I like to see the new RATIONALIST magazine as a ship starting out to new horizons. As the captain, I am joined by an international crew of brilliant and committed rationalist thinkers and writers spanning over several continents. We are striving for a world without borders where reason, science and human rights come out on top and chase away the shadows that superstition, fundamentalism and intolerance that are still casting over human lives. Welcome to everyone sailing under the same wind.
Monday, July 23, 2012
The Heresy Club article on Sanal Edamaruku
Sanal Edamaruku: The Miracle Man
Edamaruku, the head of the Indian Rationalist Association, is facing jail over his debunking of a “miracle” at a Catholic Church in Mumbai. He pointed out that “miraculous” water dripping from a statue of Christ at the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Velan Kanni in Vile Parle, Mumbai in fact originated from a leaky pipe. This led to widespread condemnation by the Catholic authorities in Mumbai, with the Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay, Agnelo Rufino Gracias calling on him to apologise for “hurting” the Catholic community. Formal complaints about Mr Edamaruku were then made to the Mumbai police by three local Catholic groups, the Catholic Secular Forum, the Association of Concerned Catholics and the Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum.
Edamaruku was at risk of being held in custody ahead of any trial, and was forced to avoid his home whole he filed for anticipatory bail with the High Court in Mumbai. The request for bail was denied which means arrest will lead to certain imprisonment for an indeterminate period. In early July police turned up at his home in Delhi twice with an arrest warrant. He wasn’t there as he is in Europe at an undisclosed location. Had Edamaruku been at home though, he would have been imprisoned for debunking a miracle.
The New Humanist today reported that Indian Catholics have demanded Sanal Edamuaruku apologise for debunking miracle at a Mumbai church, and in return they will drop the complaints and the call for his arrest. Sanal says No.
They reported that a piece appeared in the Sunday Indian newspaper by the Christian journalist John Dyal, who is well known for his civil rights activism on behalf of India’s religious minorities. Dyal, a respected figure in India’s Catholic community, used his Sunday Indian column to call on the Catholic groups that reported Sanal to withdraw their complaints. While Dyal is critical of Sanal’s approach to debunking religious complaints, he does not believe that legal action is justified and wrote:
“These statements by Sanal or the probe by his Rationalists must not be taken as an attack on the church or on the community. It certainly is not an attack on the faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…
…It is time the church leadership really forgave Sanal. He has learnt his own lesson – not to mock at genuine faith of the people and not confuse a passing popular fancy for a “miracle”, however untenable, to say the community is being taken for a ride by the church. The police case against Sanal Edamaruku should be withdrawn as a sign that a mature Church in India needs no props for the depth of its faith in God.”
The Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum was one of the groups that complained, and its founder Joseph Dias has told Dyal that he will drop the complaint in exchange for an apology from Sanal. Sanal Edamaruku refuses to apologise and I can only applaud him. It is incredibly brave of Sanal to stand by reason and now cower to religious bullying. It must be incredibly tempting to relieve himself of the burden imposed by the Catholic Church but he didn’t. It’s heroic.