Monday, November 26, 2012

What’s Blasphemy, Anyhow??

As I was sitting, drinking my early cup of coffee this morning, while awaiting my bride (of 58 years) after our morning workouts, I was reading some news in The Guardian newspaper, on my I-Phone. I know . . . amazing stuff, huh? Anyway, the article I was reading really blew me away . . . I thought, this really defines chutzpah.  So, here’s the article, taken from this morning’s Manchester Guardian:

“When water started trickling down a statue of Jesus Christ at a Catholic church in Mumbai earlier this year, locals were quick to declare a miracle. Some began collecting the holy water and the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni began to promote it as a site of pilgrimage.

So when Sanal Edamaruku arrived and established that this was not holy water so much as holey plumbing, the backlash was severe. The renowned rationalist was accused of blasphemy, charged with offences that carry a three-year prison sentence and eventually, after receiving death threats, had to seek exile in Finland.

Now he is calling for European governments to press Delhi into dropping the case. And on the first leg of a tour around EU capitals on Friday, he warned that India was sacrificing freedom of expression for outdated, colonial-era rules about blasphemy (the present blasphemy law was passed in 1860 during the colonial period, while Britain still ruled India).

"There is a huge contradiction in the content of the Indian constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and the blasphemy law from 1860 under then colonial rule," Edamaruku told the Guardian in an interview in Dublin.

"This blasphemy law can affect anyone in India – even a girl recently who wrote on Facebook against closing down a city because of the death of a famous local politician. She was prosecuted under the blasphemy law and another girl who 'liked' her comment on Facebook was also arrested and then charged with blasphemy."”

Turns out, Mr. Edamaruku loves debunking crap like this. One of his thoughts on the issue was, “this was sewage, and people were actually drinking this water, hoping for some miracle.”  Didn’t seem like such a good idea to him, so he ratted them out.
But, this whole thing set me to thinking. When does blasphemy occur . . . when a rationalist reveals the reality of a purported “miracle”—in this case, lousy plumbing—or is it true blasphemy when church elders disguise bad plumbing as a religious miracle, wrought by God, thereby defrauding the believing public into thinking they are actually witnessing something from God?
Now, lest you think this whole affair was quickly resolved, No. Mr. Edamaruku was last seen hiding out in Finland, to avoid his arrest in Delhi on the blasphemy charges.  But really, why aren’t the church elders being hauled before a magistrate for committing blasphemy?
And this garbage actually occurred in India, not Pakistan, or Afghanistan. And here I thought that India had already emerged long ago into the 21st century (I mean, 80% of the population has a cell phone, including most of India's prostitutes). How can they still pretend to fake miracles? I wonder whether the Nazi pope weighed in on this one??? There's still time. It isn't even Christmas yet . . .
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