The saga continues over at Pharyngula. The relevant posts are summarized here:
Some Catholics are upset over the fact that PZ Myers suggested he would desecrate a blessed communion wafer (which contains the “body of Christ,” in Catholic mythology) and post the results on his blog. The Catholic League, spearheaded by apopleptic curmedgeon Bill Donohue, is being particularly aggressive, suggesting that he should be sanctioned by his employer, the University of Minnesota – Morris, because his university page contained a link to his blog. He continues to be unapologetically critical of cracker doctrine.
And why shouldn’t he be? Some have suggested that atheists are being hypocritical, preaching tolerance on one hand, and showing contempt and hostility toward religion on the other. However, there is a distinction between those we defend with pleas for tolerance and those we criticize. It is wrong to treat people with disrespect because of who they are — whether it’s race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. However, people choose their beliefs and actions, so those are fair game.
If someone robs a convenience store, we are perfectly justified in criticizing that person for his actions. And if someone claims that they were abducted by UFOs, or they talk to dead people, or they can heal your illness through magic, or a pantheon of gods lives in the sky, or a Hebrew man rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, we are perfectly justified in criticizing them, and even treating them with contempt and disrespect if their beliefs are truly absurd or even injurious to themselves or others. To many rationalists, truth is a moral value. It is not subjective. The state of the universe is not a matter of opinion. There is an objective arbiter: empirical evidence and rational thought.
We will not back down to the forces of superstition, mysticism, and magical, muddled, irrational thinking. We will never back down from that fight.
Others have suggested, as one “Amy” does in the comments on Pharyngula, that: “The Holy Eucharist is the body of Christ. If you don’t believe it, that is fine. Then please do not partake or desecrate it. Leave it alone.” So, should we refrain from eating beef because cows are holy to Hindus? Should we refrain from eating pork or bacon because eating pigs is forbidden in Judaism? Should we refrain from killing bugs because killing any living thing is forbidden in Jainism? Why is Catholicism privileged? Why is it set aside as special, such that only its myths should be respected and kept immune from criticism (I take the “desecration” of a “holy” object like a communion wafer as a form of political speech viz-a-viz established United States law)?
If we were to genuflect to the sensitivies of every provincial superstition, there wouldn’t be a lot that we could do. No, we live in a modern, pluralistic, democratic society, with a secular government, and we should be free to challenge all beliefs. There are no sacred beliefs. There are no opinions, superstitions, myths, or rituals that are legally or morally immune to criticism.