Should PZ Myers Have Desecrated the Communion Wafer?

***Update***: The Comments section is working. Comment away!

The latest newsletter from the Secular Student Alliance has a great point-counterpoint on PZ MyersWafergate scandal.

Board member Joe Foley says PZ crossed the line:

Had he simply bought an unconsecrated communion wafer, or exercised his artistic license to create a lookalike, Catholics would have no more right to tell him what to do with it than Muslims to ban a cartoon. In a free society, people are allowed to express opinions that others find offensive; no one has to listen to them. However, by encouraging his readers to enter a Mass and abscond with the “Eucharist,” which Catholicism teaches is the actual flesh of Jesus once the priest has performed a certain ritual on it, PZ Myers trampled on another fundamental right: consenting adults should be able to practice whatever religious beliefs they want in the privacy of their own church, without having to worry that one of the faces in the pews could be a Pharynguloid infiltrator who’s come to steal the Savior.

On the other side, Board member Chris Calvey says PZ’s desecration was worth it:

Ridicule is not likely going to win over the hearts and minds of any deeply religious people… if conversion is even our goal in the first place. If it is, however, then a worthy target of our efforts should instead be the large number of nominally religious people who rarely ever give their faith much thought. One way or another, we should encourage them to examine everything more critically. When they do, they may come to realize that the religion of their upbringing is in fact nonsense. The hysterical overreactions we’ve seen over trivial things like crackers, teddy bears, and cartoons will only serve to guide them to this conclusion.

A communion wafer is just a cracker. If there were any reason to suppose that these crackers are literally the body of Christ, then they would be entitled to more respect, but no one can support that patently absurd belief with evidence. On the contrary, isn’t the issue about respecting people — regardless of whether we accept their beliefs? Certainly, everyone should be granted the freedom to believe whatever they want to in so far that it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others. No one is advocating disrupting church services or preventing anyone from worshipping whichever carbohydrate they wish. Ironically, the only people who are actually suffering are PZ Myers and Webster Cook, who have both faced harassment, the possibility of expulsion from their respective universities, and death threats.

Check out the full pieces and weigh in on their arguments at the SSA’s site!

  • http://www.BlueNine.info EKM

    At one point, Joe Foley says: That’s the bargain of a secular society: believers won’t bring their rituals into the public square and force nonbelievers to participate….
    What society is he talking about? Not the US of A, that’s for sure.

  • Steven Carr

    The body of Christ should have been masticated.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/MattDittloff Mattmon

    This is exactly why we need to keep pushing the idea that religious ideas should not be protected from criticism. It seems that even some atheists are falling into that trap.

  • http://atheistisland.ning.com/ skathach

    I wouldn’t have had the guts to do it, but I’m glad someone does.

    He did nothing illegal, he committed no crime. But he DID commit a “sin” and in doing so he damn sure made a valid point. I agree with Mattmon. It’s far too often that we irreligious peeps fall into the “why can’t we all just get along” trap. The ugly fact is, the respect only goes one way in this world. I don’t see xians going out of their way to be respectful of my non-beliefs, but I can’t even voice my opinions in public without suffering major backlash.

    I say, good on ya, PZ!

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    I support PZ doing this because I believe that it communicates the crucial message that religious belief is not off limits to criticism simply by virtue of being religious in nature. It can be argued that acts like this simply contribute to the demonization of atheists, but it is hard to imagine our image being any worse than it is now in the U.S.

  • Jen

    consenting adults should be able to practice whatever religious beliefs they want in the privacy of their own church, without having to worry that one of the faces in the pews could be a Pharynguloid infiltrator who’s come to steal the Savior.

    Are people entitled to private worship? That doesn’t make sense to me. Isn’t a primary objective of nearly every religion to convert everyone else? Doesn’t that mean (in theory at least) they have to have those dirty heathens in the room?

  • Aj

    on another fundamental right: consenting adults should be able to practice whatever religious beliefs they want in the privacy of their own church, without having to worry that one of the faces in the pews could be a Pharynguloid infiltrator who’s come to steal the Savior.

    I’ve heard of the first right, but the second right (in bold) I haven’t seen before. Getting the cracker absolutely did not infringe on any rights to practice religion. Why is someone who doesn’t believe this shit spouting such nonsense? I’m not sure if it even qualifies as theft as the cracker is freely given.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X