Let me take you back just a short distance in time, to the Great Sacred Wafer Scandal, which was seven years ago…

Originally shared by Woozle Hypertwin

Let me take you back just a short distance in time, to the Great Sacred Wafer Scandal, which was seven years ago this summer.

June 29: University of Central Florida undergraduate Webster Cook — a senator in the UCF student government — was attending communion on campus. As part of the communion ritual, he was given an item referred to by Catholics as a “consecrated host” – in practical terms, a particular type of edible wafer which has been subjected to a Catholic consecration ceremony – which, during the normal course of the ceremony, he would have eaten.

Wishing to show the wafer to a fellow student senator in order to explain more about the Catholic faith, he retained it and went to sit down next to the other student, intending to eat it afterwards.

Another attendee apparently objected to this, and attempted to wrestle it from Mr. Cook’s hands. He put it in his mouth but did not eat it, then returned to his seat — but was again accosted soon afterwards:

“She came up behind me, grabbed my wrist with her right hand, with her left hand grabbed my fingers and was trying to pry them open to get the Eucharist out of my hand,” Cook said, adding she wouldn’t immediately take her hands off him despite several requests.

At this point, he left the church — presumably feeling a bit rattled and wanting to think the situation over before deciding what to do next.

July 2: a Catholic Campus Ministry student representative filed a complaint with the Student Union “regarding the behavior of the two young men”.

July 5: Local news reported the incident, claiming (in a sub-headline) that Cook was holding the cracker “hostage”, with the implication that this was because he was “upset religious groups hold church services on public campuses”.

July 6: A prominent Catholic blog claimed he had “stolen” the wafer, repeated the “hostage” claim, and described Cook as a “smug jerk”.

July 7: A Catholic spokesperson expressed outrage on Fox News:

“We don’t know 100% what Mr. Cook’s motivation was,” said Susan Fani, a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. “However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.”

On the same day, it was reported that Cook returned the wafer to the church after receiving death threats via email. News reports continued to echo the Catholic framing, referring to the wafer as “the Holy Eucharist” and “Body of Christ”, saying that he “smuggled” it out of church, was “holding it hostage”, and so on.

July 8: Blogger PZ Myers posts a blog entry supporting Cook, decrying the responses of the Catholic community as “Dark Age superstition and malice, all thriving with the endorsement of secular institutions here in 21st century America” and “a culture of deluded lunatics”[1] and sending out a call for further ritually-prepared crackers on which he planned to commit more “desecration”.

July 11: Catholic League president Bill Donohue issues a press release describing Myers’s reaction as “hysterical”, and noting that a delegate to the National Republican Convention (being held that year in the Twin Cities) had asked for increased security at the convention due to Myers’s presence in nearby Morris so that Catholics in attendance can “worship without fear of violence”, while implying that Myers is threat to free speech.

July 24: Donohue issues a statement comparing Myers’s planned “desecration” event to the burning of crosses and the displaying of Swastikas.

July 29: Myers carries out his planned “desecration”, taking a single “blessed” wafer, piercing it with a nail, and throwing it in the trash along with some coffee grinds, a banana peel, and a few ripped-out pages from the Koran[2] and The God Delusion[3].

The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy described this action as “reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional”, argued that “Attacking the most sacred elements of a religion is not free speech” and that religious feelings should be as strongly protected as the obligation to be truthful in front of a jury. They also call for “reparation” (unspecified).

And all of that for not eating a cracker at the ritually-appointed time — something many practicing Catholics do routinely, and nobody bats an eyelid.

The only thing I can see that speaks well of the Catholic extremists in this incident is that, unlike Muslim extremists, they didn’t actually try to kill Cook or Myers; they only threatened to.

But THE LOGIC IS EXACTLY THE SAME: “You do what we tell you and how we tell you to do it, or we will MESS YOU UP.”

This is why my sympathy for the Muslims “offended” by Charlie Hebdo’s work, no matter how tasteless it may be, is exactly zero.

— Notes —

1. I agree completely.

2. Where is the Muslim outrage?

3. Where is the atheist outrage? Why didn’t Richard Dawkins declare a fatwa on Myers for this obvious and pointed insult? (They were, in fact, friends at this time, and remained so after the event.)


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