Muslims and Hindus Riot in India Over a Jokey Facebook Picture

As they’ve often done since at least the eighth century, Mo fans and Shiva supporters have been violently clashing in India:

The police have made hundreds of arrests in the past several days in an attempt to stop religious riots in the Indian city of Vadodara, in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. So far, the violence has been confined to stabbings and the torching of around a dozen vehicles, D.J. Patel, a senior police official in Vadodara, said on Monday.

“We have deployed a large enough number of police to control any situation,” he said. He said none of the injuries were serious. The clashes began last week, after a Hindu man posted an image to his Facebook account showing the face of a Hindu goddess superimposed on a stone venerated by Muslims, Mr. Patel said.

Maybe there are two religions of peace? God help us.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Is This Cringe-Worthy Conversion Video Real?

Please, please, let it be a giant wind-up. If not, this makes me want to drink about a gallon of weed killer.

Villagers in India Hack ‘Witch’ To Death in Attempt to Appease the Hindu Goddess Kali

Kali is not the sweetest of Hindu deities. She’s usually depicted with tongue lolling, a garland of skulls around her neck, 4 to 10 arms flaying and dicing and chopping in a frenzy of perennial creation and destruction.

And depending on how you interpret her wiles, she may demand a little earthly help when it comes to the bit about dicing and chopping.

At least 18 tribal villagers in India’s northeast have been arrested for hacking to death a man they suspected of practising witchcraft, police say. They said they were told to kill the victim by a Hindu goddess who appeared in their dreams.


Mobs have killed at least 200 people over the past five years who they have accused of practising sorcery and witchcraft — mainly in tribal-dominated areas of western and northern Assam state, Indian police say.

The killing took place on Friday at a tea estate village in Assam’s Cachar district, 300 kilometres south of the impoverished state’s main city of Guwahati.

Cachar district police chief Diganta Bora said by telephone that the attack was “barbaric with a group of hysterical villagers sacrificing the man by piercing his neck with sharp weapons and chanting religious hymns”.

The villagers who took part in the killing of the 55-year-old man believed the victim was practising witchcraft and were seeking to “appease the goddess Kali”, the Hindu deity of destruction, Bora said. …

Police in the state have set up a program, called Project Prahari (Vigilance), that involves community policing and holding regular education campaigns among tribal chiefs and village elders.

“Simply enforcing the law and punishing the guilty are inadequate measures. There has to be an attitudinal change,” Saikia said.

That would also be a much-needed initiative in Papua New Guinea, where the fight against witches is ensconced in official law. No kidding. I refer to the

Sorcery Act of 1971, which acknowledges the existence of sorcery and criminalizes both those who practice it and those who attack people accused of sorcery. [source]

That means that boozy mobs in New Guinea’s hinterlands, when someone has a score to settle or a sickness to explain, frequently set upon lone women without male family members to protect them, and accuse them of witchcraft.

Notes Jo Chandler in the Global Mail [thanks to Nicolas Eyle for the link]:

Angela [an accused witch] was naked, staked-out, spread-eagled on a rough frame before them, a blindfold tied over her eyes, a fire burning in a nearby drum. Being unable to see can only have inflated her terror, her sense of powerlessness and the menace around her; breathing the smoke and feeling the heat of the fire where the irons being used to burn her were warmed until they glowed. Would she be cooked, on that fire? She must have known it had happened to others before — and would soon infamously happen again, the pictures finding their way around the world.

The photographs witnesses took of Angela’s torture are shocking, both for the cruelty of the attackers and the torpid body-language of the spectators. Stone-faced men and women and wide-eyed children huddle under umbrellas, sheltering from the drenched highlands air as Angela writhes against the tethers at her wrists and ankles, twisting her body away from the length of hot iron which a young man aims at her genitals.

The story, with good reason, casts a transported Swiss Catholic nun as the hero who helps fight the insanity and cares for the too-few victims who survive the ordeal.

Here at Moral Compass HQ, where we believe actual good works transcend verbal skirmishes between atheists and believers, we doff our cap to Sister Gaudentia Meier, and send her our sincere respect and best wishes for successful interventions.

Religious People Score Embarrassingly Low on Knowledge of Their Holy Texts; Atheists Excel

I remember reading about this study when it came out, in 2010, but I’d never seen this illuminating CNN interview with the chief authors. Tip of the hat to reddit.

Also, per the screenshot below, I somehow managed to be the 666th viewer of that YouTube video. Cross yourself!

CNN_ Do agnostics know more than believers? - YouTube

Canadian Hindu Priest Hears Teens’ Boyfriend Trouble, Volunteers His Own Sexual Services

A Canadian judge found a Hindu priest in Abbotsford, British Columbia, guilty of three counts of sexually interfering with two girls in his congregation.

Judge Neill Brown learned that Karam Vir, 33, an Indian national, had built friendships with the two girls, aged 17, over months. Vir [photo] approached the girls at the temple while they were dealing with relationship trouble with their boyfriends. He offered counseling and advice, but not without an ulterior motive.


The first complainant alleged Vir three times forced kisses on her and forced brief sexual intercourse and/or touching on her three times before she pushed him away, crying and asking him to stop.

In the other case, Vir gave the girl a ring to “protect her.” During their friendship she repeatedly asked Vir to stop talking about wanting to get physically involved with her and resisted his advances, once when he hugged her and tried to touch her chest and again when he pushed her onto a bed after giving her the ring.

The holy horndog is due to be sentenced in August.

[image via Asian Journal]

2 Priests Hacked To Bits, 3rd Priest Suspected

Two Hindu priests were hacked to death Wednesday night, and their body parts partially burned, in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India. A third priest, who’s gone missing, is a prime suspect.

“Unidentified miscreants raided the Balkhandi Devi temple … and after brutally hacking priests Ramcharan and Krishna Das to death, threw their bodies into the huge temple furnace used for cooking ‘bhandara’ food, and set it on fire by sprinkling kerosene oil,” [police superintendent] Rakesh Shanker said. …

Devotees found badly charred body parts strewn near the furnace with blood splattered all over the place at the ground floor of the temple when they reached the Balkhandi Devi temple for prayers at around 8 am on Thursday.

Oops, that's no bloodbath, that a scene from the Holi Festival

That’s no bloodbath, but a scene from the altogether more enjoyable Holi Festival

According to another police source,

“The killings took place while both the priests were sleeping on the roof of the temple. On Wednesday night, while Ramcharan was sleeping near the ‘matt’ of Lord Hanuman and Krishna Das close to the ‘matt’ of another deity, miscreants attacked them with sharp-edged weapons and chopped their body into pieces. They then threw the body parts into the furnace, sprinkled kerosene and set the fire.”

Shanker told the Times of India that

“Village sources have told us that it could be the handiwork of [fellow priest] Baladeen, who is missing since the incident. We are suspecting his involvement in the crime.”

[image via the Atlantic]

No Milk Today (And For the Last 55,000 Days)

The village of Chaura in Jharkhand, India, boasts a nice herd of cows. Each family owns at least two of the bovines. Almost anywhere in the world that means a steady supply of milk, but Chaura is different. For a century and a half, maybe longer, no one has dared milk the local cows. The villagers love milk, but they trek back and forth to buy it from neighboring hamlets.

Why? It’s on the advice of a 19th-century Hindu priest, says one of the elders, Kunaram Hansda, 70.

“My father used to say a priest had warned the villagers not to milk the cows,” he said, adding, “Those who dare to defy the diktat suffer physically and mentally.”

Local lore has it that some ancestors had killed two black cats for sneaking up to their kitchens and emptying the milk pots. Days later, several villagers fell sick as “the cats’ spirits” lay a curse on the village. Thereafter, goes the story, anyone consuming the milk of their cows would fall ill.

Some say that Chaura’s cows will only produce cursed milk that turns red, but no one has apparently dared put the claim to the test for generations.

If the liquid did turn out to have a reddish tint, there would be a good explanation — and the spirits of dead cats have nothing to do with it.

Dr Manoj Tiwary, veterinary physician and junior research officer at the Institute of Animal Health and Production (IAHP), Ranchi, said, “These cows might be suffering from Mastitis disease due to which blood sometimes mixes with the milk, giving it a reddish colour. It’s a bacterial disease and prone to be contagious. But [the reason] would be clear only after a proper examination of the cows.”

For now, the 150-odd families of Chaura will just continue to buy their milk elsewhere, spending their meager resources on something they could produce themselves, and enriching their neighbors in nearby villages.

On Religion: Frik Vermeulen, Unsung Genius

Finally, someone sorts through the world’s major faiths and helps us figure out “which Religion is right.”


We applaud South Africa’s Frik Vermeulen and his fearless decision to “way in and hopefully bring some sanity to the tables.”

Priest Uses Hot Iron Rod on ‘Possessed’ Woman

A Hindu priest in India, Krishna Kant Tiwari, pressed a hot iron rod into the flesh of a follower in order to drive out the ghost that he claimed possessed her.

BHOPAL: A priest branded a ‘possessed’ woman with a hot iron rod in a bid to “rid the 20-year-old of a ghost” at Bhadrana village in Sagar district late on Monday night. The priest was arrested on Tuesday evening after the investigations, said police. The injured woman, Rajni Rajak, is undergoing treatment at the district hospital. …


“The priest claimed that if the woman was under the control of deity, she would not feel the pain. Having said this, she was branded with the hot iron rod in the presence of villagers,” [police officer] Tiwari said.

Devotees Beat Hindu Priest Over Idol Mix-Up

A Hindu priest in India was beaten bloody by angry devotees who accused him of trying to recreate a religious statue in wax. The crowd presumed he wanted to sell the original.

Enraged with the priest’s act of duplicating the idol of the presiding deity —  Lord Kurmanatha — with wax, the locals staged a protest at the temple. … Chamarla Murali Krishna received blows on his face, leaving him bleeding from the nose, and severe injury to his left eye. [It appears to be his right eye unless the image was flipped —TF]


Devotees felt that the priest was trying to create a duplicate idol hurting their sentiments and sanctity of the temple. They also alleged that the priest tried to sell the original idol to some Bangalore-based smuggler and install a duplicate one at the sanctum sanctorum. … Police had to swing into action after some agitated devotees pelted stones at the priest.

The accosted man claims it was a misunderstanding, explaining that a Hindu worshiper “wanted to gift silver armor to the idol and asked me to manufacture a wax copy and I did it. There are not any ill intentions behind it.”

[image via Deccan Chronicle]

A Nation of Believers … In Just About Anything

Irrational beliefs are alive and well in the United States. For instance,

One in five Republican voters believes Barack Obama is the ‘antichrist’ and nearly a third of all Americans think a secret power elite controls the world, according to new research on conspiracy theories.

A survey by the Public Policy Polling group aimed to shed light on the link between political leanings and belief in conspiracy theories. The poll found that:

• 34 percent of Republicans polled believe a New World Order controls the world, compared with 35 percent of independent voters and 15 percent of Democrats.

• 29 percent of US voters believe aliens exist.

• 13 percent of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, including 22 percent of Romney voters.

More here.


I’m happy for people to believe whatever they want — no skin off my backside. All the same, it can be dispiriting to live in a country whose populace takes to nonsense and disinformation as a fish takes to water.

The survey steered clear of asking about delusional beliefs in various deities, but we know the picture would have been bleak indeed.

[image via Shirtoid]

Amen. I Mean, Right On.

Via BrightRock.