RATIONALISTS in India have a long and admirable history of exposing religious frauds, hucksters and other charlatans. Foremost among these miracle-busters is Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Rationalist International organisation, whose latest exposé may see him arrested at any moment on a “blasphemy” charge.
In this case, all Edamaruku did was to demonstrate that there was nothing miraculous about the water dripping from the feet of Jesus, on a cross at the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni.
The cross, according to this report, had become the centre of attraction for an ever-growing crowd of believers. Hundreds came every day to pray and collect some of the “holy water” in bottles and vessels.
Sanal Edamaruku travelled to the church with a TV crew, identified the source of the water (drainage near a washing room) and he demonstrated the simple mechanism – capillary action – by which it reached Jesus’ feet.
Some hours later, in a live programme on TV-9, Sanal explained his findings and accused Catholic Church officials of miracle mongering. They had been clearly milking the drippy Jesus to the max with an aggressive PR push.
A heated debate ensued, in which five church personnel and representatives of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) demanded that Sanal apologise. He refused and argued against them.
They then threatened to file a blasphemy charge against him – and they did.
On April 10 he received a phone call from a Police official at Juhu Police Station in Mumbai ordering him to the station to face the charges. Edamaruku also revealed that FIRs (First Information Reports prepared by the police when they receive information about the commission of an offence) have also been filed in Andheri and other police stations under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code. These are apparently based on allegations that his exposé had hurt Catholics’ “religious sentiments”.
N D Pancholi, Convenor of the Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee, said in a statement:
It is distressing that the Mumbai police has chosen to harass and victimise him for doing his fundamental duty. The Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee appeals to all progressive individuals and organisations to protest and oppose the reprehensible steps of the Maharashtra police in filing FIRs against Sanal and stand behind him in solidarity for the cause of scientific thinking and freedom of expression.
Hat tip: Zé Fontainhas