Saying “Catholicism has been actively poisoning the minds of its practitioners” and characterizing religious instruction as “a devastating crime against the whole of the human race,” University of Minnesota at Morris biology professor Dr. Paul Zachary Myers claims to have carried out his threat to desecrate the Eucharist.
Prof. Myers says that he pierced a Host with a rusty nail and then threw it in the trash alongside coffee grounds, banana peels, and pages torn respectively from the Koran and a book by the atheist polemicist Richard Dawkins.
In a rambling prelude to his announcement of the desecration, Myers tried to explain his actions in a Thursday post on his blog “Pharyngula.” Referencing the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which he said codified Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist and established legal punishment for Jews, he said that accusations of Eucharistic desecration had been harmful to Jews in medieval Europe.
“That is the true power of the cracker, this silly symbol of superstition. Fortunately, Catholicism has mellowed with age — the last time a Catholic nation rose up to slaughter its non-Christian citizenry was a whole 70 years ago, after all — but the sentiment still lingers,” he said, apparently making a reference to the Spanish Civil War.
Myers said he had received “thousands of mindless comments” from Catholics and quoted several letters he had received. He said prayerful letters with no threats were representative of the majority of his e-mail, but he also quoted several threatening and bizarre e-mails.
The professor argued that Catholics were intolerant for demanding he be fired and sending threats, repeating his claim that he was motivated by the case of Webster Cook, a student senator at the University of Central Florida, who was accused of taking a Host from a Catholic Mass and keeping it in a plastic bag.
Responding to charges that he is an evil man, he said the truly evil were “hypocritical” clerics who dressed ornately while preaching poverty, people who “undermined family planning efforts for the poor.”
He then asserted that religious education is a crime against humanity, saying:
“And if I wanted to be so evil that I would commit a devastating crime against the whole of the human race, twisting the minds of children into ignorance and hatred, I would be promoting the indoctrination of religion in children's upbringing, and fomenting hatred against anyone who dared speak out in defiance.”
Saying he was inspired by an old woodcut that depicted Jews stabbing the Host, Myers then said he pierced what he claimed was a consecrated Host with a rusty nail.
“And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffee grounds and a banana peel. My apologies to those who hoped for more, but the worst I can do is show my unconcerned contempt,” he wrote.
Myers did not say where he had acquired the reputed consecrated Host or who had provided it.
He said the also threw in pages from the Koran and Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion,” posting a picture of the act on his blog which appeared to support his claims.
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, responded to Myers’ reported action in a Thursday statement.
Noting that a formal complaint has already been made against Myers, Donohue said “What he did—in both word and deed—constitutes a bias incident, as defined by the University of Minnesota.”
University policy states “Expressions of disrespectful bias, hate, harassment or hostility against an individual, group or their property because of the individual or group’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion…can be forms of discrimination.”
“It is important for Catholics to know that the University of Minnesota will not tolerate the deliberate destruction of the Eucharist by one of its faculty. Just as African Americans would not tolerate the burning of a cross, and Jews would not tolerate the display of swastikas, Catholics will not tolerate the desecration of the Eucharist,” Donohue said.