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Keep Sanal Edamaruku out of jail

The Catholic church is up to their old tricks again, this time in India. They’re trying to get a skeptic imprisoned for exposing a phony “miracle”.

Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Indian Rationalist Association, has for decades been a tireless campaigner for science and against superstition. He is widely known for his exposure of the tricks used by self-professed ‘God-Men’ and gurus and has often been on Indian television explaining the everyday science behind supposed miracles.

After one such exposure – he pointed out that the “blood” oozing from a statue of Christ at the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Velan kanni in Vile Parle, Mumbai was in fact water from a leaky pipe – the Catholic Church of Mumbai made a formal complaint about him to the Mumbai police. He stands accused of “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community”, an offence under Section 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code. No arrest warrant has been issued but the case is "cognisable" meaning the police can arrest without warrant at any time. He is being harassed daily by the Mumbai authorities who, under pressure from Catholic groups, are insisting that he turn himself in. His petition for “anticipatory bail” was turned down on 3 June 2012 on the bizarre grounds that he would be safer in custody. If he is arrested he will therefore most likely be detained in jail until court proceedings are concluded, which could take several years. Fearing arrest, he dares not stay long at home or work.

Go sign the petition.

Comments

  1. says

    Sounds like that law is seriously evil, and that they might be able to make a case against telling a truth that hurts “religious feelings” using it.

    I hope he remains free, but it looks like no one is really free so long as the law states what it does.

    Glen Davidson

  2. Art Vandelay says

    He stands accused of hurting feelings? Seriously? That’s a fucking thing?

    Not a day goes by where I’m not ashamed for once lending this cult some credence.

  3. Loqi says

    I get the feeling a law like that in the States would give the religious right a collective perpetual orgasm. Think of all the persecution they could claim! And they could use their overwhelming majority to lock up us persecutors!

    I’m currently taking bets on how long it will take for someone to draft a similar bill here.

  4. totalretard says

    Leaky pipes certainly hurt my religious feelings and outrage my religious sentiments.

  5. Moggie says

    After one such exposure – he pointed out that the “blood” oozing from a statue of Christ at the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Velan kanni in Vile Parle, Mumbai was in fact water from a leaky pipe

    But not just any pipe: as I understand it, it was a sewage pipe, and believers were collecting and drinking the water. Seems to me that warning people that they’re drinking sewage is a good thing to do, not something you should be jailed for.

  6. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    But not just any pipe: as I understand it, it was a sewage pipe, and believers were collecting and drinking the water.

    How wonderfully analogous.

  7. truthspeaker says

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, or you will go to jail.

  8. RFW says

    In the late 1940s, the British journalist Beverly Nichols wrote a book “Verdict on India”, after having traveled there as a press correspondent.

    He posed the question: why is India so backwards given its plenitude of resources, including a large population many of whom are well educated? His answer was “too much religion”. He felt that India would be stymied in its attempt to progress until religion became a much less prominent factor in its daily life.

    Sounds as if that’s still a reasonable analysis, though my sense of the situation is that in the large technological cities of Indian, secularism is making headway.

  9. says

    Hrm…

    Y’know, it rather offends my ‘religious feeling’ that a buncha religious frauds can use the police on someone who merely points out their flim-flam…

    So, Mumbai police, I’m afraid you’re going also to have to arrest the assholes who made the original complaint.

    The law’s the law, after all.

  10. thewhollynone says

    Ah, the law of unintended consequences! This was, no doubt, a law passed in an attempt to enforce tolerance between Hindus and Muslims, and to avoid the sectarian violence so common in India. An unwise law, to be sure, but trust the Catholics to use it to their own advantage.

  11. says

    Any word from the Vatican on this?

    Not as far as I can see. Given the extent to which they like to interfere (e.g. reprimanding nuns for being insufficiently godhatesfagsy), they most likely approve.

  12. seanellis says

    The head of the Church in Mumbai is the Archhbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, and look at this… he has a Facebook Page.

    Imagine his delight when he has 1001 polite but direct Facebook messages. Here’s mine:

    Your eminence, please consider removing the complaint against Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Indian Rationalist Association, for merely reporting the truth about the statue at Catholic Church of Our Lady of Velan Kanni. The Church’s stance on this issue is confusing to me, as the factual status of his claim appears not to be in doubt. If so, then Mr. Edamaruku is in fact doing the Church a service by exposing fraudulent practice. Pursuing Mr. Edamaruku for stating demonstrable fact simply shows the Church in a bad light. Please drop the complaint.

    Facebook postings about him also appear on his timeline, so that’s a more public way to get onto his page.

  13. flapjack says

    Slightly off topic, but did anyone catch this?
    Another example of ‘blasphemy’ that the Catholic church has decided to prosecute now even though it happened in 1978…
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/may/28/spanish-artist-cook-christ-film
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/spanish-artist-faces-prison-over-film-made-in-1978-7792719.html
    Spanish artist Javier Krahe made a short film called “how to cook jesus” in which he takes an ebony figurine of Jesus and bastes it in butter and herbs and places it in the oven.
    Seems ironic that a cult that eats a wafer that represents the actual flesh of Jesus in a weekly ceremony would object.
    I’m guessing the blasphemy part was that he didn’t make his Jesus out of ricepaper that glues itself to the roof of your mouth when you eat it and makes you want to gag.

  14. says

    I would like to load everyone with hurt feelings supported by some ill thought out law, most of the right of center politicians (and some on the left), the obnoxious, uneducated masses and load them on a space ship to Venus (a la “The Marching Morons” with apologies to Cy Kornbluth)

    And I am not walking on to the ship at the end of the story either.

  15. Rip Steakface says

    I think this law might have had some slightly rational basis. Very slightly. Namely, India has that old religious conflict between the Muslims and the Hindu (not sure if that’s the right noun). Statements that “hurt religious feelings” may be outlawed to prevent outbreaks of sectarian violence.

    Of course, this still means all of this bullshit can be blamed on religion still.

  16. Grumps says

    @ #5 totalretard

    Can’t really hear what you’re saying because of your disgusting nym. Change it please.

  17. Olav says

    seanellis:

    The head of the Church in Mumbai is the Archhbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, and look at this… he has a Facebook Page.

    Imagine his delight when he has 1001 polite but direct Facebook messages.

    I feel totally unable to compose a polite message to a mafia figure like that. Also, fortunately, I don’t have Facebook.

  18. spamamander, hellmart survivor says

    @ 21

    Thanks for saying it before I did, because my request was going to be much less polite.

  19. don1 says

    I left a polite message on his FB page. Only after I posted did I remember that my current FB avatar is Jesus&Mo. Oh well.

    hyperdeath,

    Yes, that was my thinking. He is a very ‘hands-on’ pontif and silence in this case strongly implies consent.

  20. says

    To anyone who is organising another atheist conference, you might want to think about inviting Sanal as a speaker. It certainly would add something to the pot if you did.

  21. jordanchandler says

    And yet my Indian friendss are so proud the “World’s Largest Democracy”….it’s also the only democracy I know that actively pursues blasphemy laws.

  22. says

    …“deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community”? Seriously? This is a crime in India?! What the fuck, India?

    I will post a polite Facebook message later, if I can get myself into a headspace where I’m capable of being polite.

  23. Moggie says

    jordanchandler:

    And yet my Indian friendss are so proud the “World’s Largest Democracy”…

    Being a democracy is not incompatible with having dumb and repressive laws. The latter exist everywhere.

    it’s also the only democracy I know that actively pursues blasphemy laws.

    There have been fairly recent blasphemy prosecutions in at least Finland, Germany, Greece and Spain. Possibly Ireland, too, and Ireland actually introduced a new blasphemy law only three years ago.

  24. says

    Done and Twittered. Shame on the RCC, they really keep scrapping the bottom. And shame on countries with laws against “hurting religious feelings”! Not being exposed to different opinions is not among the human rights.

  25. madscientist says

    I’m always happy to support the IRA. Well – the Indian one anyway.

  26. imthegenieicandoanything says

    The Christians, as opposed to Xians, who are simply stupid/ignorant/insane/evil and can be simply opposed w/o more than a cursory review on any position, who most anger me are the ones who claim that their church is only concerned with “spiritual” matters: Christianity is about “love” they say.

    It’s actually always about their delusions, self-deception, or lies not ever being called out. And nothing pleases the average believer more than seeing such “others” taken down, save that in most ex-Christian nations they have to do it through private means.
    If they had laws like these in India, they’s be used – abused – in the same way. I mean, The Life of Brian got shit in my lifetime.
    The Catholic Church would, if it again had the power, return to Auto-da-Fe within a matter of a few years.

    The one thing “faith” cannot abide is rational honesty, and tolerance to such people means, “they can fight back, so we have to lay off… for now.”

  27. Part-Time Insomniac, Zombie Porcupine Nox Arcana Fan says

    Sanal’s getting shafted for pointing out the truth AND saving people from a health hazard in the process? What is this lunacy?

    Signed.

  28. madbull says

    This law is one of the most misused ever. The founders of India believed in secularism, this law existed to promote harmony in an extremely diverse country prone to religious violence.

    The constitution of India states that.

    Its the duty of every Indian citizen –

    To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

    The sadness of it all.

  29. sadunlap says

    Does anyone have any idea what would stop someone from founding “The Church of the Unknowable God” in India? The one tenet of this religion is that no one can know what God thinks or wants or in what form God manifests itself. Therefore, all the other religions blaspheme this one. In particular, any assertion that sewage oozing from a statue has anything to do with the unknowable God “deliberately hurts the religious feelings and maliciously intends to outrage the religious sentiments of the member(s) of that church.”

    Why not?

  30. reynoldhall says

    What really gets me is how the church deals with other problems!

    Petition signed, and this post is linked to on the forum I post at.

  31. Thomathy, Holy Trinity of Conflation: Atheist-Secularist-Darwinist says

    The Catholic Church and these particular Catholics = festering assholes.