“Ohmmm” my goodness: Yoga and religion in public schools
2013 03 01

By Amy E. Feldman | Constitution Daily


The Encinitas Union School District near San Diego has been hit with a lawsuit that claims the school district violates the students’ religious freedom. How? It provides yoga classes to elementary school students.

The physical education program is funded by a nonprofit organization that trains students in Ashtanga yoga, which comprises both the physical fitness aspects of yoga along with breathing practices, stress management techniques, and other life skills. Those principles, the plaintiff argues, have roots in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and metaphysical beliefs that are inherently religious and, as a result, violate the public school’s duty to maintain a separation between church and state.

Many people are confused. There is no Church of Yoga. How can teaching yoga in school violate the Constitution?

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states in part: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Similarly, the California Constitution forbids any public funding of religious instruction and guarantees that “free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference.”

But before determining if the public school is, through its program, establishing religion, it would be helpful to understand the definition of a “religion.”

While the lawsuit is based on religious freedom under the California state constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the matter of what qualifies as a religion on many occasions, and their decisions shed light on the yoga case.

In the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, among other prohibitions, prevents discrimination on the basis of religion, Congress defined religion as “a belief [that] must be sincerely held, and within the believer’s own scheme of things religious.” But the use of the word “religious” to define religion is not very helpful.

For further clarification, we turn to the Supreme Court, whose definition of a “religion” has (ironically enough) evolved over time. When the Supreme Court first took up the task of defining religion in 1890 in Davis v. Beason, it stated: “The term ‘religion’ has reference to one’s views of his relations to his Creator, and to the obligations they impose of reverence for his being and character and of obedience to his will.” In other words, to be a religion, there must be a belief in God and the practice of worship.

[...]

Read the full article at: constitutioncenter.org



Related Articles
Southern Baptist leader on yoga: Not Christianity
Army’s New PTSD Treatments: Yoga, Reiki, ’Bioenergy’


Latest News from our Front Page

Beaten to Death at McDonald’s
2014 08 29
To the four clean-cut college freshman out on a double date, it had seemed like a typical McDonald’s: spanking clean, well-lighted, and safe. It was in a good neighborhood too, right next to Texas A&M University in College Station -- a campus known for its friendly atmosphere and official down-home greeting: “howdy.” Shortly after 2 A.M. that Sunday, they pulled into ...
Black Teens Shout ‘Hey White Boy’, Then Beat and Attempt to Kill White Lifeguard
2014 08 29
The racial assaults are mounting nationwide since the Ferguson, Missouri death of Michael Brown, and subsequent riots and looting. And so is the denial on behalf of police who refuse to call these obvious hate crimes what they are. Last night we reported on the White Marine in Mississippi who was beaten into a coma by a mob of 20 Blacks ...
US officials: Ebola outbreak to worsen
2014 08 29
The head of the Centers for Disease Control in the United States warned this week that the situation in west Africa remains grim following the deaths of more than 1,500 people due to the Ebola virus. "I wish I didn’t have to say this, but it is going get worse before it gets better," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told the ...
Horror in Syria: Sickening ISIS slaughter continues as 250 soldiers captured, stripped, executed
2014 08 29
Considering the recent video with Paul Joseph Watson detailing that we actually didn’t get to SEE the beheading - here the same thing occurs. The key part of the article is: "Horror: The video, too graphic to be published in full, fades to black before revealing a chain of men’s bodies" So is it real, is it not? --- Marched to their ...
The War Against Whites Is Massively Incentivized
2014 08 28
The war on Whites is getting increasingly obvious, to the point that a very mainstream source, Congressman Mo Brooks, stated it and then refused to back down. This war is being carried on with a number of very potent weapons. At TOO we have stressed the moral onslaught which has inculcated guilt among legions of Whites for actions that have occurred ...
More News »