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Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:15 AM

Protesting Yoga in Schools, But Welcoming Bible Study

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/6843/protesting_yoga_in_schools__but_welcoming_bible_study/

February 18, 2013
Protesting Yoga in Schools, But Welcoming Bible Study
In Encinitas, parents warn of encroaching “neopaganism”
By KATHERINE STEWART


Oh mighty sun god, we worship you.

Katherine Stewart
Katherine Stewart is the author of The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children (PublicAffairs). She has written for the Guardian, Reuters, and The New York Times. Her website is www.thegoodnewsclub.com, and you can find her on twitter @kathsstewart.

When is touching your toes just touching your toes, and when is it an effort to indoctrinate small children in Hinduism?

That is the question that emerged from reporting in the New York Times, Fox News, and the Guardian on the threat of a lawsuit by a group of public school parents in Encinitas, California over a yoga class in a public elementary school.

But the most compelling aspect of the controversy has nothing to do with the religious nature of yoga, or with the fears of parents. Rather, the case raises serious questions about the separation of church and school, and about the many religiously-driven programs that are already active in public education, even in Encinitas. As it turns out, there is so much religion in public education today that the fuss over yoga is like worrying about a stain on your blouse when your trousers are covered in mud.

There are two important ways to think about the issue of yoga—or other potentially religiously-inspired content in public schools. The first test has to do with the content of the program; the second has to do with the connection of the sponsoring organization to the curriculum being presented.

more at link

24 replies, 1668 views

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Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply Protesting Yoga in Schools, But Welcoming Bible Study (Original post)
cbayer Feb 2013 OP
brewens Feb 2013 #1
ashling Feb 2013 #2
brewens Feb 2013 #3
cbayer Feb 2013 #5
callous taoboy Feb 2013 #4
cbayer Feb 2013 #6
No Vested Interest Feb 2013 #7
cbayer Feb 2013 #8
No Vested Interest Feb 2013 #9
jeepnstein Feb 2013 #10
cbayer Feb 2013 #11
jeepnstein Feb 2013 #12
cbayer Feb 2013 #13
struggle4progress Feb 2013 #14
cbayer Feb 2013 #15
struggle4progress Feb 2013 #17
cbayer Feb 2013 #18
struggle4progress Feb 2013 #21
cbayer Feb 2013 #22
Wernothelpless Feb 2013 #23
cbayer Feb 2013 #24
struggle4progress Feb 2013 #16
Wernothelpless Feb 2013 #19
cbayer Feb 2013 #20

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:31 AM

1. A year ago or so, yoga was all the rage at a couple universities I work at occasionally.

You could frequently see students going around with their yoga mats. It's kind of funny when something like that gets popular and the kids want everyone to see that they're into it.

The latest trend I see is what I would call wearing a leotard and boots. Maybe there is a better name for the kind of tight fitting workout pants they are wearing. I'm not exactly sure what they are but I approve.

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Response to brewens (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:45 AM

2. Another teacher told my wife that she was taking yoga

but was careful to explain that it was the Christian kind


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Response to ashling (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:49 AM

3. Does the Christian kind include sex with the instructors? That wouldn't surprise me. n/t

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Response to brewens (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:02 PM

5. Why is that?

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:49 AM

4. I have been saved through Yoga:

Saved from getting back surgery. Seriously. Last August I thought for sure I would need surgery for a herniated disc, but I started doing Hatha Yoga and I hardly notice my back issue any more.

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Response to callous taoboy (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:03 PM

6. I think it's a great thing to teach kids when they are quite young, and

it doesn't have to have any religious overtones at all.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #6)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:49 PM

7. Just rename it

Since yoga exercises has many positive benefits, but some don't approve of the fact that it originated in a religious setting-
Call the exercises by another name, just not "yoga", and the exercises should pass scrutiny for all.
So many things are a matter of semantics.

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Response to No Vested Interest (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:53 PM

8. Thoughtful stretching and balance?

I've done a significant amount of yoga off and on through my life and never felt there was a religious overtone at all.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 01:29 PM

9. I think most people agree with you

that is, people living in a Western culture.
Most yoga classes are offered for its physical benefits; only a minority would be seeking the spiritual aspect of it.

I'll leave it to others to choose the best name for the exercises.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:15 AM

10. I never really learned how to pray...

until I took a class on Buddhist meditation. I still employ some of those techniques and don't feel the least bit bad about it.

Some folks are just wound too tight for their own good. I recently had someone go nuts over the fact that I bowed during Judo. They really teed off on me over participating in the closing ceremony at the end of an instructional period. No, I'm not worshiping that picture of Jigoro Kano who holds a place of special honor in the room. Such is life in the Bible Belt.

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Response to jeepnstein (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:18 AM

11. Yoga taught me to stop thinking, which may be like praying - I don't know.

But mostly it kept me sane during some really stressful periods of my life.

What is the bowing about in Judo and why did the other person get upset?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:47 PM

12. It's a sign of trust and respect.

To that end they teach to bow, but to not ever let your guard down while doing so. I'll give a bow to the sensei, to a fellow student before practicing a technique, and we have a ritualized closing ceremony of sorts. It's all designed to give structure to the learning environment. And it's a fairly ordinary Japanese thing to do as far as I can tell.

One of our young students' mothers was outraged that we bowed in class. She somehow has it in her mind we're worshiping Kano in some kind of shrine, which is not the point at all. She even offered to have her preacher contact me about how this was putting my immortal soul in peril. I know the preacher and he's one who, shall we say, likes to take liberties with Scripture to prove his point. No doubt he could lift a couple of familiar verses out and make a solid case as long as he's the one doing all the speaking. So now her son sits at home playing video games instead of learning a very useful skill, which I suppose is some kind of moral victory.

Some people just go around looking to be outraged. I prefer to go around learning new stuff from interesting people.

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Response to jeepnstein (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:51 PM

13. So she couldn't hear that this was about trust and respect?

Has she never been exposed to ordinary Japanese culture? Or even a movie where bowing is common and not at all religious?

Best ignored. Too bad for her son.

I'm with you on the learning new stuff from interesting people part.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:59 PM

14. Lawsuit filed to end yoga instruction in Encinitas schools

February 20, 2013 | 4:52 pm

... The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a couple with two children in the district. It seeks to have the courts block the program, which began last fall. Students receive two 30-minute yoga sessions each week under the program, which is supported by a $533,000 grant from a local studio that teaches Ashtanga yoga.

Tim Baird, superintendent of the Encinitas Union School District, said that he was disappointed that a lawsuit had been filed. Officials believe the program is worthwhile and does not represent religious indoctrination, he added ...

The parents of 30 children have opted not to have their children participate, Baird said.

But Broyles said the ability for parents to opt out is not sufficient. The program "is extremely divisive and has unfortunately led to the harassment, discrimination, bullying and segregation of children who, for good reason, opt out," said Broyles ...

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/lawsuit-filed-to-end-yoga-instruction-in-encinitas-schools.html

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #14)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 11:46 AM

15. And who loses out here? The kids of course.

What a bunch of BS this is.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #15)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 12:42 PM

17. It doesn't seem to me they have much of a case

Constitutional Law
Suit claims grade school yoga classes are inherently religious

Posted Feb 21, 2013 6:33 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
... The suit, filed on behalf of a couple with students in the district, claims the classes in Encinitas schools violate state constitutional provisions regarding religious freedom and state physical education requirements, according to a press release (PDF). The parents are represented by the National Center for Law & Policy.

In a declaration filed in support of the suit, a religious studies professor says the Ashtanga yoga program is inherently and pervasively religious. Students who opt out of the program do not receive 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days as mandated by the state, the press release says. The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times blog L.A. Now have coverage.

The suit seeks an end to the yoga program rather than money damages. The program is funded with a $533,000 from the nonprofit Jois Foundation. According to a prior press release (PDF) by the National Center for Law & Policy, "the stated goal of the Jois Foundation is to promote the 'gospel' of Ashtanga (Hindu beliefs and practices), a deeply religious form of yoga, worldwide" ...


LAW FIRM, PARENTS FILE SUIT AGAINST EUSD OVER YOGA CLASSES
Encinitas district’s officials say lessons have no religious tie

By Gary Warth
12:01 a.m.Feb. 21, 2013
Updated 8:54 p.m.Feb. 20
... The lawsuit quotes Sri Pattabhi Jois, considered the father of Ashtanga Yoga, as saying: “The reason we do yoga is to become one with God and to realize Him in our hearts.”

In a news release from last year, Broyles also quoted Jois as saying, “Yoga means knowing God inside you. But using it only for physical practice is no good, of no use.”

Encinitas attorney David Peck, who has offered to represent the district pro bono in the suit, called Broyle’s argument “ridiculous.”

“Mr. Broyles is arguing that a person can engage in religion unintentionally, simply by posing one’s body in certain positions,” he said, referring to yoga as “simply stretching by another name” ...


California school district sued over yoga program
By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press Writer – 14 hours ago
... Superintendent Timothy B. Baird said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not directly comment on it, but he defended the district's decision to integrate yoga into its curriculum this year.

The district is believed to be the first in the country to have full-time yoga teachers at every one of its schools. The lessons are funded by a $533,000, three-year grant from the Jois Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes Asthanga yoga. Since the district started the classes at its nine schools in January, Baird said teachers and parents have noticed students are calmer, using the breathing practices to release stress before tests ...



Lawsuit Filed to End School Yoga Program, Claiming It Is a Religious Practice
The National Center for Law and Policy wants Encinitas public schools to stop offering yoga

By Sarah Grieco, Elena Gomez and Melissa Pamer
Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 | Updated 8:56 AM PST
... Encintas schools accepted a $533,000 grant for the yoga classes from the Jois Foundation, which the conservative legal firm that filed the lawsuit claims is a religious organization. The attorney who filed the suit called the relationship between the foundation and the school district "improperly cozy."

Jois Yoga states on its website that it works as an "extension of the Ashtanga philosophy and practice." The organization is based in Encinitas, where Ashtanga yoga was first introduced to the United States ...

"We have not stripped religion out of it. We never put religion in it," Baird said. "What we took out were cultural connections, so we don't use Sanskrit words. But basically what you have kids doing is stretching, moving, breathing. That's not religious."

An FAQ on the program on the district's website states: "There is no discussion of spiritualism, mysticism, religion in any context. The students simply perform the physical components of movement and breathing related to mainstream yoga" ...

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #17)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 12:46 PM

18. Maybe not, but it's become a lightning rod and I suspect they will just abandon the

program rather than put up a fight.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #18)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 01:35 PM

21. ... Baird says the district plans to continue the yoga classes and has several law firms offering

to represent the district pro bono ...
Encinitas Parents Sue To Stop In-School Yoga
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
By Kyla Calvert

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #21)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 01:45 PM

22. Good link with two good points about why they are going to resist.

First, they are getting a substantial grant.

Second, according to petitions, parents that support this outnumber those that don't by over 10 to 1.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #18)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 04:43 PM

23. There are too many school who teach yoga as a form of excersise for children for them to consider...

Liberty, Washington, for instance, which is less that 10 miles from the IDAHO border has a yoga program for kids also ...

It's low impact with little chance for injury ... ANY school can cite plenty of examples of a successful yoga program which has
nothing to do with religion ...

As we've discussed the every sport within the OLYMPICS began as a tribute to a GOD ...

Not to mention BALLET ... DANCE began as a PAGAN RITUAL ... Early dance had no stage and no audience but it was an important part of pagan ritual. Ritual often involved some sort of animal or human sacrifice in a sacred area dedicated to the god being worshiped.

The earliest theatrical performances took place in Greece as part of the Spring Festival of Dionysus. Dionysus was the lord of the good life, the giver of wine, the god of ecstasy. Satyr-plays, tragedies and comedies of which ecstatic dance played an integral part, all developed from the worship of Dionysus.

http://www.ballet.utah.edu/ballet4410/chapter1.html

If the school honestly wants to defend itself it need look no further than history for a sane and sensible defense ...

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Response to Wernothelpless (Reply #23)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 05:08 PM

24. Don't misunderstand me. I would strongly support yoga programs for kids.

There are all kinds of known benefits and very little risk.

I was making the point that the school may just not want to put in the time and resources to mount a big defense against this ignorant attack.

However, since I wrote that I have learned a few things:
1) They have obtained significant grant money to pursue this program, which they are not going to walk away from easily.
2) They have acquired pro bono representation in this case
3) The parents that support this outnumber the ones that don't by over 10:1

So, it looks like they are going to fight the challenge, which is a good thing, imo.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 12:30 PM

16. National Legal and Policy Center (Sourcewatch)

National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) is a front group and industry funded conservative political and policy lobbying organization. NLPC was founded in 1991 by Peter Flaherty and Ken Boehm, who previously worked for "Citizens for Reagan" ... In 2006 NPLC fueled rumors concerning the personal finances of Rep. Alan Mollohan, a democrat from West Virginia. Subsequent to an FBI investigation, he was never charged with any wrong doing ... From 2000 to 2005, the National Labor Relations Board found Wal-Mart guilty of 15 cases of illegal conduct ... However, according to NPLC, their "environmental incentives" are the real problem and shareholders are the victims. In a public letter to WalMart CEO H. Lee Scott, NLPC president Peter Flaherty criticizes Walmart’s "failed environmental incentives" and "scientifically unproven global warming ... NLPC’s predominate sources of funding are the Scaife Foundations ...
National Legal and Policy Center

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 01:25 PM

19. The Olympics themselves were originally a tribute to the Greek God Zeus ....

... which, if we follow their line of thinking, would ALSO make any Olympic sport a form of "religion" ... will they ban any sport that was once a tribute to ZEUS? ... While you were jogging you probably didn't know you'd been worshiping a Greek GOD all these years, did ya? ...

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Response to Wernothelpless (Reply #19)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 01:31 PM

20. The irony here is thick.

The organization that is trying to stop this is also pushing hard for the inclusion of blatantly religious curriculum.

Basically, if it doesn't fit their narrow religious views, it's "bad" religion that they need to keep schools away from.

Amazing hypocrisy.

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