Fundamentalist Christian parents in an Encinitas, CA school district have their panties in a wad over something new. Since losing the creationism-in-schools battle, they've turned to outlawing other practices that have any relation, history, or common connection with religion (using the "no religion in schools" argument they've been fighting against for decades). Their target right now? Yoga.
Because yoga has origins in Hinduism, these wacky Christian parents seem to believe that the school district wants to indoctrinate their children with religious teachings through making them stretch each morning. Or something. One of the parents that pulled her child from the class said to local news station KPBS:
“It’s stated in the curriculum that it’s meant to shape the way that they view the world, it’s meant to shape the way that they make life decisions," she said. "It’s meant to shape the way that they regulate their emotions and the way that they view themselves.”
Eady is part of a group of parents working with Dean Broyles, president and chief counsel of the Escondido-based National Center for Law and Policy.
“And then the question becomes - if it is religious, which it is, who decides when enough religion has been stripped out of the program to make it legal,” he said. “I mean that’s the problem when you introduce religion into the curriculum and actually immerse and marinate children in the program.”
The school as well as the Foundation offering the yoga exercises insist the parents' concerns are unfounded. They said:
If it is an effective program, Baird and P.K. Jois Foundation director Eugene Ruffin said it could be a model for other districts. And to Ruffin, that’s not sinister--what’s being taught in the yoga classes is typical of athletics programs for kids.
“They provide you with the exercise and the motivation for children and then they give you character exercises, thou shalt not steal, thou shall be honest, thou shall be respectful to adults,” he said.
He said those ideals aren’t specific to Hinduism and don’t conflict with his own Catholic upbringing.
Despite the controversy, most parents are happy with the classes. Including Monique Cocco. Waiting outside to pick her children up just before school lets out, she said they certainly aren’t learning about Hinduism.
“Absolutely not – no. What my daughter tells me is she did the pancake today and she lays down and then she cracks up because it’s so funny," she said.
Cocco hears from teachers that kids are calmer and more focused after yoga so they can spend more class time on lessons instead of settling kids down the way they sometimes have to after traditional gym classes. [emphasis mine]
Let's be real here - how many of you think of religion when the word "yoga" comes up in conversation? For most (rational) people, thoughts of serenity, flexibility, and calm come to mind. Yoga does claim to help spiritual awareness - but it is not associated with any particular religion or deity. It is practiced just as much in Hinduism as it is in Buddhism and other meditation-based religions. Furthermore, clarity of mind shouldn't be exclusive to any religion to begin with - it should be a goal for every human, religious or otherwise.
Perhaps that's the problem these Christian parents have with yoga though - it opens up their children's minds and makes them more susceptible to learning and receiving information. It makes them less likely to accept dogma at face value. (Or at least that's how they apparently perceive it.) In reality, yoga simply relaxes the body and allows for a more peaceful and productive learning setting - as has been demonstrated in this particular school district.
Prepare for the coming war against yoga and other innocuous subjects as fringe religious fanatics wage war on secular and non-Christian America. This can only be a harbinger of bigger battles to come.
Want a laugh? Here's a video segment a local Fox News affiliate produced on the controversy. Continue under the fold for the video > > > >