Hindu nationalists in Karnataka against Bible in Christian school
by Nirmala Carvalho

Clarence High School has become the target of a new anti-conversion campaign because it offers Bible classes to non-Christians. For Archbishop Machado, “Christian Institutions are once again being targeted” with false and misleading accusations.

Bengaluru (AsiaNews) – Clarence High School, a prestigious Christian educational institution, has come under fire in a new campaign by Hindu nationalists.

The school, which was founded by English missionaries in 1914, is located in Bengaluru, Karnataka, the same state where the hijab was banned in class

The latest controversy broke out after someone reported that the registration form for the 11th grade includes a paragraph asking non-Christian families for their consent to allow their children to take Bible classes.

The provision in question has been place for years and has never caused any problems for non-Christian students.

However, for Mohan Gowda, local spokesman for Hindu Janajagruti Samithi, a Hindu nationalist group, it “proves” that the Christian school is engaged in “forced indoctrination" of children in order to convert them.

Students admitted to “Clarence School must read, carry, and learn Bible,” Gowda said. This “is compulsory” and “a violation of Article 25 and 30 of Indian Constitution”. In light of the situation, he urges the state government to take action against the school.

For their part, Karnataka authorities now want to clarify things; to this end, they announced plans to inspect all Christian schools. The state is ruled by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights also announced its intention of getting involved. In recent years, the agency has been in the hands of Hindu nationalists and has been used in their anti-conversion campaigns against Christians.

In fact, Clarence High School has offered Bible classes for many years, not as religious teaching, but as a way to provide moral points of reference. Many Muslim, Hindu and other non-Christian families appreciate this. Nobody is forced to read the Bible, the school explained.

The Most Rev Peter Machado, Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore, who chairs the Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights, waded into the affair.

“The school is more than 100 years old and no complaint of conversion was made anytime in this school,” he said in a statement. “[M]oral education, based on the examples of the Bible, cannot be considered forced religious education.”

The prelate noted that, “The institutions run by other religious sects also give religious instructions, based on their sacred books.’ Thus, “It is extremely unfair to target only the Christian institutions”.

Sadly, “whatever good is being done is labelled as ‘For Conversion!’” Nevertheless, “We are aware that the majority of Hindus are with us”.

For Archbishop Machado, “it is obvious that it is the same communal bogey, which is all out to divert attention from the basic problems” that are “besetting the society.”

This includes a “hidden agenda” that is out “to discredit the good work done by the Christian minority, especially in the fields of education, social and health care.”