I’ve been talking a lot about “New Atheists” and “accommodationists” recently, so this might be a good time to take a look at a controversy from last year, when militant atheist PZ Myers deliberately desecrated a Catholic communion wafer and provoked a storm of controversy.
From the “atheist etiquette” POV, of course, it’s anything but polite to deliberately offend someone, and very few things are more offensive to Catholics than a deliberate desecration of what they believe to be the actual body of Jesus Christ.
But there’s an interesting double standard at work here. The assumption seems to be that if somebody views a wafer made of flour and water to be the body of Jesus, and treats it accordingly, we should respect that view, no matter how silly or misguided we believe it to be.
If that’s true, then what about the belief that a wafer made of flour and water is, well, just a cracker? What if someone believes that, and treats that wafer accordingly — that is to say, with no more respect than we’d give to any other inanimate object? Shouldn’t we respect that viewpoint, and that action, just as much as we respect the other view?
Last time I checked, the Golden Rule was one of the “biggies” in Christian doctrine. Why aren’t any of the outraged Catholics applying it? If they would have others respect their view that a communion wafer is more than “just a cracker,” shouldn’t they respect the view that it isn’t?
(Communion cartoon via St. James Westminster Anglican Church, London)