ABA Journal


First Amendment

Parents Claim Grade School Yoga Classes Are First Amendment Violation

Dec 19, 2012, 12:00 pm CST


To quote the Bard, "Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun. It shines everywhere."

By Fred on 2012 12 19, 12:19 pm CST

The Superintendent's remarks are refreshing!

By L'Avocat on 2012 12 19, 1:17 pm CST

“They’re teaching children how to meditate and how to look within for peace and for comfort. . .”

OMG! How can we possibly tolerate THAT?? Pitchforks and torches - form up on the right!

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 19, 1:32 pm CST

Love the above three comments! Thanks for making my day!

By Barphobia on 2012 12 19, 4:07 pm CST

Although I don't object to the school district having the yoga program (although Tim Baird's were unnecessarily disrespectful to the objecting parents), I wonder if everyone would be as comfortable with this program if - - - for example - - - we had a manger scene placed in the middle of the Yoga Circle to focus upon in the course of their mediation?

Just curious

By Yankee on 2012 12 19, 4:31 pm CST

I read these stories and look for the legal, moral or constitutional issue that is the real reason why the story itself is important.
The parents, or legislators, or do-gooders of the school district seem to want the school board to do everything and nothing for our children while in school. Is a school supposed to teach about the world around us (the entire world and all of it's inhabitants) or only to teach the ABCs and nothing else?
I can only surmise that these parents are afraid that the minds of their children would be poisoned by learning anything about the world beyond Encitas, California. Personally I don't think we can teach our children enough about the world and it's inhabitants. That just makes no sense to me.
I can only think of a quote from from Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does". These parents should be ashamed of themselves, and that extends to the "gotcha" politics of not getting involved with their local school board but waiting until you can take potshots at them like this.
Kudos to School Superintendent Tim Baird and the Encitas School Board. Beyond that how does a story about yoga class in Encitas, CA end up in the New York Times ? Talk about the bottom of the barrel. The very bottom.

By davebert on 2012 12 19, 5:46 pm CST

My eyes... cannot... roll... hard... enough.

By Another Andy on 2012 12 19, 5:51 pm CST

@6 ". . . parents should be ashamed of themselves . . ."

Although I don't object to the teaching of yoga, these parents have absolutely nothing about which to be ashamed. These are their children, after all, NOT the state's. The fact that they shown an interest in what is being taught at the school I would think is a good thing.

The flip response by Mr. Baird was an unnecessary and gratuitous dig at those who questioned this program. If these parents were not Christian parents, Baird would not have gotten away with it.

By Yankee on 2012 12 19, 6:12 pm CST

I prefer to see this as a "war on ridiculous fundamentalism" as opposed to anything related to Christianity.

By Another Andy on 2012 12 19, 6:21 pm CST

Doubtless there are at least 20 sets of parents from Sandy Hook who wish they had such things as this about which to worry!

By Old Lawyer on 2012 12 19, 7:18 pm CST

@9 To interprete your comment, because the parents adhere to what your subjective opinion is "ridiculous fundamentalism" (in contrast with your own, more genuine practice of 'Christianity"), I guess the flip response from the Superintendent was acceptable, right?

(Apparently you have the authority to speak ex cathedra on these matters.)

By Yankee on 2012 12 19, 7:54 pm CST

@ #3: Unfortunately, I'd bet these same parents would have no problems with their being prescribed Ritalin for 'peace' and 'comfort'.

By Esq. on 2012 12 19, 7:58 pm CST

Yes, that is, bluntly, about the sum of it.

I mean, let's be honest here: Yoga, as a physical act, is completely severable from any religion or philosophy, and there simply isn't a reasonable way to dispute that. This Yoga course could be renamed "Alternative Pilates," and no one would be saying a word here.

This is about fear and the need to feel like a martyr -- or that the world is engaging in a "war against X." This is not about Yoga.

Now, if they can point to actual religious elements accompanying the practice, I'll gladly concede the point. But otherwise, this is just making Christians everywhere look ignorant, xenophobic, and fearful.

By Another Andy on 2012 12 19, 8:02 pm CST

Good thing the school district didn't offer Tai Chi Chuan classes. It would now be accused of fostering the pagan worship of trees and other sources or manifestations of "chi."

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 12 19, 8:09 pm CST

Yoga bears the same relationship to HInduism as German stollen cakes do to the worship of Christ at Christmas -- somewhere between none and so minimal as to be effectively none.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 12 19, 8:11 pm CST

@14 - I almost brought that up as an analogy. It's just patently ridiculous.

Now, again, if someone's standing there teaching religion of philosophy, that's another ballgame. But there's just no reasonable argument that the physical practices aren't distinct from the philosophic or religious backgrounds.

Again, unless -- as Mr. Baird intimated -- these parents really do believe that Ganesh owns a person's soul if that person takes a Yoga pose, even devoid of any intent to placate the elephantine deity. And while the First Amendment is a powerful bulwark, I simply don't think it extends that far past rationality and reasonability.

By Another Andy on 2012 12 19, 8:15 pm CST

@8 Yankee - davebert explained why the parents should be ashamed, what they are doing is stupid. That was the point of the Forrest Gump reference. Did you miss it? Or, do you think one need not be ashamed about doing something stupid? Embarrassing would be a more euphemistic way to put the point, but if one can't be direct on occasion, what's a euphemism for. As for Tim Laird, his comment is funny, but at a level that is likely to do no damage to the parents.

By Pushkin on 2012 12 19, 8:25 pm CST

Well, my city offered yoga classes in its recreation centers. Someone complained. It appears that yoga comes in a variety of flavors, and some are overtly religious. And the rec center folks did not understand the differences. So the promotional literature, if not anything else, was changed to make that clear - what we are offering are exercise classes pure and simple. That took care of that.

So to me this complaint is not necessarily silly. It may be that what is offered at the school is the secular variety, and not the religious, in which case all will be well and the complaining parents didn't understand the distinction. If not, then they have a point.

By Walt Fricke on 2012 12 19, 8:52 pm CST

Interesting, but predictable, contrast between these comments and the comments on the lawsuit about the father/daughter dance . . . .

By Marc on 2012 12 19, 9:03 pm CST

"I mean, let’s be honest here: Yoga, as a physical act, is completely severable from any religion or philosophy, and there simply isn’t a reasonable way to dispute that."

Once again, wrong.

Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग, /ˈjəʊɡə/, yoga) is a commonly known generic term for physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines which originated in ancient India.[1][2] Specifically, yoga is one of the six āstika ("orthodox") schools of Hindu philosophy. One of the most detailed and thorough expositions on the subject are the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. Various traditions of yoga are found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.[3][4][5]

By Marc on 2012 12 19, 9:05 pm CST

@17 You observe: "As for Tim Laird, his comment is funny, . .. "

It is not Laird's job to be funny, particularly to those who pay his salary through his taxes. What you find funny, these parents (and their children) would likely find offensive and mocking.

(Would it have been any skin off of Laird's nose, if he acted like the professional to be and played it straight? Makes him look like a bully.)

By Yankee on 2012 12 19, 9:15 pm CST

@20 - That simply isn't responsive to the point that the physical act of taking Yoga poses is fully separable from any philosophical teachings associated therewith. I hope -- for your sake -- that you can see that now and simply misread the discussion in your haste to copy and paste from Wikipedia.

By Another Andy on 2012 12 19, 9:39 pm CST

@22 Although again, I don't object to the school district having the Yoga program, the issue is nowhere asclear cut as you suggest. See, the following, more nuanced response from Catholic Answers:

That's also why I thought Laird's somewhat snotty comment directed to the parents of the children who questioned the program was unnecessary. (I think that Laird might benefit from some Diversity Training in 2013.)

By Yankee on 2012 12 19, 10:16 pm CST

First of all, the whiners aren't necessarily representative of Encinitas.

Second, school districts can't mandate participation in physical education these days, like they did back in the olden days. And real estate is too valuable in CA for many grammar schools to have playgrounds. I find it odd that people who have no problem with letting their kids get fat on a diet rich in Cheetos and Pepsi, while spending too much time playing computer games such as "Call of Duty" or "Angry Birds" would object to something that was actually a healthy break from their kids' PC/sanitized reading, and color-coded modern math books for future lawyers.

By BMF on 2012 12 19, 10:26 pm CST

Yankee @ 23: RE: "(I think that Laird might benefit from some Diversity Training in 2013.) "

The problem is that there is too much emphasis on diversity and PC in schools. So much so that social promotion is a major issue that no one wants to touch. No parents want to admit that THEIR child is below average. Classes have been dumbed-down so kids are taught to regurgitate enough information to do well on standardized tests. But they rarely learn to think. School is all about "feeling good," these days. Well, life doesn't always go just the way we all want it to. To paraphrase the Marine DI's rebuke, that I'm sure your buddy the late Judge Bork could get behind: "Are we whiners--or are we MARINES!"

By BMF on 2012 12 19, 10:36 pm CST

It is fully responsive.

Your "argument" is equivalent to Catholics offering a course on participants being nailed to a cross while wearing a crown of thorns after being beaten with a cat o' nine tails. Even calling it "The Crucification of Christ Course" would be acceptable because it is simply a physical experience without religious overtones.

The article states: "The yoga program is supported with funds from the nonprofit Jois Foundation, founded in memory of the so-called father of Ashtanga yoga."

Obviously, a course which offers instruction on standing, stretching, sitting etc. in certain poses would be of no concern, even if they were the same as, or similar to, Ashtanga yoga poses.

However, by calling it a "yoga course," which developed out of a religious philosophy, the course is automatically and inextricably associated with more than simple exercise. This is compounded by the organization behind the funding.

By Marc on 2012 12 19, 10:39 pm CST

OK, last week I was on here pontificating that people should just leave the holiday-displayers alone. People who are upset by viewing a manger scene need to get over it (and themselves). The same applies here. Christians, you want respect and tolerance for your stuff, then show it for others. People who are upset about kids doing yoga need to get over themselves. And great point by BMF above -- at least it's (a little bit of) exercise, something we all need.

Otherwise, yeah, McLeod you beat me to the punch, I was going to say exactly the same thing. I mean just imagine the horrors that would befall our society if we taught kids to look within for peace and comfort -- instead of to material possessions, mind-numbing drugs or pharmaceuticals, or the latest episode of trash TV.

By Just Some Bloke on 2012 12 19, 10:43 pm CST


Bless your heart.

By SouthernGirl on 2012 12 19, 10:53 pm CST

JSB: I agree with you. Unfortunately, these cases are nearly always aimed at Christians.

I am not religious so I don't have a dog in the fight.

One point: the stated aim of the course ("teaching children how to meditate and how to look within for peace and for comfort.") could just as easily be applied to a course teaching Christianity, Islam, Judaism etc.

By Marc on 2012 12 19, 10:55 pm CST

Actually Marc, the statement you quoted is not the stated aim of the course (based on the content of the article), it is in fact a quote from one of the parents offended by the school offering Yoga.

Trappist monks meditate, buddhist monks meditate, secular people meditate. There is nothing inherently religious about meditation. If the class does in fact actively promote Hindu religious beliefs, than I would agree that it's forbidden by the first amendment. If, like most exercise yoga classes offered by gyms, it instead focuses on stretching, exercise, and meditation, than I have no objection to it.

Just like I don't believe that running marathons actively promotes the polytheistic beliefs of the ancient Greeks.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 12 19, 11:04 pm CST

OKbl: The Yoga class (yoga being one of the schools of Hinduism) is not an exercise class being offered by a gym. That's the point.

As should be clear from my previous post, if this was an exercise class being offered by a gym which incorporated poses similar to or the same as yoga, there would not be an issue.

A good example is found in the link provided by Yankee - if a Christian organization offered courses on kneeling with hands held before your face in a prayer-like posture, it would undoubtedly not be allowed in the school.

If a gym offered exercise classes that coincidentally incorporated the pose, there would not be an issue.

This is not rocket science.

By Marc on 2012 12 19, 11:19 pm CST

@30 - I think you're making up facts. I don't think anything you've tried to analogize is remotely close, and I think you're all just trolling at this point, because you like raising a fuss over anything that falls into this area. Not because you agree, but because your politics tell you to do so.

You don't have a position. You've been given it.

By Another Andy on 2012 12 19, 11:53 pm CST

@24 ". . . too much time playing computer games such as 'Call of Duty' or 'Angry Birds'. . ."

Holy smokes . . . where did that come from? You have no basis for suggesting that this describes the parenting approach of the objecting parents. Talk about sterotypes!!

When we sign up Mr. Baird up for Diversity Training, maybe he can go in with some of the other commenters and get a group rate?

By Yankee on 2012 12 19, 11:53 pm CST

@How enchanting! God love you!

By Yankee on 2012 12 20, 12:01 am CST

@25 BMF: By the way, I don't disagree with anything in your comment. Hoorah!

By Yankee on 2012 12 20, 1:08 am CST

Yankee @ 33: RE: "You have no basis for suggesting that this describes the parenting approach of the objecting parents. Talk about sterotypes!!"

Sorry, but I get to watch these people in action--WITH their little knee-biters--on a frequent basis. I've seen otherwise "respectable" parents pull snack food containers off of supermarket shelves and open them to shut their kids up, and I've seen kids whine until mom or dad hands them the cell phone, and they sit mesmerized. Trust me--the kids aren't brushing up on their math skills. And the military is a big deal in this county, so yes, "Call of Duty" is one of the hot sellers this X-mas.

But it appears we agree on something @ 25. Perhaps if you saw the school superintendent as desperately trying to please everyone, while introducing something beneficial for the kids, you'd have a better idea of why he spoke as he did.

By BMF on 2012 12 20, 1:33 am CST

@36 To clarify, you are no doubt correct that many "parents pull snack food containers off of supermarket shelves and open them to shut their kids up [etc]," However, there is no reason to believe that parents to took issue with the yoga classes were more represented in that group, than parents who did not take issue with the yoga classes.

And, yep, there are many slacker parents and slacker children out there (very depressing); however, I have no solution to that problem except to make sure that neither my children nor I fall into those categories.

By Yankee on 2012 12 20, 2:32 am CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Nayeema Akter on 2012 12 20, 9:36 am CST


I hope you were misnumbering, since if it was directed at me, I'm not sure to what you are referring.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 12 20, 3:40 pm CST

No one picked up on "National Center for Law and Policy" complaining about yoga and Hindu religion? This is a Religious Right organization run by a Regent University Law School graduate, and one of their issues is ensuring the rights of children to pray in school. As long as they're Good Christian Prayers, I guess.

By Ah, The Irony on 2012 12 21, 10:45 am CST

looking at the wider picture I hope this sort of fuss does not discourage school districts from this imaginative approach. Very young kids find it difficult to sit still and concentrate; doing yoga should improve these skills (as well as the obvious benefits of stretching and posture) which will be of substantial benefit to their ability to learn going forward. It should also help them to control their impulses. I would like to see more schools introducing programmes like this early in the school system rather than just offering it as a watered down alternative to gym in later years

By Patsy on 2012 12 21, 10:50 am CST

Tim Baird's comments were absolutely out of line. His flippant “If your faith is such that you believe that simply by doing the gorilla pose, you’re invoking the Hindu gods, then by all means your child can be doing something else” is EXACTLY like saying “If your faith is such that you believe that simply by being in a room where a prayer is said, you’re invoking the Christian God, then by all means your child can be doing something else.”

By daveg on 2012 12 21, 10:53 am CST

Yoga is a practical exercise alternative for obese children and people with physical limitations.

By MJThompson on 2012 12 21, 11:33 am CST

”If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” ~ Dalai Lama

By RELWright on 2012 12 21, 11:54 am CST

"....or prevent the free exercise thereof." Is their still time for the Mayans to be right.

By Bob Norman on 2012 12 21, 12:18 pm CST

Religion, a set of beliefs for which one person is willing to sacrifice the welfare of others (?) Why would teaching children to be calm, steady, and self-aware be bad ? As someone else pointed out, why is teaching children about other cultures and opening their eyes to the world around them be bad ? There is a difference between teaching about religion(s) and proselytizing and evangelism. Americans practicing physical yoga, including sitting still is not the same as preaching Hinduism. But, I'm probably "preaching to the choir" here.

By Darah on 2012 12 21, 12:18 pm CST

C`mon, man!!!

By ibloom on 2012 12 21, 12:52 pm CST

Something tells me these are the same parents that are out there griping about not having prayer in school.

By Mae Naveen on 2012 12 21, 12:53 pm CST

#1, Fred, Thanks for the pertinent cite. I will meditate on those words as I run into the subject covered thereby. If there were no foolery, we lawyers would be out of business!

By DeadHead on 2012 12 21, 12:59 pm CST

The fascinating thing about this whole idea is that the precedent that supports the school is precedent allowing Christian practices in public places. So a win for the school erodes that precedent whereas a win from the parents strengthens it. Now the interesting thing will be to see whether parents and judges apply the First Amendment evenly. Will they say that there is something about yoga or Hinduism that is more blatantly religious than say a creche or a flyer promoting a bible study camp? Or will the argument be that the school has done more to establish this religion? The issues are really exciting when you stop and think about it.

By Cathren Page on 2012 12 21, 1:15 pm CST

I find it amazing that certain commenters above have invested so much time into this story when it omits a host of relevant facts that, which, if properly considered, would render many of these comments baseless or speculative. Instead of actually digging deeper into the facts, it is much easier to draw from our own prejudices and ignorance. What's the point?

By Adam on 2012 12 21, 1:23 pm CST

Lord, save me from your followers.

By Catherine on 2012 12 21, 1:25 pm CST

In DC, at the beginning of the tour of the Capitol Building, there is a great movie about America. The theme is that the opposing political views of our people are actually a strength, as it promotes the debate that is so needed in a thoughtful democracy.
Having said that, I have to say that I am appalled by those who blog here, who obviously consider themselves liberals, progressives, or "tolerant", yet I see them stooping to name-calling and personal attacks. The ABA Blog policy says, "Don’t use profanity or resort to name-calling, threats or personal attacks." Yet I see personal attacks being used by the first several liberals who wrote, using terms such as "Foolery" which of course denotes "fool", or calling the parents "stupid", or using hyperbole to attack Christian attitudes as including "pitchforks" and "torches". Hatred takes many forms. And just because you think you are right politically doesn’t mean you are not speaking words of hatred.
I am a devoted Christian, a pastor and I like Yoga. I come from a long line of physically stiff people and I need this outlet, physically. I do not accept the religious aspects of this practice with which it is riddled. Yes, it is. At my health club, the close of Yoga is always concluded with the praying hands pose over the head, and the word “Namaste”. I do not participate in this part, as that is not my religion. “Namaste” is often intended to be a non-religious greeting, roughly equivalent to "greetings" or "good day," in English, implicitly with the connotation "to be well". As opposed to shaking hands, kissing or embracing each other in other cultures, Namaste is a non-contact form of respectful greeting and can be used universally while meeting a person of different gender, age or social status. But the reality is that it is also a religious word, used that way by millions of human beings. The word and gesture of “Namaste” represents the religious belief that there is a “Divine Spark” within each of us that is located in the heart “chakra”. The gesture is an acknowledgment of souls in the Hindu religions. These concepts are not acceptable to Christians and antithetical to what we stand for. Yet, every American has the right to use them, except that our government is not supposed to favor any religions. ANY religions.
“Namaste” is partly religious. It is disingenuous to say that it is merely physical. That conclusion is biased, based on a political agenda and rationalized away in ignorance of the true meaning of the practice and trappings of Yoga. And, yes, I practice it as physical only. But should our children be presented with this religious act? Why then, is the school forbidden to present other religious acts, such as mangers and Christmas stuff, like the dreaded “peace on earth, good will towards men” thing? Isn’t that relgious “dogma”? After all, it comes right out of the Bible.
The University of Minnesota last year banned Christmas parties. It was forbidden for staff to make any reference or have any icons of Santa Claus, or using Christmas decorations around their work space or give Christmas gifts, because these are all “religious”.
So, are they saying that the message of “peace on earth, good will towards men” is forbidden by the 1st amendment? In a manger, God is saying that He wanted to be with us, in person? Is that evil? Yet these things are forbidden, but Yoga is not.

By Eric on 2012 12 21, 1:34 pm CST

Everyone is so caught up in whether yoga is or is not a religious practice, and totally overlooking the parent's chief allegation: "They’re teaching children how to meditate and how to look within for peace and for comfort . . . They’re using this as a tool for many things beyond just stretching."

That's a valid First Amendment allegation that needs to play out in court; if it turns out it's just stretching, then she has a losing case.

By Chileno on 2012 12 21, 1:36 pm CST

The establishement clause and the free exercise clause. My contract teacher had a great expression "these words, they MEAN SOMETHING." And hard facts make bad law - I have heard that somewhere, too.

If you read the constitution as a whole and the discussed amendment - I seriously don't know how any one could ever take the position that saying Merry Christmas or practicing a physical act such as Yoga has anything to do WITH religion. Can a person perceive it that way - only if you know what a Christian is and that Yoga might have a religious portion. If you study both of them.

And, wow, we sure wouldn't want to people to actually think about religion, or even worse think about multiple religions. I can see already how evil that would be.

I am turning the notify off now. Maybe I will look at it again during Christmas, when I take the day off. Actually - no I won't. I will be spending a holy day with my family - whether any blogger here likes it or not. Or maybe polishing my guns.

Bye, Bye know.

By Robert Paul Norman on 2012 12 21, 1:52 pm CST

With all due respect to Yankee and others who seem to be compelled to legitimize the right of Encinitas parents to remain as culturally non-relative as possible, I find it unfortunate, at the very least, that people now feel empowered to attempt to compel public officials, and most particularly those who administer schools, to adhere to their narrow religious world view, to the point of depriving not only their children, but those children of other perhaps less religiously directed parents from a potentially beneficial physical and intellectual experience. Perhaps because these same people fail to understand how others could possibly feel imposed upon and offended by evangelical Christian
proselytizing, we can appreciate how they apparently believe that any other experience grounded in some different philosophy or world view must necessarily be attempting to suborn their children.

By macesq on 2012 12 21, 1:59 pm CST

Oh - I forgot - if Jewel Osco and Walgreens are closed on Christmas, and they take federal tax money - should we force them to be Open???

By Robert Paul Norman on 2012 12 21, 2:02 pm CST

The superintendent blindly says the children can go do something else. I wonder if he or anyone else would have problems with those children then going and praying (another form of meditation) rather than attend a yoga class. I am sure people, and most certainly the ACLU, would be up in arms over that, but since its "stretching and meditating" then that is fine.

By B on 2012 12 21, 2:04 pm CST

I promise this is it.

How many of the parents involved in this situation, were lawyers. I'm guessing most of them. They certainly don't seem smart enough to be teachers, state troopers or soldiers.

"And to all - a good night."

By Robert Paul Norman on 2012 12 21, 2:09 pm CST

I agree with the poster above that said we should be happy that parents are involved in what is going on with their children's education. However, parents' involvement should be done responsibly. From reading the article, it does not sound like the parents actually inquired as to what was being taught as part of the yoga class and what is the purpose of the course. It sounds (and I am limited to what is said in the article) like the parents reached a conclusion without asking questions, or as I have experienced, asked questions, were given the factual answers, but because the parents did not like the answers, assumed they were being misled and ignored the information being provided. That is not being a responsible parent.

On the other hand, if the parents were receiving information from Mr. Laird in a tone and content similar to what he said in this article, then Mr. Laird may have very well brought on the problem himself by not engendering trust and communication. Even if you believe the other side is acting like a child, a leader needs to step up and be the adult. Mr. Laird appears to have missed his opportunity in this article to step up.

By Higher Ed on 2012 12 21, 2:11 pm CST

If this is just about stretching and exercise for fat children, then it's just a part of gym class? Sorry but even the NY Times article didn't make it sound like that. It sounds like this is its own separate little portion of the schedule. The parents are right to be concerned and raise objections.

By Phlogiston on 2012 12 21, 2:15 pm CST

I am a practicing Buddhist, longtime yoga practitioner and a practicing attorney. Cathren above has the better of these arguments. The question is not whether teaching yoga to children is a good idea--I believe it is. The crucial question is, in a country in which the government is constitutionally not permitted to profess or support a particular religion, whether yoga can be taught to children in public schools--which are arms of the government.

For example, the Ten Commandments can be severed from Judeo-Christian theology and be looked at simply as good ethical rules to live by. Does that mean that we should teach the
Ten Commandments in the public schools?

Similarly, yoga can be severed from its Hindu religious history and treated as simply exercise and relaxation. That does not necessarily mean it should be taught in public schools.

Whatever the rule is, it needs to apply equally to all religions.

By Steve Gerlach on 2012 12 21, 2:22 pm CST

I totally agree with #4. The first three posts were priceless, and put a much needed smile on my face. #3 caused an absolute belly laugh.

By tell_the_truth on 2012 12 21, 2:22 pm CST

Some of these comments are hilarious! The super is right. I bet these people have never seen the inside of a Church, Mosque, Synagogue, or whatever building. But when it comes to something that is functional and beneficial (and not religious) they are in an up roar. Angry kids have guns to shoot up a school, but heaven forbid they learn inner peace.

By Yoga Attorney on 2012 12 21, 2:30 pm CST

This woman's concern is no worse than the folks who object to a moment of silence in school, the Pledge of Allegiance (traditional words), and a host of other things that people have objected to.

Frankly, I don't object to any of it, but nor do I particularly like it. I'm an atheist but think that all sorts of contemplation can be good. Whether someone is thinking about a Supreme Being is not particularly relevant to me personally.

But, I have a feeling that there is a lot of people who hypocritically chastise this woman for objecting to Hindu traditions, but would themselves object to any Christian-related traditions.

By Oort Cloud on 2012 12 21, 2:52 pm CST

First, freedom of religion is not grounded in your personal acceptance of the other person's religious beliefs. The fact that yoga does not violate your belief system is irrelevant.
Second, among the commentators there seems to be a lack knowledge as to why yoga is viewed as a violation of religious rights. As the story notes, "They’re teaching children how to meditate and how to look within for peace and for comfort.” According to fundamentalist Christian beliefs, peace and comfort come from God alone; individuals cannot save themselves by merely looking inward. It isn't the stretching that is the problem to the parents, it's the meditation that's the problem.

By Another Voice on 2012 12 21, 2:53 pm CST

Really, afraid of indoctrination of Buddhist religious philosophy? I thought the concept of inner peace and tranquility are Judeo-Christian values as well. But, prayer poses are not necessary to experience yoga. I wouldn't feel right if required to genuflect during a yoga class. There is no need to adopt Buddha worship along with the good that yoga can provide. That said, Baird's comment was arrogant and disrespectful.

By Joel Hall on 2012 12 21, 2:54 pm CST

It is funny that most schools in America are going out of their way to teach kids about everything other than what they should be teaching. This is a clear indorsement and entanglement of religion. The school should be focused on why America is the lowest in education and the most unhealthy. and yoga does not combat that. Schools please stick to education not meditation. Let the parents be responsible for the exposure of their children to "everything else."

By eg on 2012 12 21, 2:56 pm CST

I belong to the JAG corps in one of the branches of the military. I can see both sides of this argument, and both have good points. This made me think of something that is happening everyday in all branches.

Number 62, said that public schools are an arm of the government and as such are not allowed to endorse any religion. Number 53, Eric the devout Christian yoga practitioner, said that the word "namaste" has religious meaning and is problematic for some. So let meask you this right now.... in every official function in the military, an invocation is made right before said event starts. Each invocation is ended with the the phrase "In his holy name we pray, Amen" and sometimes "Jesus" is thrown in there for good measure. This is incredibly offensive to me, but yet I have to stand there and listen to it. Why are public schools different from the military? And why are we allowing this to happen in the military? So for those who are so against yoga being taught in public schools, I am guessing you are also against this praactice in the military, which is funded with federal taxes. Correct?

By In the military... on 2012 12 21, 2:58 pm CST

Boy, this is a 'stretch'...

By The Jet on 2012 12 21, 2:59 pm CST

Now where IS that Kennebunk Zumba teacher?

By Grayghost on 2012 12 21, 3:12 pm CST

Ok......I guess we just give the kids video games like" grand theft auto ", "black ops" and "zombie slayer "and movies like "natural born killer" to show them how to reach inner peace and then when they're oh 7 or 8 y.o.a. take them to the range for some target practice so they can make the magic happen themselves.
The inmates are running the asylum! Wake-up people!
I've never seen the yoga practioners in the trendy spas turn into Hindus.....# 30 has a valid point-its not just Hindus who meditate and whats wrong about one taking quiet time to reflect? That is a step towards improvement......but who wants that?

By large weasel on 2012 12 21, 3:23 pm CST

God forbid our children should be exposed to such horrific treatment in school as forced meditation. What's the world coming to? Keep it up and soon, some of them are going to start putting down their iPhones for minutes at a time just to think, or talking to each other face to face. What if one day, some of them actually start to realize that there are religions other than that of their parents? Then what? Is there no end to this madness?

By ChronicRob on 2012 12 21, 3:24 pm CST

Can the kids read and write and add and subtract? It would be simple enough to do away with controversies like this yoga garbage and sex "indoctrination" if the stupid education system would just do what it's supposed to do. If the kids were busy actually learning something, there wouldn't be time for all this nonsense. And our taxes pay for this crap. Wouldn't you rather your loser kids know how to read and write, than how to put on a condom or do the down dirty dog yoga pose?? But NOOOOOOOOO, we always have to deal with this sort of liberal nonsense in our schools. It's no wonder why children in the good old USA lag behind children in many, many, many other countries.

By Ash on 2012 12 21, 3:28 pm CST

Leave it to a bunch of lawyers to make a mountain out of a molehill. The issue is simple - is there an alternative course their children can take? Or may they be excused from this on religious grounds? And did these parents seek out the normal course of solutions, like meeting with the school administration or addressing the school board, before literally making a federal case out of this. I agree with the principal - if the parents don't want their kids to take the course, don't. This is a nonsense case that had simple non-legal solutions. These parents should be fined for a frivolous action - our courts have better things to do. And if they were truly concerned parents, they'd be grateful they have kids right now. My friends in Newton would trade this "problem" in a heartbeat.

By NYS Courts ex-wife on 2012 12 21, 3:29 pm CST

We still have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention along a hostile if somewhat stable border in Korea, a Debt that threatens our entire Economy, and all they can find to do is worry about their kids being taught mental relaxation.

By Robert on 2012 12 21, 3:31 pm CST

Something a lot of people seem to have overlooked here is intent: school prayer initiatives' sole purpose is religious. As a result they explicitly address a deity (Jesus). Participation literally requires practicing Christianity.

Yoga, as an exercise program, has a completely non-religious purpose: physical fitness. I don't know how this particular class is run, but there generally is no reference to deities. A person participating in Yoga classes does not have to think of them as religious at all. Furthermore, it is obvious to everybody that the school's only purpose was physical fitness.

I've seen a lot of bad analogies here, so here's a good one:

A classical chorus that wishes to sing the best of the Baroque or Classical repertoire almost inevitably must sing music that was literally written for liturgical purposes. Is this promotion of Christianity? No, because the purpose is to learn good music. If you want to sing Bach, you will sing about Christian doctrine. But he religious content is incidental to the purpose of the program. Our children should not be denied access to the benefits of learning the music.

Likewise, they should not be denied the benefits of yoga just because it involves incidentally what in other contexts would be part of a religious practice.

By Psalmanazaar on 2012 12 21, 3:34 pm CST

@8, your last sentence really sums it up: "If these parents were not Christian parents, Baird would not have gotten away with it." Darn right. Everyone knows that Christians have a monopoly on tolerance. A Jewish, Hindu, or (horrors!) Moslem parent would probably have had him stoned in the public square. In other words--face up to it, Yankee. You're a bigot.

By ChronicRob on 2012 12 21, 3:35 pm CST

Who knew a news article could feature an abundance of conclusory statements and ZERO facts? Even the San Diego article is full of cutesy puns ( e.g. "the district's mantra") and is busy framing this as a Christians vs. The World issue that it misses the need-to-know facts.
What ever happened to who, what, when, where, why and how?

As a threshold matter, I want to know more (more than mere conjecture and terrible analogies, thanks MARC @26 and @29) about this yoga class as it is taught in the school because I am not convinced of its religious nature. Are the children reciting Vedic scriptures or chanting Vedic hymns? Are images of Hindu deities plastered around the classroom (where is this "course" taught, btw?) Do they swear oaths by placing their hands on the Bhagvad Gita?

Yes, Ms. Eady, yoga is more than mere stretching, but it isn't inherently religious either. There must be something, other than historic origins from which most yoga in the West is divorced, that evidences a conscious effort for this to "occupy the space in the PRACTIONER's (not believer) life that is equivalent to that occupied by orthodox religious beliefs."

As a yogi, I understand that yoga and meditation are more than a series of poses and the act of sitting still. Both, as practiced in the West, represent journeys in the quest for physical and mental strength, presence of mind/awareness, and discipline and developing an appreciation for the experience. Is Yoga in the West a tool for managing stress/learning to focus one's thoughts and energy on achieving a desired goal/empowering one to take charge/exert control over the events in one's life (as opposed to going through life passively as someone to whom things just happen, never taking responsibility for the good AND BAD or realizing that they have the power to fix the BAD).

By JUSTBREATHE on 2012 12 21, 3:39 pm CST

The ironic thing is that, in our attempt not to promote the values of any particular religion, we are not teaching our children any values at all--which contributes to the moral and ethical malaise that allows things like the tragedy in Newtown to occur (not direct causation, of course, but I do see a correlation).

Please teach our kids some values and ethics--anybody's!! Of course, that job falls squarely on parents, who have now largely abdicated that responsibility to the schools, who cannot do it because of complaints like this from parents.

What would happen if we declared January 2013 as National Do Not Be Offended Month, and everyone chose to give everyone else the benefit of the doubt, attribute to them only the finest motives and not take offense by anyone's actions? I would love to see what that would look like.

By SH on 2012 12 21, 3:41 pm CST

#69 I can relate. I wasn't necessarily offended, but I didn't understand how they could get away with it. I always thought the First Amendment didn't apply in the military. I had the freedom of speech as long as I was speaking to myself. Otherwise it didn't exist. That was a number of years ago. It doesn't sound like things have changed much.

By redwood on 2012 12 21, 3:43 pm CST

Whether people recognize it or not, Yoga is a religious practice which does have physical benefits. Yoga seems to be more accepted as just a form of exercise--it is not. The principles of the Hindu religion are taught in the process subtly. If we can't promote religion in schools then I think parents have the right to decide if they want their children subjected to religious beliefs that are not taught in their home.

By HeartforGod on 2012 12 21, 3:47 pm CST

Posting the Ten Commandments help us to be better people too.

By Anonymous on 2012 12 21, 3:47 pm CST

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. A lot of folks might think that coaches saying a prayer prior to the big game is not a bad thing or having a verse from scripture written somewhere reflecting peace is a good thing. Yoga is probably also a good thing. However, Yoga is rooted in Hindu philosophy and religious practice. Young children are especially impressionable. I can understand why some parents might not want their children participating in a religious exercise they do not approve of or endorse. Some school leader could practice the sacrament every morning and call it breakfast as easily as these yoga instructors are practicing yoga and calling it exercise or mindful concentration. Bottom-line is it is a public elementary school and I believe if litigated to the fullest extent these practices violate the separation between church and state and must cease.

By Goat1981 on 2012 12 21, 3:48 pm CST

These parents and the Tim should join a Yoga Class.


By Karma on 2012 12 21, 3:50 pm CST

Better remove the gymnasiums before the kiddies start worshipping Zeus and the rest.

By ML on 2012 12 21, 3:57 pm CST

Perhaps the objecting parents were making the point--effectively, I think--that incidental religious activities are not "establishment"--whether a poster of the 10 commandments, singing the dredel song in music class, reading Greek, Hindu or Roman mythology, learning the Code of Hammurabi.

There is a base root of the same activity whether you call it prayer, meditiation, or "a moment of silence." Where it goes from there, is usually individualized and has no consequences on others.

To make the First Amendment work we all need to re-examine the standard of "establishment." Confiscating property of other-believers, jailing people for praying, speaking or meeting about other religions, forcing people to take oaths or even recite religious sayings--that's establishment. Learning about other religions, even by some light-weight role-playing, or allowing non-intrusive acts (eg a time for silent prayer/meditation/daydreaming) is not establishment.

if a teacher says "bless you" to a child who sneezes, someone has to act as if the government forced the whole class to sacrifice an ox to Baal. Theologically, saying "bless you" is abhorrent to Christianity, and I don't say it, but I sure don't care the least little bit if someone else does, even to me. If everyone could just relax a little and look at what matters, and what's just incidental, we could get this "stablishment" business to apply where it matters.

We can't do anything with the intolerant ones who say "mine is the only religion that should be taught" or with the intolerant ones who say "there should no mention of religion ever." But we shouldn't let them control our society and culture, either.

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2012 12 21, 3:58 pm CST

If we would correctly interpret the 1st amendment, then yoga in school is permissible, as is prayer or a field trip to a church play. The problem is that the Lemon test makes no sense. It is not out of the realm of possibility that a court could strike down yoga practice as "endorsing" the Hindu religion, just like a statue of Moses or a cross "endorses" christianity.

As the school official said, you can simply not participate in yoga, but the same can be said of school prayer. If the school board wants to keep or remove yoga, then let them. If you want the policy changed, deal with the board or vote people out. It should not be a constitutional issue, but unfortunately it is.

(As others have commented, yoga can be either pure stretching or can contain religious/meditative elements. I don't know what is the case here.)

By Some guy on 2012 12 21, 4:00 pm CST

From the tone of some comments, I get the idea that for many this is about antipathy to Christianity only, but that all other religions are OK.
Why not treat all religions equally? The First Amendment, unlike the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedoms with which it is often confused, can easily be read to be fairly accommodating to Festivus, Yoga and even (shudder) prayer meetings.
As for strictures about being in a room with a prayer, those are very common, for example in orthodox Judaism, Daoism and several of the schools of Islam. I've found that reasonable objections based on specific taboos are generally accomodated in our culture ... at least until litigation ensues.

By Honza Prchal on 2012 12 21, 4:02 pm CST

This is embarrassing (for Christians).

We really need to get out more.

By Namaste on 2012 12 21, 4:12 pm CST

Actually, namaste, this is embarrassing for liberals. As usual, their hypocrisy is on display.

By marc on 2012 12 21, 4:18 pm CST

Teaching our youth to look within to solve external problems is just common since. Parents and teachers have bee doing in for generations. Think about it… what is time out? It’s intended to be a time to reflect on your unfavorable actions that landed you in time out. It’s a time to decompress and think about how you should have handled a situation. The difference between time out and meditations reactive vs proactive and can be compared to a dot to dot puzzle.

1. Meditations = dot to dot puzzle
2. Time out = dot to dot less the number that help you solve the puzzle

If you were to put a child in time out and only told them to think about that they did, they are going to think about it, then think about how they could avoid getting caught next time. Meditation is a proactive time out one that allows children to figure out more favorable ways to react so they don’t land in time out.

By Joe on 2012 12 21, 4:22 pm CST

@ #68, Thank you for the most sane comment so far. And to all the commentators who think schools should be teaching about everything, you are WRONG. Schools and their teachers are employees of taxpayers and parents. Parents are the FINAL AUTHORITY as to what, when, where, why and who. It is the parents' moral, ethical and legal responsibility and therefore it is THEIR decision as to whether yoga is an appropriate subject with or without religious overtones. Everyone else needs to put their noses back on their own face and let parents do their job.

By Nannobear on 2012 12 21, 4:23 pm CST

Shoe on other foot:: if the super had mocked the parents of girls who have to wear headscarves he would be ripped as a relic. He can mock Christians with impunity but there is nothing in this story that says the parents are Christian. Only that Baiird assumes their objection is based on their own religion. There are passionate nutcases out there who oppose any and all trappings of religion in public spaces, or suggestion thereof .

The bigger issue is none of the above. Public schools in America suffer immensely from lack of parental involvement, engagement, and even giving a s---. 10% turnout for parent teacher conferences etc. Public school administrators far too often view engaged parents as meddlers, and troublemakers. The parents own the schools. The administrators work for them. The students belong to the parents, not the administrators. The big news here is that there are actually a few parents paying attention. Its no news at all that Baird mocks them publicly.

By observer on 2012 12 21, 4:24 pm CST

Liberals don't seem to see it when they embarass themselves. Conservatives, when they see it, don't seem to care.
For each, it is a function that they believe they are right, which is OK, but that opposing views are wrong, which is usually not OK. Opposing views are just opposing.

Of course I don't mean "all" or even most; just the problem members of each group. And yes sometimes an opposing view is wrong. And I am a member of one of those groups who frequently agrees with, adopts and even votes for the other group's position.

So Merry whatever and Happy whatever comes next to all of you, even the intolerant ones.

(Hey, since "Happy New Year" recognizes the Julian (pagan) calendar as endorsed by the Pope (Christian)--and not by the orthodox (also Christian) are we not invoking a religious greeting that is subject to religious differences? Put it in the closet with St. Valentines, Easter and Halloween)

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2012 12 21, 4:32 pm CST

While I agree that compelling grade school children to practice yoga and meditation is an obvious attempt by some teachers to pollute their students vulnerable young minds with evil eastern religious notions, I think the far more nefarious and widespread threat to the traditional religious beliefs of America's school children is the sinister plot by Islamic forces in our public school system to introduce elementary kids to Muhammadanism by compelling them to learn and use Arabic numerals in math classes.

By Steve I on 2012 12 21, 4:32 pm CST

Ok ,everyone go get the Constitution and actually read it. Meditate, pray or JUST BREATHE (which is really good country song BTW). But, stop writing about things without reading what the document says.

I think we have just witnessed something as close to evil in Newtown as I ever want to see in my life. And I more than concerned that my kids will see it again. I have seen post, after well meaning post that say something like "how did we get in this place. What has happened to us, to our kids, to our country, to us as humans."

Not positive myself - but I do know we have to fix it ourselves. We do. We can't wait for God to do it, and I am a practicing Christian that sings in the Church choir and loves "my god." But if I believe anything about God, it's that he wants us to fix it. Ya know, that do unto others stuff, which was preached by both Confuscious and Jesus I think.

But, we need to stop worrying about whether an "allegation" allows litigation on the issue. That makes the lawyers money (I am an attorney mysefl) but does nothing to actually solve a problem.

If we don't start understanding one another, respecting one another and telling our kids to do the same thing. NO AMOUNT OF ANY RELIGION is going to fix it.

By Robert Paul Norman on 2012 12 21, 4:33 pm CST

Agreed. I've had my fill of arrogant superintendents like Tim Baird. Trust me, the last thing any of these administrators, school boards and teachers WANT to see are parents, let alone legal professionals who are parents. If the ABA wants to put any more of their haughty community service requirements such as pro bono work perhaps it should be to represent parents as they go up against school administrators and progressive school boards who clearly have their own agendas.

By Nannobear on 2012 12 21, 4:34 pm CST

Wow! In California parents are objecting to yoga...I thought for certain from the headlines it would have been somewhere in the Deep South! For crying out loud folks, its appears to be offered only as a form of exercise & could be a great alternative for some children who may not be able to do certain other forms of physical activity. And what the heck is wrong with some relaxing stretches in a quiet place for children? Isn't past time to focus on the truly important issues our children face in today's world?
And right on to Mr. Baird's response - totally justified given the silly reaction by these parents.

By Dixie Chick on 2012 12 21, 4:39 pm CST

Last thing before I turn off the notify - the respect should start here. Especially for the "officers of the court." That old lead by example stuff.

By RObert Paul Norman on 2012 12 21, 4:39 pm CST

All I can do is shake my head over this story, but even more over the comments. Maybe it's because I just started my vacation, but it makes we want to roll my eyes.

By PNWLawLady on 2012 12 21, 4:44 pm CST

The Superintendent is right to state that “If your faith is such that you believe that simply by doing the gorilla pose, you’re invoking the Hindu gods, then by all means your child can be doing something else,” he said.

Why is that offensive? He's stating the fact.

Being a Christian and practicing yoga for 5+ years, I can say without a doubt that yoga can, but does not necessarily have to be, spiritual in nature. And, using yoga to find inner peace isn't necessarily Hindu related. Doing yoga makes me happier, more fulfilled, and, I hope, a better Christian. You don't need to look at a creche to know that you are Christian.

By Jessica Catlin on 2012 12 21, 4:51 pm CST

“They’re teaching children how to meditate and how to look within for peace and for comfort"
--One of the primary teachings of Hinduism is that you are god (or, more precisely, that your soul ("Atman") is a part of Brahman and that the material world is an illusion -- see Therefore, the purpose of 'looking within' is to realize that you are god, and two of the methods of 'looking within' are yoga & meditation. This is directly in contradiction with the Christian teaching that God is NOT you -- that He is the Creator and is separate and apart from creation -- and that we are to look to Him for peace and comfort. The philosophies are diametrically opposed.

"Schools superintendent Tim Baird told the Times that children don’t have to attend the classes. 'If your faith is such that you believe that simply by doing the gorilla pose, you’re invoking the Hindu gods, then by all means your child can be doing something else.'"
--This is what the major Hindu yogis believe. But as long as I could opt my child out, I personally would not be filing a lawsuit.

Look, I do believe 'yoga' poses can be good for physical fitness. And as a Christian, I don't necessarily have a problem with using 'yoga' poses for this purpose. (In the words of Paul, "we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one" -- 1 Corinthians 8:4.) But as I Christian, I also believe that there's a spiritual reality to 'yoga' that's in opposition to Christian teaching; and if the 'yoga poses' are not stripped from their philosophical and spiritual underpinnings, yoga becomes VERY problematic. (Again from Paul: "What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons." -- 1 Corinthians 10:19-21.)

"I speak as to those who are wise; judge for yourselves what I say."

By BJ Smith on 2012 12 21, 4:53 pm CST

Don't we need to know more? This is an activity that comes from a religious tradition, and its sponsors say that those who do it become better persons. It certainly isn't ordinary P.E. My wife and I are Christians who were happy to take one of our daughters to yoga classes, but we didn't expect it to make her a better person. To the extent this program involves meditation and seeking inner peace, it certainly has similarities to religious practices. Meditation is a traditional Christian spiritual discipline, and it is not unreasonable to think that meditation as part of an activity with Hindu roots could have religious overtones. Kneeling may be a physical way to develop humility -- something that many of us think is in short supply. But a public school program of kneeling while meditating would be objectionable as being too close to a Christian religious practice.

By Mark Scarberry on 2012 12 21, 4:55 pm CST

Yogi has it better than a millionaire, just because he smarter than the average bear. He will sleep till noon but before it's dark, he'll have every picnic basket that's in Jellystone Park.

By ERISANation on 2012 12 21, 4:58 pm CST

If the school promoted jogging these parents would say the schools are advocating Kenyan/Mau Mau values. Are these parents so isolated in their ideological evangelical bubble that they don't see their friends and neighbors take any variety of yoga at any number of health clubs, go on with their normal live and never feel compelled to wear a sari?

By rosslaw on 2012 12 21, 4:59 pm CST

Work calls - but the issue is not one that requires litigation. Or, a new constitution. BUT - that has been alreadly covered in A More Perfect Constitution. Read it over CHRISTmas.

By Robert Paul Norman on 2012 12 21, 5:02 pm CST

@ Yankee - "if the parents were not Christians, the super would not have gotten away with that comment"? That's a disgusting implication.

By all holidays gal on 2012 12 21, 5:07 pm CST

#103 BJ Smith --- I agree with your wisdom

By HeartforGod on 2012 12 21, 5:07 pm CST

Those of you who do not see a problem with yoga despite its spiritual meaning, probably would object to the same teacher leading a group prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. OK to expect Christian kids to meditate but not ok to expect Hindu kids to pray -- why the double standard?

By Barry on 2012 12 21, 5:12 pm CST

@108: Not my comment, but I think you are misinterpreting, and I am assuming you are reading the "violent muslim" stereotype into this. The implication is that non-Christian groups tend to be off-limits from criticism more so than Christian groups. Political correctness tends to protect the minority groups from attack more so than majority groups. People who make fun of arabs/muslims are portrayed more as backwoods racists than those who make fun of Christians.

By Some guy on 2012 12 21, 5:17 pm CST

When I read the first amendments, its says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" Just because the concept of "separation of church and state" has been repeated so often that most people think those words appear in the first amendment doesn't make it true.
Then again, Congress hasn't made the law - the Supreme Court has. From that follows the decision that the 10 commandments are religious and can't be displayed on any property owned by any federal, state, or local agency. Why are state and local governments included in this ban?
We've been going down the wrong path for years. And the Christianity bashing continues.
Thanks, #18 Walt and #20 Marc, your observations are neutral and helpful.
There are probably some others equally so, but I have quit reading all the coments.

By Grumpy on 2012 12 21, 5:18 pm CST

Wow Barry was that a stretch. Christian paranoia personified. Pay attention to the world around you. Yoga is an exercise with some remaining religious trappings. Our local Young Men's Christian Association and Young Women's Christian Association have both sponsored yoga classes for more than 30 years. To equate yoga with leading kids in prayer? I hope you don't make such ludicrous analogies in your legal arguments.

By redwood on 2012 12 21, 5:26 pm CST

That superintendent deserves a raise. Best comments ever.

The only thing that really bothers me is the "we're good Christians" line. I realize it was intended as "Look, we're not looking to convert people to Hinduism," but I guess what rubs me the wrong way is the "good" part: as if people of other faiths aren't as good by comparison. (And for what it's worth, I'm a Christian - although I leave it to a Higher Authority to confirm whether I'm a good one.)

By R on 2012 12 21, 5:28 pm CST

I wonder how many of those up in arms over yoga classes have ever been to one? That was rhetorical, of course. I won't be checking any follow up comments. My point is that maybe people should educate themselves before making public statements. In the hundreds of yoga classes I've gone to I have not once heard refernce to any sort of religious belief. And meditation is about calming the mind, not an appeal to a higher power; it might help some of y'all with your apparent anger issues.

I think there may be some confusion between the concepts of "spirituality" and "religion".

While we're at it, why don't we get rid of literature classes? They inevitably involve explanation of the bountiful and pervasive references to religious symbols, characters, and themes. Kids shouldh't have to read that unconsittutional stuff or have it explained to them. Ignorance is bliss, right?

By I went to yoga class last night on 2012 12 21, 5:33 pm CST

Children are impressionable

Parents are the ultimate arbiters of their children's values.

This story raised so many eyebrows and prompted so many clicks because the word "yoga" is not value-free.

It's one thing to offer children information about yoga that would allow them to answer a Jeopardy question; it's another thing to offer an avenue by which to practice yoga.

There is nothing wrong with stretching. There is nothing wrong with suggesting meditation/concentration accompany the stretching.

But the more the state control's my child's movements, the wider and deeper the state reaches into my child's mind and soul, the stronger parents will resist.

As an aside, by teaching yoga that person and the concomitant funding, aren't being used to teach X, to provide service Y, to lower taxes on Z so that he may do A, B, or C -- those are some of the choices and freedoms that have also been lost or left out of the conversation.

By LexLoci on 2012 12 21, 5:37 pm CST

#99 -- Don't stereotype all Californians. There are 40 million of us and we're pretty diverse -- and Escondido, in northern San Diego county, is a pretty conservative area.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 12 21, 5:40 pm CST

The mother is being ridiculous. Yes, the superintendent was a little "flip" but I am certain he is busy with things that matter. They are trying to get the children to stretch/exercise and to relax in this hectic world. Let them learn early how to do this and perhaps it will stick with them and help them deal with life in general. Mom, you are wasting time.

FYI, I am Lutheran ~ Missouri Synod, and I do not see any violation of church and state with yoga, period.

Let's focus on important things like mental health issues which caused the death of 27 people last week.

By Nanci Lenoci on 2012 12 21, 5:47 pm CST

As a resident of Encinitas, I can confirm that these parents are indeed people who would like nothing more than to require all children to participate in prayers in school, as suggested by Mae. Their complaints have nothing to do with yoga, in the sense that their assumption that yoga is somehow a religious practice is not only badly misinformed, it is belied by what they see in front of them every day. Encinitas may well have as many yoga studios as Starbucks. And while I can't say I've been in every studio, I would be more than willing to bet that none have religious overtones. Yoga here is sold simply as exercise--something these parents could not be unaware of.

Which makes their action that much more cynical. It's nothing more than an effort to twist logic in knots to argue that if any activity having even the imagined possibility of spiritual meaning is allowed in schools, then their religions must be given a place there as well. However, they chose the wrong argument to the wrong audience. It was received with the respect it deserved: virtually none.

By California Dreaming on 2012 12 21, 5:48 pm CST

BJ Smith, I do not intend to start a theologic debate, but point this out to show that even within a "religion" there are differences. Many well-respected Christian theologians include a "God within us" element--the 'still quiet voice" that is both Biblical and developed by Henry Noewen (though I may have the name wrong.) Point is, many Christians with a solid theologic view would find the yoga practice compatible with Christian thought at practice.

The religions intersect like Venn diagrams. For this reason, the mention, display, teaching and even practice is not necessarily (a) offensive to others or (b) establishment of any one. And even private religious schools (like all schools IMO) should teach all the religions. "Intellect is the ability to consider an idea without adopting it."

So in your words you (speaking as a Christian) are OK with Yoga if it"s stripped of its spiritual underpinnings. I, also speaking as a Christian, am OK with yoga even if it's not stripped--in fact, I'd rather it not be.

Then, when the children get home and explain what they learned about, you (or I) could guide them based on our own views. They will be better for it. If they agree with you, their reasoning will be more sound. If they disagree, they have a basis for that, too. Isn't that how we should educate and raise our children? Why not let the schools be part of it?

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2012 12 21, 5:49 pm CST

Labeling yoga exercises a religious practice is as creative as labeling eating vegetables a religious practice because some religions prohibit meat eating. Both practices promote health and well-being according to most experts and should be introduced to students in school at an early age. This is because many parents fail to teach or practice yoga exercises (or any kind of physical exercises) and fail to provide a healthy diet to their children, guided solely by the traditions of their parents or what they are told to eat by advertisers in the media.

I suppose there is a constitutional right to be ignorant of some things, but I can't think of any at the moment

By Adel on 2012 12 21, 5:50 pm CST

As usual, I got here late, but I'm fascinated with the idea that exposing a child to yoga will make him convert to Hinduism. When I was young, every Christmas, my stocking contained chocolate covered in gold foil, in the shape of coins. I thought they were just chocolate made to look like coins. Imagine my surprise when, as an adult, I learned that they were gelt, intended for use as Hanukkah treats! To think -- I ate all that gelt, and I'm still not Jewish!

By The authentic LAB on 2012 12 21, 5:52 pm CST

Thank you Yankee, Marc, and Cathren Page!

By Solutions... on 2012 12 21, 6:02 pm CST

@#5: I think the Superintendent gave the parents exactly the amount of respect they deserved.

By Older Guy on 2012 12 21, 6:10 pm CST

I think the separationists' agenda is plenty well met and San Diego's argument is overstated. But to play devil's advocate: in Arizona, they have Mormon seminary on school campuses that kids can take as an elective. Yoga is secular. It's Phys. Ed. Seminary is not. So how is it possible that a mormon seminary elective is OK and a yoga class isn't?

Yoga teaches you NOT to be attached to labels and literal meanings. It's the physical practice of breathing and witnessing your existence in the present moment - that's all. It's just an added bonus that some of us learn to shut our mouths and listen better in the process. You don't want that from your kids?

By Rmatt on 2012 12 21, 6:14 pm CST

I'm an atheist, but there is an incredible amount of Christian bashing here and elsewhere. It people mocked Jewish religious officials the way the Pope, nuns, or priests are mocked by the liberal media, there would be Hell to pay. We know what happens when someone dares to mock a muslim religious figure. There is complete media approval of derision towards Christians.

By Oort Cloud on 2012 12 21, 6:15 pm CST

These parents need to get a life and I hope the school system has the intestinal fortitude to stand up to them. Millions of people practice yoga in this country and do so with little regard to it having a religious based heritage. Following these parents' logic it would be okay to offer elective classes on Chinese, but not kosher, cooking.

Commander Wayne L. Johnson, JAGC, Navy (Retired), Alexandria, VA

By Commander Wayne L. Johnson (Retired) on 2012 12 21, 6:20 pm CST

126 - another ludicrous analogy -when was the last time you were proselytized by a jew or a muslim? Or for that matter when have you even heard about that happening. If Christians weren't so determined to foist their beliefs on others they wouldn't be derided.

By redwood on 2012 12 21, 6:29 pm CST

"There is complete media approval of derision towards Christians. "

And men. And white people.

And also Southerners, lawyers and gun owners.

In many places, same with conservatives and Republicans (ever go to an ABA meeting?)

Each gets lumped, jumped and accused in vicious, at worst, disrespectful, at most attacks without restraint. Try to give it back and it's even worse.

I know because I am each of those things. But I think I'm still an OK guy.

By HVB on 2012 12 21, 6:32 pm CST

Me too, HVB.

By Marc on 2012 12 21, 6:37 pm CST

Make all education private.

By Paula on 2012 12 21, 6:38 pm CST

#120 -- Hadley v. Baxendale (I hated that case by the way),

Thanks for your post. Re: "God within us", I agree with you. In fact, I believe God lives within me (as does Paul: "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" -- 1 Corinthians 6:19). However, I do not believe that God IS me. In other words, there's a big difference between communion and union. Christianity teaches communion with God for those who submit to Jesus Christ; Hinduism teaches union with the divine for all who realize that they are divine. Again, the philosophies are diametrically opposed.

I do believe we should teach our children what others believe, and that this provides context for teaching them what we believe. However, there's a vast difference between teaching and partaking (as is alluded to in my post 103). Presumably, this yoga course is not so much about 'teaching' kids what others believe as it is about causing them to (unwittingly) 'partake' in what others believe.

There is also a time and a place for everything. I don't believe my child would be mentally or spiritually mature enough to appreciate the differences in Hindu and Christian theology in the first grade, which is precisely the problem. If my first grade child came home and told me that her teacher told her that meditating and doing yoga brings inner peace, and I told her "no, knowing Jesus brings inner peace", she would likely not have the ability to know or determine which position is true because of her young age. She would essentially have to decide which authority figure she believes is more credible and go with their word (since both statements are being offered as truths and not as opinions). That would concern me. As a parent, I do not want to have to "unteach" my children when they are in elementary school. It would be different if it was high school or college and they were better able to wrestle with weighty matters like these.

By BJ Smith on 2012 12 21, 6:39 pm CST

I put in my 2 cents and get hundreds of responses. Anything remotely related to religion apparenly causes fingers to itch, paricularly for those folks who need an audience to help clarify their own beliefs. These are the ones who would most benefit from a few minutes of yoga exercises no mater what religion or lack of religion espoused.

By Adel on 2012 12 21, 6:52 pm CST

This all boils down to the entrenched liberal belief that they know what is best for everyone: no guns for you, but Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein wouldn't be caught dead (excuse the expression) without their heat.

Free speech is a cherished right - unless you don't agree with the left, in which case you are shouted down as bigots and haters.

We need to protect the environment - but rich liberals drive the biggest vehicles, fly around in jets and heat oversized homes, and carry bottled water everywhere they go.

Teach Islam at schools so we can "educate" our kids and prevent them from wondering why the followers of the religion of peace and love strap bombs to their kids and mentally challenged to explode in the public square. But heaven forbid a Christmas tree appears on public land!

Yoga, we now know, is unquestionably good and, in fact, recommended to all close minded bigots who have their own religious beliefs (read "Christians.")

The asylum has been taken over by the inmates.

By Marc on 2012 12 21, 7:06 pm CST

No, Marc #134. You get shouted down as a bigot and a hater when, as you did here, you post a stream of insults full of bigotry and hatred.

By California Dreaming on 2012 12 21, 7:21 pm CST

#126 -- If Christians did fewer mockworthy things they'd be mocked less.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 12 21, 7:27 pm CST

I note that the concept of 'Tolerance' is being touched upon in this discussion. One of the largest issues that society faces is TOO MUCH 'Tolerance' of anti-social activities (gang membership, theft, drug abuse, etc.) by the kids of parents and guardians who find it easier to Tolerate these activities than try to straighten out their school age children so that they will no longer be a burden on society.

By CA Lawyer on 2012 12 21, 7:29 pm CST

re: "when was the last time you were proselytized by a jew or a muslim? ...If Christians weren’t so determined ...."

For explanation so you will know, Christianity may be unique in that one of its important tenets is the command to spread, teach and convert.
Judaism is largely a blood-line religion, although the Old Testament describes their conquering and converting; they are not active at it now.
I don't understand Islam's command on conversion, but it seems to occur at a nationalist/cultural level and not at the individual. Watch the new government in Egypt being formed.
I don't know whether Hindu's try to convert the nations they conquer, but they welcome, if not recruit followers and expand that way. Remember the Hari Krishna's at the airports?
A Budhist would believe his philosophy is the best one and would want others to join it, but I don;t know that he is "commanded" to do so.

I am not, by explaining, excusing bad acts by those trying (or claiming) to follow their commandment. I may choose to do so by trying to live a life of good example, teaching to the willing, and leaving others alone. Some may put an ad in the paper or a Bible in a hotel room. and of course, some go too far...but that's why, and now you know.

By HVB on 2012 12 21, 7:39 pm CST

#135 -- I dont agree with Marc's delivery but what he said was true.

By BJ Smith on 2012 12 21, 7:44 pm CST

Two observations:

1. There is a shocking amount of Christian bashing going on this board. Although that does bother me personally, those who submit these comments should look into the mirror and ask whether they are as tolerant as they could be with people who have different value systems than their own? Diversity and tolerance involves more than DNA; it goes to the core values that different people hold.

2. The sheer volume of comments posted in response to this story testifies that this matter is not as open and shut as suggested by School Superintendent Baird

By Yankee on 2012 12 21, 7:45 pm CST

It really all depends on how the classes are taught. Some yoga classes incorporate religious concepts and some do not. If I were a parent of a child in a public school which is teaching yoga, I would be concerned about the nature of the instruction and the point of view from which it is being taught. I would want to be sure that the classes are not incorporating, however subtly, religious principles in conflict with those in which I am attempting to rear my child. I actually take yoga class regularly, but the class is not taught from a Hindu or eastern religious mindset. The physical aspects of yoga don't seem to be inherently religious, but the way in which the class is taught is critical because there is a significant risk, that not properly done, the class can incorporate religious/philosophical concepts in conflict with the religious beliefs of the parents and students.

By Gaius on 2012 12 21, 7:59 pm CST

If you don't want your children to be exposed to diversity, keep them in your little bubble at home and home school them. Then you can sufficiently censor their limited world view.

We learned about all different religions in school and it had no effect on my religious beliefs. It just taught me that different people/cultures believe different things.

If the schools don't teach diversity, then they are racist. If the schools teach diversity, they are trying to convert children. NEVER going to make all the parents happy.

By Holly on 2012 12 21, 8:28 pm CST

Many yogi tout the spiritual elements of the discipline. I think the parents raise a credible point. Cathren, I think you miss the point as the precedent supporting the parents is the precedent not allowing Christian elements to be included in the school day. As I read the article, the yoga class is part of the school day. It is a separation of state issue with the school as the state actor promoting a religious view, which is not allowed.

By KimP on 2012 12 21, 8:46 pm CST

On cursory reading of this article, this appears to be just another case of Christians behaving as victims when their world (or their children's world) is opened up to the possibility of learning about anything beyond their own beliefs. Then it's reinforced by those who spout their "ruminations" about how anyone else (Muslims, Jews, Asians, whatever non-Christians the speaker wants to call upon) would react if "that" happened to them. Those poor Christians are just being victimized by all those evil, leftist, politically correct, commie, Obama-loving bastards out there. Oh for crying out loud. First of all, "that" was happening to non-Christians in this country for its first 200 years, so no need to theorize about what would happen. Nothing did, for a very long time. Second of all, yoga is a form of exercise and non-violent behavior modeling. Sure, there's sometimes a bit of Hindu philosophy thrown in, but that's no more harmful than a Jew listening to a story about Jesus, or an atheist listening to a story about Krishna, or a Buddhist listening to a story about Krampas. Come on, folks, it's time to find just a little bit of perspective, don't you think? And, btw, @Yankee #140, reading you trying to make a point about tolerance is something akin to watching a Kardashian trying to make a point about frugality. Thanks for the laugh.

By The Evolution is Coming on 2012 12 21, 8:47 pm CST

Calm down and look within? You mean like the antichrist does?! Christians have a constitutional right to be in a constant state of rage and anything that interferes with that right can go $*@$%#^!!!! Merry $%^&#@!! Christmas!

By Adamius on 2012 12 21, 8:53 pm CST

PS: McLeod WOULD have a pitchfork..."backwoodsy" as he is! ;)

By Adamius on 2012 12 21, 8:55 pm CST

I agree with Holly.

Still, there are a lot of hypocritical blow hard's here -- who deride Christians -- but themselves have all sorts of other equally preposterous beliefs.

At least Christians have a sense of humor. They more willingly suffer at others jokes than any other group and often enjoy the jokes. How many complaints did you ever hear about Father Guido Sarducci? Try doing that with any other religion.

Someone above said that Christians do things that are more mockworthy -- I don't think that's true. Thare are a ton of things that non-Christians do that are mockworthy -- here's one:

You'll never see that on SNL. If a priest did that you'd never hear the end of it.

To say nothing of the weird beliefs many atheists have that are also mockworthy. It seems most atheists substitute the empty spot in their brain where religion would have gone with some other nonsense -- vegans, Wiccans, Numerologists, Followers of astrology, animists and followers of other pagan religious, people who believe in Aliens (here on earth)? Those who beleive in the Loch Ness and other mythical creatures? People who believe in Bat Boy!

I dare say, there are not many of you who are entirely logical and who don't have at least several beliefs that are unprovable and that rely entirely on your faith (whether or not you know it).

I think our protagonist's complaint is no more out of bounds -- at least as it relates to "meditation" -- than objections others have had regarding Christian themes.

By Oort Cloud on 2012 12 21, 9:04 pm CST

HVB I do remember the Krishnas. I was in the service and spent some time in airports. It was during the Vietnam War. The Krishnas seemed to like ariports. They chanted anti war slogans in addition to the Krishna chant which I can stil chant verbatim. They seemed to delight in swarming around anyone in uniform and harrassing us with their chants which included "baby killers, baby killers." Quite a welcome home. Maybe that's why I don't like to be proseletyzed. I don't really care that proseletyzing is a tenant of your faith. Don't hassle me with it. Don't knock on my door and try to hand me your literature. Keep your religion to yourself. It should be private between you and your god. To the extent you want to share your joyful relationship with god with me - don't bother I just don't care and in fact I really resent it. A Christian whining about being prosetelyzed by someone of another faith - the epitome of hypocrisy.

By redwood on 2012 12 21, 9:11 pm CST

Jesus, Daniel, Abraham, Moses all meditated.

The Bible is punctuated with a call for meditation. If more Christians meditated they would be better at converters by the life they lead.

Bullying does not convert people, it may create fundamentalists but no conversion happens.

Be still and know God.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah!!!

Christian Yogi.

BTW, meditation happens as a result of focused and deep concentration.

By Karma on 2012 12 21, 9:19 pm CST

HVB's comment @138 may well be true for his version of Christianity, which, to a non-Christian, appears to be the kind of interpretation of scripture dear to Baptist and fundamentalist denominations which insist that a duty exists on their part to attempt to convert those who believe otherwise to their view of scriptural interpretation. With all due respect, I have never had a Congregational or Episcopal congregant on my doorstep urging me to change my view of religion. As far as Jewish proselytization, the only Jews I know who proselytize are Hasidim, and they only approach other Jews to urge them to become more traditionally religious and observant; they never approach non-Jews and urge conversion upon them. Frankly, the insistence of the Christian right that America become truer to it's Christian founders is wholly fallacious; the Founders were Deists, not Baptists or Evangelicals.

By macesq on 2012 12 21, 9:25 pm CST

I/m glad to see the faithful standing up for their rights. As a substitute teacher, I was given a bad report by a high school PE teacher who objected to my refusing to use any of her yoga videos in class and choosing one of her other exercise videos. I should have thought to go on the offensive against her use of the videos instead of defending my refusal to use them, but this was before I entered law school,

By Melanie Vliet on 2012 12 21, 9:27 pm CST

So many comments supporting yoga and the school system and comments about how WE raise OUR children. How many of you are actually parents? And BTW, my children belong to me, not the school system, not the community, not the state and certainly not any of the commentators of this article.

By Nannobear on 2012 12 21, 9:39 pm CST

What's the difference between Yoga as good exercise and a method of healthy meditation, separable from the actual teachings of the religions (more than one, according to at least one commenter) that espouse it, and the singing of religions songs by school choirs, for the musicality and beauty, again separable from the religious views that they espouse?

There is truth in everything; no religion is entirely wrong. To say that Yoga is good exercise and a good way to relax and meditate does not, e.g., mean you have to denounce Christ, or Allah, or whoever or whatever you worship. And it certainly does not equate to teaching religion in school -- especially since so many religions teach meditation of some kind as a way not just to spiritual peace or enlightenment, but physical wellbeing and health.

By sb on 2012 12 21, 9:52 pm CST

Nannobear, I would beg to differ. Your children are your wards and your charges and your responsibilities...but they certainly don't "belong" to you. They don't "belong" to anybody. They are humans. They own themselves.

By Adamius on 2012 12 21, 10:10 pm CST

(1) For those who are up in arms that tax dollars are being used to fund a religion other than Christianity: That's not happening. Between Prop 13, draconian budget cuts, and decreased property tax revenue due to foreclosures, those schools that don't have parents willing to pay out-of-pocket for extras like art, music, sports, etc. either go without, or depend on foundation grants. So local schools depend on grants such as those from Ralph's/Kroger for art programs, and San Diego music Foundation for music in elementary schools, etc. In this case, EUSC received $533,720 to support Yoga instruction in 9 of its schools. This program had been ongoing for at least 2 years prior to this grant. The Yoga instruction at the elementary level appears to be basic, consisting mainly of breathing exercises and stretching poses. The Yoga instruction is part of an overall wellness program. (See below)

"During the 2012-13 school year, the Encinitas Union School District has been awarded a grant from the KP Jois Foundation in the amount of $533,720 to support Yoga Instruction at its nine sites for grades K-6. The grant also provides for the development of a corresponding health and wellness curriculum with a focus on life skills. The University of Virginia and The University of San Diego have partnered to design and implement a research study to measure the impact of system-wide implementation of yoga, health, and wellness curriculum. At PEC the Jois Foundation grant will provide us with an opportunity to continue our yoga program that we began two years ago and will provide us with the resources to begin developing our farm to table program with our School as a Garden project. . . ."

(2) For those who seem bent six ways from Sunday because government facilities are being used for religious purposes: If local districts permit schools to be used for meetings sponsored by outside organizations, they cannot specifically bar religious organizations from similar uses. The PTAs use the schools for meetings. Community groups use the schools for meetings. So Christian organizations routinely use local schools for meetings. And schools can't favor one religion over another. Much to the local atheists' chagrin, the Christians also often leave "advertising" for their non-secular events attached to the buildings and playground fences, and fail to clean up their "propaganda" when they leave; which means that children whose parents aren't in agreement with that particular flavor of religion are exposed to it. So, let the whiners from Encinitas keep it up. This could get really ugly as the atheists are apparently now out shopping for their own attorneys!

(3) @ 51: Yes, the faithful ARE standing up for their rights. Too bad that, as far as you and like-minded others may be concerned, it's the "wrong" faithful! Christianity has a long history of subjugating people of other faiths. (Think of the Inquisition, numerous Crusades, or more recently, "witnessing"--or imposing your religious views on others where you have no standing to do so, such as with schoolchildren.) Your First Amendment rights extend only so far as they interfere with the rights of others. If you don't want your kid to engage in Yoga classes, fine. But if you want your kid to attend a Christian-oriented school, you can pay out-of-pocket for it.

By BMF on 2012 12 21, 10:30 pm CST

Some of you are just not listening; I think some would rather live with your prejudices than learn, or consider that not all members of huge groups of people act and think alike. So much easier, though, not to think that way, to think at all.

sb, you present a great analogy. Doing yoga, which may have some spiritual component, and may have value without it (let's say a pleasant experience) would be the same as listening to a symphony and choir pertorm Handel's Messiah, which, although it has a spiritual component, too, is sublime as pure music. But there are so many who would endorse yoga and ban Messiah. Why? How?
I think that's the point the parents were making--they weren't really objecting to yoga; they were objecting to allowing yoga, with its incidental spiritual component and banning other activities that are incidentally Christian. The Kosher cooking class mentioned above is similar. Let them all in.

Redwood takes my respectful explanation of why Christians tell others about their religion (not how, why) and how other religions do, or don't do, the same, and then accuses me of pounding on his door, and whining about "others proseletyzing." I do neither, and personally, I don't like any people "proseletyzing" as he means it and especially not Christians and especially not when they direct it at me. His saying that all people of a religion do what some do is no different than saying all people of a certain race deal drugs and have 4 welfare babies. You know what I mean.

So why do so many of you think it's OK to say that stuff?

Macesq points out that "episcopalians and congregationalists" don't come to his door. That's a good start, but their bible reads the same as the "baptist/fundamentalists" does, word for word on the unequivocable command (known in theology as the Great Commission). Every single Christian denomination is under it. No choice. But the point I tried to make, that escaped, was that on an individual level, HOW that is done varies: from the quiet "good example" to the shouting at the stoplight.

So it is flawed to say "I don't like christians because the shout at stoplights" but it's perfectly fine to say "I don't like those Christians who shout at stoplights." neither do I. The difference? being prejudiced and thinking in stereotypes, or thinking rationally and with respect.

Is that so hard?

reading his statement carefully, I agree with Macesq's comment about the Xtian Right's flawed view of history, the founding fathers, Christian nation, etc. But with the rest, it reads as if he thinks that's how all Christians think. I don't, and I am embarrassed by the ones who do.

Stop assuming, accusing and stereotyping, and start learning about others, with respect. Learn by broader observation, not reaction to the worst of the worst. You don't notice the majority but you are distracted by a minority (like thinking all Muslims are al queada). Turn off the TV. Treat others as you want to be treated. Meditate; listen to the choir. Drink egg nog.

By HVB on 2012 12 21, 10:44 pm CST

Why are these people picking on a harmless bear?

By NOW JERRY BROWN on 2012 12 21, 10:58 pm CST

@144 You rant: "Sure, there’s sometimes a bit of Hindu philosophy thrown in . . ."

In the course of your intolerant rant, you made the case for those who object to Yoga being taught in Paul Ecke Central Elementary School.

Congratulations, Counselor!

By Yankee on 2012 12 22, 12:12 am CST

There was nothing flip, ridiculous or unnecessarily disrespectful about the words of Tim Baird. We live in a time when science and reason are under attack from those who seek to politicize all knowledge as mere "theory."

As President Woodrow Wilson said: "...Like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised." One hundred years later, most Republican politicians are pandering by discounting science and reason instead of helping to relieve the masses of superstitious ignorance.

By Paul the Magyar on 2012 12 22, 12:14 am CST

Most normal people would understand a pitchfork to be an agricultural implement, not a forestry implement. However, given the stimulative use of anvils which Adamius has proposed in other threads, it is probably best not to get into the detail of what he wants to rub against pitchforks.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 22, 12:39 am CST

NB to Christians: Christianity historically thrives under oppression and Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. It is difficult to reconcile the thin-skinned angry and combative efforts made with little knowledge and great uninformed prejudice against practices as removed from religion as yoga is under these circumstances.

As one who was brought up in a Christian house, and attended a private Christian school and high school, and a Christian denominational college, I can surely sniff out the parents' concerns as the product of ignorance and pastor-whipped prejudice. We may as well ban algebra because of its Muslim origins. (Actually, that is not so offensive after all to those of us who were and are mathematically-challenged.). Teaching yoga in schools, observing a moment of silence, or greeting a person with "Namaste" is not promoting, practicing or prosyletizing religion. Saying it is does not make it so.

By Paul the Magyar on 2012 12 22, 12:55 am CST

In this day where childhood obesity is reaching an epidemic, where do these nutty parents come from *LOL*

By Dr. Michael G. Sribnick, Esq. on 2012 12 22, 12:55 am CST


According to your Epicurean world view, gamma rays did not exist 150 years go because they had never been seen, heard, touched, tasted, smelled, or 'languaged' by a human. (But, oddly enough, Jesus' disciples would have been entirely justified in believing He'd been raised from the dead according to the same worldview (1 John 1:1-3).)

"Like every other [white] man of intelligence and education" in the 1920's, Woodrow was also a big-time fan of the Klan (and "Birth of a Nation") and believed in the innate superiority of the white race. (He also used to be a football coach.) But then again, the "bell curve" is based on science and reason, right??

Darwinism's biggest problem is that the "chosen" mechanisms (natural selection and mutation) have not, after 150+ years, proven that they can account for the drastic structural changes necessary to make molecules-to-man evolution a viable theory. The mechanisms account well for variation at the genus and species level for the most part (though those terms are defined by us and are not 'laws' of nature); but once you move to the family level and higher, observation has not demonstrated the mechanisms to be viable. The most drastic mutations we see (i.e. extra limbs growing out of the heads of dairy cows) are almost always deadly. Additionally, most other animal mutations (i.e. those found in various dog breeds) would be weeded out of the gene pool by natural selection were it not for domestication (in other words natural selection is the enemy of evolution-by-mutation -- bye bye little dachshund). In short, the mechanisms have not been able to account for the massive accumulation of genetic information necessary for Darwinism to be viable. Oh, and the great Darwin was a Lamarckist.

I say all of this not to be argumentative, but merely to demonstrate that the positions we hold to be "scientific" and "reasonable" today may well be derided as "ignorant superstition" by later generations.

By BJ Smith on 2012 12 22, 1:41 am CST

@#69 In the military - I agree wholeheartedly with your concerns regarding the overbearing pushing of Christian religion in the Military. Especially when it becomes coercive (special privileges for attending functions - even if it is time away from duty that is not given to others who do not want to and would do something else). This is especially prevalent at the Air Force Academy. I do not know the names of the organizations but at least at the Academy there are those who are organized to try to resist these Unconstitutional pressures on cadets. There may be similar organizations regarding the military in general that you may want to seek out.

The trouble is, many of our military service members come from geographic regions and demographics where this is considered "ok", and I can sympathize with anyone feeling the pressures but not wanting to rock the boat for fear of career suicide or worse.

By Pfft on 2012 12 22, 2:07 am CST

@162 You argue: "In this day where childhood obesity is reaching an epidemic, where do these nutty parents come from"

Your statement is a non sequitur. The article above does not address "childhood obesity." Rather, the article concerns teaching children in the public school system - - - a captive audience - - - Ashtanga yoga.

There is nothing in the article that mentions whether the objecting parents have a position on childhood obesity, or the relative state of fitness of the children of these objecting parents.

Implicit in your comment are some unstated stereotypes regarding the fitness levels of evangelical Christians.

It is also a shame that you are quick to characterize those with whom you disagree "nutty."

Tolerance does not appear to be your strong point.

By Yankee on 2012 12 22, 3:08 am CST

Yankee at 5, I've focused on the infant Jesus before I was born again, as a likeable, peaceful, easy to like image. While it would theoretically be possible to avoid any politically incorrect religious teachings in public school, I prefer comparative religious studies from day one, but with the emphasis being on the useful stuff, concentration meditation over shouting hate speech in the streets, or on loving kindness meditation focusing on either your own heart or your deity (okay, your parents' deity, let's get real). Religions against an image of God, who shall go un-named, can have their child focus on their own chest, or on the idea of love. Whatever. I believe in expanding kids horizons at school. There are worse things in this world that could happen than my kids becoming Hindu. I think the First Amendment really means comparative religious studies. Frankly I think America would be a more tolerant society if all of us read the Gospels (RSV or New King James), Basic Teaching of the Buddha, (, Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, and the Penguin Classics translation of the Koran before high school graduation. I've never read the Hindu Vedas, but I bet they'd be fun. Throw some Darwin and Carl Sagan in there to strengthen their character. Allan Watts is good for Zen, There is so much interesting stuff out there to bend our kids' minds with besides video games and pot. (I seriously believe that pot fills a religious vacuum for certain people.)

I should mention that I'm very biased, so take my opinions with a grain or a pound of salt. How am I biased? I'm a born again Christian that never stopped meditating every morning from being a Buddhist atheist. I think in a free market of ideas, atheistic Buddhism and Christianity come out on top, but there is a LOT of room in the garden. (Of course we have to protect the garden, maybe by arming principals and school administrators at least with Tazers, and by getting rid of "gun free zones". But I'm watching the Moderator's finger hovering above the delete button, and here I've only read the first five comments.)

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 22, 3:36 am CST

I think the point was that a responsible parent should not let Christian paranoia overcome concern about their child's health.

By Redwood on 2012 12 22, 3:39 am CST

Damn it! I left out Anne Frank: Dairy of a Young Girl. Any study of the New Testament should have that diary be involved. Hmmm, and this relates to the article above because the Nazi's persecuted other religions the way misguided First Amendment jurists have persecuted all religion in schools. We really need comparative religious studies in our public schools. Schools are for learning new things, am I wrong?

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 22, 4:19 am CST

On the subject of my two posts above recommending comparative religious studies for American public schools grades six and up, I would have to recommend THE GRAND INQUISITOR'S MANUAL ( and Ellen G. White's THE GREAT CONTROVERSY, as they both cover a lot of the same material. And this applies to the above article because the same way the Waldensians were persecuted for passing out translated Bibles is what misinformed jurists do to comparative religious studies under the color of the First Amendment.

"Let's keep our children ignorant!" No. I don't think so.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 22, 4:37 am CST

Got it!
As an alternative phys. ed class, the kids could take a "kite fighting" class!

In my school, however, they'd do both, and read the Diary of Anne Frank in between their Temple Kung Fu and Falun Gong (or Tai Chi) intro courses.

In India they passed a law, "everyone is Hindu". In America, however, the study of religions is a science. Or it could be, if some jurists had their noggins knocked together.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 22, 4:51 am CST

Hosea 4:6 (Holy Bible)
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

The Idolatry of Israel
11 “Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart.
12 My people ask counsel from their wooden idols,
And their staff informs them.
For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray,
And they have played the harlot against their God.

Excerpt from the Net:
Russell Case, a representative of the Jois Foundation, said the parents’ fears were misguided.
“They’re concerned that we’re putting our God before their God,” Mr. Case said. “They’re worried about competition. But we’re much closer to them than they think. We’re good Christians that just like to do yoga because it helps us to be better people.”

But even “good Christians” may be misled owing to lack of knowledge.
The term vinyāsa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static asanas into a dynamic flow. This viṅyāsa 'flow' is a variant of Sūrya namaskāra, the Sun Salutation, and is used in other styles of yoga beside Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

Mantras (Chants)
The Ashtanga practice is traditionally started with the following Sanskrit mantra:
vande gurūṇāṁ caraṇāravinde saṁdarśitasvātmasukhāvabodhe
...translated into English as:
I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus,
The awakening happiness of one's own self revealed,
Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician,
Pacifying delusion, the poison of samsara.
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
One thousand heads white,
To Patanjali, I salute.


Patañjali Statue (traditional form indicating Kundalini or incarnation of Shesha (snake))
Genesis 3:1
[ The Temptation and Fall of Man ] Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
Revelation 12:9
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Varuna, the Vedic god of storms, is viewed as the King of the nāgas. Nāgas live in Pātāla, the As per the Mahabharata, Shesha was born to sage Kashyapa and his wife Kadru. Kadru gave birth to a thousand snakes, of which Shesha was the eldest. Among the prominent nāgas (snakes) of Hinduism are Manasa, Sesha, and Vasuki.

Vishnu is originally portrayed in the form sheltered by a Shesha naga or reclining on Shesha, but the iconography has been extended to other deities as well. The serpent is a common feature in Ganesha iconography and appears in many forms: around the neck,[7] use as a sacred thread (Sanskrit: yajñyopavīta)[8] wrapped around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, or as a throne.[9] Shiva is often shown garlanded with a snake.[10]
Patanjali as Adi-Sesha
Maehle (2007: p.?) affirms that according to tradition, Patañjali is held to be an incarnation of Ādi S'esha.
The Vedanta-Sramana traditions, Idol worship and Vedic rituals can be identified with the Jnana marga, Bhakti marga and the Karma marga respectively that are outlined in the Bhagavad Gita.
Shesha (snake) is generally depicted with a massive form that floats coiled in space, or on the universal ocean, to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Sometimes he is shown as five-headed or seven-headed, but more commonly as a many thousand-headed serpent,[2] sometimes with each head wearing an ornate crown. As per the Mahabharata, Shesha was born to sage Kashyapa and his wife Kadru. Kadru gave birth to a thousand snakes, of which Shesha was the eldest.


Psalm 32:9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.

By Allen Thomas on 2012 12 22, 4:03 pm CST

@166 I am cool with comparative religious studies in the public schools.

By Yankee on 2012 12 22, 4:04 pm CST

I am not a Christian, but I think that Christians have a right to their beliefs. It's just that, in the practice of those beliefs, Christians sometimes do or say things that I consider downright silly.

I once had a coworker who was a fundamentalist Christian. She wouldn't take her children to see a Harry Potter movie because magic is a tool of the devil and she didn't want her children influenced by such evil. I thought she was silly. Harry Potter is just fantasy, and children thrive on fantasy. Kids like playing dress-up and pretending to be something they're not. How many of us donned capes and ran around the house, pretending to be Superman?

Besides, what are Harry Potter movies if not tales about the triumph of good over evil? Harry and his friends use their faith to overcome the evil Voldemort. Sure, they use wands and magical incantations, but Christians use Bibles, prayer books, hymns, and prayers. I thought my coworker could use the parallels to teach her children about her faith.

I don't know how many of you read "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" as children. I did, and I thought it was a marvelous tale of adventure. Later, as an adult, I learned that C.S. Lewis wrote the book as a parable about Christianity. So, if C.S. Lewis' book is acceptable, why aren't J.R. Rowling's?

I thought my coworker was silly to think that Harry Potter threatened her religion. And how many of us thought the Muslim world was silly to think a cartoon of Mohammed threatened their religion?

I am offended every time I have to sit through an invocation at a function. I am offended every time someone tells me to have a blessed day, instead of simply saying, "Goodbye." But I don't object, because I recognize that I'd have to be really thin-skinned to get up in arms about such trivial slights. It would be silly. And my being exposed to such Christian practices hasn't converted me to Christianity.

I support political correctness, but I think that a lot of people are becoming too thin-skinned. The people objecting to yoga see it as a threat or offense to their religion. Are they really so insecure that they think their child doing down dog pose will convert the child to Hinduism? They're being thin-skinned and silly.

Come on, folks. Cowboy up.

By The authentic LAB on 2012 12 22, 4:33 pm CST

Fine, change it to "yoga" stretching exercises. Exorcise the "teachings" and call it a day!

By Laurie on 2012 12 22, 4:53 pm CST

Allen Thomas @ 171, I would direct you to Matthew 10: 16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." And see John 3: 14 and Numbers 21: 9. And, when you post: “Shesha (snake) is generally depicted with a massive form that floats coiled in space, or on the universal ocean, to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Sometimes he is shown as five-headed or seven-headed, but more commonly as a many thousand-headed serpent…” I suppose, as far as the Jews are concerned, worship of Jesus as God would be akin to Hindu worship of the flying spaghetti monster.

Hurray comparative religious studies! That's what I say. Funny, but I also thought comparative religious studies was the way to go ten years ago, when I was still an atheist, identifying with my "I know better" attitude. Worshiping my own intellect, if you will.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 22, 6:42 pm CST

And my last post relates to the article if and only if yoga is actually tied to the Hindu religion and the worship of a snake headed God. Which is why this article was in the ABA Journal, I'm assuming.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 22, 6:44 pm CST

Tom Youngjohn:

""Specifically, yoga is one of the six āstika ("orthodox") schools of Hindu philosophy.""

By Laurie on 2012 12 22, 6:55 pm CST

Tom: Oh! Forgot to mention Google Images for "yoga positions for beginners"!! Called Yoga stretching to give "Credit where credit is due!" I mean appears to be a pretty old discipline. Laurie

By Laurie on 2012 12 22, 7:00 pm CST

@154 Yes, they most certainly are humans. My children are in my charge until that time that they are emancipated in the eyes of the law and until that time comes all decisions as to their care and upbringing are exclusively mine. Whether you, or anyone else or even everyone else agrees or disagrees with my choices and decisions regarding the care and upbringing of my children is completely irrelevant. Parents are the final decision makers when it comes to their children. If you have opinions as to how a child should be raised, I suggest you have a child of your own and then you can make decisions regarding him or her. Perhaps then you will see just how badly everyone else wants to tell you what is best for you and especially your child.

By Nannobear on 2012 12 22, 8:55 pm CST

Nannobear, you must have missed the recent Wisconsin story where the state disagreed with the parents' attempt to heal their child with prayer. In fact, the modern nanny state asserts the right to veto and override a wide range of parenting decisions, including those that may be directly founded on your religious beliefs. It may look totalitarian, but it's for your own good.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 22, 9:16 pm CST

171 the harlotry and wine part sounds pretty interesting. The rest of it not so much. If you see evil every place you look you must live in a pretty scary place.

By redwood on 2012 12 22, 10:33 pm CST

McLeod, you make lame jokes from the days of ooga horns and liver pills. That pair of yours hasn't descended far enough for you to take my bet yet? It's funny how you make allegations that you won't back up. Guess it must be a "lower tier" law school thing! ;)

By Adamius on 2012 12 22, 10:48 pm CST

@173: You assert: "I am offended every time someone tells me to have a blessed day,"

You sound a bit 'thin-skinned' to me.

By Yankee on 2012 12 22, 10:57 pm CST

@179: You assert: "Parents are the final decision makers when it comes to their children."

I agree that is how it ought to be.

By Yankee on 2012 12 22, 11:00 pm CST

Tom Youngjohn, if you were worshiping your own intellect, you were doing atheism wrong. There is no worship in atheism. And it's not all self-centered like that. It's essentially just a preference for belief in things that there is some credible PROOF of.

Oh and McLeod, I finally got your lame joke. First of all, people don't really say "humping" anymore. Ask your grandkids for some more up-to-date terminology there. Secondly, "putting your balls on the anvil" is like a way of saying "put some skin in the game". When people say that latter phrase, they aren't literally advocating that you take a knife, peel your epidermis off and lay it down on a scrabble-board or a football field. It's an expression, not meant to be taken literally. Just like the anvil statement. Example: McLeod levels an accusation that can be easily proven or disproven, Adamius challenges McLeod to demonstrate that he believes the things he himself says by making a bet with Adamius that McLeod's accusation is blatantly untrue, McLeod runs away crying like a little girl and later posts pompous epithets online at the much younger, much smarter, much better looking badboy that hurt his feelings. I would at least respect you, had you put some skin in the game, and I would have enjoyed spending your money to boot! Then again, you put on the anvil what you don't have in the first place! ;)

By Adamius on 2012 12 22, 11:05 pm CST

Oops! *"You CAN'T put on the anvil what you haven't got in the first place."

By Adamius on 2012 12 22, 11:07 pm CST

Adamius at 185, you are right of course. It is not worshiping my own intellect. Not really. But it is "identification" (in the Buddhist sense, and remember, Buddhism is about "letting go" of identification, among other things) identifying with the position that "I know better than all these deluded fools." Now the Buddha was smart. While he said that "delusion" was one of the three fires that needed to be extinguished, the Buddha never attacked people who introduced themselves to him as a god or as divine, or as a saint. He took them at their word. Makes for some interesting reading. Of all the important religious leaders, I have to admit that the Buddha had the best sense of humor. He was a funny guy. (The original one, the one found in the Pali Canon, the one who died about 500 years before Jesus was born.)

And this relates to the above article because the only reason that the article is in the ABA Journal is because some people allege yoga to be a manifestation of the Hindu faith, and the Buddha, if he did anything, tried to eliminate the stumbling block of "FAITH" from a spiritual path. This is why you find most Western converts to "insight meditation" and Buddhism to be people without "faith" in God or in a god. Faith is not a barrier in Buddhism. Blind faith would qualify as "delusion."

I would say that, if one has been born into any of the world religions (apart from Buddhism), then the study of original flavor Buddhism offers a "complete" course in comparative religious studies. You can't help but to be able to appreciate your own religion more (in the long run) than to study it, in my opinion.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 22, 11:33 pm CST

Darn it.

"in the study of it" not "than to study it"

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 22, 11:36 pm CST

A yoga class certainly does less to indoctrinate children into Hinduism than a Christmas pageant does to indoctrinate them into Christianity. If you object to the former without objecting to the latter, you're simply a hypocrite.

By Bama on 2012 12 22, 11:53 pm CST

The real issue, although I realize it's not recognized by the current jurisprudence, is whether what is being promoted is intolerance. One of the major problems with the Christian attitude (and unfortunately many other religions) is that it insists that it is the only way. This attitude is what leads to demands, such as these parents', that no other useful practices extracted by millions of people through centuries of common experience and wisdom that has required any religious connections can be tolerated, no matter how valuable they may be for society. I realize the analogy is a bit off, but it would be like rejecting the content of the 10 commandments (such as the idea that we should not steal, lie and kill each other) because they were handed down by Moses. Most of what any particular religion teaches has great value. The problem is the folks who insist on having brand wars. If the idea came from God, who are you to try to take ownership of it?

By Walton on 2012 12 23, 12:01 am CST

I guess I have a general objection anytime it sounds like anyone is making any kind of generalization about atheism at all. It really isn't even a "school of thought". It is simply a lack of belief in a god. There are atheists who are judgmental of others and atheists who are not. I don't even think it goes without saying that atheism is active disbelief. I would consider a person who had never even been told of the concept of "a god", and therefore had never even imagined the concept, to be "an atheist". Wow...I think that is the most metaphysical I have ever gone in a comment on an ABA article!

By Adamius on 2012 12 23, 12:13 am CST

What an enigma religion seems to be. It is both the source of great evil - wars, the Inquisition, discrimination, etc. as well as the origin of our moral foundation.

By Redwood on 2012 12 23, 12:19 am CST

Maybe this is a better and even more "meta" way to say what I'm thinking: you sounded somewhat like you were sitting in judgement of your former self, so you WERE sitting in judgement of an atheist for his "I know better" attitude. But in just saying so, you are kind of saying, "NOW, I know better." We're through the looking glass, here. Don't beat your former self up. You could tell that same story in reverse and it would be just as valid.

By Adamius on 2012 12 23, 12:26 am CST

Adamius, you are a smart son of a gun. ??? points only, and then I have to figure out how this post relates to the above article or the Moderator will delete me.
1) I now have an imaginary loving relationship with an imaginary loving friend. This I did not have before. This has expanded my mind and heart. Or at least it feels like it has. Stretched them like a stretching exercise (see the above article on stretching).
2) one of the goals in Buddhism, translated into contemporary English, is letting go of the Ego. Belief in a god, belief in God, belief in a Supreme Being (at least vis-a-vis the believer) is a "cheat" that gets to this end, or toward it, without any work. The only problem is, the smarter you are, the more "you know better," and the HARDER it is to believe in things like a loving, imaginary friend. (and the harder it becomes to believe in invoking the Hindu gods through invoking the gorilla pose).
3) I beat current self up. Being Buddhist was far easier. I condemned myself a lot less. I sat in judgment on myself a lot less. Now I tend to dwell on my current penniless situation, where I'm competing with four or five other immigration lawyers in a town that used to have just me, in an economy that has hit those without work permits harder than anyone else, except those who serve those without work permits. My half hour of concentration meditation each morning, my "brain stretching," is often the highlight of my day. I think Christians would be wise to consider yoga (or "Pilates") and meditation as pro-active health care.

How all this applies to the above article I have no idea.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 23, 1:12 am CST

"???" should have been "3"

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 23, 1:13 am CST

Ah, Yankee, my dear -- my point was that, even though I am offended, I let it roll off me like water off a duck's back. I don't take the speaker to task for foisting his/her religion off on me, nor do I go running to the nearest courthouse to get an injunction to prevent the speaker from annoying me with his/her religious babble. It bothers me -- okay, so what? There are different degrees of being offended. Being told to have a blessed day irritates me, but so does having a pebble in my shoe. I have much more important things to worry about. I know that some of the folks wishing me a blessed day actually mean it, and I know they don't mean it maliciously.

I'm from Texas, and I now live in Tennessee. I'm exposed to Christian proselytizing all the time, and I have yet to punch anyone in the nose. I just smile and walk away. I don't think that's being thin-skinned. But please note -- all the blessings and praying in Jesus' name haven't made me a Christian, just as sitting in the lotus position isn't going to turn a first-grader into a Hindu.

By The authentic LAB on 2012 12 23, 1:29 am CST

Oh, he's Adamius and he's OK,
He sleeps all night and he works all day,
He cuts down trees, he skips and jumps,
He like to press wild flowers. . .

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 23, 2:05 am CST

@196 You share: "I have yet to punch anyone in the nose."

Whew! That's good, particularly given the fact that you have obviously spent time a good deal of time ruminanting about all of those people who have "offended" you over the year by wishing you a "blessed day.' (No doubt that happens often in your native Texas.)

I guess that seeing the children of these same people have to sit through yoga and be exposed to Hindu philosophy is enjoyable to you as a form of payback, huh?

By Yankee on 2012 12 23, 3:11 am CST

"required" should have been "acquired."

And thank you @77 for the much better analogy. As pointed out @120, the fact that a particular religion may espouse something of general value does not mean that pursuing that general value is tantamount to establishment by the government. Frankly, worrying about a name, such as "Yoga" or "Christmas" party when such terms have acquired obviously secular meanings, is indeed a waste of time and resources.

By Walton on 2012 12 23, 8:06 am CST

Now that the issue of kids doing yoga in school has been thoroughly debated I wish to turn to the suggestion by the director of the NRA that all schools be patrolled by machine gun carrying guards.

By adel on 2012 12 23, 6:27 pm CST

Anyone that attempts to link Yoga to Hinduism is ignorant and is attempting link cultural practices with religion. The two are not the same. Wikipedia, if that is what it is saying, is wrong. Yoga is practiced by Hindus, but to say that it is inherently religious is patently wrong. Any attorney weighing in on this and concluding that somehow Hinduism and Yoga are the same as overt religious examples such as a manger scene or a crucifixion is failing at reductio ad absurdum and is just absurd.

Yoga is merely a form of physical exercise that is used as a tool by religious groups throughout South Asia (and many other parts of Asia). Often this exercise promotes circulation and peaceful meditation. The only apt analogy to western religions would be that of Catholics genuflecting. This is merely the pose of kneeling. It, in and of itself, is not religious. That is Yoga. Anyone citing Wikipedia is a fool and it takes a bigger fool to banter with them. To say that a pose is religious blurs so many lines. Does putting my hands together automatically intonate praying? How about when I bow my head, am I practicing Shintoism? To say yes would expose your fundamentalist and narrow viewpoint on multiculturalism.

By Not an Andy on 2012 12 23, 8:30 pm CST

@ 180 No sir, I did not miss the Wisconsin decision but that differs greatly from the discussion at hand. I find difference between the nanny state (which dictates and decrees via local or statewide "academic standards") and cases where a third party with proper standing may bring a suit to litigate where the relationship of the third party & their interests as well as the facts & law of the issue itself may be argued & decided. In our current set of facts, parental rights are usurped by a number of third parties none of whom have any legal right to do so. The teacher is to teach the required curriculum, nothing more or less, the superintendent is charged with the operation of the school system from finance to employees, school board is charged with hiring/firing of superintendent, book choice within state parameters, employment & district policies, state school boards are responsible for minimal standards, finance etc. Throughout all of these layers of bureaucrats, none will ever go to jail for a truant minor, incur financial risk for the behavior of a minor, or be charged with neglect of a minor. My point is the moral, ethical and legal responsibility of a child is the exclusive domain of the parent and as such the decisions regarding the all aspects of that child is paramount to all parties who cannot establish standing in a court of law. The day that schools will have rights that supersede parental rights is the day that all children become slaves to the state. You may not like that conclusion but it is where we are heading.

By Nannobear on 2012 12 23, 9:47 pm CST

I would say that ship has sailed some time ago. The state gets 7 hours a day to teach its view of PC du jour, its modified history and its view of what should be socially accepted, and, to the extent parents even know what is being taught, they have the evening hours after work and the weekends to try to offer their children a competing message.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 23, 10:07 pm CST

To further refer to the bard, 'much ado about nothing'. Good grief. Get a grip. Folks with far too much time on their hands.

By Toad on 2012 12 23, 10:15 pm CST

Nannobear @ 202-- RE: " In our current set of facts, parental rights are usurped by a number of third parties none of whom have any legal right to do so. The teacher is to teach the required curriculum, nothing more or less, ..."

In 2008, California's Dept. of Education adopted comprehensive changes in its core curriculum to include Health Education in grades K-12. Aspects of this Health Education program emphasize, among other things: nutrition and physical activity, and mental, emotional and social health at the elementary school level. So this IS a a part of the required curriculum.

By BMF on 2012 12 23, 10:28 pm CST

@205 That's a breathtakingly expansive currriculum. Maybe if they focused on something less ambitious - - - like reading, writing and arithmetic - - - maybe they'd be more sucessful.

Put another way, if the school district focused on the role of 'teacher' rather than the role of 'parent' they'd show more progress in test scores and academic advancement.

By Yankee on 2012 12 23, 10:50 pm CST

Yoga is part of new age theology. As long as it is not Christian, it is ok to teach to children.

By tim17 on 2012 12 24, 2:43 pm CST

Yankee, you're right that the teacher should teach, not parent. The problem is that, in far too many cases, the job of parenting has been thrust onto teachers because the actual parents aren't doing their jobs. I taught in a public school, and it was a rarity to have a student who had been taught manners and common courtesy -- sometimes even basic hygiene. Many parents just want to drop their children on the school's doorstep in the morning and pick them up again in the afternoon -- unless the kids have to make their way to school on their own. The parents don't help the kids with homework and really couldn't care less what's being taught, just as long as the kids are out of their hair for 7 hours. Then they give the kids Xboxes/PlayStations/Wiis so the kids will stay out of their hair for the other 17 hours of the day. Parents really aren't involved in their children's educations. Some parents have good reasons -- they're single parents, and they're working two or three jobs just to be able to put food on the table. But most parents are too busy with their own lives to think about the kids. Honestly, kids today stay up until midnight or later on school nights because nobody makes them get their little behinds to bed at a reasonable hour so they can be rested for school the next day. I had students who hadn't even seen their parents for a week, and not because the parents were at work. No, their parents were out with friends, going to the local bars and such. I have a friend who's a middle school teacher, and she has to buy pencils and paper so her students can do their work. That's because the parents can't even be bothered to take the kids to buy school supplies. Trust me -- the teachers would be more than happy -- they'd be ecstatic -- if the parents would actually BE parents.

(And don't even get me started on video games -- kids can't focus in school because they expect continual visual and aural stimulation. They were never shown that quietly reading a book can be fun, because the most their parents ever read is a McDonald's menu board.)

By The authentic LAB on 2012 12 24, 7:49 pm CST

@ "Many parents"? ". . . most parents . . . "??? "[All?] Parents really aren’t involved in their children’s educations" " . . .rarity to have a student who had been taught manners and common courtesy. . ."

Given the language that you use in your sweeping attack on the modern American parent, by your very words you believe that the existence of a parent with even basic parenting skills is at best a "rarity" (your word), and at worst nonexistent.

I guess this foundational premise, which you articulate with such boldness, is the basis for the school system feeling entitled to interject itself between the parent and any child that finds itself part of the public school system.

All-in-all, a very revealing comment.

My Advice to All of My Fellow Parents: If you love your child and want to do what is best for her or him, flee the public school system if at all possible.

By Yankee on 2012 12 24, 8:26 pm CST

Yankee at 209, "flee the public school system if at all possible" ?

My son and daughter are both in the "Cambridge" program (the 'original' International Baccalaureate program) in their public schools. (Okay my son is in the "Precambrian" program, that mysterious time before High School) I'm happy to have both kids in public schools for the same reason I assume yoga is in the above article's school, to broaden their horizons, provide larger perspectives, and to elevate their worldviews.

If yoga can stretch a child's experiential windows, physically, spiritually or otherwise, couldn't a positive public school experience extend a child's social skills?

Okay, honestly? if I HAD the money, would I send them to a private school like Princeton? Sure, but only if, when they came out, they would act like Jimmy Stewart, a man who I would guess would not have a problem with kids learning yoga.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 24, 10:26 pm CST

I must say I agree with Yankee @ 209. Anyone who shoulder's their responsibility as to their child's education would do their utmost to avoid the public education system. There are alternatives, costly in both money and time and without rebate of taxes.
I do not understand why parents like BMF @ 205 continue to endorse state board's such as California which focus on the social & political issues instead of equipping students with knowledge so they can succeed.
Our local high school principal informed me that half of the 8th grade class failed Algebra. Instead of holding anyone back, instead of firing a teacher, instead of offering summer school, instead of having the students retake that Algebra over, they decided it would be less of a stigma if the students simply moved onto the next Algebra level and take an additional "catch-up class". It breaks my heart for the students, it infuriates me on behalf of the parents and it disgusts me as a taxpayer. Private school, home school, internet school, charter school, parochial school but whatever you do, stop buying the broken product.
Do any of you really believe that if you had learned yoga in elementary school instead of that half hour of reading or 15 minute recess that your life would now be so much improved?

By Nannobear on 2012 12 25, 2:26 am CST

Well, as I have often said in past comments, I could teach kids better than our modern schools if I had to sit the kids on old milk crates and draw their lessons in the dirt with a stick (similar, I would suppose, to the school that produced Adamius). For a long time, the real mission of the schools has been "socialization" rather than a classical education. That is why they continue to "pass" students who can't spell or reason any better than Adamius through grade after grade, basically just focusing at that point on trying to help the students learn how to interact and get along with others. Of course, even that sometimes fails, and occasionally you get the ones (like Adamius) who come out of school without real job prospects and are so widely reviled by all they meet that they end up having to "work for themselves" (forever). I think the schools should do what they can to reduce further such instances, and yoga could be worth a try (and certainly could not lead to worse results than whatever they did attempt to teach him). If nothing else, the yoga could take the edge off his primitive rage and sand box rants, so that he wouldn't have to roam thread to thread demanding that other posters wager about his alleged "top ten law school." Maybe he would achieve better internal calm and self-esteem, and not be so driven to assert asine "status" claims based on his alleged law school credentials. Maybe (just maybe) the yoga would even alleviate his apparent ADD, so that he might finally realize (in a true Cloddy Dumbkins epiphany) that his parents were actually trying to explain to him that I was his "better," not a "bettor". (This has been a source of continuing confusion for him). In time, he might learn to spell, or to express his thoughts in an integrated, coherent post, rather than a series of "Columbo" afterthoughts. He might even learn to distinguish pitchforks from timber implements (or, even his axe from a hoe on the ground). I know that is a lot to expect from yoga, but again, it could hardly do any harm.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 25, 2:58 am CST

You're killing me. Oh my God.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 25, 3:34 am CST

Wow, Yankee, it's clear that you're just going to attack anything I say. Sure, there are some schools with students whose parents are involved, but in the typical school, parents are only involved when a teacher or administrator does something to the parents' little darlings. One example: A Government teacher came to me with an essay that had been turned in by a student in one of my classes. The teacher asked me if I thought that particular student had written the essay. I read the it, and I told her that there was no way the student had written it. He simply didn't have the vocabulary. I went online to do a search, and I typed the lead sentence into the search block. I immediately got a result. The student's essay was taken verbatim from a book on the subject. The Government teacher walked across the street to the public library, found the book, and checked it out. Then she gave the student an F on his essay. His mother came screaming up to the school, incensed because her son had been given an F. She couldn't understand why we thought that plagiarism was so bad. Had she been involved in her son's schoolwork, she would have known that he'd copied his essay. Then again, maybe she wouldn't have cared.

I'm sorry, Yankee, but my "sweeping attack on the modern American parent" is based on my experiences and the experiences of other teachers in several school districts. If you haven't taught in an average middle or high school, you don't know what teachers are up against. Had you actually read my post, you would have seen that I said that the schools have been forced into a parental role by parents who won't be parents. The teachers don't want the parental role.

The schools need, want, and welcome parental involvement. The schools I'm familiar with held two open houses every semester so that parents could come and talk to their children's teachers. I had a total of 150 students. If five parents showed up to see me, I was thrilled. The other teachers I know had the same experience.

You might be a good parent, albeit a grouchy, curmudgeonly one. Your friends may be good parents. And maybe you're all involved in your children's educations. Bravo! I applaud you. I wish that every parent were as involved.

And about your comment to flee the public school system -- absolutely. I agree. If you can afford a private school, then you should send your kid there. The public schools are enslaved by George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program, and that leaves many children behind. Despite what school administrators say, teachers do have to "teach to the test." And the teachers hate it. Private schools aren't hamstrung by "No Child Left Behind" and are free to actually teach. If you want public schools to improve, then start a campaign to repeal "No Child Left Behind." (And please, please don't jump all over me for blaming Bush. I haven't seen Obama doing anything to change it, either. So it's a bipartisan mess.)

By The authentic LAB on 2012 12 25, 4:33 am CST

Nannobear @ 211: RE "I do not understand why parents like BMF @ 205 continue to endorse state board’s such as California which focus on the social & political issues instead of equipping students with knowledge so they can succeed."

If you actually read my post at # 205, you'd see that it isn't an endorsement. Part of my practice deals with aspects of education law, so I have to know what's going on.

When half the class fails an algebra course it's usually not the kids, or the teachers, but the educational methods or materials. Unfortunately, many education programs are developed by Ph.D.s in education who have never set foot in a classroom. In addition, textbook publishing is a racket that could give K Street PACs a run for their money. The average math textbook ranged in price from $85-$115 in our district, last time I checked. Now they're thinking of buying iPads for each student pre-programmed with math exercises and other subjects. (Probably about $700 a pop.) There's a lot of money to be made in education, if you can convince school districts and parents that their kids will be left behind if they don't have the latest "in" thing.

By BMF on 2012 12 25, 5:22 am CST

Mcleod, for someone who doesnt think about me enough to "hate me", you sure are still quite a grinch on christmas day. I hope someday you get over the bitterness of not getting into as good a school as me and realize it really doesnt matter. I first mentioned the fact at all because i was surprised by my school's behavior in one incident, given their high reputation. You havent been able to let go of it ever since because you took it as me bragging. First of all, i wasnt bragging. It wasnt my point at all. Secondly it wouldnt have got under your skin unless you had some insecurity of your own. I suggest you figure that one out for yourself and stop obsessing about me to such extremes that you make unfair jokes about me and trashily invoke retarded children to try to insult me further. The problem with your attempts to irk me is that i have a good life. I have good friends. Things are going well, i do real good and i help people. I dont regret not having pursued the career path that is burning my erstwhile classmates out one by one. I have everything i need and more and i want for nothing but more of this life. Its christmas day, dude. Try to find some peace in your heart and try to let go of this inexplicable hate you have for me. You can come back with YET ANOTHER smartarsed comeback, but pease dont. Please let it effing die already. Please start being the gentleman you claim to be. You either are content with your life as well and you can leave me alone, or you are bitter and jealous and you can't. Ive offered a bet to you so you could let your battle with me come to a head; you wont take it. Ive left you alone; you come back at me unprovoked and try to claim you dont think about me. You really just need to let it go.

By adamius on 2012 12 25, 5:36 am CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 25, 5:51 am CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Adamius on 2012 12 25, 6:03 am CST

Ahh, now THAT was on Christmas Day, but of course, I shall stand by my word.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 25, 8:18 am CST

Mr. McLeod, I know I have an imaginary friend, but I have to ask, is Adamius your foil? Such perfect match, you two..

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 25, 6:23 pm CST

@214 You assert: "it’s clear that you’re just going to attack anything I say."

But, I didn't "attack" what you wrote @208. Rather, I quoted the very words you wrote and took those words to their logical conclusion.

We're clearly not misunderstanding each other here.

By Yankee on 2012 12 26, 12:13 am CST

BMF @ 215, So sorry, I stand corrected, your post certainly does not endorse CA education standards.

Just as an aside though, the school district with half of the 8th grade failing was using the Saxon Math program which I had found to work really well with most. Now they are changing the 1st thru 8th to a program which the principal explained to me as "focusing on learning to solve problems in groups & working with others." I've heard only horror stories from other parents....

You are right on the money for the textbooks and 2 neighboring school districts went to issuing Ipads. Both of those school districts have mandatory, random drug testing, parental authorization is given when you sign the handbook.

By Nannobear on 2012 12 26, 2:06 am CST

Well, Tom, thanks for asking. If you mean my fencing foil, it is a good quality implement, made in France, and quite unlike Adamius in any sense I can imagine. It even has a very nice, quarter-inch felt lining inside the handguard. If you mean a "foil" in the sense of a poster who presents me in a very positive light by contrast, I suppose Adamius is that. Thundering about like an enraged rhino when his assertions of status are rebuffed, he seems to lack the ability of Yogis to "look within for peace and for comfort."

But I do not think he is my "match." In his final humiliation, he prematurely invoked a holy day to his advantage, then promptly pissed all over Christmas and everything it stands for by treacherously attacking as soon as armistice was extended. Then, of course, he completed the performance by taking his ball and fleeing home in tears. Again. Hence, he hardly measured up to the standards I subscribe to, and was overmatched to an almost unimaginable extent.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 26, 1:34 pm CST

Ahhh the religious victims of our society. Please take a moment of silence to feel bad for them. I guess if one wants to feel like they are a victim, it is pretty easy to find one manner or another why one is persecuted.>>walking away shaking head and mumbling<<

By CAJD on 2012 12 26, 4:30 pm CST

Now McLeod, I only meant "flammable," you should know that. Fun to read. A delight. I hope you haven't run him off for good. You two are a pair.

"Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 26, 7:00 pm CST

But to keep the costs of this proposed Comparative Religious Studies program down, I would try to stick to texts (let's call them text books) that are freely available, (this wouldn't necessarily work for The Diary of Anne Frank, or Basic Teachings of the Buddha). But Bibles are a dime a dozen, and you've got the Torah right in the front. And I also think it would be delightful if one aspect of the classes involved anonymous online discussion. This portion would be pass/fail, hopefully challenging, and, possibly, the most exciting part of discovering "freedom of speech" American style.

Ah, the days when I was "howlingwolf" in a Buddhist online forum. It was SO much easier being a "bad" Buddhist back then than it now is to be a poor Christian... Buddhist simply are not supposed to go around pushing people's buttons. I did it all the time. I was so sure of myself back then. Such the atheist, such the comedian. Those were truly grand days.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 26, 7:18 pm CST

My Orthodox Jewish rabbi attends yoga classes. Is that enough proof for the doubters that yoga is not in fact just the camel's nose under the tent in an unconstitutional effort of the school district to turn all our children into little Hindus?

By Mike J on 2012 12 26, 11:50 pm CST

Once more, people looking for excuses so that they can prevent their children from learning anything other than what they 'believe' the children should learn. Yoga as is being taught is NOT a religion. Even devote Buddhist question whether their believes even are a 'religion'. But on the other hand the same schools are asked/demanded to 'teach' creationism as a 'science'. I find it hard to believe the idiocy of these parents. WE ARE DOOMED.

By bernard citron on 2012 12 27, 12:11 am CST

Well, Tom, among adherents of the "sudden awakening" school, button-pushing is A-OK, and widely practiced.

So far as our momentarily discouraged friend goes, fear not, for that type never completely goes away. As the memory of the most recent thrashing begins to fade, he will start to gather his nerve for an attempt at revenge (much like the bumkin in "The Ballad of The Blue Cyclone"). Maybe his little school yard associates will brief him on a new approach, and he'll unleash some snappy new strategy like the dread "double-dog dare," or some variant of "my daddy can beat up your daddy." Or, he'll find some new and better "status" symbol to boast about. God help us if his daddy got him that new bicycle for Christmas. He'll be peddling it all around and ringing the bell until he wets his pants. Again.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 27, 12:12 am CST

@228 You assert: "But on the other hand the same schools are asked/demanded to ‘teach’ creationism as a ‘science’."

Bernie: There is nothing in the story above that even suggests that the Encinitas Union School District has been asked to teach creationism as a science in any of the schools within the district.

The fact that a devote Buddhist questions whether his beliefs constitute a religion is inapposite to the issue before. There are many devote Christians who bristle when you refer to their particular expression of faith as a "religion."

By Yankee on 2012 12 27, 3:02 am CST

This is an interesting debate and all, by why would anyone object to the teaching of Yoda?

Don't we ALL want to be better Jedi Knights, after all?

I have never heard Yoda utter anything remotely challenging Christianity in any way.

May the Force be with you!

By Paul the Magyar on 2012 12 27, 5:08 am CST

@231 About yoga, the story is. Obviously confused, you are.

By Yankee on 2012 12 27, 8:48 pm CST

i don't understand why everyone is so upset about kids eating yogurt. Yogurt is pretty good for you. And it's not going to make kids into communists.

By defensive lawyer on 2012 12 27, 10:25 pm CST

Looks like we have drive-by Moderation today.

For context, the removed #217 was an effort to alleviate the emotional distress and weeping of Adamius by promising not to further harry him nor prey upon his delicate sensibilities from the moment of the post (on Christmas Eve) to sunrise on St. Stephen's Day. This, so that he might open his presents (if any) in peace, and the concluding words of the removed post were, in fact, "Merry Christmas." I might add that I kept the commitment set forth in post #217, despite the low and hostile response vomited forth by Adamius on Christmas Day itself (still visible in post #218). I thought this a rather noble and diplomatic gesture on my part, which in all fairness, should have been commended. Instead, of all the posts in this thread, it was, amazingly, singled out for removal (perhaps attributable to the lingering effect of too much egg nog).

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 29, 12:24 am CST

Can't we all just get along?

One final word of the season - it's not, "Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men."

Rather, it's "Peace On Earth To Men Of Good Will."

Big diff.

Shart showing some good will to each other, folks, or you won't have any peace.

By mikej on 2012 12 29, 1:16 am CST

That's right mikej, Luke 2: 14

To tie back to the article, on the subject of the Hindu religion, the most famous "snatch" the Buddha made was taking the Four "Brahma" Viharas, the Four Immeasurables, the four things you can't have too much of, like "you can never be too thin or too rich." The first "Brahma" vihara is "loving kindness," often translated in modern English as "good will."

Jesus borrowed from the Buddha big time, but that's a subject for another thread.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 29, 5:09 am CST

"Peace" is primarily a state of mind. Some are incapable of attaining it in any setting, while others are unruffled even in battle.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 29, 5:43 am CST

@236 You assert: "Jesus borrowed from the Buddha big time . . ."

uh, no.

By Yankee on 2012 12 29, 2:21 pm CST

Maybe Jesus wanted to go to law school, and the Buddha was the only one who would front him the cash with only fish and loaves for collateral.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 29, 3:50 pm CST

Oops. I should have said "In my opinion..." Sorry Yankee.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 30, 2:26 am CST

I could probably talk about "comparisons" without ruffling feathers,
except the Moderator's.

So, uh,
I won't.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2012 12 30, 2:36 am CST

I think the Mods are only doing drive-bys over the break, so you can probably get by with it. Especially if you connect it up by postulating about the position Jesus would take on teaching yoga in the schools.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 30, 1:43 pm CST

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