- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 12, 2008

An anti-religion Minnesota biology professor expects to receive dozens of consecrated Communion wafers in response to his public solicitation that people send him the hosts in order that he may publicly desecrate them.

Paul Z. Myers, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, says he will commit the sacrilege to protest Catholic criticism of an earlier case of Communion desecration, by Webster Cook at the University of Central Florida, which included calls for Mr. Cook’s expulsion and death threats.

He also said he wants to point out that “I am under no obligation to revere the sacred objects of the Catholic Church…. I don’t have to treat it as a little idol.”

The Catholic Church teaches that, upon consecration by a priest, the unleavened bread becomes the body of Jesus Christ.

Mr. Myers first made the public request on Tuesday at his personal Web site (https://scienceblogs.com/ pharyngula/), which at the time was linked to the university’s Web site.

In an interview Friday, Mr. Myers said he already had received “a double-digit number” of positive responses, from people saying that they would try to get consecrated Catholic hosts for him and that the writer already had one.

“Enough that I could sculpt a statue of them,” he said, declining to say what he’d do to desecrate them. “I’ve got a few ideas, but I want to keep the surprise.” He speculated that he might “make myself a coat of armor of them to protect myself from Catholics who would do me harm.”

As of Friday afternoon, there were no acts of desecration shown on his Web site.

The call for consecrated hosts prompted quick anger from Catholics. “Can we say, ‘perpetual adolescent?’ Yes, we can,” wrote Elizabeth Scalia at the Anchoress Online. The call for consecrated hosts prompted responses ranging from anger to bemusement. “Can we say, ‘perpetual adolescent?’ Yes, we can,” wrote an exasperated Elizabeth Scalia at the Anchoress Online, in a post in which she called on Catholics to pray for Mr. Myers.

Within the past two days, the link from the Minnesota-Morris biology department’s page to Mr. Myers’ personal site, which regularly ridicules religious believers as ignorant and superstitious, has been removed.

Francis Beckwith, a recent president of the Evangelical Theological Society who has since reverted to Catholicism, noted at the Web site “What’s Wrong with the World” that “according to the Wayback machine, the taxpayers of Minnesota have supported UMM’s biology department’s portal to Professor Myers’ anti-religious screeds since at least Nov. 9, 2006.”

Dan Wolter, a spokesman for the University of Minnesota system, said of Mr. Myers’s site that while “there is no question that those views do not reflect the views of the University of Minnesota, Morris, or the system,… they were made on a personal blog and everyone has a right to free speech.”

Mr. Wolter said the Web link was taken off the biology’s department’s page because “it was a violation of university Web policy” to link to personal sites without a “this does not represent university views” disclaimer. He said the content of Mr. Myers’s speech was not at issue.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said the removal of the Web link did not end the matter.

“We already know that Myers lost one round: the university has removed the link to his blog from his faculty page. He should be prepared to lose a few more rounds,” William Donohue, the group’s president, said Friday.

Mr. Donohoe had said Thursday that his group would contact the University of Minnesota president, Board of Regents and the state legislature, saying it was “hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ. We look to those who have oversight responsibility to act quickly and decisively.”

As a tenured associate professor, Mr. Myers would be difficult to fire, but could more easily be denied promotion to a full professorship. Mr. Myers said such efforts from Catholics would be “thoroughly contemptible.”

Mr. Wolter said he could not say whether the university’s response would be different if Mr. Myers went through with his threat, nor could he say whether acts outside the classroom can, in principle, provide a basis to revoke tenure.

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