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July 12, 2008

Bill Donohue and the Catholic League bully PZ Myers over Eucharist joke

When PZ Myers joking suggested that his readers steal communion wafers, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League went ballistic.

PZ made the joke because he was exasperated by media reports of a Florida university student receiving death threats for walking out of church with some unconsumed Eucharist. Ironically, PZ was standing up for the rights of a Catholic student who was being harassed by fellow Catholics.

For the record, the student, Webster Cook, didn't even steal the wafer, it was given to him. Cook is Catholic and is entitled to receive communion.

He says he didn't intend to desecrate the wafer. He just wanted to show it to his non-Catholic friend, whom he had invited to church, before consuming it. It was an unorthodox move, but hardly a hate crime.

Cook says he only walked out with the cracker after a church member saw him take the blessed cracker and physically assaulted him in an attempt to retrieve the wafer. If that's what happened, good for him for walking out. People are free to worship however they like, but that freedom doesn't extend to enforcing their own rules by force.

PZ was joking about desecrating the Eucharist. In his view, the sheer absurdity of death threats over a cracker called for an equally outrageous rhetorical response. Along the lines of: Oh, yeah, I'll desecrate ten crackers Live! on the Internets!!!, what are you going to do about it?

It's called hyperbole, a tactic often used in the these "jokes" the kids enjoy nowadays. Bill Donohue is from an era when any harsh word against the church was punishable heresy. Somewhere there's an Inquisition missing its Inquisitor.

PZ called out bullying by attempting to provoke an even more disproportionate response from the fanatics. He succeeded.

Donohue and his ilk wrap themselves in the mantle of religious freedom, but they don't give a damn about the other part of the First Amendment: freedom of expression.
Some well-intentioned liberals get sucked in by the Catholic League's main rhetorical trick which is to construe any criticism or mockery as a hate crime.

The Catholic League likes to attack the livelihoods of people who criticize them, or run afoul of their proprietary vision of acceptable discourse about the Catholic Church. Donohue and his minions are doing their best to get PZ fired from the University of Minnesota.

Donohue has no religious credentials of his own and no official connection to the Catholic Church. He's not a priest, he's not a theologian. He's just a self-aggrandizing bully who likes to rail against celebrities and get bloggers fired. Why anyone takes him seriously is beyond me. Donohue managed to whip up a minor moral panic around Amanda Marcotte's joke about the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit--as if he and the Catholic League holds the copyright on the Virgin, like Disney does for Mickey Mouse!

For Donohue to construe that remark as hateful towards Catholics should be enough to permanently disqualify him as a cultural critic. Mockery isn't hatred. Being crass isn't a crime. 

Clearly, Bill Donohue can't take a joke. He is the self-appointed defender of one of the richest and most powerful organizations in human history and he has assigned himself the task of policing snark by atheist bloggers. Donohue's complete lack of perspective makes him ridiculous in the truest sense of the word.

If he had more shame, or less money, Donohue would be totally irrelevant.

I wonder how the Catholic League feels about the sale communion wafers as diet snacks in heavily-Catholic Quebec...

Making fun of people who liken the removal of a communion wafer to kidnapping and hostage-taking is A-OK in my book--especially when these folks seem surprisingly unconcerned about the alleged physical assault that preceded the removal, or the death threats that followed.

The Catholic League claims to be a civil rights organization. Yet it consistently targets high-profile atheists like Amanda Marcotte and PZ Myers and attempts to get them fired.  Draw you own conclusions. 

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Comments

" ... he was too stupid to keep his opinions to himself."

How enlightened of you Mary ... oh wait.

"Personally, I think it's that left-out feeling on Christmas that makes so many of the Christian haters act the way they do..."

Sure, it COULD be "that left-out feeling".

Or it COULD be the centuries long mistreatment of women, or that whole cover-up of the child molestation, the culpability in the Holocaust, the laughable stance on birth control, or the child abuse, or that whole original sin thing, or maybe having spokespeople like that knuckle-dragging lobe-monkey Donohue ... you know, some people actually COULD have legitimate beefs with the catholic church.

"Then maybe you should, er, take the situation into your own hands ... "

Mary, are you encouraging masturbation?

I bet the pope would like to have a word with you about that then (especially if you're actually a boy).


TB,

Criticizing Pope Benedict is one thing (and justified on various matters), but calling him a pedophile is grossly disrespectful, a libel, and way out of line.

Would you please retract your false accusation.

Lindsay, thank you belatedly for your comments.

The best case against sanctioning Myers is that advocacy of wrongdoing on a blog is a trifle, in my view.

What Mary (and others) reported regarding the doctrine of transubstantiation is of course accurate i.e. an accurate representation of the Catholic teaching, which in this case is basically also the teaching of the Orthodox Church in their liturgy, unless I am mistaken.

My question remains: why is this atheist attending Mass unless he is interested in pursuing the Roman Catholic faith? Does he like the incense? If he knew the least bit of European history, he would have known that the doctrine of transubstantiation was a major sticking point in the Protestant Reformation.

As for the commenter who was shocked that an atheist would take a hard line towards fraud, theft and trespass, I would note only that the definition of an atheist is, "someone who does not maintain a belief in the existence of any god or gods."

Mary, re: Francisco Ayala above.
Lol. Are you really so stupid as to think that garnering this kind of attention through deliberate insults of somebody's private faith practices are going to get them to read your books?
No thank you. I have respect for my family, myself, and our traditions. And the clergy in my family is still on the job; perhaps Ayala is just another disgruntled employees, common in whatever profession?

You didn’t read the link did you? You may know your Catholic dogma, but you know nothing about biology, or you’d recognize the name and know Ayala does anything but insult anyone’s private faith. Try to get the story straight BEFORE you hammer away at your keyboard.

TB:

Thanks for your thoughts, but I'm still sticking with my original thought: they don't realize of course they are welcome to come in on Christmas and celebrate, long as they don't piss on the carpets or try to make off with the sacred. And maybe just stay seated during the Communion part too...

As far as me sharing my opinions, see the difference is: I'm not teaching at a public university paid for by the tax dollars of plenty of Catholics, then turning and saying "Just Kidding!!" when my opinions are discovered. Get the difference? If you're not prepared the consequences of sharing your opinions, then don't. That makes sense to me.

Re. you know nothing about biology, or you’d recognize the name and know Ayala does anything but insult anyone’s private faith.

Sorry, I didn't know Ayala was on the same name recognition line as say... Gregor Mendel. You know him, doncha? :-)

Regardless, if what you say is that he is not in the same category as this Myer's -- who clearly does delight in mocking the private faith of others to the point of encouraging destruction -- then what a shame it was you felt to introduce Ayala's good name into this thread in your weak efforts to defend Myers/Cook. Shame really to link Ayala to the latter.

TB,
You're a little slow, but 's ok.

You just call me Jocelyn Elders here, and who knows, maybe you learned a little something 'bout what Cathlics really think. Can't be enlightened with pre-formed conclusions after all.

As to this, "I bet the pope would like to have a word with you about that", I'm betting he's busier with more important things than chatting with me. Besides, hat's what the "hierarchy" is for, right? An effectly structured system of organization that obviously is so enviable to y'all.


Mary,

Why do you need to attack any University that isn't hugely famous?

UW-Morris is a very well respected liberal arts college. Yes, it's more focused on educating undergraduates than graduate students... and that can be a good thing. I didn't attend there, but I did graduate from a similar sized Midwestern liberal arts college, and I value the education I've recieved.

I'm sorry we can't all go to the same college you did... which would be... ?

"Mary,

Why do you need to attack any University that isn't hugely famous?"

Because all of her other "arguments" ran out of steam Ben.

Note how, when the tack of assailing Myers individual credentials as an academician were easily refuted, she immediately went on to attack who he's working for.

And when that fails, she falls back onto the "An effectly structured system of organization that obviously is so enviable to y'all." line of, uh, "reasoning", which is the theological equivalent of shouting U-S-A!! #1!! U-S-A!! #1!!

There's a reason the call it blind faith.

Whose arguments exactly ran out of steam, TB?

Funny how you haven't responded to any of my above comments directly. Mendel anyone?

There's a reason the Church as a whole rises above these petty rantings of the angry few, and has survived over the centuries. It's the people, naturally who are the Church.

And those who would like to paint us into boxes based on their own ignorance don't seem to ever be able to get it together enough to fashion similar institutions, schools, hospitals, or other social help organizations of their own.

Because they are too busy hating and otherwise being negative that their energy seems to burn out on contributing anything positive to society it seems. Or maybe they lacked the motivation in the first that helps so many Catholics get over themselves and work together to fashion a just society?

I don't have all the answers of course, but something tells me with a curious mind and an open attitude toward others, while simultaneously respecting myself, I'm just a bit further along in this game of life than so many who have participated in this thread thus far.

Remember again: when you're ready to ask your questions and hear honest answers, when you're ready to come inside and actually hear what it is so many of us respond to, you are of course all welcome -- women, gays, Jews, etc etc. That's how we've grown and how we will continue to maintain our way of life.

I leave y'all with these parting thoughts, bolded text mine:

<< Matthew 5 >>
King James Bible

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

"Funny how you haven't responded to any of my above comments directly."

And this is one of the reasons why "discussions" on the net are ultimately pointless with people like this.

Usually a loony pops up who can type rambling 9 paragraph "answers" that are, by and large irrelevant to the topic, and then when a person doesn't bother to waste their time arguing with them, point by point, to their satisfaction, they howl, "You haven't answered points 2.3.a thru 3.5.3a!! You're dodging the question.!"

Then, invariably, they'll type something,usually in passing, along the lines of, " ... you are of course all welcome -- women, gays, Jews, etc etc."

Overlooking, as has been pointed out, the open hostility of the Catholic church to women, gays and Jews.

Somehow, it is the fault of those that refuse to respond to repeated bullshit, rather than the person who just can't get it through their thick, dogma encrusted skulls, that the distant bells they hear ringing ain't the voice of god telling them they're great (a la Joan D'Arc), it's the bell ringing that signals the end of the fight, and they're flat on their back, lying on the canvas, blinking like a cartoon character.

Stop swinging Mary. Fights over. You lost.

Let me recap it for you (since you've been out on your feet since, oh, the Dark Ages (another fine Catholic contribution of "helping" humanity)):

PZ Myers is not the party who has done wrong here. The wrong people are the Catholic League and Bill Donohue.

TB,

I don't see that anybody won and somebody else lost in this exchange. We started off with the issue of Cook taking a consecrated host away from a congregation of believers. We debated whether this was desecration of an object of worship that belonged to a faith community. I expressed my view that is was. At the least, it was an event of great disrepect, though I am still not certain what his ultimate motivation was. He did show respect, though, in preserving the host and returning it to the church without precondition.

We dealt with the remarks of PZ Myers and whether they constituted great disrepect or was merely an overstated joke that some overly sensitive people (believers and nonbelievers) couldn't handle. I stated my informed views about PZ in that he is an exceptional scientist (he's also a great writer and communicator on scientific matters). I supported him when he gave it back to the ID science frauds when they dished it out to him. He is also narcissistic, disrepectful, excessively critical, and gratuitous in his unkind attacks on religion and people of faith.

On these points I don't know that I convinced anyone who felt otherwise. It seems to me that the same applies to most everyone who contributed their views. So how does one go about tallying the scores in the Win and Loss columns? Mary pointed out that she can fight her own battles, but I did find her posting of the Sermon on the Mount sincere, and even moving. It is one of the great texts of religious writing that believers and nonbelievers alike have found to be a hopeful and revealing expression of the human heart.

As for your own legally protected free speech that was displayed here, you criticized me unfairly and incorrectly based upon your misreading of my words. You had me saying exactly the opposite of what I wrote and then called me out on things I did not say.

Your syllogistic constructions have left me dumbfounded:

The institutional church sucks.
The church has priests.
Therefore the worshipping faithful suck.

Non believers are rational.
People of faith are stupid.
Therefore, it is immature to get all worked up over a fuckin' cracker.

And this one is the best of all:

Premise 1: EMPTY.
Premise 2: EMPTY.
Therefore, Pope Benedict is a pedophile.

There is plenty of fodder available for criticizing the Institutional Church, the Pope, and Bill Donohue (although I agree with him that there is a lot of anti-Catholic bigotry, as seen in some of these comments.) But, I don't see how insulting the worshipping faithful and failing to see the matter from their perspective (without having to believe as they do) follows, necessarily. If you, TB, were to attempt to undertake a proper critical look at the Institutional church's failings, I would still have little faith in your powers of analysis, reasoning, and intellectual honesty.

Mary, Quoting scripture to settle an argument only works with those who take scripture seriously. For those who do not, it's the equivalent of holding crosses up to stop vampires in campy movies.

Norman Costa, I agree with you on most points, up until St. Mary, the Aggrieved Catholic Troll, made herself the subject of the thread.


cfrost,

Maybe Mary was using it as a gotcha argument tour de force. I don't know.

Personally, I reacted to it, as I usually do, as one of the great treasures of ancient world literature. Perhaps you meant (correct me if I'm wrong) that taking scirpture seriously means believing it to be the inspired word of God. If that is how it was intended to be used, as a way to break a debate stalemate, then it's never going to work with someone who does not share your faith. Then I would agree with you.

This particular passage is regarded by so many believers and nonbelivers, scholars and writers, erudite and the less sophisticated as expressing a message that is far more universal than it is parochial. So I took it for what it was - a beautiful expression of the human desire for peace, compassion, and justice. Regardless of her motivation, I'm glad she posted it.

I agree with you on most points, up until St. Mary, the Aggrieved Catholic Troll, made herself the subject of the thread.

Lol.
1) Trade "aggrieved" for "Proud";
2) I am the first to say I'm no "Saint" nor do I expect to be of the very few in number expected to make it through that keyhole (though I do hope and work toward it);
and
3) I thought y'all were about honest learning, and enlightening yourselves about other traditions. I've offered up some facts in this thread, and some key "literature" for you to peruse if you like. Suddenly the thread is all about me, huh?

I'll take that as a Victory, in that you've nothing left ugly or not to toss my way. Clarly, I know more about Catholic religious beliefs and teachings than many of you own here who are operating from a place of ignorance. I am confident, and growing more so every day, in who I am. You don't see me sneaking in places, encouraging disruption/destruction of private places/objects. If that angers you, and makes you speak out against me, so be it.

Sleep well everyone.

I agree with you on most points, up until St. Mary, the Aggrieved Catholic Troll, made herself the subject of the thread.

Lol.
1) Trade "aggrieved" for "Proud";
2) I am the first to say I'm no "Saint" nor do I expect to be of the very few in number expected to make it through that keyhole (though I do hope and work toward it);
and
3) I thought y'all were about honest learning, and enlightening yourselves about other traditions. I've offered up some facts in this thread, and some key "literature" for you to peruse if you like. Suddenly the thread is all about me, huh?

I'll take that as a Victory, in that you've nothing left ugly or not to toss my way. Clarly, I know more about Catholic religious beliefs and teachings than many of you own here who are operating from a place of ignorance. I am confident, and growing more so every day, in who I am. You don't see me sneaking in places, encouraging disruption/destruction of private places/objects. If that angers you, and makes you speak out against me, so be it.

Sleep well everyone.

Overlooking, as has been pointed out, the open hostility of the Catholic church to women, gays and Jews.

Clearly, this too was written in ignorance and error. It is easier to cling to such untruths, TB, than to actually educate yourself to the Church's teachings on these matters, many of which have already been addressed in this thread. You're not my/our enemy -- you're just woefully misinformed, but still loved no less all the same.

it's the bell ringing that signals the end of the fight, and they're flat on their back, lying on the canvas, blinking like a cartoon character.

Stop swinging Mary. Fights over. You lost.

You must have poor eyesight TB -- as I stated earlier, I'm still standing and you haven't so much as grazed me with your shots. And I, why I have never even tried to land a blow against you on this thread, and yet clearly I have won this argument.

Don't be jealous; come join us and know the blessing of inner peace and security.

PS. What happened to Lindsey's ads?


So I took it for what it was - a beautiful expression of the human desire for peace, compassion, and justice. Regardless of her motivation, I'm glad she posted it.

Beautiful it is, but the motivation here is a hearty "up yours" not entirely consonant with the text. Or worse, the motivation is also a patronizing, more in sorrow than in anger, sorry you're going to hell, "up yours". Which brings us back around to Bill Donohue.

Mary also has the annoying habit of fucking up the HTML italics tags in her hurry to get something posted. As someone upthread pointed out: "preview" is your friend.

" ...but the motivation here is a hearty "up yours" ... "

Yeah, it is,cfrost, but that's also part and parcel of the whole paradigm of "God is all powerful and omnipotent and you better do what he says or you'll go to hell for all eternity and suffer - but he loves you!"

And it's not just Catholicism, although they think it's all about them, because it's always about them; it's symptomatic of people who have externalized the self to too great an extent - much the same way that a conservative takes criticism of America as a criticism of them personally.

Also note that they respond to generalized observations as if you were specifically attacking Catholicism.

When you get that externalized, talking with someone like that is like screaming at a wall, but as Ian MacKaye said

You built up that wall around you
And now you can't see out
And now you can't hear my words
No matter how loud I shout

It's like screaming at a wall
Someday it's gonna fall

It doesn't really matter if the religious evolve and grow, society will sooner or later simply outpace them.

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