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Left advocates atheism, allege Kerala religious groups

Jun 25, 2008 12:12 AM IST India India

Cochin/ Thiruvananthapuram: Furious with the Left front government in Kerala, religious organisations there have threatened to protest against a textbook that they claim promotes atheistic ideologies. Activists of the Congress student wing KSU say the Class VII social studies textbook propagates Marxist thought and has ‘anti-religious’ content. The students have taken the cue from different religious organisations that have warned the government they would start statewide protests if it doesn’t scrap references to atheism in a new social studies textbook for Class VII. “The textbook is certainly not necessary for a VII standard student. It’s full of communists ideology which is not suitable for a seventh grader,” Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) Spokesperson Rev Dr Stephen Alathara said. Various Islamic religious and political organisations along with Hindu caste organisations like the NSS, too, reacted strongly against the book. “The book has to be immediately withdrawn, otherwise it will have a huge adverse impact on Kerala's society. We will initiate protest all over the state unless our issues are addressed,” NSS General Secretary Narayana Panicker demanded. The offending portions appear in a chapter called ‘Life Without Religion,’ wherein a school principal congratulates a student for leaving the religion column blank in his application form, suggesting that it is better for a child to grow up without religion. Despite the protests the government is in no mood to take the book back “We cannot accept the kind of allegation that’s levelled against the contents of the VII standard textbook,” Kerala Education Minister M A Baby said. The incident is the latest in a series of confrontations between the government and religious groups. But with the Church, Hindu and Muslim groups finding common cause, the Left government may need to worry.