Indian Rationalist Still in Hiding After Debunking ‘Miracle’ July 5, 2012

Indian Rationalist Still in Hiding After Debunking ‘Miracle’

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an update to the story of Sanal Edamaruku, head of the Indian based Rationalist International, who has been forced into hiding in Finland.

In case you forgot, Sanal had debunked a supposed “miracle” at a Catholic church in Mumbai and faced arrest for “deliberately hurting religious feelings.” Sanal has said repeatedly that he would welcome being charged and put on trial as it would be a chance to put some of his accusers and officials of the Church and Diocese on the witness stand.

Sanal Edamaruku (via

This issue at stake is the notion of “anticipatory bail.” Sanal is basically seeking assurances that when he is arrested, he will immediately be granted bail before the outcome of any trial. After the initial application for anticipatory bail was rejected by the court, Sanal appealed to the Mumbai High Court. This appeal has now also been rejected.

In the last two days, police have arrived at his home in Delhi to serve a new arrest warrant and demand information on his whereabouts. Had he been home, he would be in jail right now, and a single day in jail is a day too long for Sanal.

Yesterday, this message was published on Sanal’s website:

This morning, officers of the Delhi Police reached Sanal Edamaruku’s house to arrest him. They came upon directions of a Delhi court to execute an arrest warrant issued by a Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate Court (second highest Criminal Court). If Sanal had been at home, he would be in jail now

The officers were informed that Sanal is presently out of Delhi and traveling. They insisted on details of his whereabouts, addresses and contact numbers. Some hours later, they came again to press for information, to no avail.

With this dramatic turn of events, Sanal Edamaruku’s persecution has reached a dangerous new level.

New Scientist also has an excellent interview with Sanal.

(via New Humanist)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Since it is a Catholic Church at the center of this thing, I wonder if that isn’t where those wanting to support Sanal should be putting their efforts. Perhaps the Catholic Church can be pressed to intervene, …the argument being that this is their responsibility.

  • Sven

    Is there anything the Roman Catholic Church CAN’T get away with anymore?


    It’s always frieghtening when any institution claims to be in possession of great truth and at the same time surpresses any challenge to that “truth.”

  • Borax

    I think that what makes this whole situation even more despicable is that the church agreed to let Sanal do his investigation. It wasn’t like he sneaked in. The church was a cool with it until their miracle turned out false. The intelligent fakes avoid skeptical inquiry.

  • 1000_Needles

    Hey, all you intellectually honest Catholics: your vocal condemnation of this farce would be appreciated.

    The Catholic Church could have these charges dropped in an instant if they chose to intervene. That the church has not can only mean that they are willing to let an innocent man suffer in prison simply to save face over a debunked miracle.

    I would like to see the Catholic Patheos bloggers start a letter-writing campaign to get these charges dropped.

  • Marco Conti

    As far as I can tell, this is not an official miracle he debunked. meaning a Miracle accepted by the church of Rome. Funny as it sounds, the Catholic Church has a pretty stringent process for the acceptance of miracle. It is actually in their best interest to have miracles that a $50 an hour plumber cannot disprove in 10 minutes. 

    I already signed the petition online, but I am not sure where that petition is going. This needs to escalate and go directly to Rome and needs to be a larger letter writing campaign than it is now.

    There are several institutions that need to be publicly ashamed. Starting for the Diocesis of Bombay (still called that way even after the city’s change of name), to the police, to the Indian government and the Church of Rome.

    Someone has to come to their senses. If even a close and shut case such as this result in the “expert” going to jail, what happens to less cut and dry cases? 

    I think the atheist and skeptic blogosphere need to all of us have our voice heard. Starting with email and actual addresses of the institutions involved. If they start receiving complaint emails and letters on a daily basis, I am sure it will have an effect eventually. We also need to have the major media more aware of the case ans we need to make sure they treat it as the travesty it is rather than a ‘curiosity”.

  • *crickets*

  • Pkt Mma

    Neither Catholic church nor the police are really at fault here. No matter how reprehensible their behaviour they have no responsibility to act outside of their self interests and or orders. The problem is that such a law actually exists on the books in India. This kind of policy has no place in an advanced society and India would better discard it if it really want to move forward.

  • Fake

    So when will Catholics be arrested for aiding and abetting child abuse, money laundering and tax evasion?

  • Ida

    Yes, agreed. It’s outrageous he had to flee the country. That would never happen in America. But neither would this: – the murder of Christians in Orissa province, and the forced flight of thousands more, over rumors of forced conversions; and all too often the police just stood by and let churches burn. At least onenun was burned alive.

    India has such milquetoast laws on the books, and enforces them, because they are a sectarian tinderbox and it only takes one “truth to power!” speaker like Sanal to start a riot. The shrine (which dates back to the 16th century, and is. famous enough to have a replica in the Basilica in Washington DC) let him in to investigate. He turned around and accused them of exploitation. That’s the stuff of which riots are made.

  • Ida

    India is unfortunately not so advanced – read up on the 2008 riots in Orissa.

  • Read the interview. It was the hierarchy that invited him in. It was the laity at the church that are trying to get him tried. Personally, I don’t like there decision to let him in. They should have had a team, with possibly him, a bishop, and some other expert for the investigation. Knowing that that law was on the books, it would’ve been nice for the “nothing supernatural here” to come with the backing of Church authority. 

  • Ida

    (To clarify – the shrine is that old, the “weeping” crucifix is new though.)

  • I wish we could support a modern day underground railroad for folks like this.  

  • intellectualCatholic

    From a Catholic:

    Since one poster asked where all the “intelelctually honest Catholics” are, I thought I would post a reply:-

    Firstly, the main plaintiff in this case is not the Diocese or the Bishop’s Conference, let alone the Vatican. The main plaintiff is an independent Catholic lay organization/ lobby group that does not even have official endorsement per se from the hierarchy. Just because an organization identifies itself as “Catholic” or “Christian” does not indicate that it is some hidden department of the Curia. So, in actual fact, over this issue alone, there is no reason why the Diocese should be involved at all. In fact, the press release on the plaintiff’s blog calls for the Diocese to get involved and not let “the crook” get away.

    Secondly, the Vatican in all likelihood has no knowledge of this miracle, or else it would have made some kind of announcement to the rest of the world by now, which would be captured in Catholic dailies and weeklies around the world. Such an announcement is strangely absent.

    Thirdly, this isn’t a simple case about a “hero” being sent to jail for disproving a miracle. Along with disproving the miracle, he made a whole series of at least questionable claims about the Catholic Church and the Pope. Now, of course, I expect counter-fire because atheists are so numbed that they are not willing to consider those claims as questionable, but they are. Fine, accuse the local laity of being a little too zealous and scandalizing their faith, but what does this have to do with (a) the Pope being in the Nazi Youth; (b) the mythical finances of the Vatican (in fact, the Curia runs very close to a deficit every year); (c) the Black Legend of the Spanish Inquisition? It’s amazing that a leaky drainpipe in rural India can be linked to such an extensive history.

    My personal verdict on the case: Sanal was not sued for proving a miracle false; he was sued for claiming that the local diocese, the national Bishop’s Conference and the Vatican are involved in a global conspiracy of fake miracles to make money. The Vatican, definitely isn’t. The Bishop’s Conference is possibly more interested in Christian-Hindu relations. The fact that the plaintiff is a lay lobby shows that the local parish priest is – perhaps mistakenly – only catering to the needs of his congregation.

    Invoking a blasphemy law is perhaps a tad too far, but some sort of slander law can definitely be applied in this case.

    My two cents only.

  • Visitor

    This law hurts my feelings.  More importantly, it denies every Indian the right of free speech.  All free speech protections are for “the speech we hate.” Piffle that offends absolutely no one clearly requires no such protection.

  • Visitor

    Slander is a civil suit, not a jailable offense.  The mere invocation of blasphemy law can be enough to provoke a lynching––and has many times.  The Catholic hierarchy could have nipped this embarrassment in the bud by urging forbearance upon all its members, and disavowing support for such a law.

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