December 19, 2012
Christian Parents Protest Yoga in Public Schools
(UPDATED) Lawyers say litigation would be similar to lawsuits against prayer in school.
Update (Feb. 21): Parents of children in the Encinitas Union School District officially have filed a lawsuit against the district's Ashtanga yoga program.
According to the Associated Press, "In the lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court, attorney Dean Broyles argued that the twice weekly, 30-minute classes are inherently religious, in violation of the separation between church and state."
Yoga teachers in the district maintain that they are not teaching religion, but an overall wellness program that incorporates yoga for students.
Just as a California school district prepares to launch the first-ever comprehensive yoga program in public schools, officials also are preparing for something a bit less calming: a lawsuit.
A group of Christian parents is threatening to sue Encinitas Union School District for indoctrinating children with Eastern spirituality, fearing that the district's twice-weekly, 30-minute yoga classes could "nudge their children closer to ancient Hindu beliefs." The parents say school-sponsored yoga violates the First Amendment.
According to the Associated Press, New York University law professor Adam Samaha says litigation against the program would not be easily decided. Courts still have not settled on a clear definition of religion, he said.
Dean Broyles, president of the National Center for Law and Policy, told the New York Times that the school district clearly is promoting "Hindu religious beliefs and practices in the public schools through this Ashtanga yoga program."
However, Encinitas assistant superintendent David Miyashiro has said that the instructors have been careful to remove not only spiritual references, but also "anything that can be perceived by onlookers as a concern."
CT has previously covered the topic of yoga, including its relationship to Christianity, whether or not it is dangerous to attain a "higher state of consciousness" through meditation, and whether or not Christians should say 'yes' to yoga.