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Sep 05 2011

Charlatans preying on the vulnerable

Oh hey, a good idea.

Chanting to cure snakebites, claiming to be a reincarnated spouse to obtain sex, and charging for miracles could soon be banned by an Indian state seeking to stop charlatans preying on the vulnerable.

Many superstitions are widely held in India but a campaign group  is lobbying hard for a new law in the western state of Maharashtra  to outlaw several exploitative activities, with penalties of fines or up to seven years in jail.

But………not so fast, pardner.

But the push to pass the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication  of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil Practices and Black  Magic Bill has not received unanimous support.

Some Hindu nationalists fear the legislation seeks to move  beyond the excesses named in its title and might be used to curb cherished religious freedoms.

One right-wing association, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, called  it “a draconian law targeting faith”, denounced its proponents as  “atheists” and called for supporters to lobby assembly members to  oppose it and demand amendments.

Because only atheists have any problem with claiming to be a reincarnated spouse to obtain sex or charging money for “miracles”; decent normal respectable people think that’s a fine way to carry on.

Some critics, however, say the draft law does not go far enough and has been watered down since it was first mooted way back in 1995 due to protests from pro-Hindu groups.

“In my opinion the bill that has ultimately come into Maharashtra suggests nothing new. It doesn’t give anything  additional,” said Sanal Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association.

Concerns about the draft law’s impact on legitimate religious practices from Hindu nationalist groups such as the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have delayed its  passing.

A semi-good idea, endlessly delayed, that might become law, some day, perhaps.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    anthrosciguy

    It would be a touchy legal issue to come up with language that doesn’t allow “exploitive activities tied to superstitions” that didn’t disallow many, perhaps most, mainstream formal religious groups and practices. That should make them think a bit more about religion… but it won’t.

  2. 2
    Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht

    I can’t claim to be a reincarnated spouse in order to get sex from a grieving widow?

    Dang, that’s about the only line that works for me anymore!

  3. 3
    daveau

    If you crack down on charlatans, that could put all religions out of business. Just a matter of how hard they crack down.

    How do these people think of all these horrible ways to exploit and abuse people? My mind just doesn’t work that way.

  4. 4
    AJ Milne

    It would be a touchy legal issue to come up with language that doesn’t allow “exploitive activities tied to superstitions” that didn’t disallow many, perhaps most, mainstream formal religious groups and practices. That should make them think a bit more about religion… but it won’t.

    Oh, no no no. It’s easy to craft this law. You just have to be sufficiently explicit about the exemptions to satisfy the concerns of the local clergy.

    Allow me:

    (Clears throat…)

    1.) WHEREAS you’d pretty much have to be an incredible jerk to manipulate folks’ fears of dying and painful, aching memories of dead loved ones in order to boost your own social station and/or bank balance,

    1a.) BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT persons doing the same–especially persons crafting and promulgating elaborate, convenient, and cosmologically risible fictions for such purposes–shall be subject to criminal penalties,

    1a.ii) UNLESS the person doing so does so under the banner of a socially dominant, traditional religion the judiciary and the legislature do not feel they can realistically piss off*.

    (/It is so ordered.)

    (*/Sure, it may be pointed out this may be difficult for law enforcement to understand. But I’m sure with proper training they’ll get it… And hey, y’know, we could even do nice business card-sized cheat sheets like US-types carry for reading Miranda rights properly. Quote: ‘Elvis told me in a dream you must give me money = arrest; Kali told me the same = carry on good citizen.’)

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    AJ – heh.

  6. 6
    Apuleius Platonicus

    Since when do atheists advocate government control of what people are allowed to believe? You actually might want to reconsider that.

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