Archbishop Peter Machado Clarifies on Using Bible in Clarence School, Bangalore
Bengaluru: It has been brought to my notice that the Christian Institutions are once again being targeted for conversion in the alleged allegation of the children being forced to buy Bibles and bring them to Schools in Bangalore. This allegation is false and misleading. The allegation is about Clarence School, Bangalore, which is a Christian minority institution, where some parents have objected to the suggestion made by the Management to bring Bible to the Schools by the Students.
The Management of the School has clarified that such a practice was there in the past and, since last year, no child is required to bring Bible to the School or asked to read it by force. Being a Christian Minority School, it is within the rights of the Management to conduct Bible or Religion Classes for Christians outside of the school hours. The School is more than 100 years old and no complaint of conversion was made anytime in this School. The School has justified that moral education, based on the examples of the Bible, cannot be considered forced religious education. The Institutions run by other Religious Sects also give religious instructions, based on their sacred books. It is extremely unfair to target only the Christian Institutions, and whatever good is being done is labelled as “For Conversion!”
We heard that Government has plans to introduce, from next year, lessons on values from Bhagavad Gita and other Religious Scriptures too. If Children are requested to buy books of Bhagavad Gita or other Religions, can it be considered as forcing them to be influenced or inducing them to be converted to these particular Religions? Certainly not! Therefore, using the Scripture Books in minority schools to promote moral and ethical values cannot be considered as forcefully alluring the students towards their religion. The freedom of the parents to choose the school is as important as the prerogative of the management to convey certain concepts of moral rectitude and good behaviour in society. This cannot be interpreted as forceful conversion.
The burden of the allegation lies in providing tangible proof of conversion in the School. Let any member of the public provide even a single instance of conversion in hundreds of Schools run by the Christian Managements in the last few decades. We are aware that the majority of Hindus are with us, and it is obvious that it is the same communal bogey, which is all out to divert attention from the basic problems, that is besetting the society. Undoubtedly, it is having a “hidden agenda” to discredit the good work done by the Christian minority, especially in the field of education, social and health care.
While it cannot be denied that one out of thousand Christian minority Schools could have been overenthusiastic in popularizing the Religious Books with the general public, it is unjust to generalize that all the Schools are following this policy. The parents have the freedom not to send their children to such Religious Minority Institutions. On the other hand, can other Religious Associations that run educational institutions be debarred from encouraging religious instructions in their institutions, including the use of their own religious literature, outside of the scheduled classes for children who belong to their religion?
There are some unconfirmed reports that the Karnataka Education Department is deputing the Education Officers to check the Christian Institutions regarding the educational content that is being taught in the Christian Schools. Why only the Christian Minority Institutions are targeted?
When our Christian minority institutions are rendering selfless services to the society without any discrimination or partiality, levelling such false accusations and causing harassment by some fundamental groups and the education department cannot be condoned.
May I earnestly appeal to the general public not to be influenced by the false propaganda made by some fundamental and vested-interest organizations, and to join hands with us in shaping and moulding the future of our children?