Hindu organizations in Karnataka have exposed a Christian school in Bengaluru, forcing non-Christian children to carry the Bible and attend scripture classes. The school asks parents to sign the application form, which asks them to affirm that they will allow their children to attend prayers and carry the Bible with them when they are in school. The trust which runs the school received money from foreign missionary organizations to ‘support Christian workers and ministries in India.’
Hindu Janahagruti Samiti(HJS) recently exposed Clarence High School, run by missionaries in Bengaluru, forcing non-Christian students to carry the Bible and participate in prayers and Christian spiritual classes. The issue came to light after the organization came across a specific clause in the school’s application form.
It said, “You affirm that your child will attend all classes, including Morning Assembly Scripture Class and Clubs, for his/her own moral and spiritual welfare and will not object to carrying the Bible and Hymn Book during his/her stay at Clarence High School.”
Accusing the school of violating rights enshrined under Articles 25 & 30 of the constitution, HJS took the matter to the school education department. The department issued a show-cause notice to the school and asked it to respond within seven days. The NCPCR has also written to the Bengaluru district commissioner, telling him to initiate an inquiry into the issue. The letter observed that “there is prima facie contravention of Articles 25 and 28(3) of the Constitution and provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015”.
After the issue gained importance at a national level, Jaideep George, the Principal, said that their school is a law-abiding institute and will not break any law of the land due to its policies. Alumni and parents of children studying in the school came forward to defend the institution, saying that learning from the Bible will imbibe values.
A Punjabi man whose daughter went to the school said to Republic, “There is an option of studying in a convent and a non-convent school. We were aware of the declaration, and we were open to that. In that school, a lot of Muslim students are also studying. It is one of the best schools in academics and has a cheap fee structure. Education is good, and fees are less, which is more important. Anything which gives values to the children is good. My daughter studied there for 13 years and there was no forceful conversion in the school.”
Soham Pablo Banerjee, an alumnus, said “This has been the case for decades and not something new that has sprung up.” He also wrote a Facebook post saying, “When the only way for some people to remain in power is by “othering” people and by fighting imagined enemies, a section of people will keep discovering such minorities. The easy ones are already in progress — religious minorities”.
Even as those who like to show themselves as progressive and liberal have been defending the institution, it has come to light that the Clarence High School Trust Association, an FCRA NGO, running the school receives funds from Christian donors for missionary activities. While the organization declared it as the “amount received for education” to the Bharatiya government, Gospel Missions of India Inc, the foreign donor, declared it as funds to “support Christian workers and ministries in India” in its IRS form submitted to the US government.
It clearly shows that both the school and the trust have been lying about missionary activities in the institution and the utilization of foreign funds. It is a violation of the FCRA rules based on which the Ministry of Home Affairs can cancel the NGO’s FCRA license. Filing false information in the annual returns and diverting funds for causes other than for which they were received are offences under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act.