The Great Debate


About a century or two ago, the Pope decided that all the Sikhs had to leave Italy. Naturally, there was a big uproar from the Sikh community.

The Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Sikh community. If the latter won, the Sikhs could stay. If the Pope won, the Sikhs would have to leave.

The Sikhs realized that they had no choice. So they picked a middle-aged man, named Harbinder Singh, to represent them.

Harbinder asked for one condition before he would accept: to make the debate more interesting, neither side would be allowed to talk. The Pope agreed.

The day of the great debate arrived.

Harbinder Singh and the Pope sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.

Harbinder looked back at him and raised one finger.

The Pope waved his fingers in a circle around his head.

Harbinder pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine.

Harbinder pulled out an apple.

The Pope stood up and said, "I give up. This man is too good. The Sikhs can stay".

An hour later, the cardinals were all around the Pope, asking him what had happened. The Pope said, "First. I held up three fingers to represent the Holy Trinity.

"He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was still one God common to both our religions.

"Then I waved my finger around me to show him that God was all around us.

"He responded by pointing to the ground and showing that God was also right here with us.

"I pulled out the wine and wafer to show that God absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?"

Meanwhile, the Sikh community had crowded around Harbinder Singh. "What happened?" they asked.

"Well," said Harbinder, "first he said to me that the Sikhs had three days to get out of here. I told him in no uncertain terms to buzz off, and that not one of us was leaving.

"Then he told me that this whole city would be cleared of Sikhs. I let him know that we were staying right here".

"Yes, yes, ... and then?" asked the crowd.

"I don't know", said Harbinder. "He took out his lunch, and I took out mine!"