Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: "Petty and stupid. Hateful and stupid. Just plain stupid. And nothing makes them stupider than religion."

There are days when it is agony to read the news, because people are so goddamned stupid. Petty and stupid. Hateful and stupid. Just plain stupid. And nothing makes them stupider than religion. (Pharyngula)

And there are days when it is agony to have to defend a Scibling on the flimsy grounds that, well, he's right, isn't he? PZ Myers at Pharyngula has raised the predictable shit storm by expressing appropriate outrage at the Christian Taliban's (Florida division) attempt to ruin the life (and limb) of a University of Central Florida student who didn't let a communion wafer dissolve in his mouth but instead retrieved it, intact, outside the church. According to the ever reliable Fox News station in Florida (ever reliable as a purveyor of religious whacko nonsense), he wanted to show it to a friend:

Webster's friend, who didn't want to show his face, said he took the Eucharist, to show him what it meant to Catholics.

Webster gave the wafer back, but the Catholic League, a national watchdog organization for Catholic rights claims that is not enough.

"We don't know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was," said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. "However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it." (Fox News, Orlando)

The Catholic League is not a national watchdog organization. It is a single vicious pitbull, Bill Donohue, who has made a career out of antisocial behavior towards anyone who suggests that not everything Donohue defines as "Catholic" is as pure as the driven snow. Yes, they do know what his motivation was. The Catholic League and the Catholic Church and their ilk don't care. They want to make another point: don't touch the hot stove.

I think these people made that point a couple of times before: to Salman Rushdie and to newspapers printing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

More like this

Watch out. You made the tragic error of equating the loons honking at PZ with Islamic extremists. They will be after you explaining in great detail how they are completely different. And then they will threaten your job and perhaps your life.

Perhaps belonging to an organized religion and having an appreciation of irony are mutually exclusive.

First Revere as you know I dont comment too often on the Sunday Sermonettes. But it appears that all that Fox News has done from what you posted was to report the news on this. Okay and in doing so they pissed off the Catholics. They didnt make news as some of the other networks would have. But they have already changed their web page of the account a bit. Even then its to apparently clarify descriptives but no the act.

But as to the religious assault on this student you have this one down pat. In fact its so patently ridiculous to even bring it up that the Catholics need to have a drug test done.

"However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it."

Pure unmitigated BULLSHIT! A hate crime would be to take the local faggot, baby raping, boy fondling priest and to tie him to a car bumper face down and drag him through town until his bones showed. Now that gets my vibe as a hate crime.

This doesnt even come close to a hate crime.

Bill Donohue and Susan Lani and the rest of the Pharisees need a tour at the Red Mosque in Baghdad. Their very existence there would be considered to be sacrilegious. Let them visit Teheran and spout off about Christianity and see where it gets them. Talk about intolerance. Pack a Bible onto a plane into the place inbound by all means too.

They apparently want to push it a bit further by suggesting that the student be brought up on charges in front of the school. The Catholics are hijacking their own religion to take the Sacraments to a whole new level... a legal one! Jesus gave the Sacraments to the disciples freely, and it was of their own choosing what to do with it. He didnt say that if you didnt that you would go to Hell. Nor that if you didnt eat your bread properly and chew it 50 times that you would be removed from school because of some stink storm.

"Take, eat, for this is my body. Do it often in remembrance of me." It makes no reference that you had to do it, or not. If the disciples had decided not to, then no ill will would have come from it. It would have simply evoked the questions, "Do I believe?" or "Do I really have to?"

The first amendment to the Constitution grants the right of Freedom of Religion to those who would practice it. It also gives you the right of Freedom from Religion and not to.

Jesus H. Christ. What the kid did was in horribly bad taste. If he had approached the priest he would have given one freely but kids do dumb things that are always in bad taste. Hell, I was an altar boy and I would give this kid cover from this Catholic lynching, just as I would a Baptist preacher who got caught with someone elses wife. We all make mistakes and this is only an affront to an organization but not to God. That organization needs to look inward, rather than outward.
Keep us posted on developments Revere.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 13 Jul 2008 #permalink

Revere I understand that you want to be fair and condemn all religions for their overreactions to intentional or unintentional provocations. However the Mohammad cartoons is a whole different thing from Salam Rushdie or this kid. The Fatwa on Rushdie is an extreme example of what happened to this kid. I do not like the response to the Mohammad cartoon either, BUT it was a deliberate political provocation designed to make Muslims look bad. Predictable of religious folks that some took the bait and looked very bad. But this had political intent (IMO) to advance the cause of another zealotry - not Judaism but Zionism which again IMO are two different balls of wax.

Per CounterPunch - full article at

"So, lets look at the guy who started this whole cartoon escapade. Hes Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of the Danish newspaper. In all of the Lexis-Nexis database of stories from the American media on the Mohammed cartoons, there is absolutely no mention of the fact that Rose is a close confederate of arch-Islamophobe Daniel Pipes. Indeed, there is almost no context at all about Roses newspaper. On a brief mention in the Washington Post gave a hint at a fact desperately needed to understand the situation. The Post described the affair as a calculated insult by a right-wing newspaper in a country where bigotry toward the minority Muslim population is a major, if frequently unacknowledged, problem.

I wonder what Donohue and his ilk will do with their faux outrage if PZ, or anyone holds the consecrated cracker "hostage" demanding that the church fire Cardinal George Pell, or even better extradite Cardinal Bernard Law to the US to face charges of aiding and abetting child sexual abuse.

My Guess - the faux outrage will quickly disappear, and a low to mid-ranking RCC apparatchik will issue a statement that it was all a misunderstanding and that the wafer is not actually Jebus or that the magic beans lose their magic as soon as they exit the church door, or some such.

By Stagyar zil Doggo (not verified) on 13 Jul 2008 #permalink

K: Yes, there are some differences, I agree. I loathe Pipes and his gang of thugs but I was aware that the Danish provocateur was a right wing nut case. Bill Donohue is also a right wing nutcase, BTW. But, yes, there are differences. But there are also similarities, and one is the willingness to threaten someone (not just the kid, but PZ, too) over something like this. If one stresses the similarities (I am by temperament a lumper, not a splitter) than there isn't much difference between "It's a Frackin' Cracker" or "It's a Frackin' Cartoon" or "It's a Frackin' novel." That's why I chose the title of the post as I did. So the fact that Rose is a provocateur doesn't matter to me. PZ is a provocateur, also, but I don't think that threatening his life over a Frackin' Cracker makes any rational sense. Your reasoning suggests that the cartoon episode is in some sense less bad because of the motives of the newspaper publisher. Suppose his motives had been different (e.g., stupidity)? Would that have made a difference here? Not for what I was trying to say, but perhaps for other kinds of points. And just for the reason that most people don't know the motives of the publisher it is easier for me to point out the similarities rather than the differences.

Personally, I think PZ was right as well.

Religious beliefs are, without exception, remarkably silly and silly beliefs need to be mocked. On another comment I made the comparison between someone coming to you and complaining of their humors acting up, any sensible person would laugh in their face.

So is the proper response to all of this "poor me" whining; when they cease believing nonsense I will cease mocking them for it.

Revere, I understand your points. However when I lived in TN in an all white county my ex and I invited churches that had black members in them to come and help fix up houses of poor people. We were naive. We ended up with a cross burned on our front lawn. The point was not to desecrate the cross, but to scare us out of the county. In the end we left. While not an exact parallel it comes to mind for me right now. I don't think the point of the Mohamed cartoon had anything to do with religion. It had to do with stirring up Muslims with bad intents. You can say they should not have been stirred up - their bad religious views made them act poorly. Why not mention the zealotry of the Zionists to publish the cartoon as an example at the same time. That would feel more balanced IMO.

It seemed to me, when reading Dawkins book Delusion, that Christian and Muslim examples were much more prominent than Jewish examples of bad religious behavior. Made me wonder if his publisher was Jewish. It didn't feel good to me.

We have a genocide going on in Palestine. We have mass killings of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq and perhaps soon in Iran. There is a plan afoot in the US to use religious stereotyping to decide who to investigate in this country - more openly than is now being done (read that as Muslims are fair game). I despise the excesses of Muslims along with other religious people. I have no interest in ANY religion. But when religious bigotry is being stirred up in the way it is right now, I think balance in attacking religious bigotry is pretty important.

That's all....

Say, when we're talking about the cartoons, are we talking about the original ones, or the doctored ones?

Apples and oranges, guys.

K. I think it's a matter of emphasis. If you want to know my views of the Palestine problem, just go over to the sidebar and click on "Israel/Palestine." Similar stuff over at the old site, but no categories. You have to search via Google: palestine

I have not been in a church in over 25 years. But the dude is lucky my Mother wasn't there, she would have clocked him.

I might have taken a swipe at him myself, simply because he walked into a Church to disrespect a peoples religion, and he did it overtly (it's a simple matter to just put the cracker into your pocket without anyone noticing).

People have a right to practice their faith without this crap, whether they be Muslim, Jewish, or whatever Christian religion. So long as they do not infringe on my freedom from religion. Those who would attack any religion in this fashion would also endanger peoples freedon from religion. There can be zero tolerance for this behavior.

The article you linked to kept referring to the wafer as a Cracker in a manner one would not have dared to direspect some other religions. People forget that in the history of this country, Catholics were not well tolerated. And despite having 20 percent of the population, the only Catholic President we had never served out his full term. It seems though, people can call the Catholic Church a Great Whore and get away with it, and there is no great comeback term like racist or anti-semite to shut them up. Think about it.

Yet you refer to the Catholic League which I rarely even see in the news as a "vicious pitbull". It is obviously a very ineffective one. Say the same about the Jewish Defense League and see what happens. I googled your sight and it has never even been mentioned. Thats effectiveness.
To your credit, you did call the ADL a bunch of thugs - in a comment.

Your anger is misdirected on this one.

pft: You don't read very carefully. I called Bill Donohue, who is a horse's ass, a vicious pit bull. He is the Catholic League and he is on TV distressingly often, even if you don't see him. The kid who took the wafer didn't steal it and wasn't holding it hostage. He was showing it to a friend. The blogger I linked to, PZ Myers, was appropriately outraged at the way this kid was being treated over what is really a piece of unleavened bread, not something you ruin the life (and possibly limb) of a college kid over. But that's Bill Donohue, who does this kind of thing habitually to promote himself and his bogus organization. He and the Catholic League (one and the same) are scumbags. Nobody went into the church with the idea of "disrespecting" it.

The Rev. Hagge was roundly criticized for his remarks about the Catholic Church. The Church, meanwhile, has been intemperate and much worse on too many occasions to count -- as you are aware. So I don't think my anger is misdirected. Your defensiveness is misinformed because you didn't bother to ascertain the facts in this case.

revere, are you sure, you are (primarily) a scientist ?
I don't find this language (hore's ass etc.)
in scientific articles.

as long as such acts are not forbidden by law it's inappropriate to
pursue people for doing it. It would mean disrespect to the system
and its constitution.
If Susan Fani speaks of a "hate crime" then she should mention
the paragraph, the law which it violates (definition of "crime")

Did the catholics ever require or attempt such a law being established ?
Did they ever tell peopl it's "forbidden" ? Is there such a note on a public
message-board which everyone can see when entering the church ?
If not, they don't have a reason to complain now.

Revere I value your views on pretty much all subjects and know you have spoken out about Palestine. Sorry if my comments implied otherwise.

I think however if we put what happened regarding the cartoon in a different setting it would look different. If a Brit wanted to stir up trouble in Ireland to justify actions against the Irish Irish and did so by getting a Scott Irish Newspaper in Belfast to publish a cartoon making fun of the Pope it would probably work. No doubt some firebrand Catholic Irish would do something like burn the newspaper building and things might blow up again. While some might be defending their religion, the whole thing would be political - by the Brits, the Scot Irish and the Irish Irish who missed out on getting independence like the South of Ireland did.

Actually much of religious stuff is political. People in power find it an easy tool to manipulate people or justify actions. Within the church the higher one's standing the more likely their actions are about power rather than religious beliefs.

"The Catholic League is not a national watchdog organization. It is a single vicious pitbull, Bill Donohue, who has made a career out of antisocial behavior towards anyone who suggests that not everything Donohue defines as "Catholic" is as pure as the driven snow"

I stand by my original interpretation of what you wrote. If you meant otherwise, well....

"He was showing it to a friend"

I see, just an innocent.

"The Rev. Hagge was roundly criticized for his remarks about the Catholic Church"

That is real powerful punishment, huh. McCain denounced it, but wouldn't "repudiate" Hagee's endorsement of him because of his support for Israel.

"Your defensiveness is misinformed because you didn't bother to ascertain the facts in this case"

Since I do not live in the US, I confess not knowing how often Phil Donohue is on TV. But I do not read anything about him, at least not before this, unlike the Hagees and ADL's of the world.

So hopefully the punk learned a lesson. Live and let live I say. If you are not a believer of a given religion, stay out of their church unless you are invited, or at least follow their rules when you go in uninvited. If you do not know the rules, stay out.

This might be a bit off topic, but not really since it is about religion. The Climate Change Science is looking to be a bit like religion. It is based on the neo-malthusian belief, and the faithful are those on the left who eschew traditional religion, and accept this pseudo science based on religion and the "consensus". They are told if they do not consume less they will be roasted alive by Global Warming and the world will flood. "Woe to Gaia" cry the faithful in terror. Take my carbon credits! The religion of this science can not be questioned, unlike real science. It must be accepted as a matter of faith.

Question this science and you are a denier, just like those who questioned traditional religous teachings were called heretics.

And that would be fine if they did not use their religion to try and tax or cap carbon. Remember, Freedom From Religion.

If I could find a religion that preached tolerance I might join up. But even if one existed, it would soon be corrupted by those who use the other religions and crypto-religions for social control.

The same theology that says this cracker is the body of Christ, also says that this same Christ will have my athiest soul tortured for all eternity. So Catholics, if your theology is worth a damn, then moral outrage is the least you're directing at me. Your god intends to subject me to abject agony, and you want me to respect his CRACKER?

Either I'm right and your cracker is meaningless, or you're right and your god wants me to suffer unimaginable torment. Either way, why should I respect your beliefs? You sure as hell do not respect mine.

AlterNet has picked up on this story. At the end of their short interview they have a link to the Minnesota Independent.…

"It's so darned weird that they're demanding that I offer this respect to a symbol that means nothing to me."

Scientist Under Fire From Religious Right Still Says a "Cracker is Nothing"
Posted by AlterNet Staff, AlterNet on July 16, 2008

A few days ago, over 120 reader comments appeared on a post titled "Christian Lunatics Issue Death Threats Over a Cracker". Yesterday, the Minnesota Independent ran an interview with the author of the post, PZ Myers (the unfortunate headline called Myers an "unrepentant heathen" -- an odd construct, no?). Here's a taste:

Once a Lutheran altar boy, University of Minnesota biology professor Morris P.Z. Myers has fallen from grace -- at least in the eyes of some Catholics and the conservative Catholic League.

........ There's more at the link provided.

If PZ's vandalism was not a public offense, then there is no such thing like sex harassment anymore.

The Red Guards type of heroes in Chinese Cultural Evolution will have no chance in the United States; nevertheless the questions of the title of a university professor in front of world educators and the antireligious in the name of science will be debated for months, but not for a decade.

palwan: PZ committed no vandalism. He has harassed no one, only been harassed himself. He has done nothing except write about it. In the US that is still permitted. Moreover were he to commit some sort of symbolic act he would still be allowed. In fact for anyone to threaten him over such an act is itself an offense. That you should even condone this demonstrates once again the corrosive effects of religion.

I don't think that Catholic League can represent the Catholic. And I agree that to threat a person's life is totally lunatic which I would never consider that is connecting with any healthful religion. I am sorry that I had not made this point very clear in my previous post.

The point now was that PZ Meyers did write and someone did it and he continued to enforce his point that is an incitement and is the mastermind behind the wrong doing. This is an issue of culture more than an issue of law only.

If based on Minnesota Independent's interview, PZ Meyers further stated that Catholic anti-Semitic tendency was the motive for his next move. This point has crossed the border already, IMO. It is a naked hatred with malignant intention.

I assume that PZ Meyers and his supporters will read my post here in Effect Measure and wonder why you allow it posted here. I am sorry that if this caused you losing knitting.

My message is very simple; I defend a free speech society and the person to express. And I am exercising my part to warn the person of inciting students; it is as worse as developing Red Guards to destroy the inclusive culture foundation for science and religion.

As for political viewpoints, I am far left. But I now have the second thought and agree with Randy; if Iran doesn't give up her nuclear weapon development, what is the choice of the United States? This is not purely a question of religion but it would tell who is anti-semitic.

I dislike to say that free speech is based on lip service ( Our language is saliva's flood.) Revere, you know that the background of anti-semitism mainly is because of jealousy-the sign of impotency, not from religious differences.

The persons who talk well but actually can not deliver the result mostly are using offense to keep their territory- they are the group who have the sign of anti-semitism. Try my hypothesis.

palwan: No, PZ wrote after the event and he incited no one to do anything (except threaten his life and employment).

"No, PZ wrote after the event and he incited no one to do anything."

Revere: You were right in the first half. And I was wrong about the sequence of events. But the latter half of his continued reactions, he did encourage people to steal the communion wafer. Was it humorous or inciting? It is a debatable issue. Perhaps the medium spectrum from Dr. Wilkins' and the commenters' deserve to take a look.…

My previous posts here remain as my staunch serious viewpoint.