Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lawsuit Challenges California School District's Yoga Offerings As Government Support of Religion

The National Center for Law and Policy announced yesterday that it has filed a lawsuit in state court in California challenging the Encinitas Union School District's decision to offer a yoga program as part of its curriculum.  According to the press release:
The lawsuit is the result of EUSD’s decision to accept $533,000 from the Jois Foundation in exchange for providing the religiously-based organization access to its young and impressible students to test and prove the feasibility of Jois’ "health and wellness" Ashtanga yoga curriculum.... EUSD’s Ashtanga yoga program is inherently and pervasively religious, having its roots firmly planted in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Western Metaphysical religious beliefs and practices.  As such, the program violates California constitutional provisions prohibiting government religious preference and religious discrimination (article I, § 4), prohibiting use of state resources to support religion (article XVI, § 5), and forbidding employing government resources to promote religion in public schools (article IX, § 8).
The allegations in the complaint were supported by a declaration (full text) from Candy Gunther Brown, an associate professor of religious studies at Indiana University. AP reports on the lawsuit.