As mentioned in the quickies a few weeks ago, Sanal Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association, revealed that a “weeping” cross was not actually a miracle at all, but in fact caused by a leaky drain. When he refused to retract his findings, the local Catholic Church filed a case against him for blasphemy and he now has arrest warrants out for him.

Some background: In March, Edamaruku was contacted by an Indian TV channel and asked to investigate a miracle in Mumbai. Edamaruku is no stranger to investigation. You may remember this story from a few years ago when he challenged a guru to kill him on live TV.

Edamaruku was being asked to investigate a crucifix in front of the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni. The crucifix had water dripping from the feet of the statue for several days. This water was being given to people to drink and claims of its healing powers had already begun to fly. When Edamaruku investigated, he quickly identified the the source of the water as a drain from a nearby washroom and explained the capillary action that caused the water to reach Jesus’ feet.

In presenting his findings on live TV, he also accused the priests of the church of ‘miracle mongering’ for publicity. The local church leaders quickly filed First Information Reports (FIR) against Edamaruku, accusing him of blasphemy, which is illegal under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

Salim Fadhley from the Pod Delusion spoke with Edamaruku about the situation – it’s a great interview:

Although he has not been arrested yet, the Indian Rationalists fear it could happen at any time:

Sanal can be arrested any moment. In every single place where a petition is filed against him. He could be forced to appear in person to answer them. If his answer is not found satisfactory, he could be arrested. He could be forced to fight a multitude of criminal cases in different places. This is not only immensely time and money consuming. Given the fanaticism of some Catholic believers, it can be a danger for his life.

If you are interested in helping out with Edamaruku’s Defense Fund, you can donate here.

Masala Skeptic

Masala Skeptic

Maria Walters (a.k.a. Masala Skeptic) has spent a lot of time in ‘furrin parts,’ including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Pittsburgh. Although her passport is from India, she’s spent most of her adult life in the United States. She currently lives in Atlanta and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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9 Comments

  1. Avatar of Salim Fadhley
    May 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm —

    Thanks for posting my audio. We did another interview with Sanal last year covering his “Tantric Challenge” – a story which is every bit as bizarre as the weeping crucifix.

    I’ve always thought that Sanal’s work is extraordinary – mainly because of the difficulties he has to overcome. My fellow Pod Delusion contributors occasionally run outraged features about poor science teaching or some other first-world problem. Sanal is dealing with a population who accept a kind of radical spiritualist / dualism that pervades all aspects of life.

    I imagine hearing him speak for the fist time must be like hearing Randi, Dawkins and Sagan rolled into one!

    @salimfadhley

  2. Avatar of FlameTest
    May 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm —

    Thank you for the interesting post. The Catholic Church in India? I really should have taken world history. That is a very unpleasant surprise to me.

    • Avatar of Masala Skeptic
      May 1, 2012 at 7:58 pm —

      Yes, there is a decent sized Catholic population in India. I was actually raised Catholic. My father is from the state of Goa, which was colonized by the Portuguese who converted everyone to Catholicism and gave them Portuguese names (my maiden name is D’Souza).

    • Avatar of robro
      May 2, 2012 at 3:46 pm —

      There are 17+ million Catholics in India plus 7 million Christians of other sorts. Don’t forget that Mother Theresa worked in India, Kolkata I believe. And it’s not just the Portuguese. The French had a substantial presence in eastern India until they lost to the Brits in the mid-18th Century or so.

  3. Avatar of Grand Lunar
    May 2, 2012 at 12:24 am —

    I’m astonished that the Catholic Church would have authority to file this case and have a warrent out for Sanal’s arrest.

    They shouldn’t have this authority in ANY nation.

    I hope word of this spreads, to show the world the Catholic Church’s lust for power and to hide the truth.
    No wonder they took so long to acknowledge Galileo was right.

  4. Avatar of Alexa
    May 6, 2012 at 5:01 am —

    Great post! And just wanted to say, I LOVE your Pen Name. :)

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