Holy crackers, Batman.. not this again!

Holy crackers – also known as communion wafers – evoke powerful feelings in the hearts and minds of dutiful Catholics. According to their beliefs, the wafers contain the body/essence of Christ to be consumed with great ceremony during mass. In November of 2008, I wrote about a fellow in Jensen Beach, Florida, who tried to leave church with a handful of wafers. The congregation freaked out and attempted to stop him. He injured a couple trying to escape. From the original article I used then,

Deputies arrested Ricci and charged him with two counts of simple battery, theft and disruption of a religious assembly. He was still being held Sunday afternoon at the Martin County Jail on $2,000 bond.

I thought I’d see if there was more news about John Samuel Ricci and discovered an article written a few days later, crediting possible satanic links because Ricci wasn’t the only thief in the church; earlier someone made off with a book of prayers. Oh, and someone saw some snakes. Right, because Florida wouldn’t have any of those unless Satan…

“I’m not one to believe in coincidence, but there were snakes outside the front entrance of the church trying to get in on the heels of this incident,” Moligano said.

Moligano said the priests later found a live snake wrapped around the handlebars of Ricci’s bicycle, which they had placed in storage.

“I’m not saying that this individual was satanic or possessed or anything of that sort, but again, evil exists,” Moligano said.

And so does something called confirmation bias. If you’re primed to see signs that align with your beliefs, you’ll start seeing signs everywhere.

Let’s move ahead now to 2014. Another wafer theft, another fear of satanists. This time, though, the Satanists have admitted they planned to use a wafer in a black mass scheduled for September.

The wafer was turned over a day after Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley filed a lawsuit seeking its protection and restoration to the Church.

This is what belief can do to people. A lawsuit to protect a cracker. A cracker.

The Diocese dropped the lawsuit once Adam Daniels, the leader of that particular group in OC, handed it over and promised in writing to not use a wafer in his service.

“We couldn’t be happier,” said Mike Caspino, the lead attorney for the Catholic Church. “This is a victory for decency, a victory for all people of faith.”

Caspino, of Irvine, Calif., said he was “really grateful for the leadership and courage of Archbishop Coakley. He did a great thing for the Church.”

If you say so.

Daniels buys them in bulk from a local Christian supply store (probably the same one the church uses) and uses them every week during his services. The only difference between his box and the Church’s box is that a priest waved his hands and said some words over them. Words they actually think infuse the wafers with the body of Christ. Until the words are spoken, they really are just bits of flat bread. After the words are spoken, they still are just bits of flat bread but believers convince themselves something holy went on and want to eat Jesus every week, or every day of the week if they’re that convinced.

Coakley has called for city leaders to block Daniels from using the theater in the Civic Center, which is supported by tax dollars.

City officials have said they cannot pick and choose which events to allow, as long as organizers pay their rent, adhere to the rules and follow the law.

Thanks for not caving in to Coakley, city officials. If Catholics don’t like the idea of the satanic service, they don’t have to go. Nobody’s forcing them to do something that goes against their beliefs. They just have to deal with the fact that others want to believe and do something else. Such is life as it should be. How hard is that to get behind? Be Catholic if you want to be Catholic. Be Satanist. Be atheist. Whatever you want to be, just adhere to rules put down by your culture and follow the law as put down by your city, province, state or country.

There are Satanists who believe Satan is a deity on par with God and others practice an atheist/agnostic version where Satan is merely symbolic and represents humanity as a whole and all its foibles. Religious Tolerance does a nice rundown of the different types and also the types of behaviour commonly mistaken for satanism. It also goes a bit into the history and pseudo-history (read: mythology) surrounding the practice.

(Extra back in time reading: PZ Myers, AKA Pharyngula, and his coverage of wafer insanity in July 2008.)

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