Dr. Narendra Dabholkar Has Paid the Ultimate Price for Challenging Irrationality

We lost a real hero yesterday in the worst possible way.

Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, a 67-year-old anti-superstition activist and Humanist leader from India, was assassinated on Tuesday morning, presumably because of his skeptical beliefs.

Dabholkar, who was at the forefront of a campaign to persuade [the] Maharashtra government to pass an anti-superstition and black magic bill, was shot dead by two unidentified youths at 7.20 am on Omkarweshwar bridge near Cosmos Bank in Pune on Tuesday morning.

Dabholkar’s murder comes days after the Maharashtra government assured introduction of the anti-superstition bill even as Right Wing groups continued to oppose the bill.

For 30 years, Dabholkar worked to eradicate the scourge of superstition from a country known for embracing it. The anti-superstition bill that he fought for — but which has not yet passed — was one that went after the real criminals, the ones who used pseudoscience and myth to separate you from your hard-earned money. It was not, as some may think, a way to criminalize religion:

In the whole of the bill, there’s not a single word about God or religion. Nothing like that. The Indian constitution allows freedom of worship and nobody can take that away,” he said.

Still, Dabholkar never sat by silently when religious “godmen” claimed to perform miracles or unnecessarily sacrificed animals for the sake of religious ritual.

His resume is about as impressive as one can get:

In 1989, along with other like-minded people, he founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti [Committee for eradication of blind faith].

In the past 20 years he confronted many babas, buas, tantriks, etc. and led many agitations against several forms of superstitions, water pollution and animal sacrifices.

He was also the founder member of a de-addiction Centre, Parivartan in Satara.

Yesterday, luminaries who knew Dabholkar well issued statements of disbelief and sadness.

Here’s the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s director in India, Babu Gogineni:

“Narendra was a person of great charm and commitment to the cause. He declined to spread his activism outside Maharashtra because he was keen on first developing a branch of his organisation in each village of the state. Organisational work of this kind made the movement a force to reckon with in Maharashtra state where he was spearheading the movement for a Bill against Witchcraft.”

“Dr. Dabholkar’s work in the past 30 years has been the stuff that legends are made of. He remains a beacon of reason, rationalism and science in India.”

And International Humanist and Ethical Union’s President Sonja Eggerickx:

“Our thoughts are with his family and the many rationalist and Humanist colleagues with whom he worked so closely and so tirelessly over the years. Dr Dabholkar’s campaigns brought him onto political territory, but he was always a social reformer motivated by truth and a desire to fight injustice. We urge the authorities to investigate this vile murder and to explore without fear all the possible links to his work.”

And pseudo-science debunker Sanal Edamaruku (whose decision to leave India is even more sensible now):

I remember a discussion that we had not long ago. He urged me to come back to India and fight my harassers in a court of law. Considering the danger, he advised me, one should always ready to die a martyr for the cause. Martyrs are good for the movement. I did not agree myself with allowing my enemies to have such an easy triumph. But I knew he was very serious about it.

Dabholkar was hated by fundamentalists. But, being the peaceful, open-hearted and kind man he was, he was adored and loved by the people. Over the years, his popularity in Maharashtra grew and grew — together with public understanding of the importance of the rationalist fight.

Narendra Dabholkar has died a martyr – now we have to ensure that his brutal murder does not turn a triumph for the enemies of reason. It is the best tribute that we can pay to him, to take up his mantle and go forward. That is what we owe him – and it is what we owe India.

One of the right-wing Hindu groups that opposed Dabholkar’s views has denounced the cowardly actions of the killers, speaking only in respectful terms of the man they frequently sparred with:

The [Sanatan] Sanstha spokesperson Abhay Vartak said that even though they had filed more than 20 cases against Dabholkar, they had nothing personal against him and had regarded his as a “representative of atheists”.

He said that their opposition to Dabholkar was limited in his capacity as atheist and not at personal level.

“We had filed cases in court for false allegations made by him against the Sanstha. The murder of Dabholkar is shocking. We hope that the guilty will be arrested and brought to justice soon,” Vartak said in a statement.

Remember: We’re talking about a country where superstition runs amok and where someone has to run for his life just for debunking a supposed “miracle.” We’re talking about a place where Dabholkar was told, “Remember Gandhi. Remember what we did to him,” in response to his anti-superstition fight.

It saddens me to no end that a skeptic was killed, it seems, for challenging people’s most-cherished beliefs. (It’s a suspicion we’ve seen before.) But if his death can inspire others to tip over even more sacred cows, it won’t be completely in vain.

There is a 1,000,000 Indian Rupee reward (just under $16,000 USD) for anyone with knowledge about the killers. They’ve released this sketch of one of the suspects:

***Update***: In the wake of his death, Government officials in Maharashtra have announced they will approve the anti-black-magic law Dabholkar championed for so long.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • cipher

    Remember Gandhi. Remember what we did to him

    Last week was the 66th anniversary of Indian independence. It seems not much has changed. My understanding is that Indian governments have been just as corrupt, if not more so, than those that came before, and the country is still rife with violence and superstition.

    • indian rationalist

      indian govt is terribly corrupt, probably the most. indian superstition is born out of traditional rituals whose essence & meaning behind goes unquestioned. besides, there r very small section of indians who reads their scriptures & follows the same. rest, seeks shelter under bogus spiritualists.ofcourse not all are bogus but they are outnumbered.

      • cipher

        Yes, I’ve heard this about the government. As for the rest, it’s all very tragic.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    So sad and tragic.

    This is why we need more and more niche-specific advocates for rationality and free-thought.

    To reach current Hindus, Indians, or any other religious or ethnic group, there can be great power in the speaker being someone from the same background.

    All of us should work to move forward free thought and rationality in general, but ALSO pick some special finite focus area (e.g., former Muslims, African-American atheists, high school atheists, former priests, Atheists within your own specific state or country, etc.) then we have the power to carry forth the torch that was carried by this hero.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Hinduism often times gets a free pass in America because of the yoga industrial complex and, hey, they have and elephant faced god who rides a giant mouse.
    Of course the average American doesn’t grasp the evils of the faith-based caste system that still holds sway in many places in India.

    • cipher

      I agree about the caste system, and we do tend to give things a free pass simply because they’re “exotic”, but it’s difficult to get worked up about Hindus, as they aren’t opposing gay marriage, legislating women’s reproductive rights or trying to get mythology taught as science in the public schools (in this country, at any rate).

      And if I had to make a choice between Christian fundamentalism and Vedanta, it would take about a nanosecond.

      • Spuddie

        In India they are the politically active miscreants. It may just be a matter of lacking the numbers to bother to be politically active. Hindu Fundamentalists frequently incite violence against other faiths and other sects (persecution of Sikhs comes to mind).

        • indian rationalist

          persecution of sikh was not hindu instigated. it was dirty politics of congress govt that led massacre of sikhs just because their leader indira gandhi was assassinated by sikh bodyguards. there was communal riot among hindu muslims in 2002. 1000′s very killed(mainly muslims) in the aftermath of godhra riot in which muslims burnt alive 56 hindu pilgrimage.

        • cipher

          I’ve read about this. Hindu fundamentalism is a troubling concept; Hindus essentially invented religious syncretism.

          • Spuddie

            Its really more nationalism than fundamentalism. It has little to do with religious belief and more to do with identity politics.

            • cipher

              Yes, I suppose that’s true.

        • Armanatar

          Yeah, I think it’s proximity and density of followers that leads to Eastern religions getting a free pass in the U.S. more than anything else. It’s easier to get worked up about the enemy at your doorstep than the one half a world away, so that’s the one most people do something about, whether it’s Christians in America, Muslims in the Middle East, or Hindus in India.

          • Spuddie

            Its also lack of familiarity. So they are seen as harmless and exotic.

            Ironically, the Japanese do this a lot with Christian imagery. They were never colonized by Europeans and their religion is polytheism known for syncreatism. There is no historical/cultural animosity towards the European faith. So their culture has no problem adopting the tropes and imagery but they neuter it of all religious meaning.

            Women get married in churches with the white dresses because they look neat and are filled with more pomp than the traditional type. Christmas is celebrated sans manger scenes and baby Jesus. Crosses and cleric imagery is used to denote the exotic other the same way eastern culture is used in Western works.

        • NARAYAN AMIN

          Not just Hindus all religious groups are like that. One thing we should know is religion divides people. Division means conflict. Hence hatred, jealousy is inevitable. So violence takes birth. If we go to history all the blood shed is due to god & religion. No god or religion brought peace on earth! & that is the fact.

          • Gehennah

            To be fair, if we didn’t have religion, we’d still find plenty of reasons to kill other people. Although, hopefully, the “justification” for it would be more difficult to defend since “god told me to,” seemed to be just fine of an excuse for so long.

          • Spuddie

            Correct. That was my point. Fundamentalists of all faiths like to cause ridiculous amounts of trouble.

            In India, their fundamentalists happen to come in 2 flavors, Muslim and Hindu.

            Nobody gets a pass for violent fundamentalist nonsense.

      • Arvind

        Read about female infanticide in India, bride trafficking in the state of Haryana. Dowri, devadasis and the list just goes on…. Hinduism is not docile by stretch of the imagination, trust me.

        • cipher

          I’m aware of at least some of it. I know it’s no picnic.

    • compl3x

      I think a lot of Eastern religions, cults and gurus get a pass in the West because they’re seen as exotic or “old wisdom”. It is the same with proponents of unproven Eastern medicine: the argument is usually a long the lines of “The Chinese have been using remedy X for 1000+ years!” as if that is proof of something. It’s more likely, in a lot of cases, the older a remedy or therapy is the more likely its obsolescence or ineffectiveness is exposed when compared to modern techniques and knowledge.

      Back on topic: this is a sobering reminder that peoples’ silly beliefs, superstitions and ideas aren’t “harmless” as we are all too often told.

    • islandbrewer

      Upvote for “yoga industrial complex.”

      • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

        Thanks.

    • diogeneslamp0

      We don’t know a Hindu did this. Could’ve been a Muslim.

      • Shannon

        Given the majority of these incidents in India do have Hindu perpetrators, Hindus are known to incite and promote this sort of violence, and that Hinduism is the majority religion in India, assuming it’s a Hindu for the moment makes sense. Just like how we’d expect an abortion clinic bombing in America to be a Christian act.

    • kapil bajaj

      Andrew Hall,
      Your understanding of what you deem “Hinduism” is pathetic, to put it mildly, but understandable coming as it does from the fraudulent milieu of ‘Christianity’ and the ‘Western civilization’.
      There is in fact no such thing as ‘Hinduism’ in the sense of ‘religion’ — i.e. the sense that Christianity and Islam are ‘religion’. It simply doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. And this notion of yours that ‘superstition’ flows from what you deem “Hinduism” is childish.
      Outside the imperialist and fraudulent cults — or ‘religions’ — of Judeo-Christianity and Islam, India has never had anything to do with ‘religion’. India has always had diverse and syncretic ‘cultures’, but no ‘religion’. The biggest fraud, the biggest hoax, the biggest fabrication and source of superstition and irrationality in the world is, of course, Christianity, which the ‘West’ in general and the Americans in particular have been imposing upon the rest of the world.
      You would be astounded if you were ever to get a sense of how the Catholic Church and protestant churches have been hoodwinking the masses in India with their ‘apparitions’, ‘weeping statues’, ‘miracles’ and ‘healings’. And you’d be astounded if you were to learn about the role of the Catholic Church alone in running a huge criminal syndicate in India through reliance on ‘miracles’ and exercising its clout to suppress the voice of reason.
      What you need is little bit of education, but that, of course, is to expect a great deal from an American.

  • Tainda

    So heartbreaking! NO ONE should die for their beliefs (or lack of) and before any of our lovely trolls come in here smacking their lips about how I only care if an atheist dies, I mean christians too.

    • Bitter Lizard

      Right. Most of religion’s body count is not atheists. Religious people might discriminate, but religion kills fuckin’ everybody.

  • sam

    Dr. Dabholkar no doubt knew that the real cost of fraud, religious & nonreligious, is that the burden to support those defrauded falls upon us, society at large. We ultimately pay for the mansions of the Benny Hinns of the world, because destitute, uneducated people who give their last dollar then turn to the public for support when he & his god fails.
    To all spiritually diseased fundamentalist christians: the murder of Dr. Dabholkar is an actual example of persecution, not a Wal-Mart greeter smiling at you & giving you a “Happy Holidays” at the end of the year.

  • Mick

    Give ‘em a couple more millennia, they’ll civilize themselves eventually. Hell, they still burn women whose dowries don’t meet the in-law’s expectations.

    In 2010, 8391 dowry death cases were reported across India, meaning a
    bride was burned every 90 minutes, according to statistics recently
    released by the National Crime Records Bureau.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/9108642/Indian-dowry-deaths-on-the-rise.html

    • Guest

      See the video from “Sanal Edamaruku” above. He is being persecuted by catholic curch for exposing a jejus fraud being done by them here..

      • islandbrewer

        Yes, he is being persecuted by the Catholic church, but it’s Indian Law that permits the Catholic church to do so. In the West, the US, UK, Scandinavia, or even Italy with the Vatican at it’s heart, the Catholic church would not be able take legal action against Sanal. He would be undeniably protected by law from such spurious action.

        • Olive Markus

          The fact that a Federal Law is required to keep the Catholic Church from persecuting those that publicly disagree with them is something that flies right over the heads of every Catholic I’ve ever known…

          • The Other Weirdo

            Why can’t I +10000 this reply?

        • Guest

          Its being done by the church in rome..

          England had blasphemy law till 3 years back…Ireland and a number of US states as well or planning to do it.
          Anti-abortion clinics are fire bombed daily in US..

          • islandbrewer

            Its being done by the church in rome..

            … under Indian Law in India. It is India that enables such an egregious act.

            England had blasphemy law till 3 years back…

            It was a little enforced 17th century law that was finally wiped off the books. It would NOT have been used to harass and imprison Sanal for detailing the hoax of the ‘miracle’ in the UK. Case in point: Neither Richard Dawkins nor Tim Minchin have spent any time behind bars in the UK.

            and a number of US states as well or planning to do it.

            No, some religious nutcases have proposed them, that’s not the same as the States planning on doing such. Such laws could never pass constitutional muster in the US, and that’s so patently obvious that they would never pass legislation. Anyone who seriously considers this plausible has absolutely no understanding of US jurisprudence or constitutional traditions.

            Anti-abortion clinics are fire bombed daily in US..

            Daily? Now you’re fucking making shit up. They do get bombed, but a far cry from daily.

            [Edit: I assume you meant to say "abortion clinics." I can safely say that there have never been any bombings of "anti-abortion" clinics.]

            And unlike persecution of Sanal in India, IT IS ILLEGAL!

            How is it that you don’t understand the difference?

            • Guest

              Oh i get it now..
              UK is a rational socity where no body goes to church, their are no religious nut cases, politicians don’t invoke religion to get votes..
              godmen didn’t claim miracles happening every couple of week.

              • islandbrewer

                Please, stop with the hyperbole. I never said anything like that. You are erecting a strawman, and a bad one at that.

                The UK is, however, a place where pointing out the truth with a demonstration of how a statue appears to “weep” will decidedly not get you thrown into prison.

                • Guest

                  you started this hyperbole by comparing this guy with armchair atheists like Dawkins nor Tim Minchin..

                  If Dawkins or Minchin did in the bible belts of US or northen UK what this guy did in tribal villages of india in last 30y.. they would have caught couple of bullets..

                  Also not sure about your freedom of speech thingy, its holds up only for rich caucasian male folks..

                • islandbrewer

                  Wow, I’m rich and caucasian, now? Let me go tell my friends!

                  you started this hyperbole by comparing this guy with armchair atheists like Dawkins nor Tim Minchin.

                  That’s not what hyperbole means, of course, and the point is valid that if the UK blasphemy laws had any teeth while they were in place, you’d see Dawkins and Minchin being prosecuted. Do you understand why Sanal’s prosecution and legal troubles are considered outrageous to the point of absurdity in the West?

                  If Dawkins or Minchin did in the bible belts of US or northen UK what this guy did in tribal villages of india in last 30y.. they would have caught couple of bullets.

                  This isn’t really relevant to whether Indian Law is responsible for Sanal being prosecuted. Things like that definitely do happen occasionally. They’re infrequent, but they are a real concern. Most importantly, they are, as I pointed out, and you don’t seem to get, illegal. Can you explain why you keep missing this point?

                  What Dabholkar did was commendable and admirable and important, all the moreso because he was doing it in India, and not the US or the UK.

                  This started as a condemnation of the Indian legal system and the attendant culture that allows for such “blasphemy” to be prosecuted, which you’re not going to find in the US or Western Europe.

                  Never said that they were bastions of secular reason, that’s a strawman, you’re constructing. Get acquainted with that concept, then STOP DOING IT. You also keep using these lame tu qouqoue farts in order to defend the country that made Sanal flee and killed Dabholkar. While there’s much to admire about India, it’s legally enshrined reverence for religion is not one of those things.

                  You’re obviously angry, and as we all know, internet forae and anger are a bad combination. I’ll let you cool off, but you’re welcome to spew more rage-fueled non sequiturs about the US and the UK. Maybe condemn political meddling in foreign governments or something.

                • Guest

                  Don’t remember indian blashphemy law used against any body in india apart from invoked by minorities and mostly church..

                  Indian blamphemy gives protectection to small communities like christians, muslims and parsis from the majority and is being misued by catholic chruch against atheists like Sanal time and again..

                  But in UK it was their as a threat against minority and atheists and was used as such by church of england in the past..

                • Guest

                  Well and you seem hell bent on proving how UK and US are superior laws when they are actually a grind for the 95% whenever they face law and its same in every country…

                  As for blaphemy law it was to be used for protection to minorties in india like christians and muslims in india..and catholic church just misused it against senal..this is unlike UK where it was (and still is in ireland and who know soon it may be brought back again) mainly as against minorties like atheists..

          • The Other Weirdo

            Citations needed for random claim ass-pulls.

    • indian rationalist

      u sud also know that claims of western media & human rights groups are too anti-hindu. for more info, u might want to read “breaking india” by rajiv malhotra who expose christian western medias and international human rights group. dowry may be in practise in india, no denial but see the other side too.

      • flyb

        Some women are being burned alive because their families don’t have enough to satisfy the grooms. What is this “other side” we are supposed to see, exactly?

        • indian rationalist

          that, claims are exaggerated in many cases to name india highly backward. again, no denial that women are oppressed & even killed due to dowry(& may be other undisclosed reasons).

          • Bitter Lizard

            Even if that’s true, I don’t think making exaggerated claims is on par with setting a woman on fire. Still sounds pretty one-sided to me.

          • flyb

            There are not too many people here in this community that believe India is a backwards country. There are certainly some Indians that are fighting against reason and rationality, just as we have people like that in the west, but it doesn’t make our countries backwards either.

            The media makes money from sensationalism and, in some cases, exaggeration, but that is the case everywhere. That doesn’t make it okay for people to continue doing irrational things.

            • indian rationalist

              i m in no way justifying dowry and it’s consequences. just trying to tell, media’s & org’s claim r not always cent percent true.

              • flyb

                Understood.

              • The Other Weirdo

                You might also investigate the use of proper English sentence construction and non-teenage-IM-speak for spelling. There is not a 160 character limit in Discus, so you can write books in response if you wanted. Not that you should, as with great power comes great responsibility. Your English is otherwise excellent so I’m chucking it up to laziness.

  • Bitter Lizard

    As much fun as it is to eviscerate Christian trolls on the Internet, it’s easy to forget that religion isn’t just stupid and annoying, it’s stupid and annoying and results in a lot of dead bodies. There’s nothing harmless or innocent about peddling stupid ideas, and those who demand we treat them with respect or deference are part of the problem.

    • Frazzah

      I actually feel sick when people say “what’s the harm?”.
      It’s like they didn’t even bother spending any time considering the implications of unjustified beliefs.

      • Bitter Lizard

        People who promote religious beliefs tend to take absolutely no responsibility when these beliefs motivate others to kill. They usually say something along the lines of “well, people from every group do bad things” which is just so beside the point. The point is not that religious people sometimes kill other people, it’s that they kill people explicitly because of their religious beliefs. And these religious beliefs don’t come out of nowhere–all religious people are partly responsible for helping them gain currency. You can’t willfully promote something and be completely innocent of its consequences.

  • DougI

    The religious can’t compete with our superior ideas and ideals, hence they need to lash out with violence. Again, another person dies in the name of religion. So far the total who have been killed in the name of Atheism = zero.

    • indian rationalist

      what about animals? both, theists and atheists are behind pogroms of innocent animals.

      • Beet LeRace

        Humans are animals.

      • Matt D

        Well, then they need to stop tasting so good.

      • 3lemenope

        This is necessary: life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life…

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        If you love innocent animals so much, why do you keep eating all their food?

    • Brad dayag

      Spanish Civil War: Estimates of the number of religious men killed very greatly. One estimate is that of the 30,000 priests and monks in Spain in 1936, 13% of the secular priests and 23% of the monks were killed, amounting to 6800 religious personnel altogether. The figures break down as follows: Some 283 women religious were killed, some of them badly tortured. 13 bishops were killed from the dioceses of Siguenza Lleida, Cuenca, Barbastro, Segorbe, Jaén, Ciudad Real, Almeria, Guadix, Barcelona, Teruel and the auxiliary of Tarragona.

      French Reign of Terror, The September Massacres: The massacres began on September 2, 1792 and lasted five days. The first attack occurred when twenty-four priests being transported to a prison named L’Abbaye were attacked by a mob of angry citizens of Paris. They quickly and grotesquely killed all of the priests as they were trying to escape into the prison and moved on to kill other prisoners as well.

      French Reign of Terror, first war in the Vendée, Battle of Savenay: Historians believe that around 170,000 Vendéeans were killed in the peasant war and the subsequent massacres – and around 5,000 in thenoyades. When it was over, French General Francois Joseph Westermann penned a letter to the Committee of Public Safety stating: “There is no more Vendée… According to the orders that you gave me, I crushed the children under the feet of the horses, massacred the women who, at least for these, will not give birth to any more brigands. I do not have a prisoner to reproach me. I have exterminated all.”

      Cambodia, Year Zero: Buddhism, the dominant religion, was attacked in the form of suppression and killing of monks. Of 60,000 Buddhist monks only 3,000 were found alive after the Khmer Rouge reign.

      Funny thing about humanists .. whenever you manage to claw your way into power you tend to commit the same crimes against humanity that you criticize your theist adversaries of. Funny how that works.

      • DougI

        Yeah, religious people have died before, but none have been killed in the name of Atheism which was my original claim.

        • Brad dayag

          The cases I named (a small sample to be sure) were all perpetrated by athiests and in the name of “reason” and “progress”. Educate yourself.

          • DougI

            Progress and reason is now equated with Atheism? Sure, if you redefine Atheism to mean whatever you want then I suppose you can blame Atheism for everything. Could you try to look more desperate to make your absurd point? But, by all means, please continue to make yourself look more foolish in the future, I can use the entertainment.

            BTW, are you one of those regressive, unreasonable theists?

            • Brad dayag

              So, the Jacobins, Khmer Rouge, and Spanish Republicans were not atheists and did not massacre religious folk?

              • EvolutionKills

                Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods.

                There is no atheist dogma, no atheist doctrines, no atheist prophets, no atheist religion, no atheist gods. Atheism is a denial of a claim. People do not kill others because of atheism, just like nobody kills anyone over not believing in fairies, bigfoot, or the loch ness monster.

                They might not have been religious, but they did not kill in the name of lack of belief in gods. Your false equivocation is just that, false.

              • DougI

                Perhaps they were but that’s irrelevant to what I claimed since I said nobody killed in the name of Atheism. It’s best if you read what I wrote before responding to what you wish you read.

                • nemomen

                  People have killed religious people in the name of antitheist systems because those people were religious. Look at what happened in Albania, or the Chinese Cultural Revolution. What they were doing was effectively killing in the name of atheism (though that’s really a dumb way to frame things).

                  Things are simply not so cut and dry as you imagine. Religious views of their lack don’t make people good or bad. Atheists can do bad things because they are atheists just as religious people can do bad things because they are religious.

                • DougI

                  Nations that kill religious people for the sake of social change aren’t killing in the name of Atheism. Mexico, Russia, China, Mongolia, etc. are destroying the social order to bring reforms. In many nations the state and church together rule to oppress the people. When the oppressive rulers are overthrown it’s for the purpose of a proletariat revolution to wrest control from the authority, not merely because the target is religious. Often it is religious people toppling the power of the church, such as the case in the American revolution.

                  Yet again, nobody can produce one example of a person being killed in the name of Atheism, simply because it’s quite impossible. It’s like people killing in the name of a lack of belief in unicorns.

                • nemomen

                  In Albania atheists killed religious people specifically because they were not atheists.

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Citation needed.

                • nemomen
                • The Other Weirdo

                  That link says religion was suppressed, not that religious people in general were killed.

                • nemomen

                  That link actually does explicitly refer to religious people being killed (as well as their being persecuted). This one does too:
                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians_in_the_Eastern_Bloc#People.27s_Republic_of_Albania

                • The Other Weirdo

                  You realize, though, that all sorts of weird shit happens during cultural revolutions, especially those that attempt to establish a new cult of personality. It’s generally preferable when there is no competing cult of personality already there, and if there is, you kill it, however you have to justify it.

                  I am not saying that it’s right, only that it happens.

                • nemomen

                  I mostly had wanted to offer some facts to Dougl to show the world isn’t quite as black and white as his account since I am of the view that religious views or their lack don’t make people good or bad, but rather it’s extremist ideologies tied to political movements that make people crazy, especially when they dehumanize the people the oppose. So religious extremists with political causes can be very nasty to those they dehumanize just like various marxist extremists who proclaimed atheism were to those they dehumanized.

                  I don’t actually think theism/atheism matter much at all, only extremism and dehumanization.

                • DougI

                  Try again, the Communists killed religious leaders if they refused to accept Communist rule. The predominately Muslim nation had some Christians as well, but there was no mass extermination of people merely for being religious. That would have severely depopulated the state. Rather, Albania’s Communists did what’s typical in a revolution, they eliminated the opposition. Not surprising there were clergy who supported the Communist takeover and they were promoted in the church.

                  Might I suggest you not resort to historical revisionism, it’s making you look really, really awful and naive.

                • nemomen

                  “Might I suggest you not resort to historical revisionism, it’s making you look really, really awful and naive.” Please find a mirror, take a good hard look, and repeat that sentence.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Albania#Communist_Albania

                • DougI

                  Thanks for that little temper tantrum, and it appears we have a wikischolar. How quaint. It’s sad that it has to be pointed out to you that Atheism isn’t a governmental system, nor an economic system. But it’s pretty obvious you have no idea what you’re talking about, but I doubt anyone is surprised by that.

                • nemomen

                  It’s clear that you have a lot of emotional investment in this topic that is biasing and clouding your assessment of uncomfortable facts.

                  The Albanian constitution explicitly stated that “The State recognises no religion, and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in the people.” They jailed and executed religious people for being religious in the name of atheism. That’s a simple fact you can’t refute other than by a series convoluted excuses for the behavior of atheists in political power oppressing and murdering religious people for being religious explicitly *in the name of atheism*.

                • DougI

                  So you’re assuming all of this based upon a Constitution? That’s utterly weak. In other words, you found a secular nation and just assumed everyone who died was killed in the name of Atheism. Typical, you don’t care about facts, you’re just arguing with your emotions and assumptions. Next you’ll tell me all the British were killed in the name of Atheism because America was overthrowing the rule of the church and establishing a secular nation with a godless Constitution.

                  Thanks for proving to be a huge waste of time. Fine, I’ll agree on one thing, you are regressive and unreasonable.

                • nemomen

                  You irreligious zealots are cut from the same cloth as religious zealots. Talking away and denying facts to protect faith in your worldview.

                  Go to a library and read a book on Enver Hoxha. Then get back to me.

                • DougI

                  Apparently reading that book didn’t help you with making a decent argument so it’s clear I don’t have to waste my time.

                • nemomen

                  Of course. You have a precious worldview to protect, so you’ll deflect anything that threatens it, especially the truth. Enver Hoxha was an atheist who ordered the murder of religious people for not being atheists or for preventing the spread of atheism (for political purposes, like most religious violence). He killed in the name of atheism. That doesn’t fit your worldview, so you’ll hide from the truth. Just like a religious zealot – you can’t handle the truth.

                • DougI

                  Gee, I guess if you keep on repeated an unsupported claim it must be true. Let’s break down your argument:
                  1) An Atheist had someone killed
                  2) Since they were an Atheist they killed in the name of Atheism.

                  So you just present unsupported assertions as any internet troll would do. Come back when you actually has something factual to present.

                • nemomen

                  Enver Hoxha was an atheist who had people killed because they were religious for the purpose of spreading atheism. He said this explicitly. Look it up.

                • nemomen

                  The point of learning history is not so much to form arguments as to see the world as it is more clearly. To do that you must face all the facts of the world, even the ones you don’t like. It’s clear that you can’t cope with the truth here, so I’ll let you go blindly on your way. I hope for your sake that some day you learn to care more about the truth than being “right.”

                • The Other Weirdo

                  to oppress the people. When the oppressive rulers are overthrown it’s for the purpose of a proletariat revolution to wrest control from the authority and to install a different set of oppressive rulers, not merely because the target is religious. Often it is religious people toppling the

                  There. That’s better.

          • Spuddie

            Because we can’t have progress or reason where you have religious belief?

            You are not helping yourself here. =)

      • allein

        You think those people were “humanists”?

        • Brad dayag

          Thats how they described themselves: humanists, progressives, rationalists, radicals, revolutionaries, and athiests. You can say they dont represent athiests, but that sounds suspiciously similar to theists who say the Torquemada doesn’t represent them.

          • Spuddie

            Um, no. You added humanists to the list. You really have no idea what humanism is, do you?

            Nobody was killed in the name of atheism. Atheism has never been a rallying cry for massacres. Anti-clerical behavior generally found a home in places where churches were intertwined with the repressive state.

            Of course the Spanish Civil War spiel means you endorsed fascism. Besides the obvious results of that one, Franco killed over 150,000 people, with tacit approval by the Church during his reign. So Spain and its civil war becomes a plus side on the ledger for religious inspired massacre.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Eventually one, just one of these jokers might figure out that blaming “atheism” for ideological killings by Communists is like saying that Muslim honor killings are done in the name of “theism”.

              • Spuddie

                Well in all fairness many probably would.

                I just find itemizing atrocity to be one of the silliest forms of discussion out there. It trivializes the events into a numbers game. Plus the argument relies on some level of generalization and distortion.

                Most of them can be characterized as really being political in nature in one form or another.

          • DougI

            You do know that Robespierre wasn’t an Atheist, don’t you?

            • nemomen

              Jacques Hébert was, though.

              • DougI

                It just proves your absurd notion that all the people involved in the Reign of Terror were Atheists is wrong. But as you’ve shown, you could care less about the facts.

                • nemomen

                  I was offering a helpful counterexample of an atheist from the French Revolution who did kill in the name of atheism. Something you mistakenly believe doesn’t exist. It’s useful to see what the Hébertists did to have a more honest understanding of history and human motivation.

                • DougI

                  No, all you did was present a name. Since the vast majority of those who died under the Terror were common peasants it’s pretty weak to assume that this was a genocide against the religious. Then again, all your arguments have been weak, but that’s what happens when you don’t have facts on your side.

                • nemomen

                  If you ever wanted to learn instead of stay insulated in your safe worldview you might want to look him up and see what the Hébertists did. The facts are in the details which you clearly don’t know.

                • DougI

                  Given your track record for presenting facts I doubt I’ll need any advice from you on the historical record.

  • Spuddie

    Rational people defend themselves with ideas. Superstitious people use bullets.

    • Bitter Lizard

      Rationality doesn’t seem to penetrate them, but bullets go straight through us. Religion has a built-in advantage that way.

      • Spuddie

        Plus occasionally the religious can use magic to become bulletproof. Like the Lords Resistance Army, Taipings, and Boxers

        • islandbrewer

          … and Boxers

          Wait, my dog is magic and bulletproof? Awesome!

          • Spuddie

            and your underwear too!

            • islandbrewer

              How did you know I didn’t wear briefs?! *is paranoid, now*

  • indiamyheaven

    oh ! look at these christian trolls here …well i shall remind you , some christians 500 yrs ago landed on a land called america and brutally commited genocide on defensless tribal ppl something around 100 million innocent native red indians were slaughtered or i shall remind them that poor women being burnt ‘ bcoz they were witches ‘ in europe ..or some christians in germany brutally murdered millions of jews or christian britishers slaughtering 1500 sikhs in jalianwala massacre and other million farmers in bengal… and who can forget crusades ha ha i know u guys r selective in prejudicing opinions…btw before commenting on hinduisim first learn about it …and this murder is done under a criminal conspiracy and not by hindus…your monoesthetic imaginary religions cant touch pure peace and freedom of human-being , logical rationale , and liberal path to lead a life as shown in hinduism…

    • Bdole

      look at these christian trolls here

      Who are you even talking to? Do you know where you are?

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Look, all religions can be terribly brutal, and most of them have been. Christianity is truly terrible. Hinduism, however, is no better. Before you claim Hinduism is super-fantastic-funland-awesome, you may wish to investigate the horrific caste system and misogyny it claims are religiously mandated. Acid attacks, bride burnings for insufficient dowry, honor killings, a sky-high rape rate, sex-selective abortion and infanticide; these are all common in India today. Caste is still (unofficially) important in determining who one can marry, one’s social status, one’s education, one’s profession, and where one can live.

      So yes, a focus on logic and reason and a liberal path are great things. They just don’t lead through Christianity or Hinduism or any religion.

      • indiamyheaven

        my friend caste system , dowry etc etc are truly terrible but the fact is that these stupid practices are not related to religion but due to illiteracy in some remote areas of the country..no hindu saint , book or literature ever mentions to practice such things but due to some stupid , illiterate ppl such things were practiced and now they r minimal but stupid international media like CNN has to make a huge issue out of such things every time they happen…and skyhigh rapes..ha ha ha ha ha USA and lot many other european christian countries have far far more rape victims and child trafficking and drug abuse cases than in india..and divorce rates are much higher in usa etc than in india..acid attacks r criminal activities and has nothing to do with religion…well i dont know ..do school shootout massacres which happen frequently in USA are due to christianity ?

    • Brad dayag

      German measles, small pox, influenza, bubonic plague and all the other non native pathogens which were responsible for 90% of the indigenous die off were Christian? Thats an interesting perspective.

      • 3lemenope

        Give to him that asketh thee [some smallpox encrusted empustulated blankets], and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

        Eh?

  • Without Malice

    My heart-felt condolences to the family of Dr. Dabholkar. There’s probably not much, outside of religion, that would make someone think they have the right to murder a man who is doing absolutely no harm to them or anyone else. This is a vile act, an evil act, a mindless and hateful act, an act which has been carried out a million times over the centuries by those who worship a god fashioned after their own degenerate and murderous hearts. We can only hope for and fight for a future where such insanity no longer darkens the mind of man.

  • axelbeingcivil

    It’s sort of awkward to say that this bill wouldn’t criminalize religion when it does, in fact, criminalize many different religions. Certain religious sects, for example, believe animal sacrifice a necessary part of their cosmology, and this bill bans it. Its text is so broad that the provision of Catholics with saintly icons would be illegal. The opposition of “claiming to be possessed by a divine power” would criminalize any and all ecstatic rituals.

    In short, while this man’s death is certainly murder and he had every right to advocate what he believed in, saying that he wasn’t trying to criminalize religion is wrong. He wasn’t trying to criminalize religion in general but, most certainly, his works would’ve made whole swathes of religions illegal.

    • EvolutionKills

      And if you belonged to a religion that required human sacrifice, should you get a free pass to kill people to satisfy your religious dogmas?

      • axelbeingcivil

        No, but that’s not really the point, is it? Last I checked, human sacrifice was already illegal as murder. This guy wasn’t campaigning against human sacrifice with this law, he was campaigning against certain kinds of religions whole cloth and various aspects of others.

        Whether you like religion or not, whether you like the aspects of a large number of them like ecstatic rites or claims of messianism, the fact is that freedom of religion is an extension of freedom of conscience and assembly. To tell these people that they don’t have a right to get together and do what they do because they sincerely believe it is something most people find pretty odious.

        And, yes, I’d still stop people from committing human sacrifice, no matter how much they believe it’s necessary to ensure that the Kali-Yuga doesn’t arrive, but there is a difference between legislating for the protection of human life and legislating away more benign choices.

  • SeekerLancer

    We sometimes complain we have it hard in the US with the war against intellectualism but I do not envy the people in countries like India who are really putting themselves in danger to disprove mystical nonsense.

  • 1234Bingo

    All the people who are talking about religion, please remember he never challenged any specific religion or even anyone’s personal belief system as long as it is not harmful to anyone. There are certain superstitions in India where people get exploited and most of the times those people are very poor people. Older the civilization more rooted are people’s belief system. and I do not think it has to do with any religion as such. You need people like him to challenge in every generation in every country. There are certain practices which might be originated for certain reason hundreds and thousand years ago, there might be real valid reason then but definitely not now. Challenge those superstitions and try to find why it might have originated in the first place, is it valid today or makes sense today?
    I am sure superstitions are everywhere in the world and not just in India, very well educated people can be very superstitious.

  • Pradip Rawat

    Dr. Narendra Dabholkar’s contribution to Indian society can be aptly described by this Jerry Coyne quote

    We’re in a war not for science, but against superstition, which enables nonscientific views.

  • Arvind

    Thanks a lot Hemant for writing about the plight of atheists in my country. India being what it is, I fear this case will fade away as soon as the media spotlight is removed.

  • Santani Hindu

    Mr Dhabolkar was an agent hired by americans to oppress the indian culture. Why he never sopke about islam and christianity is evident enough that he got his funds from US & saudi.


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