11 July 2008

Holding the Holy Host Hostage

For those who haven't heard the whole story, you can read all about it at PZ's blog. But the short story is this: Webster Cook, a student at the University of Central Florida, went to mass to receive the Eucharist, but rather than consummating the communion by swallowing, he took the host out of his mouth and walked off with it. A clear case of Communion Interruptus. Holy Fucking Host, Batman!

Of course something like that doesn't happen without Bill Donohue and the Catholic League finding out about it. (They have video cameras in every Catholic church that League volunteers monitor continuously.) And when they did, all hell broke loose.

Which gives me an idea. Why don't we all go and do likewise? Go to mass, receive communion, and take the Holy Host home as a hostage. (It's easy to do nowadays. You can receive communion in your hand now standing up, rather than on the tongue while kneeling.) Every time we do that we'll be saving Jesus from being eaten alive by his followers (and a kitten from being killed by God).

Of course, I don't know what we can do with all the spare Jesuses. But I guess we could send them to PZ and let him deal with them.


sconnor said...

Bill Donahue and the "catholic league"? Is that the one with Batman, Wonder Woman and the Wonder Twins? Oh yeah, watch out Webster Cook, the league is going to get medieval on your ass.

Donahue's headline says, "Florida Teen Abuses Eucharists".

...and to masticate it into a "fleshy" pulp, swallowing into the stomach acid, and then evacuating it from your bowels, in the form of a smelly, bacteria-ridden, shit ball, Isn't abuse? Hilarious!

Donahue is a over-zealous, asshole, with high blood pressure -- I live for the day he gets so angry, that his head explodes, in a gory, flowering plume, like the guy from Scanners.


An Qiang said...

As we boldly stroll into the 14th century......at least we have the illuminating Bill Donahue to guide us.

- AQ

v_quixotic said...

It's an American thing isn't it? I can't imagine the Catholics here in Australia getting their knickers in such a twist over an unconsumed biscuit...[sigh]

Anon said...

I laughed when I first read about this happening. But then I thought about it more, and I really have reservations about this.

I think going into churches and taking wafers to hold them hostage would do more harm than good. I can think of few acts that would turn people (including little kids watching at the service) against atheism and shore up public support against atheists more quickly than messing with communion during a church service.

Some people really believe that that silly wafer turns into Jesus. I know it isn't really Jesus, but if you have a group of people in the middle of practicing their religion, and you steal what they believe to be the flesh of their god, you're liable to horrify them and make them hate you and anyone like you.

Some of the more enlightened Christians won't think it's that big of a deal. But some people will think it's a huge deal. And neither group is going to suddenly realize "Hey, it is just a wafer after all! There is no God! What was I thinking?!". No, they're going to react emotionally to it.

Supposedly, the student took the wafer in a sort of protest against public funding of the church through student fees, which is a very valid thing to protest. If the church service were on public property, then I'd say it was a legitimate way to protest (why not take the wine too to celebrate a successful protest?!).

But it was on church property during a church service. That's interfering with people's right to practice religion. Sometimes I think it's okay to break the law to protest, but I don't see what it accomplishes in this case.

It's not going to change laws or public funding of religion (can you see a politician supporting a cause personified by someone stealing communion wafers?). It's not going to change people's minds about religion (it might even make them feel "persecuted" and close their minds even more to reason). There are better ways to protest against the spread of religion.

Bush is in office, and McCain and Obama are falling over each other to get the religious vote. I don't think going into a church and taking communion wafers will do any good, and just risks a backlash against atheists and our rights.

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, I have mixed feelings about this as well, Anon. So I'm mostly joking about the holy hostage caper.

But it is an interesting case, and I don't see how the Catholic church can prevent people from getting their hands on consecrated hosts and then doing whatever the hell they want with them. How can Bill Donohue tell who is a faithful Catholic and who is not?

Anon said...

Thanks for clarifying, Steve. Sorry I misunderstood the tone of your post: it's hard to tell sometimes on the Internets when someone's joking.

I've been looking into it more, and I have even more mixed feelings than before. Based on Rambo123UK's reply on the SAB discussion board, I looked into things more. This "mass" is held on campus in the student union. It's a public university. So it's state-funded worship on state property.

I still think stealing the eucharist wasn't the best of ideas, but I can understand him being upset at $40,000 of student fees going to fund people worshipping in his student union. I'd want to make some sort of statement, too. If they want to eat Christ's body and drink his blood, they should do so on their own turf.

But the presence of university-paid armed guards to protect the wafers the week after the hostage taking shows how seriously some people are taking this whole thing.

It's crazy, literally. All this commotion over a cracker.

Rod of Irony said...

How many calories in a god bikkie anyway?

An Qiang said...

"No God and no religion can survive ridicule. No political church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field, and live." - Mark Twain

It may be true that stealing wafers would offend some people, but why are we really so concerned about this?
Myers's idea of doing whatever the hell he wants to a cracker seems a bit childish, but the alternative is capitulation in the guise of "respect."
I'm sure we all remember the lunacy of Muslims condemning cartoonists to death. Well I for one applaud the newspapers and journalists who printed those cartoons.
We need to ask ourselves where is the difference.
"I'm offended!" should no longer be tolerated as a reasonable defense.
WE should be the ones offended. And pissed off. Let's not trip over ourselves trying to apologize to lunatics.
No one, especially me, is advocating violence or even the threat of harm to anyone. Which is very often more than can be said of our counterparts.

Don't become so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance.

- AQ

sconnor said...

Don't become so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance.

You hit the nail, right on the head.


RR said...

Actually, another thought...

If some sort of public funds are going to these churches, maybe we can make real use of this nonsense.

Tell the local homeless/hungry folks to start showing up! I don't know how much nutritional value "Jesus" has, but it's gotta be better than nothing. If homeless people start showing up for a daily dose of Jesus biscuits it put those things to good use!

And even the religious folks shouldn't complain... isn't caring after the poor one of their edicts?

Anon said...

an qiang said "I'm sure we all remember the lunacy of Muslims condemning cartoonists to death. Well I for one applaud the newspapers and journalists who printed those cartoons.

I also applaud and support the cartoonists. No one, especially not religious people, and especially not religious fanatics who think/claim their God tells them to kill people, should be above public scrutiny, criticism, and satire/parody.

We need to ask ourselves where is the difference."

The difference, in my mind, is those cartoons were printed in a newspaper, not distributed in a mosque. The media should have the right to publish (pretty much) whatever they want to. It's a matter of free speech.

This student though went into a church and took a holy symbol during a private service. I don't think you should do that, any more than a couple of Mormons should come unannounced into a private atheist meeting and steal "The God Delusion", or come into my backyard while I'm barbecuing to tell me about their holy underwear.

The tricky part is in this case with kidnapped cracker, it was public property that the church service was being held, which is illegal. So I think the guy clearly did have a right to do his protest, but I still don't think it really accomplished anything.

Atheists, freethinkers, etc. will appreciate the meaning of the gesture. But it probably will just make the Christians close their minds even further. "Those crazy heathens are barging into our churches now and stealing the body of our Lord and Savior!"

Don't become so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance.

It's a fine line, I agree. I just don't think outraging Christians by stealing their communion wafers is going to get them to see reason. I support this guy's right to disrupt a publicly-funded religious ceremony on public property, but in this case I don't see what good it does.

Anon said...

rr said: Tell the local homeless/hungry folks to start showing up! I don't know how much nutritional value "Jesus" has, but it's gotta be better than nothing.

That sounds good. I can see it now.

Are you hungry? thirsty?
FREE wine and crackers for all
Sundays at 9:30 am
Student Union Room XXX
Brought to you by University of Florida, program publicly-funded

You'll get the homeless, undergrads, wine connoisseurs, etc. all showing up. Presumably, people will know what's up before the service starts. Then you can make a statement: "This service is being funded by public money, so anyone in the public should be able to drink this wine and eat these crackers." The Christians then either have to accept everyone to their table (or at least the homeless: as you said, caring for the poor is one of their supposed mottos) or else get the idea and stop accepting public money and get a real church.

I think it's a great idea, don't know if it'd work though.

An Qiang said...

anon, thanks for the response but I'm afraid you just misunderstood the corollary.
When I made the comparison with the Muslim cartoon debacle I was comparing it to PZ's blog......not the escapades of the "biscuit bandit".
PZ has undoubtedly been condemned to death by nutjobs for his SUGGESTION of stealing a cracker in retaliation. That is all I meant - sorry for the confusion.

But you do bring up another interesting point. Is all this commotion really hurting our cause in the end.
Actually no.
So what good does it do?
First we should all take a look at the Catholic Church. I mean look at what they have been reduced to - issuing death threats over saltines! Oh how far they have come.
Secondly I think that secretly many of them feel ashamed of their church. Now no doubt there will be plenty who circle the wagons, but don't overlook the ones who are hanging their heads at the joke they have become (As I write this, I have to admit this is just my sincere hope, otherwise we are screwed).
Another point - we aren't going to "respect" someone out of their beliefs. Especially fucking idiots who think a Ritz turns into the son of God if you say certain latin words over it. There are advantages of treating the faithful with mock respect to be sure. I'm just not sure I could do it.

Oh and rr's suggestion is a stroke of genius. Have you ever seen a commercial for one of those hot rod monster truck shows? We could have one in the same style:

"Aaaaaaaaaatention all homeless people! This Sunday!, at 12:00 mass, free crackers and liquor for everyone! Here is your chance to eat your Lord and savior! Don't miss it.....it's AWESOME...awesome....awesome....awesome......

RR said...

I like it! Lets start feeding the homeless! Start the campaign!

As for the comment above: This student though went into a church and took a holy symbol during a private service.

I don't see that is was 1- a private service (since when are people turned away from a church service?) 2- he didn't 'take' anything: he was given a cracker to eat. Sure the folks doing the giving associated some religious significance to it, but that doesn't mean he has to... Does EVERYONE who takes this biscuit truly believe it turns into Jesus' body after some hocus-pocus? I seriously doubt it...

This is a non-issue as bad as the cartoonist craziness.

What if I went into the church, asked the priest for a "free bible", then proceeded to go outside and burn it, page-by-page. Would that be anything other than free speech?