Church’s textbook protest spills onto Kerala streets

June 30th, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi, June 30 (IANS) Catholic Churches across Kerala Monday held protests, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the controversial Class VII social studies textbook, which they allege teaches children atheism and communism. Protest marches were held in several cities and towns including Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kollam under the aegis of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC).

“Our agitation will end only when the controversial textbook is withdrawn and we will have to be prepared for this,” Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil told the laity while launching a demonstration here.

According to the Catholic Church, the book indoctrinates children with atheistic thoughts and a communist ideology.

The new textbook was issued by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Democratic Front government this academic year.

On Sunday, 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 can not 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.

The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI-M, Monday lashed out at the Christian clergy for politicizing the issue.

“A section of those in cassocks are playing dirty politics, taking the present text book crisis to cheap levels. Their objective is to communalise this issue and this cannot be allowed. A day will come when they will realise their mistake and will have to apologise for this,” DYFI state secretary T.V. Rajesh told reporters.

Besides the church, several religious groups, including Muslim organisations and the Hindu Nair Service Society, have also demanded the immediate withdrawal of the textbook.

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