Not so very long ago, Americans mocked muslim nations for rioting and issuing death threats over the publication of a few cartoons in Danish newspapers. A little over one month ago, Americans once again sat back in a cloud of smug judgmentalism as they laughed at the uproar caused by a teddy bear that was named “Mohammad” by a classroom full of kids. American christians aren’t so backward and superstitious as all those muslims, the religious amongst us congratulated themselves arrogantly. Afterall, we don’t threaten to kill people over cartoons and teddy bears, nor do we fly airplanes into buildings, and kill thousands of innocent people like they do!
But the religious fundamentalists among us are now being faced with the cold hard reality of their own lurking insanity as they threaten a college professor’s job and his very life because he dared to mock the catholic church when they exploded in outrage after a teen-ager “kidnapped” a host — a goddam cracker served at the holy eucharist in a catholic church. Unfortunately, that same mentality — or lack of mentality — that caused some muslims to commit acts of violence is the same militant kneejerkism that lurks in every fundamentalist religious movement, even here in America, the land of egalitarianism and tolerance.
Except for the uncomfortable fact that there is very little tolerance shown towards anyone who is “different” in this country. Tolerance is the lack of discrimination against anyone who is different — and this includes people who do not share your religious beliefs and who might even ridicule them. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that tolerance is something that the religious in every country of the world are sorely lacking.
Some people accuse atheists of possessing the same militantism as the religious wingnuts, while noting that there is a disproportionate number of atheists in science. But they are conveniently overlooking the fact that atheists/scientists have endured the burning of their books (and their bodies) at the hands of institutionalized religious insanity throughout the ages without rioting and killing people, or even threatening to do so. Don’t believe me? As a modern day test, why don’t you steal a science book from your local library — Darwin’s “Origin of Species” if you must — photograph it and include it in a letter to the local newspaper telling the public that you kidnapped this book from the library and plan to burn it on the front steps of your local catholic church. What would happen to you?
You would be issued a fine from the library for not returning the book and you might possibly be charged with a misdemeanor for burning without a permit or for vandalism or for something similar. And maybe your library card would be revoked since you have publically proven yourself to be a hopeless cretin. But would such an act result in threats to your livelihood? Your life? The lives of your family?
But if you steal a tasteless piece of unleavened bread from your local catholic church after it was given to you — well! That is a horrible act that should result in your death! And if you have the audacity to agree with someone who committed such a heinous act, as PZ Myers has done on his blog, then you deserve to lose your job (nevermind the freedom of speech that is supposedly held dear in this country). Further, you and those whom you love should be killed for your blasphemy!
But, the religious wingnuts whine, unleavened bread is transubstantiated into the body of Jesus Christ upon consecration by a priest! So of course this kid stole the body of Christ! And PZ Myers is advocating the same — so of course they are horrible people who should be killed so they can begin burning in hellfire earlier than they would have otherwise!
But transubstantiation is a load of horseshit, as anyone — catholic or not — with a wheat allergy can tell you, since they are just as likely to suffer anaphylaxis from consuming unconsecrated host wafers as they are after consuming a consecrated host. (I assume that vegans who are also catholics realize that consecrated hosts haven’t really undergone “transubstantiation”). Worse, the wafers taste the same before and after consecration — if god was real, you’d think he would have the common decency to at least improve the flavor of consecrated hosts, even a teensy bit (although, I have heard that human flesh, which I presume, includes the flesh of JC himself, tastes a little sweeter than chicken — which sounds much tastier than those horrible disgusting wafers). And all this outrage overlooks the fact that christians are endorsing ritual cannibalism, either symbolic or real, depending upon your beliefs, as a central part of their belief system — you don’t have to be a vegetarian to find that practice absolutely revolting.
The real enemy here is the irrational attachment of exceptional emotional value to silly objects like hosts. This irrational belief that some objects are “holy” and therefore deserve more respect and consideration than do mere people should stop — how many millions of “mere people” have been murdered in senseless wars that began in the name of Christ or Mohammed for the purpose of protecting holy objects and rituals? Who are the real lunatics here?