“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

Sand Pirates: ISIS Are America’s 21st Century Terrorist Privateers
2014 11 01
What is ISIS? If you believe govt and corporate propaganda, you still think that ISIS is a grassroots Islamic ideological movement ¨C and with no connection to intelligence agencies like America¡¯s CIA, Britain¡¯s MI6, Turkish (NATO) intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Israeli intelligence, or Pakistan¡¯s ISI. The reality of ISIS is something altogether different¡­ On closer inspection, these marauding paramilitary ISIS gangs are nothing ...
Ancient Stone Circles in Mideast Baffle Archaeologists
2014 11 01
Huge stone circles in the Middle East have been imaged from above, revealing details of structures that have been shrouded in mystery for decades. The Big Circle called J1 is about 390 meters (1,280 feet) in diameter, with an open area created by bulldozing in its interior. Credit: David L. Kennedy, copyright is retained by the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology ...
Sweden Recognizes Palestinian State; Israel Upset
2014 10 31
Sweden on Thursday became the biggest Western European country to recognize a Palestinian state, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm. The move by Sweden’s new left-leaning government reflects growing international impatience with Israel’s nearly half-century control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. It also comes during increased ...
Fed-Backed Study: How to Brainwash Public into Fearing “Climate Change” Like Ebola
2014 10 31
$84K study seeks ways to make public fear "climate change and overpopulation" The National Science Foundation is funding a study to determine how to brainwash the public into fearing “climate change and overpopulation” as if they were Ebola. The NSF awarded an $84,000 grant to researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo yesterday to figure out how to make ...
Brain decoder can eavesdrop on your inner voice
2014 10 31
As you read this, your neurons are firing – that brain activity can now be decoded to reveal the silent words in your head TALKING to yourself used to be a strictly private pastime. That’s no longer the case – researchers have eavesdropped on our internal monologue for the first time. The achievement is a step towards helping people who cannot ...
More News »