University of Minnesota at Morris biology professor P.Z. Myers has repeated his threat to desecrate the Eucharist, saying “I have to do something. I’m not going to just let this disappear.”
Speaking in an interview with the Minnesota Independent, Myers characterized the Eucharist as a “cracker.” He said that the vitriolic responses he received from self-described Catholics had strengthened his resolve.
“I have to do something,” he said in the interview. “I'm not going to just let this disappear. It's just so darned weird that they're demanding that I offer this respect to a symbol that means nothing to me. Something will be done. It won't be gross. It won't be totally tasteless, but yeah, I'll do something that shows this cracker has no power. This cracker is nothing.”
According to Myers, a minority of the threats even directed anti-Jewish remarks at him. Myers was in fact raised Lutheran.
When the Minnesota Independent asked Myers how his proposed action differed from U.S. military personnel’s reported abuse of the Koran, Myers responded:
“There's a subtle difference there -- maybe an important difference. I don't favor the idea of going to somebody's home or to something they own and possess and consider very important, like a graveyard -- going to a grave and desecrating that. That's something completely different. Because what you're doing is doing harm to something unique and something that is rightfully part of somebody else -- it's somebody else's ownership. The cracker is completely different. This is something that's freely handed out.”
Myers claimed the furor generated by his threat was a result of the weakening state of religion. “This is them lashing out. It's a disparate ploy to be relevant and to be important again... They're looking for somebody to take their ire out on.”
Last week Myers had threatened to desecrate the Eucharist in response to a Florida incident in which a student senator allegedly held a consecrated Host hostage.
“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers wrote on July 8 on his blog Pharyngula. “…if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage… but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, in a Tuesday statement criticized Myers for showing deference to Islam but not Catholicism in Myers’ Minnesota Independent interview.
Donohue cited Myers’ 2006 remarks on a Danish controversy surrounding derogatory depictions of Mohammed, in which he said the cartoons “lack artistic or social or even comedic merit, and are presented as an insult to inflame a poor minority.”
Donohue continued: “He even went so far as to say that Muslims ‘have cause to be furious.’ (His italic.) Worthy of burning down churches, pledging to behead Christians and shooting a nun in the back…”
“We hope Myers does the right thing and just moves on without further disgracing himself and his university,” Donohue stated. “The letter I received from University of Minnesota President Robert H. Bruininks makes it clear that school officials want nothing to do with his hate-filled remarks. It would also be nice if Myers’ fans would cease and desist with their hate-filled screeds.”
In a Friday Catholic League statement Donohue said that Myers’ remarks and the reactions of Myers’ supporters has prompted Thomas E. Foley, a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, to voice concern for Catholics who are attending the September convention.
“Accordingly, Foley has asked the top GOP brass to provide additional security while in the Twin Cities so that Catholics can worship without fear of violence,” Donohue said.
The Florida incident which provoked Myers’ desecration threat happened in June when Webster Cook, a student senator at the University of Central Florida, reportedly received a consecrated Host at a campus Mass and took it back to his seat to show his curious friend. When confronted by a Catholic leader who reputedly tried to retrieve the Host, Cook left the church and stored the Sacrament in a plastic bag. He returned the Host on Sunday July 6 and apologized, but said he was motivated by his opposition to the Catholic campus group’s use of student funds.
Catholic students in an official complaint charged Cook with disruptive conduct, while Cook responded with an official complaint concerning alleged physical force.
According to wftv.com, Cook is now pressing charges against the University of Central Florida Catholic Campus Ministries for hazing, alleging the Catholic group violated an anti-hazing rule against the forced consumption of food. The rule is normally applied to fraternity initiations.
Cook has also charged the Catholic group of violating the school’s underage alcohol policy by serving communion wine to underage students.
Anthony Furbush, an officer in the university’s Student Government Association (SGA), has filed an affidavit of impeachment against Cook, alleging that he violated SGA ethics when he announced that he was an SGA official during the Mass. He claimed this status as a reason he did not have to leave the Mass when asked. If impeached, Cook would be stripped of his SGA position.