Sanal Edamaruku Update

Sanal Edamaruku Update July 25, 2012

The disgusting situation in India, where skeptic Sanal Edamaruku is facing criminal charges for daring to offend a group of Catholics by showing that their “miracle” is nonsense, continues to simmer. The court where the charges were filed, in Mumbai, denied him “anticipatory bail,” which would have allowed him to be released upon posting bail, so he has now fled to Europe.

He still faces arrest if he returns to his home country, but one prominent Christian writer in India is trying to broker a peace between Edamaruku and the group that filed the charges, the Catholic Secular Forum. But that group is demanding that Edamaruku apologize for daring to prove them wrong. He is quite rightly refusing to do so. But that writer who is trying to mediate the conflict, John Dayal, is creating a very obvious false equivalence by declaring both Edamaruku and the Catholics trying to imprison him to be “fundamentalists” and “extremists.”

As someone who is in touch both with the Mumbai church and Sanal Edmaruku, I am pleading the return of a sense of proportion in this issue. It would seem a clash of two fundamentalist groups. It also comes in the context of a satellite TV and Internet social media environment in which many prominent Hindu temples, seminaries and their leaders have been exposed, often in what are called “sting operations”.

Unlike the violence and hate campaigns unleashed on the Christian community by Hindutva strategists and cadres in many states, and by Muslims mullahs in the Kashmir valley and a few other areas in East and South India, Sanal’s is neither “persecution” nor “communalism” as we understand those terms. A section of the Catholic community is embarrassed and therefore enraged. Sanal is an extremist in his own way, especially in the manner in which he believes in his rationalist theories. To that extent, he is a bit of a social maverick. But he is “catholic” in his approach, and confronts all mythology and superstition irrespective of which group propagates it or how powerful those who believe in these superstitions and miracles are.

Oh, bullshit. The only ones acting like extremists in this case are those who want to use the law to punish someone who proved them wrong. That’s not just wrong, it’s utterly barbaric.

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.

Wrong answer. The right answer is that it doesn’t matter in the least whether it is an “attack on the faith” or not. Your beliefs are not immune from criticism and disproof, and if being proven wrong bothers you, that’s just tough. Get over it.

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.

I highly doubt he has learned that lesson because that lesson is bullshit. There is no equivalence here whatsoever. The Catholic groups who want Edamaruku punished for disproving their idiotic claims are simply following in the long history of their church in punishing dissent and the use of reason (ask Galileo, or Giordano Bruno). It’s time for the church leadership to be put in their place in no uncertain terms and shown that they no longer have the power to bully those who refuse their authoritarian assertions.

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