California, Education / Schools, Religion

California Judge Bends Over Backward In Yoga Ruling

Of course California has a school district that teaches yoga as a P.E. class. It’s just the right mix of health consciousness and non-competitive physical activity that aging hippies would want in their schools.

And, of course California also has parents who would file a lawsuit complaining that yoga is some sort of crypto-religious activity being foisted upon their kids in a gross violation of the separation of church and state.

Now a judge has weighed in on the parents’ lawsuit…

Judge John S. Meyer centered himself and explained his ruling to the Encinitas parents complaining about the yoga unit:

Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer rejected the pleas of parents from a San Diego County school district where yoga is taught on nine campuses who said the classes are inherently religious and violate the constitutional principle of separating church and state.

Meyer sided instead in the Monday ruling with administrators from the Encinitas Union School District who argued the practice while often religious is taught in a secular way to promote strength, flexibility and balance.

Once a practice is endorsed by the Nintendo Wii, it’s effectively robbed of any religious symbolism. Seriously, if every woman leaving her office in yoga pants and carrying a mat were wrapped up in the religious significance of yoga, Hinduism would be a lot more popular in this country.

Few things are more annoying than parents worked up over a school’s curriculum. Obviously, some schools teach really stupid, intellectually crippling things like creationism or Ethan Frome, but that doesn’t make the complaining parents any less shrill and irritating. So in this specific case, what detailed research did the parents use in bringing their case?

The judge said parents who objected relied on personal opinions, some culled from Internet searches.

“It’s almost like a trial by Wikipedia, which isn’t what this court does,” said Meyer, who took nearly two hours to explain a decision that explored yoga’s Indian roots and philosophy.

A two-hour decision seems a bit excessive. This is what I meant by the judge bending over backward — I wasn’t just going for some kind of cheap pun.

Some of the “personal opinions” in the case involved concern that children were learning Sanskrit, which is a violation of the Constitution because… why? Well, apparently it runs afoul of the Ten Commandments because a 5,000-year-old dead language is evil since Hindu, Buddhist, and Jainist texts are sometimes written in it, and learning the language is akin to having “false gods.”

If this were the standard, courts would have to ban Latin courses. You know, for the five or six schools that still teach Latin.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs plan to appeal the decision because no idea is too stupid to waste money on. Maybe before they run back to court they should take a second, take a deep breath, and think about their decision. But that would probably be sacrilege for them.

Calif. Judge Rules Yoga Is Irreligious [Associated Press via ABC News]
Judge John S. Meyer [Superior Court of California, County of San Diego]
Parents Suing School Claim Yoga Classes Go Against First, Second Commandments [NBC Los Angeles]

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