Thanks for covering this. I was appalled by the reporting on this story. Amateurish doesn't even begin to describe it.
Now it will be interesting to see if anyone picks up on the story that Paul Zachary Myers, the University of Minnesota biology professor who made a name for himself opposing the film 'Expelled,' has asked for someone [Editor's note: blasphemous language in that link] to send him some consecrated Hosts in order to publicly desecrate them. He's doing this in response to the coverage surrounding what Mr. Cook did. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Reporter Paul Walsh at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune picked the story up and did a great job, I think. The story, headlined "Communion wafer held 'hostage' raises holy heck," is remarkably straightforward and calm considering the heated emotions on various sides.
A Minnesota university instructor and avowed atheist is jousting with a national Catholic watch dog group over a smuggled communion wafer, which the associate professor dismisses as a "frackin' cracker."
Paul Z. Myers, who teaches biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, on his blog this week expressed amazement that a Florida college student who briefly took a wafer "hostage" from a church ceremony has been receiving death threats for an action that was characterized "a hate crime" by the Catholic League.
Under the headline, "It's a frackin' cracker!" Myers wrote in an at-times profane blog entry: "Crazy Christian fanatics right here in our own country have been threatening to kill a young man over a cracker. This is insane."
He added: "Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? ... I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I wonâ€™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. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart."
A few thoughts. I'll note that the source for the claims of death threats was the student who disrespected the Eucharist. Many of us wondered whether people confused Biblical admonitions regarding the Eucharist with death threats. For instance, in the earlier comment thread, reader Michael noted:
Journalist or not, if someone tells you that they received death threats, how can you not be curious about what was actually said?
"For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying." 1 Cor 11:28-29
I wonder if someone just paraphrased that and he took it as a death threat.
To be sure, sacramental Christians regard the consecrated elements as the actual body and blood of Christ. So there's probably not a good analogy to other religions. But I'm wondering if media coverage would be the same if P.Z. Myers had threatened to disrespect, say, the Koran. One wonders whether a reporter might have asked Myers if he felt more comfortable attacking Christians then adherents to other religions.
Anyway, Walsh's story notes that Myers claimed the blog entry was more protest than threat and that it has generated a great deal of response, including from the Catholic League.
I had never heard of P.Z. Myers until I saw him condescending to religious adherents in the documentary Expelled. Here's a clip of portion of his interview. Walsh made sure to mention Myers' religious beliefs:
Myers, who was raised Lutheran and now considers himself a card-carrying atheist, said he's been getting a "few death threats" since the conflict began, "but I don't take them too seriously."
His opponents, he said, describe him as a "strident, militant atheist" because of his activism in the debate of evolution vs. creationism.
I'm always amazed how media coverage of evolutionary debates portrays one side as religious and the other side as irreligious. In fact, some evolutionists -- certainly not all -- are more engaged in religious battles than their opponents. It's basic journalism but still good that Walsh included these details. Again, just very straightforward and well done for a brief article.