their three daughters].

As their capacity declined, the conversation about ending their own lives became more serious and their rejection of what Peter called “religious do-gooders” became more fierce. “It was also a way into their favourite topics; philosophy, ethics, politics, the law …,” says their youngest daughter, Kate. “The idea that their end-of-life decisions could be interfered with by people with the superstitions of medieval inquisitors astounded them, and alarmed them.”

Last spring, things started going downhill fast for the Australian couple.

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Philadelphia Mayor Claims That Wannabe Cop Killer’s Motive Has Nothing to Do With Islam

Oh, this is rich. Remember Thursday night’s shooting of a Philadelphia cop by a (mentally ill?) Muslim man who said he was defending the values of the Qur’an?

I just read the reaction of the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney.

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