One thing I’ve resisted on this blog is talking too much about my religious beliefs, or, to be more to the point, my lack of religious beliefs.
To be perfectly frank, the reason I haven’t is simply a matter of good taste; I believe that how we as people find answers in the world is always a personal thing and should remain that; if your answers come from the Christian or Muslim god, if they come from Darwin, Buddha, Krishna or Xenu and his prophet Tom Cruise then that’s up to you. Many of those close to me are religious and I respect that, but at the same time I don’t share their belief. So it would be churlish of me to spout on about my atheism constantly on here while saying at the same time that such things are private.
Having said all that though, reading things like this push me over the edge. Webster Cook, a student at the University of Central Florida, stole a Eucharist wafer from a Catholic mass. Perhaps that was insensitive, and yes, it was stealing. But what followed was quite staggering; the theft of that wafer caused a massive uproar in the Catholic church and now Cook has gone into hiding.
Susan Fani, a spokesperson for the local diocese, actually said the following regarding the incident.
” if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.”
Really? Might I suggest the genocide in Darfur as an alternative? Or jews in the gas chambers? Or doctors being murdered outside their surgeries by pro-life lunatics?
The irony of all this is that there is actually a real hate crime, or at least a potential one. Webster Cook is now in hiding because he fears for his life. For the crime of stealing a cracker, it’s entirely possible that he will be murdered.
And of course the other irony is, for me at least, that this kind of brutish pack mentality, in defiance of reason, logic or basic compassion and humanity, confirms that we’re all monkeys, risen from the sludge and we still have a LONG way to go.
Thanks to Pharyngula for the link, and specifically PZ Myers for his article on the subject which puts things very succinctly, albeit with far more vitriol than me.