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Monday, July 23, 2012

Sanal Edamaruku on the rain puja in Karnataka state in india


Sanal Edamaruku, the president of the Indian Rationalist Association today condemned the Karnataka government’s pledge to support prayers for rain, which could cost Rs 18 crore of public funds.  The report appeared on The Telegraph. 

On 23 July evening news show on NDTV 24x7 channel, Sanal Edamaruku participated over skype and condemned the rain puja.

The Telegraph

Rain puja that was passed off as weather test

People visit the Taj Mahal on a cloudy Saturday. (PTI)
New Delhi, July 21: Scientists have decried the Karnataka government’s decision to spend public funds for rain-invoking prayers that comes 24 years after the Union science and technology department had supported a similar effort in Mathura during a hot and dry summer.

The Karnataka government, responding to the state’s worst drought in 42 years with rains in its southern interior 50 per cent below normal, has pledged Rs 5,000 to each of 37,000 temples across the state to support prayers for rains between July 27 and August 2.

“This has absolutely no basis in science,” said Ajay Sood, president of the Indian Academy of Sciences, and professor of physics at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. “Such decisions are usually driven by faith, but an elected government has taken this decision.”

Another senior scientist said the decision merely highlights the unfinished task of promoting scientific thinking across the public arena. “Science can never support something like this but then we live in a land of contradictions,” said Krishan Lal, a senior physicist at the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, and president of the Indian National Science Academy.

“Somehow, such things continue to catch the public’s imagination,” Lal said.

In the summer of 1988, the Union department of science and technology (DST) had supported a yagna for rain conducted during a weekend by an 86-year-old priest at a temple in Mathura.

The priest, Har Prasad Sharma, poured herbs and ghee into a giant fire, chanting hymns from the Vedas while scientists from the India Meteorological Department stood on a terrace trying to determine whether the soots from the flames would in any way change the ambient atmosphere.

Senior DST officials had at that time declined to share details of the proposal for the yagna that it had agreed to support and observe but explained that such an experiment could be “viewed” as an attempt to seed clouds through the particles from the fire rising into the air.

Sections of the scientific community had criticised the DST decision.

The IMD team in Mathura did not record any fire-related changes in the atmosphere, and the DST quietly pulled out support, never discussing the episode in public.

The president of the Indian Rationalist Association today condemned the Karnataka government’s pledge to support prayers for rain, which could cost Rs 18 crore of public funds.

“The government should not even spend Rs 18 on something like this,” said Sanal Edamaruku, the association’s president. “This is abuse of public funds. Under the constitution, all citizens need to promote scientific temper.”

Rain kills nine

Nine persons, including two women and three children, were killed in rain-induced accidents in Hyderabad this morning.

All the deaths occurred because of wall collapse. The Andhra Pradesh capital received over 15cm of rainfall in four hours, which threw normal life out of gear as all low-lying areas got water-logged, disrupting traffic.

New Humanist update on Sanal Edamaruku


As regular readers will be well aware, we have been campaigning in support of Sanal Edamaruku, the head of the Indian Rationalist Association who is facing jail over his debunking of a purported miracle at a Catholic Church in Mumbai. For a summary of the how the case came about, read our petition, which you can also add your name to if you haven't already.

 

Last time we provided an update on Sanal's situation, the High Court in Mumbai had refused him "anticipatory bail", which would have enabled him to fight the case without fear of pre-trial custody, and police officers had begun seeking his arrest in his home city of Delhi. In order to avoid jail, Sanal had left India for Europe.

In terms of the potential for arrest, the situation remains the same – he still faces arrest if he returns to India, and as a result he remains in Europe. But in the meantime, details have emerged as to what those who reported Sanal to the police over his debunking of the dripping crucifix in the Church of Our Lady of Velan Kanni in Mumbai are demanding in return for withdrawing their complaints.

Last weekend, 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. As a former president of the All-India Catholic Union, Dyal is a respected figure in India's Catholic community, and he 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:
"I believe Christ is absolutely capable of defending Himself, if perhaps not the church in India. 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.
The faithful of Mumbai think they are defending faith when they go on hunger strikes against books of fiction or films from Hollywood and Bollywood. But in reality they are defending their own positions and constituencies and do not want them to be exposed to the sunlight.

Christ does not have to drip water from crucifixes to prove the love he has for each one of us. His healing is deeper and needs no instruments. I have experienced this in my own life. Catholics of Mumbai possibly realise the controversy is not getting the Church any new friends, nor is it adding to its lustre.

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."
Sanal has been in touch with us this week, and informed us of correspondence between Dyal and himself following the publication of the Sunday Indian piece. Dyal has been in touch with those behind the complaints (three local Mumbai Catholic groups with close connections to the Archdiocese of Bombay complained to the police), and through this correspondence we now know what they expect from Sanal in exchange for dropping the complaints.

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. Unsurprisingly, Sanal refuses to apologise for exercising his right to free speech in criticising religion:
"I can understand that Joseph Dias might be inspired by the stories of Inquisition and Witch-Hunting in the Middle aAges. We live in the 21st century. There are courageous people who would defend the right to speak what they are convinced about, even if stakes are invoked against them. I am one amongst them. I would not apologize or succumb to any pressures."
Our petition calling on the Catholic authorities to withdraw the complaints has now acquired more than 10,000 signatures, but clearly this has not been enough to convince them that this legal action against Sanal is misguided. We need to keep up the pressure – we are looking at passing the petition on to Catholic authorities here in Europe, including the Vatican, but in the meantime, the more signatures it gets, the better.

Please take the time to sign if you haven't already, and pass it on to anyone you can.

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Showing 9 comments

  • James Pickett
    Surely it is the Catholics who should apologise, or are bogus miracles OK..?
  • Aroup chatterjee
    On 12 August 2011 my wife and I were ejected from a symposium at Calcutta University (happens to be my alma mater) because I am the author of 'Mother Teresa the Final Verdict' a fatal expose of the late nun. Indians defend Catholicism not because they love the faith but bec they suck up to fair skin:they equate Christianity with white races.But you can insult the majority Hindusim pretty much as much as you like (unless you are a Muslim). 
  • Nick_ellis
    So lying to people is acceptable but if someone points out you are lying they must apologise to you?
    This seems to violate one of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not bear false witness.
    Or am I being unnecessarily literal in my interpretation?
  • " Joseph Dias has told Dyal that he will drop the complaint in exchange for an apology from Sanal"
    ... maybe I'm just slow, but I still haven't worked out precisely what it is Sanal DID for which he must apologise. Save them from worshipping a false idol? Save them from DRINKING not-actually-holy sewage?
    Or just for contradicting the holy morons who got it wrong in the first place?
  • Lola
    I would think that the church feels they win either way.  If he apologizes, great.  If he stays in exile, no trial, and what a relief that would be because they will never be able to prove that he was wrong.
  •  Unless Sanal's public statement is... well, pretty much exactly what I said above. Put it back to them to explain exactly what it was he did that was so terrible.
  • Nick_ellis
    Allow me to suggest this text for Sanal's 'apology': "I'm sorry the church cannot tell the difference between a leaking pipe and a miracle, or between my justifiable statements and their lies"
  • "Christ does not have to drip water from crucifixes to prove the love he has for each one of us."
    That's very nice but did anyone else notice John Dyal is insane? Jeebus is dead. Dead people can't love.
    What happened to India? When did they make free speech illegal?
    The "Catholic authorities" can demand apologies all it wants. They can be ignored because they're idiots. But why does the High Court in Mumbai suck up to morons? That's the real problem. India has a government that's out of control.
    What India needs is ridicule and relentless insults. They are living in the Dark Ages and they are never going to grow up until someone tells them they have a mental problem.
  • I believe that the glowing object on my ceiling is a miracle.   Anyone who says it's a light bulb powered my electricity should either apologize to me or be arrested. 



" Most Wanted Rationalist" - - Skeptc Friends Network on Sanal Edamaruku

SFN Skeptics Friends Network



India skeptic rationalist Catholic Church Sanal Edamaruku

If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline.” — Richard Dawkins
So right, Richard. They wouldn't like the debate venue.” — HalfMooner

Catholic Bandita on Sanal Edamaruku


Catholic Bandita

CATHOLIC BANDITA


Let’s Blind Sanal Edamaruku and New Scientist With Real Science


Sanal Edamaruku is impressive enough to the folks at NewScientist that they have granted him an interview wherein he is portrayed as someone who is “debunking” Catholicism.
Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku faces a Catholic backlash after insisting that the “holy” water dripping from a statue of Christ came from a leaky drain.
The problem with Edamaruku’s claim is that he did not “debunk” anything. There wasno miracle ever proclaimed by the Church.
“Firstly, no one ever declared that it was a miracle,” said Arcanjo Sodder, lawyer for the complainant Agnelo Fernandes.
“We first asked him to apologise to us. Now the time for apology has long gone. He must be arrested,” said Joseph Dias of the Catholic Secular Forum who filed another complaint.
There is a provision in the law in India to arrest people who make false claims about a religion in order to provoke anti-religious sentiment. This is what Edamaruku has done and it is right to charge him under the law.
The fact that NewScientist is promoting him as a “miracle buster” should give their readers pause. In short, they’re lying to their readers. No miracle having ever been proclaimed by the Church, there is no “miracle” to bust.
Blind them with real science, Christians.

The Heresy Club article on Sanal Edamaruku

The Heresy Club


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.
I implore any reader of The Heresy Club to go and sign the petition ‘calling on the Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay to encourage the withdrawal of complaints against Indian Rationalist Sanal Edamaruku’. Share it with your friends and family and show that people from all around the globe – religious and non religious – donot approve of religious privilege being used to silence criticism.
Crying statues are nothing amazing. Religious relics and miracles have been debunked time and time again. A brilliant book on the subject would be ’Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures’ by Joe Nickell. To try to imprison someone for speaking the truth because it would convenience you if people continued to think it was miraculous is sneaky, dishonest and manipulative – then again, it IS the Catholic Church
 STEVENS