HAF Writes to Sacramento Bee Regarding Parity for Religion Education

On April 24, 2006, The Sacramento Bee published an article titled “Dictating sanitized history in the classroom a very slippery slope”, by Dan Walters which, while discussing the issue of sixth-grade history textbooks in California, alleged that HAF aims to alter sixth-grade textbooks "to reflect HAF's version of the history of Hindus, regardless of what that history may truly be." HAF’s letter to the editor of The Bee was published in the May 4th issue of the newspaper.

Parity for religion education

Re "Dictating sanitized history in the classroom a very slippery slope," April 24: Dan Walters misconstrues the Hindu American Foundation's (HAF) position. Walters states that HAF aims to alter sixth-grade textbooks "to reflect HAF's version of the history of Hindus, regardless of what that history may truly be." That's not true.

Women and people of "low" castes did indeed suffer discrimination in India historically. However, the relevant fact is that Hindus are merely seeking parity with the depiction of other faiths in sixth-grade textbooks, where social problems of other religions are not given prominence. Moreover, the textbooks omit redeeming features of Hinduism such as the authorship by "low" castes of some of the holiest Hindu scriptures, the concept of shakti (feminine divinity) and the historical and contemporary existence of female and "low" caste saints. As for Aryan migration, HAF merely desires that the textbooks mention that many scholars have offered alternative explanations for the origins of Indian civilization.

Our lawsuit against the state Board of Education specifically cites the violation of the open meeting law, especially the private communications and closed meetings held with advocates opposing Hindus, while denying Hindu groups notice or access.

Swaminathan Venkataraman
Executive Council Member
Hindu American Foundation