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Censorship Your Rights Online

Indian Man Charged With Blasphemy For Exposing "Miracle" 796

Posted by samzenpus
from the smoke-and-mirrors dept.
bhagwad writes "When a statue in Mumbai began to miraculously drip tears, huge crowds began to gather, pray, and collect the water in vials. Sanal Edamaruku has exposed such bogus miracles before, and when he was called in, his investigations showed that it was nothing more than a nearby drainage. The entire investigation was caught on tape. The priests were outraged and demanded an apology. When he refused, a case of 'blasphemy' was registered at the police station and they now want to have him arrested." In related news, today Kuwait's parliament "passed amendments to the Gulf state's penal code stipulating the death penalty for those who curse God, Islam's Prophet Mohammed or his wives." However, they made no change to the penalty for playing a joke national anthem at a sporting event.
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Indian Man Charged With Blasphemy For Exposing "Miracle"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:36PM (#39669601)

    Especially if they got elected in Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Arizona.

    I say Mitt Romney picks that statue for a running mate to solve his Mormon problem. The only trick will be telling the two apart.

    • by dlgeek (1065796) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:54PM (#39669687)
      It'd be easy - only one of them would have political convictions that are set in stone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) *
      Ah, it's silly season again, when the astroturfers for products and companies are displaced somewhat by the astroturfers for politicians. I always hated this part of the cycle. But it is what it is.
      • by M. Baranczak (726671) on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:17AM (#39671437)

        And the silly season just keeps getting longer and longer. How about this: Obama's been president for 3 years now, so we've had plenty of time to judge his job performance. His challengers have been campaigning for almost as long, and they've had plenty of opportunity to explain what they'd do differently. If you haven't decided yet, you never will. Just hold the damn election next week and get it over with.

  • Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeremy85mai (2520912) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:37PM (#39669605)
    Hopefully the world will start to grow more accepting toward skeptical beliefs(such as atheism, Agnosticism, etc). It makes me sad how often these beliefs are persecuted :(
    • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grege1 (1065244) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:48PM (#39669647)
      The world is rapidly going the other way. Back in the 60s and 70s people thought that The Age of Reason had won and we could move into the future with hope. Now reason is under attack from the religions of the world. And it is getting worse by the day. All the fundamentalists from all religions should be made to sit and watch The Life of Brian at least one a year and eat halibut.
      • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:59PM (#39669723)

        I don't think reason is under attack by religion specifically. It just seems to be popular to be a moron these days. The number of well-established scientific theories you disagree with is a matter for competitive sport.

        • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Kaitiff (167826) on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:12AM (#39671397) Homepage

          Actually, I agree with his statement to a degree. Recently I had a Jehova's Witness bang on my door trying to peddle her wares. When I politely told her that I was Atheist she took that statement w/out a beat and immediately came out with a pamphlet SPECIFICALLY for self-professed atheists. She also had an entire set of pre-arranged arguments regarding atheism and morality. I was a bit taken aback. I think that the religions of the world are taking notice to their shrinking congregations and are going on the attack to stem the loss of money in their coffers. Even 30 or 40 years ago, although you wouldn't immediately be stoned for professing your lack of religion 'we' were most definitely a backwater. Now Reasoning people are far more numerous and far more vocal about their views. 30 years ago I could NOT have told my parents I was atheist; now we have rather heated discussions on the topic, when we aren't smart enough to avoid the subject. :)

          • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

            by digitig (1056110) on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:39AM (#39671553)

            Actually, I agree with his statement to a degree. Recently I had a Jehova's Witness bang on my door trying to peddle her wares. When I politely told her that I was Atheist she took that statement w/out a beat and immediately came out with a pamphlet SPECIFICALLY for self-professed atheists. She also had an entire set of pre-arranged arguments regarding atheism and morality. I was a bit taken aback. I think that the religions of the world are taking notice to their shrinking congregations and are going on the attack to stem the loss of money in their coffers. Even 30 or 40 years ago, although you wouldn't immediately be stoned for professing your lack of religion 'we' were most definitely a backwater. Now Reasoning people are far more numerous and far more vocal about their views. 30 years ago I could NOT have told my parents I was atheist; now we have rather heated discussions on the topic, when we aren't smart enough to avoid the subject. :)

            Despite the propaganda, you'll find reasoning people both outside and inside religion, but they're a minority on both sides of the divide.

            • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

              by dwpro (520418) <<dwpro777> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Friday April 13, 2012 @08:17AM (#39672309)

              This false equivalence is not helpful, with regard to faith. "Trust not thy own understanding" isn't taught to atheists as a dogma, and it is evident [wikipedia.org]

              • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

                by digitig (1056110) on Friday April 13, 2012 @08:49AM (#39672649)

                This false equivalence is not helpful, with regard to faith. "Trust not thy own understanding" isn't taught to atheists as a dogma, and it is evident [wikipedia.org]

                It isn't taught to most religious people as a dogma, either. Although I think everybody would be wise to remember that there might be limits to their understanding and that they might be mistaken. "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics."

      • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jeremy85mai (2520912) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:04AM (#39669751)
        Ah, ok. I wouldn't know all that well(Born in the early 90's). It just seems like(or, at least, online) atheism is a lot louder about it's beliefs or with its objections to things. Do you think it's possible that why we see so much moronic stuff is because we're just being louder/more public about it? It seems like that could be a possibility.
        • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pla (258480) on Friday April 13, 2012 @07:41AM (#39671965) Journal
          It just seems like(or, at least, online) atheism is a lot louder about it's beliefs or with its objections to things.

          I'll take "louder" over "punishable by death", TYVM.

          And honestly, this whole vocal-atheist thing? I just haven't seen it. Yes, they have a few talking heads that occasionally get attention in the press; How many dozens of Jesse Jacksons / Fred Phelps / dead Dutch cartoonists / burned African witches, do we hear about for every public appearance by Richard Dawkins?

          Atheists in most of the western world finally feel moderately safe to have a voice at all; The zealots still hold the crown for volume.
      • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:04AM (#39669753)

        The fact they're getting louder doesn't mean they're winning. It might be taken as a sign of desperation.

        The first people to leave a majority religion are the ones who don't fear ostracism, the rebellious, the suborn and the alienated mostly. After them are the ones who go when it ceases to be socially unacceptable. Then there are those who leave when it becomes increasing obvious that their faith and their religion have parted company, and the religion is no longer something they want to be a part of, disgruntled moderates for the most part.

        The very last hangers on, the ones who will never, ever leave as long as they still draw breath, are the fanatics. A religion can have just as many total fanatics when it comprises 90% of the population as it does when it comprises 40% - they go from being a few bad apples to the gradual majority who drive away those disgruntled moderates I mentioned above.

      • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fluffeh (1273756) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:37AM (#39669929)

        The world is rapidly going the other way.

        Actually, I think it is becoming more polarized. I am fairly young, but I see more and more people moving into non-practising belief, moving into an agnostic belief system or totally throwing out and declaring atheism. Most people that I know who are religious are quite moderate and totally respect the chosen paths of others, but in this age of instant communication and viral sharing of video/blogs etc I find that many fundamentalists who in previous decades may have only been heard in small secluded places of worship or backroom debates are now able to spout their messages to the masses. This sadly can result in many moderates who may have previously never heard or even seen such messages being taken in and following.

        I think globally, we are moving (very slowly) to a much more moderate stance on religion, but there are pockets where small fundamentalist wildfires have started. Hopefully those flames will be doused before they spread into too much of a firestorm.

        Living in Australia (which is quite multi-national in ethnicity and religion) I am always utterly amused when fundamentalists of any nature demand to be tolerated for their beliefs while spouting anti-tolerant messages against others the next moment. I can't help myself and weigh in asking that exact sort of question - I started to walk out of church on Easter Sunday just passed (I go to church at Easter and Christmas to appease my parents when I visit) when the priest started spouting about propsed changes to the Australian Law by changing "Marrige to be between two people, rather than a man and a woman" which would lead to "the fall of Christians and civilisation" at which point I was too disgusted to stay for the rest. He saw me walking out and pulled me up on it. I accepted the challenge and politely debated him on the arguments for and against for around ten minutes in front of the entire congregation.

        • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Informative)

          by grege1 (1065244) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:48AM (#39670221)
          This must be Australia corner. Our Prime Minister is female, single, childless and an atheist. When such a person could be elected as the president of the USA I will believe in faeries at the bottom of the garden. The mad monk can keep the crap he is trying to import from American politics.
          • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Aceticon (140883) on Friday April 13, 2012 @05:41AM (#39671195)

            Religion can and often is used as means of control of the (unwashed) masses: it's like a police in the brain and is far more effective than the police on the street.

            Probably this is why America's founding father explicitly sought to separate the state ( and politics ) from religion.

            Unfortunately, in this day and age when the US Constitution is completely disregarded, religion is once again a tool in the toolbox of politics.

        • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Interesting)

          by scamper_22 (1073470) on Friday April 13, 2012 @09:30AM (#39673177)

          Perhaps.

          I'm Muslim so I have a bit of a different perspective. I've actually seen parts of my family and community go 'backwards'.

          In my parents generation, almost no one wore the niqaab. Today, it starts to be common place. Not the majority, but enough. And its not the case of the parents forcing it on them, but their own choice... often defying their parents.

          In some areas, the fundamentalists are winning. Very few Muslims will outwardly proclaim their atheism as the cultural consequences are often too great. They will face huge problems with their friends and family and community.

          Most, like me, simply choose to be non-practicing.

          So while athiesm or religious moderation might be there for christianity. It's not the case for Islam... which just happens to have a whack load of people.

      • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KeensMustard (655606) on Friday April 13, 2012 @02:40AM (#39670479)

        The world is rapidly going the other way. Back in the 60s and 70s people thought that The Age of Reason had won and we could move into the future with hope.

        Yes, but the disillusionment with the "age of reason" (modernism) is what led to post modernism - The Age of Reason didn't actually lead to any more reason.

        Now reason is under attack from the religions of the world. And it is getting worse by the day.

        Nonsense. Reason and religion are not mutually exclusive, and have coexisted for a long time, and continue to do so.

      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Friday April 13, 2012 @05:11AM (#39671075) Journal
        I grew up in the 60's and 70's, my mum was a sunday school teacher up until I was about 6-7, I still remeber overhearing her saying to dad something like "I'm brainwashing my own kids", after that she quit and started encouraging me to read aboriginal dreamtime stories ( not as fact but to demonstrate there were lots of different 'stories' ). It probably helped that my dad was an engineer.

        Anyway, my anectdotal experience over the last 50 odd years, plus a bunch of census stats from the US and around the world, tells me that people have turned their back on religion in droves during my lifetime. I agree it started with the sexual revolution in the 60's, but it has been accelerating ever since. More recently it has been put somewhat unkindly as "the internet, where religions come to die', and I think there is a great deal of truth to that because kids will find a plethora of dreamtime stories [youtube.com] all by themselves. From a very young age they no longer have to rely on their parents digging out obscure books from the adult library, which is something even my own 80's era kids could not do until their late teens.

        Religion is loud and angry in the US right now but it's losing its power and income base (which is why they still disaprove contraception). After millenia of being at the top of the food chain in all previous civilizations they suddenly find they have to start justifying their previously unquestioned claims of 'moral authority' in society with something more substansive than 'might is right'. They find themselves in a world where more and more of their 'sheep' are no longer affraid to laugh in their face and are willing to hold them to account for their hypocricy and crimes.

        I don't think I will live long enough to see it but when governments start taxing what are essentially some of the richest organisations on the planet, then you will know reason has won the day. But reason can only take us so far, at some point you just have to accept an assumption, science has boiled it all down to a handful of very basic assumptions (ie: the fundemantal forces and dimentions exist). It may boil it down further but it will always require the assumption that the real world exists and is not some sort of matrix senario where it's all in our heads.

        Of course the alternative to all this social upheaval is for everyone to simply tell the truth and just admit that nethier they nor I know the answer to the existential question (Why am I here?), none of us even know if the question makes any sense in the first place. The closest thing to a rational answer that I've ever found is more a statement of fact than an answer, it's a Sagan sounbite;"We are a way for the universe to know itself".
      • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Informative)

        by digitig (1056110) on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:36AM (#39671531)

        The world is rapidly going the other way. Back in the 60s and 70s people thought that The Age of Reason had won and we could move into the future with hope. Now reason is under attack from the religions of the world.

        Nope. Some people did, but others thought it was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and a revival of spirituality. Many of those folks rejected science as being a force for evil -- there was a massive anti-science swing in the 1960s. Turn off your nostalgia filter and you'll find that there was no golden age.

    • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shentino (1139071) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:08AM (#39669779)

      What I'd like to know is how any religion that professes to believe in an all knowing and creative deity would deny the mastery apparent in the minds of its own creations.

      I mean seriously, why would God create a brilliant analytical brain, only to shun its use?

      • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:19AM (#39669841)

        I mean seriously, why would God create a brilliant analytical brain, only to shun its use?

        Probably the same reason He created fossils for dinosaurs that never actually existed.

        • by exomondo (1725132) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:41AM (#39669945)
          If only we could master that and create 80 year old scotch without having to wait 80 years.
    • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bryan1945 (301828) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:46AM (#39670213) Journal

      I cannot comment on the world, but I can comment on my experiences here. People say they're atheist or agnostic, no problem. Someone says they're Christian, like I have in the past, and I'll get a bunch of replies mocking my belief in "fairy tales" and "how's that intelligent design going for you." And that's all I say- I'm a Christian, don't defend anything, don't push any agenda. I'll await the derision over in the left corner.
      The point being I get derided just because I say I'm something different from you, but Cthulhu help me if I try to say anything against atheists/agnostics here, which I never have, BTW.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Barsteward (969998)
        You're probably part the sensible section of christians. But when you get the rabid fanatics that are putting the clock back with all their horrible laws against women in the bible belt and you don't say anything about it, then you become part of the problem of misogyny etc put forward as laws. The moderate middle ground christians should push back against the fundementalists in the same way moderate islamists need to push back against the fundies in their religion.

        But then again, if you are not a fund
      • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nyctopterus (717502) on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:14AM (#39671413) Homepage

        I know that people identifying as christian have a huge variety of beliefs, ranging from "it's all metaphor" to "everything in the Bible is literally true", but for the vast majority, christianity involves some sort of belief in the supernatural. Your statement that you are christian translates to most people as "I believe in supernatural things", probably specifically about the divinity of some middle-eastern guy about 2000 years ago, and that it is an important part of your identity.

        I have never seen an argument that gets you close to personal-god christianity being a reasonable set of beliefs (even the arguments for the weakest forms of deism are really poor). So, from an atheist perspective, people dropping into conversation that they hold such beliefs is a provocative affirmation of the absurd. Personally, I don't jump at people for saying they are Christian, but I do feel like it would be intellectually dishonest to pretend that I think it makes any sense at all (metaphorical brands aside). If it is used as any part of an argument, then it just sticks out as a huge false premise.

        So, I guess my point is that you feel you get derided for simply holding a differing belief, but I think you are making an assumption that atheists will see your beliefs as equivilant in some way. Most atheists don't see it that way, they see religious beliefs as not even having made the first few baby steps toward being a plausible set of ideas, and see little to no chance of that changing. To many atheists, there really isn't an intellectual debate of any substance to be had -- all that is left is derision.

        Just to set the tone of this, I don't mean it to be an attack, but an attempt to honestly lay out what I see as the atheist position, and something of an explanation for why they act like they do. (Of course, some atheists are just dicks, no denying that.)

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      What does this story have to do with atheism, agnosticism, or well any other skeptical beliefs?
      Are you saying that if you are of the particular faith you HAVE to believe the statue was crying?
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:38PM (#39669611) Homepage Journal

    In more related news, Tennessee just attacked science to make it harder to teach evolution and climatology [chicagotribune.com] because theocrats can't handle the truth.

  • by alphakappa (687189) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:44PM (#39669631) Homepage
    Anyone can register a case for pretty much anything in India. If the police actually arrested the guy, or if he was convicted of blasphemy, it would be worth talking about. Right now, it's just a bunch of nutcases filing a case, not the government. Let's not fall for hyperbole.
  • Such a non-story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dahamma (304068) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:52PM (#39669669)

    NO chance anyone would actually get tried for blasphemy against the Catholic Church in Mumbai.

    Not only does 98% of the local population not give a shit, but the church leaders in the Vatican will be smacking their foreheads when they see this. They have been trying for the last couple hundred years to undo the massive ill-will they have caused persecuting/prosecuting "heretics" throughout the ages...

  • Oh great. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:56PM (#39669715)

    Now we're outsourcing our stupid, too.

  • But... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:12AM (#39669809)

    The charge is entirely unconstitutional.

    It's written in the Indian Constitution that people not only have the right to pursue the sciences, but have a duty to do so for the whole of society, under Article 51 A.

    To wit: Article 51A(h) To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

    He's charged, but the charge won't stick even with a drunken lawyer.

    He is roaming around free, because the police and the judge know the charge is bogus and a waste of everyone's time, but to do nothing would cause riots among the derp-infested.

    --
    BMO

  • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:10AM (#39670043) Homepage

    Drops of water on a holy statue? Sounds just like the Miracle of Peckham [wikipedia.org].

  • by DrXym (126579) on Friday April 13, 2012 @02:45AM (#39670497)
    I'm sure their "miracle" is extremely profitable. They can't make money when someone is saying it's just water seepage. Obviously the person who investigated and solved this pathetic miracle is a blasphemer and must be denounced.

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