Yoga was back in court this week in Encinitas where attorneys made they’re closing arguments on the case of yoga in schools and its alleged inherent religiousness.
(To catch up on the trial, check out our previous posts.)
In short, an Encinitas school district began a yoga program last year funded by a grant from the KP Jois Foundation. Despite positive results amongst the students, and the freedom to op-out, the Ashtanga-based yoga drew concern from a small group of conservative parents determined to put a stop to the program based on the stance that yoga is inherently religious and is indoctrinating their innocent youth. A lawsuit was filed, a trial began and here we are, with closing statements from either side and a judge prepared to make his decision Thursday.
Dean Broyles, who is representing the concerned parental units and who is also president of the conservative Christian National Center for Law and Policy, said in his closing statements that changing the names of poses is just proof that this is some kind of religious cover up. Via KPBS.org:
“The names of some of the poses were changed,” he said. “Big deal. They stopped using some of the Sanskrit terms. Big deal. They stopped posting the Ashtanga tree on the wall. While that was concerning, it doesn’t fundamentally change what they taught.”
Meanwhile, Jack Sleeth, an attorney representing the district, points out that the program had no religious underpinnings to begin with:
“The district didn’t strip out religion,” he said. “The district started without any religion. But when parents objected, the district attempted to accommodate the parents’ concerns and remove those things the parents thought might be religious.”
But it all comes down to San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer. Judge John, who is also a yoga practitioner is not convinced by the yoga is “inherently religious” argument. Via U-T San Diego:
During Broyles’ closing remarks, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer peppered the attorney with questions about whether his statements were backed up by testimony or evidence in the case.“There’s not one witness (from the school district) who has said that,” the judge said, referring to Broyles’ comments about a worldview being taught.
“This is all Dr. Brown’s opinion,” the judge added, referring to the plaintiffs’ expert witness, Candy Gunther Brown, a professor in the religious studies department at Indiana University.
Broyles still insists that Ashtanga is the most religious form of yoga, that the group has “transparently religious goals,” that “there’s a worldview being taught” and that the classes involved the repetition of rituals, which “communicates (religious) meaning without words.”
We’ll see you on the other side. (Meaning tomorrow, or hell, depending on who you ask.)
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