Post by Jim Newman
A statue of Jesus at the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni (Mumbai) dripped water from its feet and Catholics deemed it a miracle.
Hundreds of pilgrims come a day to see and many collected the water in bottles.
The basilica is famous for three miracles on its grounds. Their site claims millions come to the shrine every year.
Do not forget to carry home the water from Mother’s tank, the place Our Lady appeared with baby Jesus …. one of the best pilgrimage places for Christians.
This video details the various miracles that make this church so popular.
However, the water from the crucifix turns out to be leaking drain water seeping from the nails in its feet, through capillary action. Sanal Edmaruku researches the miracle.
Speaking to local television, the president of the Indian Rationalist Association has accused the Church of exploiting the worship of images, and of “creating the miracle” to make money, finally, he also accused the pope of being anti-science. Edamaruku then personally visited the site, arguing that this water was just a “capillary phenomenon”, explained by elementary scientific concepts. The Association of Concerned Catholics (Aocc) condemned the man for the defamatory statements against the Church and the pope, demanding an official apology.
There follows defensive accusations and finally a debate on TV.
It’s hilarious that the church’s best attack is to say they never said it was a miracle–they just didn’t tell people it wasn’t a miracle–and it was Sanal who called it a miracle.
After a couple of months of delays finally as explained at RationalistsInternational.
It is more than three weeks now that agents of the Catholic Church pressed multiple blasphemy charges against Sanal Edamaruku to avenge him for exposing their “miracle” of the water-dripping cross as a job for the plumber. While the threat of arrest keeps looming over Sanal’s head, ready to hit anytime, the Catholic Church is unleashing the “dogs of the Lord”*). In a widely circulated public statement, a fanatic Catholic group tries to invoke fatwa power and calls Sanal a case for mental asylum.
*) “Dogs of the Lord” (Latin: Domini canes) was the name, the Dominicans loved to call themselves after the Vatican put them in charge of the Inquisiton in the 13th century. In a Papal Bull, a Pope with the endearing name “Innocent” ( No. IV) gave them officially a free hand to torture. This is a classical division of work.
He has not been officially charged as he explains that would mean he could defend himself. He can do little until he is charged or arrested. Sanal insists:
Instead he proposed that the authorities of the church of Velankanni at Mumbai should publicly apologize for distributing the dirty drainage water that was dripping from the cross to hundreds of gullible people. Advertising a natural phenomenon as a “miracle” to attract devotees and promoting them to drink unchecked dirty water claiming it had curative properties is an irresponsible act – and should be a punishable offence, too.
This on the blasphemy law from Al Arabia News.
The legislation bans “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” — a rule Edamaruku believes runs counter to freedom of expression.
His lawyers are preparing to lobby India’s Supreme Court to overturn the colonial-era section of the penal code, as well as asking a court in Delhi to prevent his arrest.
This is the rest of the text of the blasphemy law.
[295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.— Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.]
Sanal Edmaruku is the James Randi of India.
His association, which claims 100,000-plus members, was set up in 1949 to campaign for scientific reasoning over superstition — a job that has become his mission in life.
The 56-year-old has spent the last three decades exposing what he says are fake miracles and fraudulent gurus across India, whose top mystics and yoga masters have amassed huge followings and fortunes.
However, though India claims a secular government it is a religious and diverse country that shows great deference to religious ritual and superstition and hierarchy. The blasphemy law is used to persecute rationalists as reported by Carvaka4india.
This section of the IPC pertains to insulting religions and religious beliefs. Made by our colonial masters to divide and subjugate their vassals, like many other provisions of the archaic laws made by them, this section too has been carried over into our laws and is being used now mainly to persecute and hound people who may have points of view contrary to those of the powers that be. The rationalist movement and other progressive forces have been mostly at the receiving end of persecutions under this but the others have been no exception. The word ‘persecution’ has been deliberately used here as most of the cases booked under this section have resulted in acquittals of the accused and all they have had as punishment is the period of the ‘due process of law’ which can take several years to couple of decades to complete.
Let’s just torture the bastards with detention. This law was used to persecute translated reports of Taslima Nasreen.
A couple of years back Krantikar, State President of Andra Pradesh Rationalist Association and Executive Committee Member of Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations had been hauled up under the same sections and had been in prison for quite some time as he had refused to apply for bail. His crime – he had translated some write ups of Taslima Nasreen which had been published more than decade back and were available to the world at large on the web into Telugu and had published that in book form, which had again angered the local fundamentalist Muslims who were after his blood. The ruling congress party in the state had brought all these sections upon him to please their so called ‘minority vote bank’! The way it was done it was pretty obvious that the case would be thrown out by the court but the ‘persecution’ part of it was more important for the govt.!
The blasphemy law seems to be undergoing a resurge of political use by religious people.
Just at the time of the Sanal case hitting the headlines a student of Hyderabad, Kartik had been arrested on the same grounds for reacting that there is no god to someone who had greeted him on Hanuman Jayanthi day. He had been arrested and was in police custody for having expressed his convictions and exercising his constitutional right! Again, the same law was used by a right wing student organisation to target a member of a rival organisation. The saffron gangs are experts in using this law to harass those who do not see eye to eye with them. In fact, they used it to file complaints against those who organised and participated in a ‘beef festival’ on the campus of Osmania University recently. Though one’s dietary habits are one’s personal business, one mans food can be another one’s religious sentiment! So, people could file complaints under section 295A for eating beef (Hindu religious sentiments), Pork (Muslim religious sentiments), any non vegetarian food (Jain religious sentiments) and so on ad infinitum! It could be also argued that even the menus of hotels are publications which are deliberately and maliciously composed to hurt them and so on.
Over at Indianskeptic (CSICOP) they assert the constitution has authority over the blasphemy law:
Does this law have a role in our society? Well let us take a look at article 51 A H of the constitution of India which deals with the duties of the citizen it states that-51A. Fundamental duties It shall be the duty of every citizen of India (h)to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. With a constitution which states this and with a section of the IPC which is contrary it is the article of the constitution which should prevail.
One of Sanal’s best debunkings was when he challenged a guru to kill him as he claimed he could with mere thoughts. It was to be performed on TV and all other shows were canceled as the challenge progressed. The guru keeps making excuses and tries to even use a pressure point on the temple. He asserts he can only do it outside after purification and tantric sex and still fails. Finally he says Sanal is using powerful prayers against him. At midnight the show ends and Sanal is alive.
To give you a taste of how weird it gets, a practice in India is rolling and standing on a baby as a blessing. The baby or infant doesn’t often die because their bones are like plastic, not yet calcified, but it is a horrible, torturous thing. You just can’t make this shit up. Sanal exposes “this blessing” for the crime it is.
Click here if you’d like to support Sanal’s defense fund.
Click here to check out India’s largest rationalist organization IRA.
Jim Newman, bright and well