Ah, the craziness of religious belief is on full display in India.
First, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a guru who claims millions of followers, was put on trial for raping two women in 2002 at the headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda group in the town of Sirsa.
His devotees apparently were anticipating that this supposed God-man would get better legal treatment, considering his purportedly divine status.
The town ordered an indefinite curfew to stop his followers from gathering but thousands had already left for the town of Panchkula where a court was due to give its verdict.
Singh drove in a convoy of cars from his Sirsa headquarters to the court down a deserted highway, accompanied by hundreds of police.
Ram Niwas, a senior government official, said mobile internet services had also been suspended in the states of Haryana and Punjab to stop people from spreading rumours and causing unrest. The army was on standby.
In 2014, the attempted arrest of another guru on murder charges ended with his followers attacking police with clubs and stones.
But the guru was found guilty. That kicked off riots which have killed dozens and injured hundreds.
At least 32 people were killed and more than 350 sustained injuries as Panchkula turned into a virtual warzone after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was found guilty of rape by a CBI court on Friday. The followers of the godman have gone on a rampage in three states. The rioters torched at least two railway stations, a power grid and petrol pumps in Haryana. In Delhi, a train was set on fire in Anand Vihar and two buses were also torched. Media persons, including News18 staff, came under attack. The government's claims of keeping the situation under control fell flat.
Sure, religious believers will say this is an anomaly and doesn't really reflect on the glory of God. I disagree. Fanatic beliefs often end in fanatic behavior.
When people believe that God is on their side, and they're confident that what they're doing is God's will, horrible things often are done in the name of an imaginary divinity.
This is just one more reason to forsake blind belief and embrace open-eyed reason. It is highly dangerous to believe that you know truths about reality that are hidden from others and that there is no possibility of your being mistaken.
"I don't know" and "I could be wrong" are sentiments that should be cemented in our minds. Otherwise, even if we don't riot and kill people, we'll be prone to other sorts of fanatic dogmatism that were violently demonstrated by the followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.