ALL’s not well in Kerala. When the fake swamis controversy erupted, the Communist-led government in that State targeted Christian evangelists and missionaries and ordered raids at their offices and homes.
Now, the government and the church have locked horns over another issue. This time around, there is support to the church from political parties and other minority groups as well.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) has sought the withdrawal of social science textbooks for class VII, alleging that the book instills anti-religious feelings and atheistic attitudes in the minds of children.
For long the church and the state government have been on a collision course over educational reforms in Kerala.
The controversy over class VII social science textbook has led to students wings of the opposition UDF and ruling LDF engaging in violent clashes. The opposition Congress has vowed to continue the protest till the book was withdrawn.
Education Minister M A Baby has refused to withdraw the textbook but offered a dialogue to discuss the alleged ‘objectionable’ portions. However, the opposition parties have turned down the offer and called for intensifying the stir.
On June 29, a pastoral letter issued by head of Syro Malabar Church Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil was read in churches under the Ernakulam archdiocese.
It said that the church cannot subscribe to an educational reform intended to cast both god and religion out of people’s lives.
In churches under various other diocese, circulars and pamphlets issued by the bishops concerned against the textbook were read.
However, the youth wing of the CPI-M, the DYFI on July 1 lashed out at the Christian clergy for ‘politicizing’ the issue.