Karnataka: Bishop seeks inclusive moral science book
Bangalore Archbishop Peter Machado on Thursday suggested that any moral science text for schools in Karnataka should be essentially based on the principles of morality from every religious scripture.
In his response to the contention of education minister B.C. Nagesh that the Bible and the Quran cannot be taught in schools since they are religious texts while the Bhagavad Gita is much more than a religious text and hence would be introduced in schools, the archbishop said valuable lessons from all faiths should ideally be taught to children.
“I would suggest the education department produce a moral science book with the principles of morality from every religion. The Bible is a holy book for Christians, the Quran is a holy book for Muslims and the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayan are holy books for Hindus,” he told a news conference at Clarence High School that has been accused by a Sangh parivar outfit of making the Bible mandatory for all students.
The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti has accused the Christian minority school of forcing parents to give consent letters to let their children attend
Bible classes. But the archbishop and the school clarified that moral science is not mandatory although the school started in 1914 has always imparted moral education based on stories from the Bible without any compulsion on any student.
Following the Sangh parivar allegation, the state’s BJP government had recently ordered all block education officers to check if the Bible was part of the syllabi in Christian schools in the state.
“We want to say we are hurt,” Machado said, reacting to the government’s decision to inspect all Christian schools although the allegation was made only against one school.
“The education department has ordered an inquiry on whether the Bible is taught compulsorily in our schools. Not only this school but also all Christian schools in Karnataka. I feel very hurt,” said the archbishop who added that Clarence High School was a Christian minority school with over 75 per cent of the students from the community.
“This doesn’t look good since they have picked one school and decided to probe all Christian schools,” he lamented.
“This is a Christian minority school for the last hundred years with more than 75 per cent of the students from the Christian community. But by no stretch of the imagination do we expect Hindus and Muslims to read the Bible,” said the archbishop.
He challenged the government to conduct a survey to find out if any Christian institution in the state had over a hundred years forcibly converted any non-Christian student.
“We are absolutely sure that no student from another religion has become a Christian in our schools,” he said.
Clarence High School principal Jerry George Mathew noted that the school has always imparted moral education based on Biblical stories from its inception.
“We are convinced it is an essential component of a person’s wholesome development to be exposed to moral values. Moral education takes place once a week and has been going on for over a century,” he clarified amid Sangh parivar allegations of compulsory Bible lessons in the school.
“Bible is not taught in the school, but moral science based on stories from the Bible are taught,” Mathew said drawing a distinction from teaching a religious text and its stories.