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Friday, July 11, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Catholic League goes crackers over "hate crime"

A Minnesota university instructor and avowed atheist is jousting with a national Catholic watch dog group over a smuggled communion wafer, which the associate professor dismisses as a "frackin’ cracker."

Paul Z. Myers, who teaches biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, on his blog this week expressed amazement that a Florida college student who briefly took a wafer "hostage" from a church ceremony has been receiving death threats for an action that was characterized "a hate crime" by the Catholic League.

Under the headline, "It’s a frackin’ cracker!" Myers wrote in an at-times profane blog entry: "Crazy Christian fanatics right here in our own country have been threatening to kill a young man over a cracker. This is insane."

He added: "Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? ... I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage ... but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart."

His blog entry has collected nearly 1,000 comments since it was posted Tuesday.

The Catholic League, a civil rights group that challenges any instances it sees as an afront to Catholicism, said today that it is calling on the university to act against Myers, noting that Myers’ blog can be accessed through a link on the university’s website.

"It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ," Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a news release. "We look to those who have oversight responsibility to act quickly and decisively."

Myers, who was raised Lutheran and now considers himself a card-carrying atheist, said he’s been getting a "few death threats" since the conflict began, "but I don’t take them too seriously."

His opponents, he said, describe him as a "strident, militant atheist" because of his activism in the debate of evolution vs. creationism.