Once again, protests have been proven effective. After receiving an avalanche of protest emails, petitions and calls eBay has changed its policy and will now refuse to sell consecrated Hosts and other sacred objects. In an email sent to protestors, Kaelee of eBay’s Community Watch Team writes: “we have concluded that sales of the Eucharist, and similar highly sacred items, are not appropriate on eBay. We have, therefore, broadened our policies and will remove those types of listings should they appear on the site in the future.”
The controversy began in mid April, when someone seeking to capitalize on the death of Pope John Paul II offered a consecrated host for sale on eBay. The Host was said to be consecrated at a Papal Mass in 1998.
Catholics immediately rallied to protest this blasphemy. The TFP web site issued an alert to its 30,000 email subscribers, asking them to send an instant protest email requesting that eBay change its policy. The email read: “I am asking you to go beyond removing this sale. Change your present policy and never allow any consecrated host auctions again by putting them on the list of Prohibited and Questionable Items.”
Although thousands of protest emails poured in, eBay remained steadfast in its refusal to change policy. Alarmingly, at least one more consecrated host appeared for sale on the auction site. The protests continued and many people cancelled their accounts. The TFP website sent in two more waves of email protests while other Catholic organizations kept up their pressure.
When all the dust settled, eBay capitulated and their policy was changed. One lady named Maria sent a congratulatory email to the TFP web site which read: “Thank you for reporting this and asking all Catholics to protest…it’s so hard to stay in tune to everything that is happening in the world.”
The TFP website wishes to commend eBay for changing its highly-offensive policy and remind Catholics across the nation that by standing together, they can make a difference.
Your comments to eBay for changing its policy can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a copy of eBay’s letter to offended Catholics:
Thank you for your email regarding the sale of the Holy Eucharist by one of our community members. We respect and appreciate your comments regarding this sensitive matter.
As you may know, eBay does not sell items itself. Rather, we are a global marketplace for sellers and buyers who transact directly with one another. Each day eBay’s sellers list 5 million items on the site, and those sellers decide what items they want to list. eBay did not possess, list or approve the sale of the Eucharist. The buyer and seller completed the Eucharist transaction on April 11th, before eBay even became aware of the listing.
As a marketplace, we strive to respect the diverse perspectives of our sellers. We also work hard to promote an open environment for trade. That said, eBay has policies in place to remove listings for illegal items as well as highly offensive listings that promote hate or intolerance.
We understand that the listing of the Eucharist was highly upsetting to Catholic members of the eBay community and Catholics globally. Once this completed sale was brought to our attention, we consulted with a number of our users, including members of the Catholic Church, concerning what course we should take in the future should a similar listing appear on our site. We also consulted with members of other religions about items that might also be highly sacred and inappropriate for sale. As a result of this dialogue, we have concluded that sales of the Eucharist, and similar highly sacred items, are not appropriate on eBay. We have, therefore, broadened our policies and will remove those types of listings should they appear on the site in the future.
As always, we welcome and appreciate the assistance of the community in upholding the rules of our site. Should you see another Eucharist listed on our site, we encourage you to notify us so we can take appropriate action. Further, we encourage you to directly vommunicate with the seller. Members are often unaware that a particular item is offensive to others. A respectful e-mail to the seller is often all that is needed for the seller to voluntarily remove the item. We believe this modification strikes the appropriate balance between respect for our community’s values and our goal of providing an open marketplace offering practically anything on earth.
Again, we sincerely appreciate your concern and thank you for communicating your views with us. Your input has helped us frame a policy that will enable us to better serve our diverse community of users around the world.
Community Watch Team
eBay Trust & Safety