Monday, July 01, 2013

California State Court Judge Says Yoga Program In Schools Does Not Promote Religion

In California today a state trial court rejected a state constitutional challenge to the Encinitas Unified School District's teaching of Ashtanga yoga as part of the district's enrichment program. The district received a $533,000 from the Jois Foundation to fund the program. A suit by the National Center for Law and Policy contended that Ashtanga yoga is inherently religious because it is rooted in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Western Metaphysical religious beliefs.  The complaint alleged that teaching yoga in the public schools violates California constitutional bans on governmental religious preferences and use of state resources to promote or support religion. (See prior posting.) According to a 10News report on today's decision:
Judge John Meyer determined that a reasonable student would not associate yoga with religion because of the way the district set up its program. Meyer said he believed the district was not teaching any religious components during the classes and that he sees yoga as something similar to traditional PE sports such as kickball or volleyball. Meyers also found that the district's program follows state guidelines.
The National Center for Law and Policy issued a statement today saying that today's decision "is not the end of the road for this case or the last word regarding the fate of yoga in public education—this is only the beginning."

UPDATE: Here is the full text of the court's Minute Order in Sedlock v. Baird, (CA Super. Ct., July 1, 2013), thanks to Volokh Conspiracy.