Catholic church takes Satanic group to court


We know that the Catholic church takes its consecrated wafers, which they believe have been transformed into the body of Jesus, very, very seriously, as PZ Myers (among many others) can attest when they treated it as just another wafer and triggered a massive outcry.

Well, another brouhaha is brouhahaing as the archbishop of Oklahoma City Paul S. Coakley has accused a Satanic group of stealing a consecrated wafer to carry out a black mass and is suing Adam Daniels and the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu Syndicate to stop them and get it back.

To Catholics, the consecrated host is the most sacred, respected and revered thing in the world,” the 7-page complaint states. “Because consecrated hosts are so precious, the Catholic Church has developed, over the course of 2,000 years, rules and institutions to ensure the integrity, protection of consecrated hosts.”

Coakley claims Daniels possesses a consecrated host without authorization and that it “must have been procured from the Catholic Church by theft, fraud, wrongful taking” by Daniels or a third party.

The archbishop says the defendants have scheduled a black mass at the Cityspace Theatre in Oklahoma City on Sept. 21, where they intend to “desecrate and destroy” the consecrated host.

The Satanist group did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

It will make “slight changes” to the black mass “so that a public viewing can occur without breaking Oklahoma’s laws based on nudity, public urination, and other sex acts,” the group said on its website.

Apart from the religious angle, this raises an interesting legal point about ownership that the judge will have to struggle with. The church hands out these wafers to everyone who attends the mass and goes to the altar for communion. Once given to someone, does that person then ‘own’ the wafer to do with it as they like? Or is there an implicit contract that when they accept the wafer during communion, they will use it only in accordance with the dictates of the church? But since the church does not, during the service, make the terms of such a contract public, can someone be bound by them?

I don’t envy the judge in the case. I think that he will be hard pressed to find a legal justification to order the return of the wafer to the church. But ruling against the church may be hard for a religious judge and furthermore will result in being vilified.

The church is also upset with the city for allowing the black mass to take place on public property. Here they may have more luck and the city may revoke the permit on some made-up secular grounds, such as that it violates some obscure ordinance or fears of disturbing the peace.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    I don’t see what the case is, but maybe I don’t understand the law.

    If I claimed that I had a piece of stained glass that I stole from a cathedral somewhere but no cathedral comes forward claiming that a piece of stained glass was stolen, can I really be charged with theft or something? Or fraud, since I doubt they can do a thorough enough inventory to prove it didn’t come from a cathedral somewhere.

    Maybe by claiming it’s an official Catholic something-or-other there’s an intellectual property issue here? What, exactly, would they be able to charge them with?

  2. says

    @Chiroptera #1 – Good points. If the archdiocese cannot prove that it is one of theirs and not from, say, a Methodist church, do they have standing to file suit? I suspect that the judge will use an argument like that to have the suit dismissed out of hand. The judge may also dismiss it by saying this is a matter of canon law rather than civil law, so the civil courts have no jurisdiction. If the case is accepted, the ruling will be very, very messy no matter what.

  3. Mano Singham says

    I think that the Satanic group will likely concede that the wafer is indeed a consecrated one from a Catholic church since they need such a wafer for their black mass.

  4. says

    @Mano #3 – I’m not sure that “satanic” is the correct description. From the group’s website, they seem to worship Angra Mainyu from the Zoroastrian religion, in his form as Destroyer. That is actually a common Indo-Aryan theology: witness the millions of Hindus who revere Shiva and Kali.

    Then again, I’m not sure why they would be doing a Black Mass, as Satanism is a Christian heresy and has nothing to do with Angra Mainyu.

  5. Keith Kalkwarf says

    I have a simple solution. The defendant should just produce an array of about ten wafers, claim that the ‘consecrated’ one got mixed in with several others, and they are unable to tell them apart. Tell the archbishop that he can have one, and being such a sacred item to them, he should be able to easily identify the ‘Host’ from the ordinary wafers.

  6. steve oberski says

    I sure hope this gets into court.

    And the lawyer for Adam Daniels and the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu Syndicate presents the bishop with a box full of identical looking hosts (the real one marked with say ink that fluoresces in UV light) and invites the bishop to pick out the “stolen” host.

    Should be easy for the bishop, I mean we are talking about the body and blood of his special friend.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    The benevolent Archbishop has apparently dropped his suit, after the malevolent archfiends said they would return their hostage body-of-Jesus once he did so.

    “I don’t feel like wasting thousands of dollars fighting over a cookie.”

    Such a pity – I betcha the Oklahoma City Police Department has sufficient firepower that they could have implemented a dramatic rescue and given the taxpayers their money’s worth!

  8. raven says

    I think that the Satanic group will likely concede that the wafer is indeed a consecrated one from a Catholic church since they need such a wafer for their black mass.

    1. This means those satansists are really…Catholics!!! They are admitting that the RCC priest-magicians do magic and make wafers into magic wafers.

    Even my old Protestant church wouldn’t admit that.

    2. I don’t see the big deal about wafers consecrated by a Catholic magician anyway. Anyone can consecrate a wafer. Even my cat. Everyone has just as much magic power as any priest. (It’s zero of course.)

    This guys beliefs seem to be all over the place and rather incoherent. That makes him a typical xian. You have to be a xian to be a satanist. To other religions and the Nones, satan is just a fictional character from a book of fairy tales.

  9. gshelley says

    It’s a shame if they have dropped it. I was kind of interested to see how they were going to prove it was consecrated, rather than unconsecrated

  10. Matt G says

    Is it from a Catholic church? Or an Episcopal church? Or just from the grocery store? Do we know the brand of the cracker?

    Part of me sees this as an interesting First Amendment case, and part of me sees it as a pair of squabbling children.

  11. Alan says

    Well…if they’re gonna give it back I hope it gets a decent burial. Short of eating it, I wonder how they’ll dispose of it?

  12. newfie says

    (Buggs voice) Abba ca dabra, jeebus meat!
    Guy says a priest in Turkey mailed him the cracker. (from this post on Ed’s blog http://goo.gl/mWRCYZ).
    I saw a post on a catlick forum that said 30% of catlicks believe in transubstantiation. I wonder how the question was phrased. I’d think if it were phrased, “symbolic or actual jesus meat?” more than 70% would say symbolic.

  13. says

    Hey, would having a magic cracker be a bad thing for a vegetarian?

    On another note, Angra Mainyu is my favourite old-timey demon. I played a character in an online game called Angra Mainyu once. I was in a clan called Demons Without Borders. We went around doing nice things for people.

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