I assume most of you have already heard of this.

I still think the church and Catholics are overreacting.

Firstly, the church gave him the Eucharist willingly with the assumption that he would eat it… thus it no longer belonged to the church but rather to him and he could do whatever he wanted with it (including, if desired, not eat it).
Secondly, the use of force to attempt to recover the Eucharist from him could (and I feel, should) be charged as assault and attempted robbery.

Yes, I feel what he did was extremely disrespectful… but only to certain religious groups (Catholics… since people who don’t believe in the divinity of the Eucharist believe that he walked off with a cracker, which is not at all offensive) thus making it a religious issue.
The university should absolutely not be involved in this matter (in particular since the group receiving university funds means they must be open to all students regardless). There are no grounds for any disciplinary actions from the university. The fact that he’s receiving death threats is absolutely insane.

Look, not everyone shares your beliefs. It would be awesome if everyone would respect each others’ beliefs but that’s not always the case.

I often call myself Pastafarian. What if I was to host a spaghetti dinner in honor of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and claim that each plate actually became the body of god… what if this dinner was funded by student activities fees… and what if you came in (given that you have just as much right as everyone else) and walked out with a plate of spaghetti instead of eating it (given that it was being freely given out to eat).
Is that a hate crime? I seriously doubt anyone would call it that. What you did was disrespectful of my beliefs, yes, but I would certainly not classify it as theft or a crime. What if I attempted to pry your hands off the plate… is that assault? Almost certainly.

Religion does weird things to people. Things like this are what make me glad I’m not religious (and wish most of the world wasn’t either).

Also, completely unrelatedly, oh dear.

Edit: To clarify a bit…
I feel like what he did was wrong, but the church’s reaction was completely uncalled for, and that’s what I’m taking issue with here.

“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.”

We just expect the University to take this seriously,” she added “To send a message to not just Mr. Cook but the whole community that this kind of really complete sacrilege will not be tolerated.”

That is absolutely insane. WTF.

Gonzalez said the Diocese is willing to meet with Cook and help him understand the importance of the Eucharist in hopes of him returning it.

That is completely reasonable.

For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage–regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance–is beyond hate speech. That is why the UCF administration needs to act swiftly and decisively in seeing that justice is done. All options should be on the table, including expulsion.

That is also completely insane (moreso than the first quote).
People calling for procecution (jail time and fines) are completely insane.
People giving him death threats are insane.
People trying to inject their beliefs into the secular state to levy civil penalties against him in an obviously faith-based case are insane.

That’s the kind of overreaction I’m talking about, what what is really bothering me about this.

7 thoughts on “Meh

  1. Well, you may call yourself a Pastafarian, but you knowingly do it as a joke. I’m not Catholic, but I can understand that it seems rather rude for someone to basically take part in ceremony with the express desire to not actually take part in a ceremony.

    To remove it a few more steps from my own religion, in Japan it’s considered rude to stick your chopsticks up in rice because it’s symbolic of burning incense at Shinto funerals. It’s my rice and my chopsticks, but out of respect, I wouldn’t do such a thing because of the ceremonial respect for it. I’m not Shinto, so why should I care? It’s because of this respect for each other that you say you wish everyone had. If I see another dude doing that, I’d be offended, even though I don’t practice Shintoism.

    If you want some free bread, there are better ways to get larger portions. Admittedly, the reaction has been very heavy-handed and death threats are never acceptable. But I think you’re blaming religion for the fact that man in general is just plain faulty.

  2. I just had spaghetti for lunch, actually. Mmmmm, Spaghetti Monster in my belly.

  3. So I agree that the Catholics quoted are hugely overreacting. I’m just going to play DA for a while here though.

    What this kid did was hugely disrespectful, betrayed a huge lack of knowledge about the student government he is apparently part of, and could be judged as theft by a creative contract lawyer.

    1) Respect: this one’s obvious. Don’t take communion if you don’t believe in it/Christianity, and don’t misuse other people’s symbols. That’s just not cool.

    2) Lack of knowledge: He claims in his defense that the problem is “publicly funded religion.” No. No one’s more secularist than me, but his point is bass-ackwards. Student activities money is not public funding in any strict sense; it funds many activities that the government should never fund, including religious groups. Student activities money allows students to meet for any common interest, including sports and religions and playing with rockets. Come on. And if he’s a member of the student government, as the beginning of the comment thread indicates, he really ought to know better.

    3) Contract law: It’s not written down and it’s not signed, but by accepting communion you are stating your belief and your intent to honor the religion. So if he accepted communion under false pretenses it is /not/ his and he has /not/ got the right to walk off with it and then get huffy when someone gets offended. I’m not saying he should be prosecuted, as the contract law here is iffy at best, but I’m saying that the argument “the church gave him the Eucharist willingly with the assumption that he would eat it… thus it no longer belonged to the church but rather to him and he could do whatever he wanted with it” is completely invalid.

    I don’t think you assault charge can or should stick. He was invited several times to treat the eucharist properly or give it back. The amount of force involved appears to have been perfectly reasonable in an attempt to recover stolen property(regardless of the finer points of law, the “assaulter” believed this to be the case), and unless he was actually injured by the lady’s attempt to pry his hand open (I feel like if he still has the wafer this is not the case) then he’s doubly an ass and hasn’t got a leg to stand on.

    I feel like the university does need to get involved; no disciplinary action is appropriate but this kid needs to have a chat with his housefellow about why it is not done to become a complete sociopath when confronting people of religion, just as it is not done for them to burn the heretics any more.

    Susan Fanni is mostly right; if it were a crime it would be a hate crime and the university should not tolerate what he did any more than it would tolerate me walking into Spirit and spouting racial slurs. This is the kind of impoliteness that can tear a campus apart and destroy a community and it should not be permitted. Should he be expelled? Only if he does it again.

    People calling for prosecution are overreacting, and the only charge they have a hope of is (hate crime) theft.
    People sending death threats are in violation of the law and should be prosecuted.
    Civil penalties for damage done/emotional distress ought to be hard to prove, but are legit under the law.

  4. I love the fact that the moment religion comes into play, all rational argument in any realm of discussion flies out the window.

    The point is not that the eucharist was taken. The point is not that one person believes it’s the blood and body of their object of worship while the other believes it’s a cracker. The point isn’t even the hypocrisy of most Christians that they preach love and tolerance and forgiveness and god-will-judge-you-in-the-end, and yet in fact act as if they were god themselves complete with the power to judge everyone’s soul and damn to hell anyone who doesn’t pass their muster.

    No, the point is that person A willingly gave person B something with no expectation of return, and then tried to forcefully take it back.

    “It is hurtful,” said Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese. “Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family.”

    Imagine, dear Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese, that you used an argument that actually pertained to the topic at hand! If you want to humanize it, you should be saying “Imagine you gave permission for some man to marry your daughter, but when you found out he wasn’t going to use her, you tried to take her back.” Which is just silly.

    Seriously, religious nuts? Stop. Just stop. Please.

  5. As someone who has actually taken “a cracker” back from someone who hadn’t eaten it, I feel like I should speak up.

    First, I really like everything that joyful_vydra said. Hooray for logic. It’s something that goes out the window in situations like that.

    I’d also like to ask you to remember that if you had your Pasta dinner, you’d be making it up as you went along- there’s no precedent for the body of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. For Catholics, however, we’ve been raised from the moment we had any understanding (before that, really) to believe that this thing is amazing, miraculous, and deserving of huge amounts of respect. It’s the Most Blessed Sacrament, the biggest thing, and the holiest thing on Earth. To you it might me a cracker, but even when it’s unblessed (and really is just a cracker), I have trouble being anything but respectful, just because it’s been so ingrained in my psyche.

    So I’d say that most of the Catholics mentioned in the story (at least the ones at the church who tried to take it back) were reacting from the gut- simply remembering that this thing is what we should respect, but forgetting to respect the person as well. I have no defense for the guy who compares it to a kidnapping.

    Mr. Cook needs to have respect as well- his main claim is that he kept it because he was ‘attacked’- but why was he leaving with it in the first place? Would he have consumed it if he hadn’t been attacked?

    And one further thing- the first linked site includes someone in the comments who found and published this guy’s email address. That’s just not cool.

    To clarify, when I took the “cracker”, it was from a little boy who’d put it in his mouth and returned to his seat, them removed it, and began to play with it. As his religion class teacher, I told him to give it to me, and when he did, I ate it myself.

  6. @joyful_vydra:

    Yay for an intelligent analysis. I pretty much agree with everything. One nitpick: I think the assault charge is probably technically correct and might be able to stick (though it shouldn’t). As I recall, the amount of force _legally_ permitted for civilians recovering stolen property is generally around zero. And I don’t think physical harm is usually _required_ to stick an assault charge, though it helps.

    He’s still a d-bag, it’s a ridiculous charge, and I can’t believe he could possibly make such charges with a straight face, and I certainly don’t think they should stick. But it might technically be possible.

  7. People…please try to remember that Catholics believe in transubstantiation (from Wikipedia: Transubstantiation (in Latin, transsubstantiatio) is the change of the substance of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ occurring in the Eucharist). In other words, the physical object is no longer just a wafer, but is actually Christ. ***NOT*** a symbol.

    The cross is a symbol, the consecrated host is the body of God. There’s a huge difference.

    So, in my view, that priest was being very moderate because to me it is worse than a kidnapping to take the consecrated host. A person, as much as we may love them, is a person. And we owe them the respect due to a person. But God is more than a person, and is owed the respect due to such a being. Think of the person you to whom you owed the most being dragged through the mud and being made to sit in a filthy jail–how would you feel? Now try to scale it to how we might feel to have someone who has no respect for God holding Him hostage.

    Also, please remember that historically Christians have been willing to die to protect the consecrated host.

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