India church calls for study of all religions in government schools

Moves comes in response to calls to teach only Hindu scripture
The Catholic Church in India has called for the study of all religions in Indian schools in reaction to government moves to have only Hindu scripture as part of the curriculum.

"It is an ideal position to integrate scriptures of all religions in academic curricula," Father Gyanprakash Topno, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, told ucanews.com.

He said students should be given the opportunity to learn all religious scriptures rather than sticking with one religious book.

"We being in a democracy cannot promote one religion; such practice does not augur well for democracy," he added.

The debate over the introduction of the Bhagavad Gita, the religious scripture of Hindus, into school curricula gained momentum after the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won May 2014 elections.

The BJP government in northern Haryana state already announced that the Bhagavad Gita would be taught in government-run schools from grades five-12 beginning with the next academic year, despite opposition from other religious groups and opposition parties in the state.

Opponents said the move was an attempt on the part of the BJP to "Hinduize" education.

State education minister Ram Bilas Sharma described the Bhagavad Gita as the "supreme source of knowledge" and said there was nothing wrong with teaching the book to school students.

Also, the BJP-led government in northern Rajasthan said it would make 13,500 copies of the Hindu scripture available in government schools as an apparent prelude to introducing it into the curriculum.

Father Topno said the introduction of scripture from only one religion in Indian schools would violate the country's secular principles.

"Letting students learn from all religious books helps strengthen further national integration, peace and harmony," he said.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal said that children should be allowed the opportunity to learn from the Bible, Quran and other religions.

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