A couple of months ago Sanal Edamaruku, the President of the Indian-based skeptic organization Rationalist International, was invited by an Indian TV channel (TV-9) to visit a Catholic Church in Mumbai to offer his opinion of a claimed miracle. He is well-known in India and has been debunking similar claims for many years.
The miracle in this specific instance involved water dripping from the feet of a statue of the crucifixion, and so Edamuruku quickly identified the cause as a leaking drainage system. Apparently the water was being drawn up through the nail holes in the statue’s feet by capillary action.
Edamaruku commented that the church was simply exploiting people for money, an observation that was not exactly embraced with open arms by the cleric in question. He then later took part in a debate with the priest, Father Augustine Palett, who instead of actually debating, simply threatened legal action – if Edamaruku refused to apologize then he would face a blasphemy complaint. With no apology (it is the priest who should apologise for the blatant fraud), litigation commenced.
The Association of Concerned Catholics lodged a formal complaint with the Mumbai police, and they responded by arresting Edamaruku on the charge of “hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community.” Sadly yes, that is a real Indian law, specifically designed to clamp down on extremists from the various religious factions, it was never intended for a case like this.
He applied for “bail,” but this request was rejected because the judge thought jail would be the safest place for him, (interesting that the judge felt that the Catholics were a real threat).
As pointed out by one blogger recently …
India’s Constitution only adds to the confusion. Clause (h) of Article 51-A states:
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform.
In other words, Edamaruku was not only not breaking the law, he was fulfilling the Indian Constitution!
Now you can help, there is a Petition for you to sign
A petition has been set up to put international pressure on the Catholic Church to step in and call for the charges to be dropped.
You can sign that petition here.
- New Humanist has lots more information here.
- You can also read more about Sanal Edamaruku on his Wikipedia page here.
Unrelated to the above, to give you an idea of who Sanal is, here he is a couple of years ago on Indian TV. It is a rather famous incident where he challenged live on TV tantrik Pandit Surendra Sharma to prove his claim that he could kill anyone with magical powers. It was a very powerful demonstration to millions that they were believing in complete bullshit … Sanal is indeed unafraid to confront, and has been doing his country a valuable service for many decades, so please do help and sign the petition.